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 1685 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
    This is the best meatloaf I have ever made. I do make good meatloaf but this one was so moist. This is now my go to meatloaf recipe.
    My husband and our friend went on and on about how good it was.

  2. 5 stars
    Literally make this almost once a week! My fav meatloaf recipe! Even some friends have stolen it as well 🤣
    Only thing I do different is use ground turkey instead of ground beef (it makes your meatloaf stick way better, it’s healthier, & less grease) & I double the topping. Everyone loves it.

  3. 5 stars
    Searching for a classic easy meatloaf last night and this came up. It was exactly what I was looking for. Flavorful, moist and super easy to prepare. The family loved it. I was never a meatloaf fan growing up but this may have changed that!

  4. 5 stars
    This is absolutely the best meatloaf recipe and I make it regularly. I slice up the leftover, wrap the slices individually in cling wrap and freeze them. Always delicious! Thank you!

    1. 5 stars
      I don’t really care for meatloaf, but have been trying to find one I like. I made this tonight and liked it a lot. I would definitely make it again.

  5. 5 stars
    This had been my go to meatloaf for several years now. Sorry I didn’t review it until now. My husband and son both LOVE it! I have made many versions of meatloaf over the years, including Paula Deen’s, and this one is the favorite. It comes out perfect everytime!

  6. 5 stars
    Meatloaf is exceptional! Great flavor and not dry. I usually double the recipe and make 2 loaf pans so my son can freeze one to take to college.

  7. 5 stars
    Just wanted to thank you for this recipe. Made 2 meatloaves (1 – 2 lbs & 1 – 1 lb) the same day and they were both fantastic!!!! Followed recipe precisely and they turned out perfect as the recipe and reviews state. I only added diced bell peppers to them because I typically have more vegetables in my meatloaf (shredded carrots, diced celery, onions and bell peppers).
    This recipe was a supper hit with the family that received the large loaf along with the small one for home. Husband loved it! Outstanding and so appreciated!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    1. 5 stars
      I made a double batch. I used one pound of ground beef and one pound of ground pork. It was something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I used the same combo for spaghetti sauce and my guys loved it! Well, the meatloaf came out so good that I was given one complement after another throughout the entire meal! Even my brother l, who doesn’t say a lot, murmured a mmmmm after his first bite! Best meatloaf I have ever tried!!!

  8. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. It is easy and tasty. I have been making it for the last 2 years maybe.. one of my favorite recipes and BTW I am not a great cook! 😆

  9. 5 stars
    It was the best meatloaf I ever made! Since my husband is diabetic I used a combination of parmesan cheese and crushed low carb crackers in place of the breadcrumbs, and almond milk in place of regular milk. I also used low sugar ketchup. I cut the topping measurements in half on account of the brown sugar, but it was still delicious. I discovered that Splenda makes brown sugar so next time I’ll use that in the full amount. It took a little less time to cook for some reason – about 45 minutes. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  10. 5 stars
    My family loves loves loves this meatloaf. I use dark brown sugar rather than light. Everyone gets excited when they find out I’m making it.

  11. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious, almost as good as my dear moms. Made it the first time and my girlfriends loved it, as did I. Thank you for the recipe.

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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