The best Meatloaf made with both lean ground beef and Italian sausage, then coated with a sweet and tangy glaze. Tender, juicy, so flavorful, and slices without crumbling. This classic Meatloaf Recipe is where it’s at!
Classic Easy Meatloaf Recipe
Word on the street is that Meatloaf is just a giant rectangular hamburger. This hurts. It’s really not, you guys. Yes, they’re both made with beef, and yes, you can slice meatloaf and serve it on a bun (leftover meatloaf sandwiches, anyone? Sign me up.) But that’s where the similarities stop.
Meatloaf is made with egg and some type of binder like breadcrumbs, oatmeal, or cracker crumbs, baked in a loaf pan, and coated with a glaze. A slice of meatloaf can be enjoyed all on its own, but a hamburger without toppings? Not so much.
This is our go-to meatloaf recipe. It’s easy to prep, affordable, nothing weird or fancy about it. Just classic ingredients that result in a juicy, tender, super flavorful loaf!
Meatloaf is incredibly versatile and loved by so many, which explains why there are a million recipes for it. Here’s what you’ll need for our meatloaf recipe:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Meat: We use both lean ground beef (85% fat) and also Italian sausage. The combination makes the best tasting and juiciest loaf.
- Onion: Very finely minced or grated onion is a key element in meatloaf. Not only does onion provide great flavor, the oats will soak up the onion juices and expand while baking, making the meatloaf nice and tender.
- Garlic: For aromatics and flavor.
- Eggs: Eggs help with structure, acting as a binder that holds it all together.
- Oats: Instead of breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs for the filler, we prefer quick-cooking oats.
- Milk: The oats soak up the milk, which is necessary for moisture in meatloaf.
- Parmesan: For flavor. Freshly grated off the block. Avoid pre-grated cheese in the tub.
- Ketchup: For sweet, tanginess.
- Worcestershire sauce: Adds depth of flavor, and balances out the sweet, savory, and tangy taste.
- Seasonings: Fresh parsley, dried Italian seasoning, kosher salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Meatloaf glaze: The wonderful sweet and tangy glaze is a combination of ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Tips for THE BEST Meatloaf
- Choose the right meat: Use ground beef that is 85% lean and Italian sausage. The combination of these two, in addition to the other ingredients, will produce the juiciest loaf. All ground beef can be used, if preferred.
- Grate the onion: No need to sauté the onion first if you grate or very finely dice it. By doing this, it will cook through and the oats will soak up the onion juices, creating necessary moisture.
- Do not overmix: Bring all the ingredients together, but don’t over-mix or you’ll end up with dense meatloaf that’s tough.
- Use a loaf pan: Using a loaf pan allows the meatloaf to hold its shape, cook more evenly, and remains moist since the juices stay locked in.
- Press gently into the loaf pan: Press gently, but compactly into the loaf pan which helps hold its shape and prevents it from falling apart once sliced.
- Line your loaf pan: Using parchment paper to line the loaf pan with two edges hanging over will make the meatloaf so much easier to remove.
- Do you cover meatloaf when baking? No, you want the meatloaf to brown on top and the glaze to caramelize. If you notice the loaf is browning too quickly, loosely tent with foil toward the end, but before you apply the glaze.
- Let the meatloaf rest: After it’s done baking, let the loaf rest for 10 minute before slicing. Much like letting a roast or steak rest, it allows the juices to set.
How to Make Meatloaf
Making this meatloaf recipe is so so easy and a great weeknight dinner. Here’s a brief summary:
(Don’t miss the video and detailed printable recipe card below.)
- Mix all the ingredients together, except the glaze.
- Add meat mixture to a parchment-lined 9×5 loaf pan, gently pressing to shape evenly.
- Bake at 375 degrees F, uncovered, for 40 minutes and then drain off the fat that has surfaced.
- Prepare the glaze and spread over the meatloaf; return to the oven to caramelize for another 15-20 minutes.
- Let rest, then slice and serve!
What temperature is meatloaf done? The internal temperature of cooked meatloaf should be 160 degrees F.
How long to cook meatloaf? At 375 degrees F, a 3-pound meatloaf like this one will take between 60-75 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. (Note: If using a smaller loaf pan than 9×5, that means the meatloaf will be taller/thicker, which will require a longer cooking time.)
Make Ahead and Storing Leftovers
- Make ahead: You can easily prepare the raw meatloaf up to 1 day ahead of time. Simply form the mixture in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. When it’s close to dinner time, uncover it and let it come to room temperature before baking.
- Storing leftovers: Allow to cool completely, then wrap tightly in foil or place in an airtight container and transfer to the refrigerator. It will keep 3-4 days.
- Can you freeze meatloaf? Yes, meatloaf freezes very well either cooked and cooled or formed and raw. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, again in foil, then transfer to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. All of this will help prevent freezer-burn. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake or reheat.
- How to reheat meatloaf: Place leftover meatloaf in a shallow oven-safe baking dish with 1 to 2 tablespoons of beef broth (or water) to avoid it from drying out. Cover the dish with foil. Transfer to a preheated 250 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the meatloaf is warmed through.
What to Serve with Meatloaf
Serving meatloaf over creamy mashed potatoes is a dynamic duo if ever there was one. For a lower carb option, mashed cauliflower is also great. We also like to serve a couple slices alongside roasted carrots or roasted green beans, plus a simple side salad. That’s a plate of pure, wonderful comfort food. Make sure to leave a little for sandwiches the next day!
More Comfort Food Recipes:
Best Classic Meatloaf
For the Meatloaf
- 1 pound lean ground beef (85% fat)
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 small sweet onion , very finely minced or grated
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
For the Glaze
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients for the meatloaf. Mix thoroughly to combine.
- Add meat to the loaf pan; gently press meat down and shape evenly.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- Drain off some of the fat that has surfaced.
- In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together for the glaze; spread over meatloaf, then return to oven and bake additional 15-20 minutes (or until an internal temperature of 160 degrees F is reached.)
- Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Serve with mashed potatoes and a veggie. Drizzle with the baking juices from the pan, if desired.