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This classic meatloaf recipe is an ideal weeknight meal. It is comforting, delicious, and topped with a delightful sweet and tangy sauce. It is sure to become a staple in any meat lover’s kitchen.
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Last week, something crazy happened. I developed a distinct, out-of-the-blue craving for meatloaf. This popular American entree has never been something I have worked into my dinner routine. I had had it maybe twice in my life and had certainly never made it. But a craving is a craving. So I gave in and made it that night.
The dish was simple enough to make and only took me 10 minutes of prep time! What a perfect weeknight treat! 1 hour after popping it in the oven, I pulled out a wonderfully moist, super flavorful classic meatloaf. The tang of the sauce and the moist, savory beef was to die for. I served it with roasted potatoes and called it a day. Yum!
Why You’ll Love This Easy Meatloaf Recipe
After you make this irresistible recipe, I am convinced that it will win a spot in your dinner rotation. Here are some of the top reasons to love this recipe:
- Short prep time. You only need 10 minutes of prep time before popping this savory treat in the oven and forgetting about it for an hour.
- Moist. It is all too easy to end up with an overly dry meatloaf. You will not encounter that here. The eggs, the milk, and the tangy glaze all work together to give you a perfectly moist finished product.
- Great for leftovers. It reheats so well. It might even be better the next day because all of the flavors get a chance to meld.
- Great for leftovers…part 2. Classic meatloaf freezes nicely (see my notes below under “Can I Freeze Homemade Meatloaf?”), so feel free to make a double batch, freeze it, and save it for a rainy day.
- Adaptable. This recipe is easy to adapt to different diets. Dairy-free? Use your favorite dairy-free milk instead of cow’s milk. Gluten-free? Sub gluten-free bread crumbs for the glutenous ones. I haven’t experimented with other meats yet, but I imagine you could substitute beyond beef or ground turkey if you aren’t a beef eater.
Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll need to make this easy meatloaf recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.
For the Meatloaf:
- Ground Beef – It is best to choose ground beef that has enough fat in it to keep the meatloaf moist, but not so much that it will be greasy. Aim for an 80/20 (meat to fat) product.
- Plain Bread Crumbs – I suggest using standard bread crumbs as opposed to Panko. You can even find some nice pre-seasoned products at the market. If you are gluten-free, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Milk – Whole milk is best. If you are dairy free, try a neutral milk substitute such as unsweetened almond milk.
For the Glaze:
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Dark Brown Sugar
- White Vinegar – Make sure it is distilled.
How to Make Classic Meatloaf
In just 10 minutes and a few simple steps, you will be ready to pop this heartwarming entree in the oven. Here’s a little overview of how to make it. Don’t forget to scroll to the full recipe card below for the whole scoop.
- Make the glaze. Combine all of the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and mix well.
- Saute the onions, celery, and garlic until tender.
- Mix the wet ingredients (eggs, Worcestershire sauce, milk, and half of the pre-made glaze) until well combined.
- Combine beef, wet ingredients, and onion mixture in a large bowl and use your hands to mix until homogenous. Be careful not to overhandle. This can lead to a dry, dense meatloaf.
- Assemble the meatloaf. Place the meat mixture in a loaf pan lined with aluminum foil and top it with the rest of the glaze.
- Bake at 325 F for 1 hour. When it’s done, lift it out of the loaf pan and place it on a cutting board.
- Slice and serve with roasted potatoes.
What’s The Secret to Moist Meatloaf?
Meatloaf often gets a bad wrap for being overly dense and dry. No one wants that. In order to avoid this common error, I suggest taking the following points into consideration.
- Choose the right meat. You want to choose a beef that has enough fat in it as it will provide more moisture than a supper lean beef. I suggest an 80/20 product. Anything leaner will yield a dry product and fattier beef will give you a greasy mess.
- Mix well, but not too much. Over-mixing will compress the ingredients too much, resulting in a dense and dry dinner.
- Don’t overbake. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. It should read 155-160 F.
