Unbelievably tender, juicy meatloaf made with organic beef. This recipe features Italian seasoned ground beef with a sweet and tangy (no ketchup) glaze. This supper centerpiece needs little more than basic mashed potatoes or a side of sautéed green beans.
What is it with meatloaf that makes it so controversial?
Maybe it’s that it’s trickier than it seems. Depending on the exact preparation, it can either be tough and lackluster or incredibly juice-filled and brilliant.
Whatever your tales of meatloaves past, we’re going to cover all our bases today because a moist meatloaf is actually dang good eating!
Say goodbye to dry meatloaf.
Let me let you in on a little secret: Ground beef cooked with finely chopped onion, tiny breadcrumbs, and eggs produces an irresistibly tender and juicy-as-all-get-out meatloaf. Since meatloaf is super savory, you want the glaze to be boldly sweet and tangy for contrast. Timing the glaze is how you target that sticky-wet consistency that helps it cling to the meatloaf when you slice it.
My take on meatloaf is that it isn’t just a hungry-man’s supper. If you slop it on a plate, a toddler won’t discriminate but it can be plated romantically for an anniversary dinner. What do you think?
PERKS OF MAKING MEATLOAF FROM SCRATCH
- One Pot. Everything cooks in one meatloaf pan for fewer dishes to wash and more time to spend with your loved ones.
- Nostalgia with ease. Dinner for days will be waiting after mixing in a bowl, dumping in the meatloaf pan and baking.
- A classic sticky glaze with a kick: Plain ketchup is for cafeterias. This meatloaf glaze boasts richer flavors (brown sugar, tomato paste, vinegar) and a touch of heat from smoked paprika
- Juicy and tender: I’ll walk you through how to mix lightly, repurpose pan juices, and rest your meatloaf for successful succulent meatloaf.
- Temperature guidelines: If you know what temperature to target, there’s no risk of your meatloaf getting over- or under-cooked (plus, you can adapt to your meatloaf pan).
I highly recommend a good instant read thermometer. This thermopen is really beloved for it’s accuracy, and I love it!
Meatloaf Ingredient Tips and Substitutions
- Ground beef: avoid super lean meats which tend to dry out. Stick with 85% lean or 90% lean ground beef. Ground pork will work but produces a less savory meatloaf.
- onion: preferably a yellow or white onion. Must chop finely so onion cooks through and meatloaf holds its shape. Note: 1/2 cup diced onion = 1 medium onion (may use 1/2 of a large onion)
- eggs: 2 large eggs is equivalent to 1/2 cup liquid and ensures a tender loaf that holds its shape
- garlic cloves: 3 cloves = roughly 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- tomato paste: replaces ketchup in this recipe; gochujang chili sauce is a spicy, sweet swap
- fresh parsley: flat leaf or curly (must be minced), carrot tops are a good substitute
- breadcrumbs: ideal for a tender meatloaf. Panko, finely ground pulverized day-old bread, or finely ground Ritz crackers all work.
- milk: preferably any dairy milk
- salt: you can’t have a tasty meatloaf without salt! Sea salt or Kosher salt are best for cooking.
- Italian seasoning or a blend of dried oregano, thyme, and basil
- black pepper: freshly ground peppercorns provide spice and flavor
- smoked paprika: provides a smoky flavor that’s a tad spicy
Meatloaf Glaze Ingredients
Perfectly balanced sweet and tangy flavors made with wholesome ingredients. Baking caramelizes all the flavors during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- tomato paste
- vinegar: an acidic ingredient contrasts the savory beef and makes the flavors dynamic. Umeboshi vinegar is a Japanese plum vinegar with a sweet, sour, salty profile. It’s my favorite vinegar but if you can’t find it, just use red wine vinegar or any vinegar you have on hand.
- brown sugar (light or dark): coconut sugar or palm sugar may be substituted 1:1
- garlic powder: a very finely minced garlic clove works, too
- smoked paprika: adds just a bit of heat and smoky flavor (omit if you like)
- salt: ensures a flavorful glaze
MEATLOAF PRO TIPS
As you become familiar with making meatloaf from scratch, you won’t even need a recipe. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
- Use a light hand. Over-mixing will result in a tough/dense meatloaf. Stir just to combine and press gently into the pan.
- Line your loaf pan. Parchment paper overhanging the edges makes it possible to remove the loaf (simply lift up) and set on a cutting board for easy slicing.
