How to Make a Basic Meatloaf

Simple Meatloaf
Diana Rattray
  • 01 of 07

    How to Make Meatloaf

    Diana Rattray

    The humble meatloaf is comfort food for many, and it is always a family favorite. The meats used can be varied or combined, and the filler and vegetables used are only limited by your imagination. 

    These meatloaf recipes show the incredible versatility of the dish—from meatloaf wrapped in bacon or covered with gravy to versions with black beans, Cajun vegetables, and even an old-fashioned loaf with vegetable soup. And you can bake it, grill it, or cook it in the slow cooker. You could even make it into muffins or sliders!

    If you are limiting your carbohydrates, use almond flour as a filler, or simply use vegetables as the only filler. For a leaner choice, use ground turkey thighs or a combination of ground turkey breast and turkey thighs.

    Sauces are another way to change it up. Add the classic ketchup or barbecue sauce, or serve the meatloaf with gravy or a simple mushroom sauce.

    If you make meatloaf frequently, you might want to buy a meatloaf pan. The insert has holes which let the fat drip into the bottom of the outer pan, leaving the loaf high and dry. 

    Follow along for the instructions for a basic meatloaf, and feel free to make changes.

    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Choose Your Meat Mixture

    Ground Beef and Ground Pork Meatloaf
    Ground Beef and Ground Pork. Diana Rattray

    A mixture of lean ground beef and pork is a flavorful combination for a meatloaf, though you can also use ground ham, pork sausage, or ground veal along with the beef. Or, use all ground beef. The pictured meatloaf is made with 1 pound of lean ground beef and 1/2 pound of ground pork.

    The paddle attachment of a stand mixer may be used to mix the ingredients or mix it by hand. A less messy way to mix a meatloaf is to put everything in a large food storage bag and knead the bag to blend ingredients. Whether you use a mixer or your hands, avoid overmixing the ingredients.

    Tip: If you can't find lean ground pork, grind or mince it yourself.  Use your grinder or food processor and pork loin or lean pieces of pork shoulder.

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  • 03 of 07

    How to Make Meatloaf: Ingredients

    Combine Meatloaf Ingredients
    Diana Rattray

    To the meat mixture, add 1 slightly beaten large egg, 1/3 cup of ketchup, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley.

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  • 04 of 07

    How to Make Meatloaf: Mixing Ingredients

    Mix Meatloaf Ingredients Gently With Mixer or Hands
    Diana Rattray

    Mix the meatloaf ingredients by hand or on low speed with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until well blended, but do not overmix.

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  • 05 of 07

    How to Make Meatloaf: Shaping the Loaf

    Meatloaf in the Pan
    Diana Rattray

    Pack the ingredients loosely in a loaf pan or shape it into an oblong loaf on a foil-lined rimmed baking pan. Optionally, especially if your meat mixture is very lean, you can top or wrap the loaf with a few strips of bacon. 

    This meatloaf was baked in a lightly oiled loaf pan. A specialty meatloaf pan with a removable rack is another good option. If you use a baking sheet or pan, make sure it has sides, because there will be excess grease as the meatloaf bakes. 

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  • 06 of 07

    How to Make Meatloaf: Baking the Meatloaf

    Diana Rattray

    Bake the meatloaf in a preheated 350 F/180 C/Gas 4 oven for about 1 hour, then carefully pour off excess drippings. With potholders, I place a plate over the meatloaf and carefully tip it to pour the grease into a disposable container. Discard the extra drippings in the trash.

    Spread about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ketchup, chili sauce, or barbecue sauce over the meatloaf, then return to the oven and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes longer.

    The safe minimum temperature for beef, pork, and/or veal loaf is 160 F/71.1 C. For ground chicken or turkey, it is 165 F/73.9 C. Use a food thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf if you're unsure.

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  • 07 of 07

    Slice and Enjoy!

    Simple Meatloaf
    Diana Rattray

     Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes. If desired, use 1 or 2 flexible spatulas to carefully remove the meatloaf from the loaf pan to a serving tray, or slice it right in the pan.

    Serve meatloaf with mashed or scalloped potatoes and your favorite cooked vegetables.