The Best Classic Meatloaf

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This amazing homemade meatloaf recipe is tender and juicy on the inside with a sweet and tangy topping.  This is a traditional meatloaf made with ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, and perfectly balanced seasonings.  A ketchup-based topping adds incredible flavor.

3 slices of Meatloaf with ketchup glaze

What Makes A Really Good Meatloaf Recipe

I think the trick to good meatloaf is using lean ground beef.  The problem with a lot of meatloaf recipes is that they call for ground beef with a high fat content.  As the meatloaf cooks, the fat cooks out and makes a greasy mess.  Not this recipe!

Best Meatloaf recipe - 2 slices on a blue plate

How To Keep It Moist

You may be thinking, but won’t lean ground beef make the meatloaf dry?  Not at all!  The milk, egg, ketchup, and diced onion in the meat mixture are all working to keep the meatloaf moist and delicious.

Why Put Milk In It

Milk soaks into the breadcrumbs and helps keep the meatloaf moist.  I typically use whole milk in recipes, but any type of milk including non-dairy milk alternatives could be used.  

Is It Better To Cook Covered Or Uncovered

Some recipes call for covering the loaf pan with aluminum foil before baking to keep the moisture in.  This is not necessary in this recipe.  Bake uncovered for the entire 55 minutes.  It will stay moist.

Should I Sauté The Onions First

Some recipes call for sautéing the onions before adding them to the raw meatloaf mixture.  This ensures that the onions are completely cooked and soft.  I’ve found that if the onions are cut small enough, they will cook through during the baking process and do not need to be sautéed.

This recipe calls for finely diced onion, so there is no need to sauté it first.  Skipping the sauté step makes the meatloaf preparation faster and easier.

This classic meatloaf is perfect for a busy weeknight meal because it can be prepared in minutes.

How Long Should It Cook

This meatloaf is cooked in a 350° oven, uncovered, for 55 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 160° F.  Be sure to let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before attempting to slice it, so it holds its shape.

Loaf Pan Versus Baking Sheet

I prefer to use a loaf pan because it keeps all the glaze in place perfectly and the meat is juicier.  But, you could line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Shape the meatloaf into a loaf shape.  Top with the glaze.  And, bake as normal.

How To Make The Best Meatloaf

*Note:  The full printable recipe is at the bottom of this post.

  • Add 90% lean ground beef to a large bowl.
  • Add dried bread crumbs  and some diced onion.
  • Add milk, an egg, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce.
  • Add dried parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Meatloaf recipe ingredients in a mixing bowl: ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper.

  • Mix it together REALLY well.

Meatloaf ingredients mixed together in a mixing bowl for the best meatloaf recipe

  • Pour the meat mixture into a loaf pan.
  • Spread it into a flat even layer.

Meatloaf mixture pressed into a loaf pan, ready to bake

Make the Meatloaf Sauce

  • Add ketchup, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar to a bowl.
  • Whisk until combined.
  • Pour the glaze over the meatloaf.

Uncooked meatloaf with ketchup glaze in a loaf pan, ready to bake

  • Bake it!
  • Let it cool before slicing.

The Best Easy Meatloaf sliced on a white plate

Can This Be Made Ahead Of Time

Absolutely!  Just cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you’re ready for it.  Then, uncover it and let it come to room temperature as you’re preheating the oven.

Can This Be Frozen

Yes!  Prepare the meatloaf, put it in a loaf pan, and top with glaze according to the recipe directions.  Cover the pan and freeze.

Place the frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator to thaw about 24 hours before you want to bake it.  Then, uncover it and let it come to room temperature as you’re preheating the oven.

Why Does Meatloaf Fall Apart

  • You may not have used enough binding ingredients.  This recipe calls for plenty of breadcrumbs.
  • It may be over baked.  Fifty five minutes is all it takes.
  • Or, you may have sliced into it while it was still too hot.  I always let my meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing into it.

