Nutritious and comforting are just a few ways to describe a comforting meatloaf recipe. It's one of those crowd-pleasing classics that never gets old.
But if you're wondering how to make meatloaf that comes out juicy and flavorful, you'll want to follow some simple instructions for the best results.
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Most meatloaf recipes can be made with just a few simple staples you may already have on hand. It can be classic and simple, or as complex as you like.
How to Make Meatloaf
Things You'll Need
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (like beef or turkey)
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup minced onion
3/4 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper, to taste
Other seasonings, to taste
To make some comforting meatloaf, start with the basics. Here's how experts at The Beef Checkoff put it all together.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a mixing bowl, combine meat with breadcrumbs, minced onion, 1/2 cup ketchup, your seasonings and an egg. Mix well until combined.
- Shape the mixture into a foil-lined loaf pan.
- Put the meatloaf in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Brush the top with another 1/4 cup of ketchup.
- Bake for another 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 F (use a meat thermometer to check).
There are a variety of veggies you can add to the loaf mixture. You may want to sauté them first to keep your loaf moist and flavorful. These are some simple veggie options:
Meatloaf is quite simple to prepare, but if you don't want to end up with a brick when you take it out of the oven, keep these tips in mind:
- Don't omit or skimp on the breadcrumbs. (They soak up the meat's juices to keep it from falling apart.)
- For optimal texture and moisture, choose meat with 20 percent fat, or add a little more liquid when using lean cuts. But don't overdo it: Too much fat can make your meatloaf greasy.
- Don't over-mix! It will make your meatloaf too firm.
- Let your meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before serving. It will even out the temperature and keep the juices in the loaf (and not on your cutting board).
With classic, creative and even vegan options, you can create a meatloaf with ingredients and flavors you love. For more inspiration, check out these mouthwatering recipes.
1. The Best Classic Meatloaf
- Protein: 12 grams
This tender and juicy meatloaf has that sweet and tangy finish you know and love. In fact, it is a traditional take on the comforting classic, with ketchup as its flavor-rich topper.
Lean ground beef keeps it on the lighter side with only 2.2 grams of saturated fat per serving. The remaining combination of ingredients seals in a moist and mouthwatering appeal that will have you returning to this meatloaf recipe again and again.
Get the Best Classic Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from The Wholesome Dish.
2. 4-Ingredient Meatloaf
• Protein: 25 grams
With just four ingredients, this meatloaf takes but 5 minutes to prepare. You'll use a box of stuffing mix for the "seasoned bread crumb," keeping your meatloaf extra flavorful and moist.
Breadcrumbs aren't just for filler, they soak up moisture within the loaf to prevent the liquid from draining out and drying out your loaf, and act as a binder to hold it all together.
And nutritionally, this loaf doesn't disappoint. A serving gives you 25 grams of protein to keep you fueled and satisfied.
Get the 4-Ingredient Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from Amanda's Easy Recipes.
3. Mama's Cheesy Meatloaf Minis
- Protein: 25 grams
Cute as they are delicious, these meatloaf minis are great for portion control, and it's a perfect meal for the whole family. They're full of kid-friendly gooey cheese and even sneak in a decent amount of veggies (bell pepper, zucchini and carrots).
Serve it up with some green beans and a dollop of mashed potatoes for a traditional comforting meatloaf pairing.
Get the Mama's Cheesy Meatloaf Minis recipe from Love and Zest.
4. Vegan Lentil 'Meatloaf' With Maple Glaze
• Protein: 10 grams
For those who love traditional meatloaf but prefer a vegan or meatless option, this recipe packs in all the excellent flavor and satisfaction (and it holds together quite well). Lentils add B vitamins, complex carbs and quality plant protein. And, its tangy glaze is free of refined sugars.
With flax (which works as a great binder), oats, carrots and tomato paste, this lentil loaf packs in a whole lot of plant love. We also love that it's only 140 calories per satisfying slice!
Get the Vegan Lentil 'Meatloaf' With Maple Glaze recipe and nutrition info from Eating Bird Food.
5. Holiday Meatloaf
- Protein: 23 grams
Just in time for the holidays, this juicy meatloaf uses ground turkey and a blend of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage for the seasoning. (And you may not taste it, but it's also got golden flax meal, which is a source of protein, fiber and omega-3s.)
For the sweet and tangy glaze, you'll use antioxidant rich-cranberries and maple syrup for a festive appeal.
Get the Holiday Meatloaf recipe from My Heart Beets.
6. The Best Vegan Meatloaf
• Protein: 19 grams
Mushrooms and lentils give this recipe a meaty appeal while keeping it vegan-friendly. Tempeh (a cake of fermented soybean) adds to its protein, though you really won't taste it.
Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and the blend of herbs and spices give this loaf plenty of flavor, and walnuts add a great texture, along with some healthy fats.
With 19 grams of plant-based protein and only 2 grams of saturated fat per serving, this vegan meatloaf recipe is a heart-healthy winner.
Get the Best Vegan Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
7. Instant Pot Meatloaf
• Protein: 27 grams
This instant pot version has everything you love in a meatloaf — it's juicy, hearty and satisfying. It's got all the essential ingredients: your meat, bread crumbs, eggs and seasoning all molded into a loaf shape, then pressure-cooked to perfection.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can prepare your mashed potatoes right below the meatloaf to cook them simultaneously. You'll prepare the sauce while it's cooking, then slather it on when it's done. It's a convenient way to cook this comforting classic.
Get the Instant Pot Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from Tastes Better from Scratch.
8. The Best Glazed Meatloaf
• Protein: 24 grams
You won't find anything overwhelming about this meatloaf recipe. It's a simple combination of just 10 common ingredients you probably have at home.
But what makes this glazed meatloaf really special is the chili ketchup glaze on top, making each juicy, protein-rich bite that much more drool-worthy.
With affordable and accessible ingredients, it's a recipe you'll want to keep on hand.
Get The Best Glazed Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from Little Sunny Kitchen.
9. Easy Meatloaf
• Protein: 22 grams
If you like the nostalgia of a classic meatloaf, give this recipe a try. It's got all the common ingredients, plus a bit of BBQ and brown sugar in the ketchup glaze to give it some sweet pizzazz. A dusting of fresh parsley adds a nice final touch.
Each serving (at less than 400 calories) gives you 22 grams of satiating protein!
Get the Easy Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from Salt and Lavender.
10. Balsamic Glazed Veggie Meatloaf
• Protein: 19 grams
This meatloaf recipe is a great way to get more veggies into your diet. Roasted veggies bring an intensity of caramelized flavor that is distributed well throughout the meatloaf. To top it off, the loaf is coated with homemade balsamic ketchup for a tangy punch.
The best part is, it doesn't take too much effort. You'll spend around 10 minutes prepping this meal before putting it in the oven to bake — simple, nutritious and delicious!
Get the Balsamic Glazed Veggie Meatloaf recipe and nutrition info from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.