5 from 424 votes
Pin Recipe Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy

The Best Classic Meatloaf Recipe is a perfect blend of fresh ingredients that comes out juicy and packed with flavor in every bite. Every family needs a go-to homemade meatloaf recipe that carries on the tradition of this classic. My family loves this one and it makes great leftovers that are quick and easy when picking my kids up from soccer practice. This tasty meatloaf recipe is a true family favorite that has everyone coming back for seconds!

Best meatloaf recipe

Best Meatloaf Recipe

What makes the best meatloaf recipe? It’s meatloaf that is full of flavor yet has a nice, juicy texture inside. That’s the key. And with this easy meatloaf recipe, you’ll have the best of both worlds with unbeatable flavor that isn’t dry when you slice into it. Plus, the meatloaf sauce on top is tangy and sweet, something the kids will definitely get into!

Easy Meatloaf Recipe

While the list of ingredients might seem long, this is one easy meatloaf recipe with few ingredients. You likely have everything you need in your cabinets. Only 30 minutes of your time, and you’ll soon be rewarded with a delicious dinner that virtually takes care of itself.

Meatloaf ingredients

Meatloaf Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef – choose 90% lean for best results.
  • Bread crumbs – these help bind your meat mixture together while adding more flavor.
  • Herbs and seasonings – meatloaf seasoning is what give you a spectacular taste that make your meatloaf the best.
  • Meatloaf glaze recipe – the finishing touch is in the sweet and tangy meatloaf sauce that pulls all the flavors together.


Pro tip: If you have Italian style breadcrumbs, you can use those and omit the added Italian seasoning.

Easy meatloaf recipe

How do You Make Meatloaf from Scratch?

If you’ve never made great meatloaf before because you’re worried it will be too dry or it won’t taste good, I’m here to change all that for you. There are a few key elements to remember when following this simple meatloaf recipe:

  • In a large bowl, only mix until everything is combined or else it will be too dense
  • Lean beef is the best choice for meat
  • Let it rest after it comes out of the oven before you serve it so it stays juicy

Why do you put milk in meatloaf?

Milk is essential for the best meatloaf ever because it adds moisture to your breadcrumbs. You don’t want your meatloaf to be dry and crumbly. For dairy-free, you can use a non-dairy milk substitute.

What is the best filler for meatloaf?

Breadcrumbs by far reign supreme for filling meatloaf. However, don’t forget to add milk in to keep it moist and delicious!

Should you cook onions before putting in meatloaf?

While some recipes will have you cook the onions first, this recipe simplifies things and has you add it in the first step. With all the moistening ingredients, it will cook the onions perfectly and render them a lovely texture at the finish.

How long to cook meatloaf

Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Meatloaf Every Time

  • Don’t skip wet ingredients – these add moisture in so your beef meatloaf recipe has flavor and juicy texture to go with it. If you want an extra boost of flavor, add in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to kick it up a notch.
  • Take a taste – if you’re not sure how the flavor is, take a small amount and fry it up to taste it to see if it’s got all the flavors you desire
  • Give it room – use a meatloaf pan that’s slightly larger so the meatloaf has breathing room to allow for caramelized edges
  • Prep early – you an even prepare the meatloaf mix ahead of time and simply cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator. Simply let it warm up to room temperature while you’re preheating the over and pop it in.
  • Temperature perfection – If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of meatloaf should reach around 160° F. Instant-read thermometers are a great option if you have one.
  • Let it rest – when you take the juicy meatloaf out of the oven let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. Letting it rest will help it hold its shape together.

What is the secret to good meatloaf?

The secret to good meatloaf is in quality ingredients, a well-balanced blend of spices to meat ratio, and proper cooking time.

How to make meatloaf

How Long to Cook Meatloaf?

Knowing how long to cook meatloaf will depend on its size. The larger the meatloaf the longer it will take to cook through to the correct temperature. With this traditional meatloaf recipe, you’ll only need to take a hands-on approach for 30 minutes. After that, the oven does the rest! Plan on an hour and a half until your baked meatloaf is ready, plenty of time for you to put your feet up for a bit before getting your side dishes done.

How do you keep meatloaf moist?

The secret to moist meatloaf is using moist ingredients. While you want the breadcrumbs to bind, the addition of eggs, milk, and ketchup don’t just add flavor but also add that essential moisture.

