Best Meatloaf Recipe

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This is the best meatloaf recipe ever! It’s tender, moist and flavorful with the most delicious glaze. This easy meatloaf recipe is a classic that your whole family will love. Watch the video and follow our step-by-step instructions to learn how to make meatloaf.

front view of two slices of the Best Meatloaf on a plate with beans and mashed potatoes


We love meatloaf in our house, and this is the best meatloaf recipe ever. I promise you, just one bite will will turn a meatloaf skeptic into a meatloaf fanatic!

This easy meatloaf recipe is a classic that your whole family will love. Best served with a side of mashed potatoes and roasted green beans, of course.

In this post, I walk through all my tips and tricks from decades of experience to ensure you learn how to make meatloaf perfectly every single time.

overhead view of the best meatloaf cut into slices on a serving platter

Meatloaf Recipe: Ingredients & Substitutions 

Let’s discuss the ingredients in this meatloaf recipe, as well as possible substitutions. 

overhead photo of the labeled ingredients in this best meatloaf recipe
  • Ground beef. Use 85/15% or 93/7% lean ground beef for the best results. Or, try this turkey meatloaf recipe. 
  • Bread Crumbs. I explain how to make your own breadcrumbs (so easy) in the recipe, you can substitute quick-cooking oats for the breadcrumbs if desired.
  • Onion. any onion variety works well, sweet onions, red, yellow, white, etc. 
  • Whole Milk. half and half or heavy cream are good substitutes.
  • BBQ Sauce. Choose your favorite variety. We love using a bold and slightly sweet sauce. 
  • Worcestershire sauce. If you don’t have any Worcestershire sauce on hand, increase the barbecue sauce by 2 Tablespoons. 
  • Minced garlic. freshly roasted and crushed garlic can be used in place of store-bought minced garlic. You can also substitute 1 tsp garlic powder for 1 Tablespoon minced garlic. 
  • Light brown sugar. dark brown sugar works really well too!
two slices of the Best Meatloaf on a plate with beans and mashed potatoes and a fork.

How to Make Meatloaf

Let’s walk through the steps together as I show you how to make meatloaf, and don’t forget to watch the video!

Make the Glaze (Topping)

The first step in this meatloaf recipe (after preheating the oven, of course), is making the glaze. It’s good to make it and set it aside so it’s ready to go when needed.

It’s easy to make, simply whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup, and set it aside to use later. 

How to Make Meatloaf - glaze ingredients in a bowl with a whisk before mixing
How to Make Meatloaf - glaze ingredients in a bowl with a whisk after mixing

Make the Meatloaf

Next, to ensure even distribution throughout the ground beef mixture, whisk together the wet ingredients in a large bowl. 

How to Make Meatloaf - wet ingredients in a large glass bowl with a whisk before mixing
How to Make Meatloaf wet mixture in a glass bowl with a whisk after whisking

Once the wet mixture is smooth, add the meat, onions and bread crumbs and stir until combined.

How to Make Meatloaf - adding meat, breadcrumbs, spices and onions to the wet mixture in a glass bowl before mixing
How to Make Meatloaf - meatloaf mixture after mixing

Prepare a metal rack

Line a wire rack with aluminum foil and poke holes in it, then place it on a large baking sheet. I prefer to bake my meatloaf this way (rather than in a loaf pan).

Baking it on a wire rack with holes in it allows the fat to drain off (instead of getting trapped in the loaf pan). It also means there is more of an outer surface area for the sauce to stick to, which is the best part.

You can also simply bake it on a wire rack if it has very small spaces. Or you can bake it on a baking sheet and drain off excess fat.

How to Make Meatloaf - preparing a metal rack to cook it on

Form the  Meatloaf

Form the meatloaf mixture into a large loaf – about 10” by 5” by 2″ and place it in the center of the wire rack.

meatloaf formed on a wire rack before baking.

Bake

Bake the meatloaf for 40 minutes until the top starts looking slightly browned and set. 

