How to Cook a Beef Meat Loaf Frozen or Thawed

Meatloaf with brown sauce
Sliced meatloaf on top of mashed potatoes. (Image: Azurita/iStock/Getty Images)

Although frozen meatloaf is widely available in supermarkets, making and freezing it yourself allows you to avoid preservatives and control the meatloaf's fat and salt content. Line your loaf pans with plastic wrap before you press the meat into them. Lift the plastic to remove the meatloaf before you freeze it. You can cook the meatloaf frozen or thawed. Either way, heat it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before you serve it.

Frozen Meatloaf

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2

Remove the wrapping from the frozen meatloaf.

Step 3

Place the meatloaf in the pan it was cooked in if you prefer meatloaf with soft sides. Use a baking pan for meatloaf with a crustier exterior.

Step 4

Bake the meatloaf for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 F.

Thawed Meatloaf

Step 1

Remove the meatloaf from the freezer. Place it in the refrigerator, on a dish, and thaw it for 24 hours. Alternatively, seal the meatloaf in a freezer bag. Submerge the bag in cold water. Refresh the cold water every half hour until the meat thaws.

Step 2

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Step 3

Remove the meatloaf from the refrigerator or water and unwrap it.

Step 4

Place the meat in a loaf pan or baking pan.

Step 5

Bake the meatloaf for 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 F.

Things You'll Need

  • Freezer paper

  • Freezer bag

  • Meat thermometer

Tip

Wrap meatloaf in freezer paper before storing it in the freezer. Freezer paper works better than plastic at keeping out the oxygen that causes freezer burn.

Meatloaf stays good in the freezer for three to four months.

Bake the meat on a rack in a baking pan for a crisper, less greasy bottom.

Cook thawed meatloaf within two to three days.

Rather than glazing meatloaf before you freeze it, save glazes and other toppings until it's time to cook the meatloaf. Wait until the last half hour of baking to reduce the risk of burning.

Warning

Use caution when thawing meatloaf in a microwave. Thaw the meat on a low power setting. Turn it frequently for even heating. Because the microwave may heat the center of the meat to a temperature that encourages bacteria growth even while the exterior remains cold, you should cook the meatloaf immediately after it thaws.

Avoid overpacking your freezer with fresh foods. Add only as much as will freeze within 24 hours.

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