Tips for Success
As with any recipe, there are a few tricks that can make a world of a difference. Here come some of mine.
- Keep it moist. Check out the section above for tips on how to ensure that you don’t end up with a dry disaster.
- Add enough breadcrumbs. Adding too few breadcrumbs will result in a meatloaf that falls apart. The breadcrumbs work with the eggs to bind the dish together. They also work to retain moisture. So use the prescribed amount.
- Use my foil trick. In order to easily remove the meatloaf from the loaf pan after baking, I suggest preparing wisely. When lining the loaf pan with aluminum foil, leave a flap on either side of the pan. Grab onto those flaps to lift the meatloaf out of the pan when it’s done.
- Let it rest. Resists the temptation to dig in for at least 10 minutes after baking. This will give all of the flavors and juices a chance to settle, giving you a tastier bite with the added benefit of locking in moisture.
What to Serve with Classic Meatloaf
This tasty entree goes beautifully with a hearty side or two on a cold winter’s day but is also complimented nicely by a light salad or a veggie dish. The choice is yours!
- Potatoes…pretty much any way. Roasted potatoes are great because you can make them in the oven at the same time as the meatloaf. Try these Duck Fat Potatoes if you’re feeling adventurous. Simple Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin, Red Potato and Dill Salad, and good old fashioned Garlic Mashed Potatoes are some other great options.
- Salad. My Lightened up Kale Caesar Salad will complement this dish beautifully. If you are looking for something a little heartier, this Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Dijon Shallot Dressing is a great option.
- Roasted Veggies. Pistachio Pesto Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Cauliflower are fantastic meatloaf side dish options.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Here’s how to store and reheat extra meatloaf:
- Store in the fridge. Allow the dish to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container and placing it in the refrigerator. You can keep it there for up to 3 days.
- Reheating: Place the desired portion in a shallow oven-proof baking dish. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or broth (this will help prevent drying) and pop it in the oven for 25 minutes at 250 F. You can also reheat it in the microwave by placing a single serving on a microwave-safe plate and zapping it until warmed through, about 2 minutes for 1 slice.
Can I Freeze Homemade Meatloaf?
You can! Allow the meatloaf to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container and placing it in the freezer. It will be happy there for up to 3 months. When you are ready to enjoy, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before following the reheating instructions above.
More Easy Dinner Recipes:
Getting dinner on the table can be stressful! Having a collection of quick, easy recipes in your back pocket can help alleviate that stress and save you valuable time. This meatloaf is a wonderful example of such a recipe, but there are many other options. Here are some of my favorites:
- Orange Beef and Broccoli
- Sweet Chili Glazed Grilled Chicken
- Vegan Cauliflower Tacos
- Grilled Cumin Lime Shrimp Tacos
- One-Pot Garlic Lemon Chicken Orzo
- Sheet Pan Salmon and Vegetables
- 2 pounds (907 g) ground beef or meatloaf mix (veal, pork, and beef)
- 1 ½ cups (162 g) plain bread crumbs
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup (59 ml) worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ cup (79 ml) milk
For the glaze
- ¾ cup (180 g) ketchup
- ½ cup (110 g) dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the glaze and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325 °F (163 °C). Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil, having 2 flaps hanging out on either side and set aside.
- In a small skillet, on medium high, saute the onions, celery, and garlic until onions and celery are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients: eggs, worcestershire sauce, milk, and half of the pre-made glaze. Mix well.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion mixture, and wet ingredients. Use your hands to mix quickly and evenly distribute all the ingredients.
- Put the meat mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Press on the loaf, getting into the corners as well, to make sure it’s a flat surface.
- Pour the rest of the glaze on top of the meatloaf.
- Bake in the oven for one hour.
- Make use of the oven by roasting potatoes along with the meatloaf :)
- When meatloaf is done, use the 2 flaps of the aluminum foil to pull out the meatloaf and place on a cutting board. Be careful! Cut into sections and serve with a side of roasted potatoes (or whatever you side you made).
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.