How can I make my meatloaf better?

Using high-fat meat is best so you don’t get a dry and grainy meatloaf. Additionally, adding eggs, ketchup, and milk will help it retain that tender and juicy texture inside.

Meatloaf sauce

How long to bake meatloaf?

Depending on the size of your loaf, cooking times will vary. A standard meatloaf cooking temp is 350°F. At 350°F, 35 to 45 minutes per pound of meatloaf is a fairly accurate rule to follow. The best way to not overcook or undercook your meatloaf is to use a meat thermometer to check the meatloaf internal temperature. The ideal meatloaf internal temp is 160°F.

How long to cook a 1 lb meatloaf?

Using a conventional oven you will need to cook the meatloaf at a minimum of 350. For a 1 lb meatloaf you can estimate between 35 to 45 minutes cooking time.

How long to cook a 2 lb meatloaf?

Using a conventional oven you will need to cook the meatloaf at a minimum of 350 . For a 2lb meatloaf you can estimate between 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes cooking time.

How long to cook a 3 lb meatloaf?

Using a conventional oven you will need to cook the meatloaf at a minimum of 350°F. For a 3 lb meatloaf you can estimate between 1 hour and a half to 2 hours cooking time.

How long to cook meatloaf at 375°F?

At 375°F a 1 lb meatloaf will take about 25 to 30 minutes for the meatloaf temp to reach 160°F.
A 2 lb meatloaf will take about 40 to 50 minutes for the meatloaf temp to reach 160°F.
A 3 lb meatloaf will take about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes for the meatloaf temp to reach 160°F.

How long to cook meatloaf at 350°F?

At 350°F a 1 lb meatloaf will take about 35 to 45 minutes for the meatloaf temperature to reach 160°F.
A 2 lb meatloaf will take about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes for the meatloaf temperature to reach 160°F.
A 3 lb meatloaf will take about 1 hour and a half to 2 hours for the meatloaf temperature to reach 160°F.

Do you bake meatloaf covered or uncovered?

In this recipe, the meatloaf is baked uncovered. With the use of milk in the mixture, it should keep your meatloaf plenty moist and juicy inside.

Side dishes for meatloaf

Meatloaf Glaze

Sweet and tangy and utterly amazing, Southern meatloaf sauce takes kitchen-staple-ketchup and takes it to the next level. With the help of white vinegar and brown sugar, it transforms to a slightly sweet BBQ-sauce-like taste that your whole family will love. Its the perfect meatloaf topping that everyone loves!

What is meatloaf sauce made of?

Meatloaf glaze sauce is a blend of ketchup, white vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.

Meatloaf baking in the oven

Leave me with my leftover meatloaf and my Yesterday Sandwich. I’ll be in love tomorrow, if you come back with the ketchup.
Jarod Kintz

Why does my meatloaf fall apart

What to Serve with Meatloaf

Naturally, you can’t just serve old fashioned meatloaf on its own! It needs some sides to round out the meal. No Southern meatloaf recipe dish is ever complete without mashed potatoes. That’s the ultimate level of comfort right there! Sautéed broccoli with garlic, creamed spinach, or even roasted garlic potatoes in the slow cooker are all delicious choices that pair very well.

Can you freeze meatloaf

Can I make meatloaf on a baking sheet?

While I use a loaf pan when cooking meatloaf, if you don’t have one, you can use a baking sheet. Line it with foil for easy cleanup and make sure it’s shaped into a loaf before baking!

Homemade meatloaf dinner

Why does my meatloaf fall apart?

In order for meatloaf to stay together, it needs to have eggs and breadcrumbs to bind it. Be careful not to overcook it either. Follow this recipe and you’ll have meatloaf success!

How do you keep meatloaf from falling apart?

Meatloaf falls apart when there’s not enough to bind it together. Eggs and breadcrumbs help keep it together and this recipe gives you the right proportions. Meatloaf cook time is important too as if you overcook it, it will fall apart.

The secret to good meatloaf dinner

Can You Freeze Meatloaf?

Yes, and that’s the best part. You can make a bigger batch and freeze it before cooking. Just shape it into a loaf and wrap it up well. You’ll need to allow it 24 hours of defrost time in the fridge before you cook it.