How to Make Meatloaf  - meatloaf on a wire rack after baking

Add Glaze

After 40  minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven, spread the glaze on top and bake for 10 more minutes or until meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

How to Make Meatloaf - brushing glaze on top of partially baked meatloaf with a pastry brush
How to Make Meatloaf - glaze spread on top

If necessary, broil for the 2-4 minutes to caramelize the top. I love doing this because it makes the top nice and crisp. 

baked meatloaf on a baking rack after broiling to make the glaze thicken

Cool & Serve

Let this easy meatloaf recipe cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving. 

This meatloaf deserves to be served with the best side dishes. Some of our favorites include, but are not limited to:

front view of slices of the Best Meatloaf Recipe on a platter

How to Store Meatloaf

Store leftover meatloaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Or, freeze leftovers in a freezer-friendly, airtight container, silicone bag or plastic bag for up to 2 months. Reheat in a covered dish in the oven set to warm.

two slices of meatloaf on a plate with extra glaze, mashed potatoes and green beans

Best Meatloaf Recipe FAQs

How do you make meatloaf not dry?

In this recipe, milk, BBQ sauce and egg adds moisture to the meatloaf so it is not dry. Also, make sure to use a thermometer to test for doneness to avoid over-baking (and thus, drying out) the meatloaf.

Can you freeze meatloaf? 

Yes! I recommend freezing this meatloaf recipe in individual slices in an airtight container for up to 2 months. To reheat, remove from the freezer and warm in the microwave or covered in the oven. 

What does milk do in meatloaf?

The milk acts as a binding agent along with the eggs. It soaks into the breadcrumbs and keeps the loaf held together and moist.

Should I cover meatloaf when baking?

In this recipe the meatloaf is baked uncovered to brown and crisp the outside.

What is the best binder for meatloaf?

A combination of eggs and bread crumbs/milk.

two slices of meatloaf on a plate with a fork taking a bite

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Best Meatloaf Recipe

Laura
This is the best meatloaf recipe ever! It’s tender, moist and flavorful with the most delicious glaze. This easy meatloaf recipe is a classic that your whole family will love! Watch the video and follow our step-by-step instructions to learn how to make meatloaf!
5 from 112 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 273
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients 
 

Meatloaf

Topping:

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (175°C).

Make the Glaze

  • Combine ketchup brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl, set aside.

Make the Meatloaf

  • In a large bowl whisk together milk, BBQ sauce, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Add meat, onions and bread crumbs and stir until combined.
  • Line a wire rack with aluminum foil and poke holes in it, then place it on a large baking sheet
  • Form the mixture into a large loaf (about 10” by 5” by 2”)
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, spread sauce on top and bake for 10 more minutes or until meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • If necessary, broil for the 2-4 minutes to caramelize the top.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

How to Make Homemade Breadcrumbs
Tear apart 1 slice of bread. Place it on a baking sheet in the preheated oven (375 degrees F) for 3-5 minutes until toasted. Place in a blender or food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Use in recipe.
Ingredient Substitutions
  • Ground beef. Use 85/15% or 93/7% lean ground beef for the best results. Or, try this turkey meatloaf recipe. 
  • Bread Crumbs. Make your own, or use quick-cooking oats if desired.
  • Onion. any onion variety works well, sweet onions, red, yellow, white, etc. 
  • Whole Milk. half and half or heavy cream are good substitutes.
  • BBQ Sauce. Choose your favorite variety. We love using a bold and slightly sweet sauce. 
  • Worcestershire sauce. If you don’t have any Worcestershire sauce on hand, increase the barbecue sauce by 2 Tablespoons. 
  • Minced garlic. freshly roasted and crushed garlic can be used in place of store-bought minced garlic. You can also substitute 1 tsp garlic powder for 1 Tablespoon minced garlic. 
  • Light brown sugar. dark brown sugar works well.
Store
Store this meatloaf recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
Freeze
I recommend freezing this meatloaf recipe in individual slices in an airtight container for up to 2 months. To reheat, remove from the freezer and warm in the microwave or covered in the oven. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 544mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 126IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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70 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve made this recipe. It’s become my standard! It turns out great every time!