- Reserve juices. You can use the juices in the pan to maximize juiciness just before serving. Simply drizzle over the meatloaf, veggies, or mashed potatoes!
- Let it rest. Hot meatloaf should cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it to allow those surface juices to get reabsorbed into the center of the meatloaf.
- Time that glaze. You want to partially cook the meatloaf, then glaze. That way, the glaze caramelizes and thickens just so.
About the Recipe (VISUALIZE THE STEPS)
Serves: 8 (at 1 slice per person) / Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 55 minutes
Meatloaf Pan: You will need a 9″x5″ loaf pan (line with parchment paper for removing easily)
Step 1: Mix and assemble meatloaf in 9”x5” loaf pan.
Line loaf pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine all the meatloaf ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon just until combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Press gently to smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes.
Step 2: Mix glaze and spread over meatloaf then return to the oven.
In a small bowl, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Stir with a spoon until smooth. Pour over top of the baked meatloaf then return to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160F in the center. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot.
Leftover Meatloaf Ideas
- Sandwiches: My dad introduced me to this (just sandwich meat between tender bread with mayo!)
- Make Spaghetti Bolognese (just crumble meat into the sauce)
- Sloppy joes: Simmer in a skillet with a second batch of the meatloaf glaze
How long to cook meatloaf at 375?
How long you cook the meatloaf depends on the size of your pan. For a 9”x5” pan, cook uncovered for 40 minutes at 375F. Glaze then cook an additional 15-20 minutes or until the center registers 160F. As a general rule, a smaller loaf pan will require a longer cooking time and a larger vessel will cut down on the cooking time.
Can I make juicy meatloaf without breadcrumbs?
You can. The egg, onion, and pan size help keep this meatloaf moist. You can remove the milk and breadcrumbs entirely or you can replace the breadcrumbs 1:1 with gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Can I bake meatloaf on a baking sheet?
You can but the meatloaf will have more caramelized, crispy outer edges. You might want to try using foil to protect the shape of the meatloaf and lock in more juices. Since baking time will vary, use a thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf to determine doneness.
How do I store meatloaf?
You can store cooked meatloaf in the pan it was baked in. Allow the hot pan to cool for 20 minutes, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Rewarm sliced meatloaf in the microwave or oven and consume within 3 to 4 days.
Can meatloaf be frozen?
Meatloaf can actually be frozen in its raw (uncooked) state or after it’s been fully cooked and will last for up to 6 months. Since the texture of meatloaf is truly best when it only gets cooked once, I recommend freezing raw if you can. For the most even cooking, I recommend transferring to the refrigerator a day or two out to defrost then cooking until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which is considered the safe temperature for ground beef. If you want to learn more, I like this resource.
Can I make meatloaf with 1 pound of ground beef?
Yes. You can use the recipe card “servings” slider. For 1 pound ground beef, reduce the servings to “4”. Place some vegetables (like diced potatoes) in one half of the loaf pan and put your meat mixture in the other half. That way, your meatloaf will still have a nice tall height and you can use the vegetables to form a kind of wall (plus, bonus: easy side dish).
MORE EASY DINNER RECIPES FOR YOU AND YOURS:
- Dutch Oven Goulash
- Dutch Oven Meatballs
- Skillet Chicken in Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Sauce
- 1 Pot Ground Beef and Cheese Enchiladas
- Forever Barbacoa – Mexican Shredded Beef
- Dutch Oven London Broil Pot Roast
- Miracle Chicken and Zucchini
MEATLOAF WITH BROWN SUGAR TOMATO GLAZE
- 2 pounds organic ground beef 85% lean
- 1 medium yellow/white onion finely chopped*
- 2 large eggs
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
- ¾ cup finely ground breadcrumbs (such as panko) this will make your meatloaf tender
- ⅓ cup milk any kind
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning a blend of oregano, thyme, basil
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Meatloaf Glaze Ingredients:
- ¾ cup tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar or umeboshi vinegar*
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar light or dark
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Mix and assemble meatloaf in 9”x5” loaf pan. Line loaf pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine all the meatloaf ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon just until combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Press gently to smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes.
- Mix glaze and spread over meatloaf then return to the oven. In a small bowl, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Stir with a spoon until smooth. Pour over top of the baked meatloaf then return to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160F in the center. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot.
Photography by Adam Rahman