You can also freeze cooked meatloaf. Once it’s cooled, you can slice it up and wrap it in freezer paper, then chuck into a freezer bag. This is even better for those busy nights when you realize you’ve forgotten to thaw something out. You’ll have a nutritious and delicious meal in no time!

How to Reheat Meatloaf

Ok, look, you can reheat your meatloaf in the microwave, but it’s going to taste funky and be dried out. You can also add it to a skillet, but honestly, the best way is in the oven. Preheat it to 250F and put your meatloaf in a loaf pan or baking dish with just a hint of beef broth, water, or gravy. About 1 tablespoon should do. Cover with foil and then heat it for 20 to 25 minutes when it’s heated through completely.

Watch How To Make Meatloaf (Video)

The Best Classic Meatloaf Recipe

5 from 424 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 406
This traditional meatloaf recipe always comes out juicy and packed with flavor! The sweet and tangy sauce on top adds the perfect element of flavor in every bite!


  • 2 lbs ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 large white onion (diced)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp garlic cloves (minced)
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Meatloaf Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)


  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Spray a loaf plan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, onion, eggs, garlic, ketchup, Worchestershire sauce, parsley, breadcrumbs, milk, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Mix until well combined.
  • Place meatloaf mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes.
  • Start preparing the meatloaf sauce. In a small mixing bowl, mix ketchup, white vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. Whisk until ingredients are well combined. Spread the meatloaf glaze on top when it has 15 minutes left to bake.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for 5 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy!
Calories: 406kcal
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American


Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 1231mg | Potassium: 556mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 519IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 3mg


More comfort food meatloaf recipes:

Never Miss A Recipe!

Join thousands of HowToCook.recipes subscribers and get our best recipes delivered each week!

Yes! Send me the newest recipes by email

You can unsubscribe anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of emails you receive.

Avatar photo

I’m a mom of two, food and wine lover, and recipe creation enthusiast. Good food brings families together. Which is why I’m devoted to sharing my best recipes that are simple enough for even the beginner cook that your family will love!


  1. dawn m adair-myers Reply

    5 stars
    We did your meatloaf tonight. It was so good that every one ate it even my two pickie eaters. My pickie eater asked why i didnt make more .

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. Everything I’d ever want to know about cooking meatloaf is on this page.

  3. 5 stars
    This is a really good recipe to follow I added in my favorite BBQ sauce in place of ketchup and instead of the sauce at the top we just used gravy to our own portion. It came out so good!

  4. 5 stars
    Recipe sounds amazing… gonna give it a try tonight. Just wanted to mention under the section for “how long to cook a 2 lb meatloaf”, it’s description is a 1 lb… I’m sure you meant “2”. Also, most people are looking for something a little sweet/tangy for the glaze. I’ve found a nice honey french dressing that does the job really well… yes, salad dressing. 🙂 Something to think about! Thank you again for the recipe!

    • Avatar photo
      Megan Miller Reply

      Hi Ed! Nice catch, I just made the update. I’ll definitely look into something sweet and tangy on my next recipe. Hope you love it as much as we do!

      • Is it ok to cook in the glass baking pans? Are there any adjustments I would need to make?
        Thank you.

        • Avatar photo
          Megan Miller Reply

          Yes, absolutely! You may just want to grease the inside of the pan with some butter or olive oil to prevent sticking.

  5. Laurie wild Reply

    5 stars
    How much breadcrumbs and milk would you put in a 3lb meatloaf?

    • Avatar photo
      Megan Miller Reply

      Hi Laurie! About 1.15 cups of breadcrumbs and 3/4 cup of milk for a 3lb meatloaf. Quick tip: If you hover over “Servings” at the top of the recipe there will be a slider where you can scroll to update serving amounts and ingredient quantities.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this meatloaf last night (7/7/22). I followed the directions to a tee for a 2-pound meatloaf. I cooked the loaf at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 mins. I let the loaf sit for 10 mins after cooking. I found an inch of liquid in the loaf pan after the 10 min rest time. I actually had to pour the liquid out of the loaf pan prior to cutting the loaf. I will say…..this was one of the tastiest meatloaf I have ever eaten. And you were right when you said it would be moist. Next time I make this I’m going to form it and cook it on a baking sheet. Thanks

Write A Comment

Recipe Rating