I’ve been playing around with this recipe for the past few months, making it many times.  And, I didn’t mind the repetition at all because I do believe I ended up with the best classic meatloaf recipe ever. 🙂

More Comfort Food Recipes:

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Best Meatloaf with ketchup glaze - 3 slices

The Best Classic Meatloaf Recipe

4.97 from 1628 votes
This amazing homemade meatloaf recipe is tender and juicy with a sweet tangy topping. It's a traditional meatloaf with ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, seasonings and a ketchup-based topping.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Video

Servings 10 slices
Calories 164 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley leaves
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • For the Topping:
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, add the beef, bread crumbs, onion, milk, egg, 2 tablespoons ketchup, worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Use your hands to mush and mix these ingredients together until well combined.*
  • Add the meat mixture to a loaf pan. Pat the meat down into an even layer.
  • In a small bowl, add ¼ cup ketchup, the brown sugar, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Pour the sauce on top of the meatloaf and spread it into an even layer.
  • Bake uncovered for 55 minutes.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for 8-10 minutes before serving (or it may fall apart).**

Notes

*Be sure to mix the meat really well.  This is a very moist meatloaf recipe so under mixing can cause the meatloaf to be too soft/mushy. 
**I use two thin spatulas to remove the meatloaf from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. You could also slice and serve the meatloaf directly from the loaf pan, or use parchment paper to line the pan for easy removal.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/10th of the meatloaf | Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.8g | Protein: 11.7g | Fat: 5.7g | Saturated Fat: 2.2g | Cholesterol: 49.9mg | Sodium: 399.3mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 6.7g
Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course, Main Dish
Keyword best meatloaf recipe, classic meatloaf, meatloaf with ground beef
Cuisine American
Author Amanda Finks

the best classic meatloaf with glaze in a loaf pan

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. First time making meatloaf and this recipe is very easy and delicious. Printed a copy since I know I will be making it quite often.

  2. I would like to use Oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, and almond milk instead of regular milk.
    One cup of oatmeal seems like a lot.
    Can you please suggest an amount for the oatmeal and the almond milk?

    The recipe looks great!

  3. 5 stars
    Wow. This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever made. Quick and easy. I doubled the recipe and cooked 5 extra minutes. I also used 1/2 panko and 1/2 regular breadcrumbs because that’s what I had. Definitely a keeper. In fact I think my meatloaf recipe search is over!

  4. This is the best meatloaf!! My husband and son love it!!
    I decided to cook it in muffin pan this time and it turned out great!! I cooked it for 30 minutes. Also this time I used cracker crumbs because I didn’t have any bread crumbs. Still tasted Great!!

  5. I just fixed this recipe except I did not put milk in but put in not quite a lb. Of pork sausage. Otherwise, it was good to go. Man o man!!! My husband liked it alot… it was very good. I plan on making this from now on. Thank you

    1. I was just wondering about that since we have 2 canisters of Quaker Oats…
      However, I used a packet and a half of the Saltine crackers and used a can of evaporated milk instead. I’m gonna find me out how it turns out at dinner tonite!!!

  6. 5 stars
    The best meat loaf recipe ever! Moist, favorable and easy to make ! This is my first review of a recipe because I usually make adjustments to others posted but this one, perfect!

  7. I made this and it was fabulous. I used Heinz Honeyracha Ketchup instead of regular ketchup, and the flavor is amazing.

  8. Has anyone tried making this into meatballs? Wondering if that would work well. Obviously I would change the flavor profile to make it more Italian (no glaze, tomato paste instead of ketchup in the meat, oregano instead of parsley), but anyone have any thoughts on that?

  9. I have made this recipe in the past and my family loives it. Now I’m making it for 8 people. Do I double everything?

  10. 5 stars
    I MADE THIS MEATLOAF A FEW WEEKS AGO AND WE LOVED IT! Just spend two hours looking for the recipe because I forgot to marked it. Now I have it printed.. wasn’t sure if I was going to like the red wine vinegar but it made the sauce.

  11. Wonderful old-fashioned goodness. My family loved this meatloaf recipe best out of all the recipes I’ve tried. It’s simple to make with ingredients most people already have. Love it!

  12. 5 stars
    This is the BEST meatloaf…. I was never a fan of meatloaf but made this for my boyfriend. This is incredibly moist, flavorful, and the topping is the best!!

  13. My youngest daughter makes this for me and freezes it for extra meals. I love this recipe. Now tonight I’m going to surprise her by making it. I hope she still makes it for me. It tastes so much better when she cooks for me😊❤

  14. 5 stars
    This is one of the best meatloaf recipes I’ve tried. My daughter won’t eat any other kind now. And it’s just as easy as the recipe I used to use, and I like the flavor of this glaze more than the other one too. This has became a weekly staple in our house, and the only thing I sometimes change is to use fresh garlic instead of powder. But we think it’s great either way.

About Amanda Finks

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Zionsville, IN. I’m an avid cook, travel nerd, & lover of good food! I’m trained in Food Science & recipe development. It’s my mission to bring you the BEST recipes your whole family will love!

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