Mom's Basic Meatloaf

Mom's Meatloaf
The Spruce
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 6 servings

This basic meatloaf will remind you of your mother's or grandmother's loaf. Be it ever so humble, the meatloaf is considered one of America's favorite comfort foods. And it's easy on the budget!

There are all kinds of things you can do to gussy up an everyday meatloaf. From extra flavor to a moister loaf, our recipe variations sections will give you an edge on the best ways to do just that. A beef mixture of about 80/20 to 85/15 is ideal for a juicy meatloaf. Leaner beef could mean a dry and less flavorful loaf. If your ground beef is particularly lean, add about one-quarter to one-third of ground pork. 

Top the meatloaf with extra ketchup, chili sauce, or barbecue sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetable side dish. Add in an apple pie for dessert to top this off as an all-comfort meal.

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Click Play to See This Meatloaf Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cracker crumbs (about 8 to 10 saltines, crushed)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (or chili sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small onion (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C/Gas 4. 

    Mom's meatloaf ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk and crushed crackers; let stand for about 2 to 3 minutes.

    Mix milk and crushed crackers
    The Spruce
  3. Whisk in the egg, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir the onion, salt, and pepper into the mixture.

    Add the egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, onion, salt, and pepper
     The Spruce
  4. Then add the ground beef. Blend well, but do not over-mix.

    Add ground beef to mixture
    The Spruce
  5. Form the meatloaf mixture into a loaf and place it in a baking dish, a meatloaf pan, or a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

    Add mixture to loaf baking dish
    The Spruce
  6. Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. (The minimum safe temperature for ground meat is 160 F.)

  7. If desired, spread more ketchup over the top of the meatloaf about 5 to 10 minutes before it's ready.

  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Mom's finished baked meatloaf
    The Spruce

Tips

  • Avoid excess grease by using a meatloaf pan with an insert rack or carefully pour off excess grease just before the meatloaf is done.
  • Mix ingredients gently. Over-mixing or packing it in the pan too tightly will make the meatloaf tougher.
  • To check the seasoning balance, don't taste the raw meat and egg mixture. Fry a small meatloaf patty and then taste it. Adjust the seasonings accordingly.
  • For a moister meatloaf, use a food processor to mince the vegetables and then sauté them briefly in a small amount of butter or oil.
  • For individual loaves, bake the meat mixture in a muffin tin.
  • Double the recipe and cook it in two loaf pans for a larger family. Or make one meatloaf for today and freeze the second one for a future meal. Defrost a frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator and then reheat it in a 350 F oven. Or freeze individual slices of meatloaf and reheat them in the microwave oven.
  • To cook the meatloaf in a slow cooker, combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Line a slow cooker with foil, leaving the ends long enough to lift the meatloaf out when it's done. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with vegetable oil. Shape the meatloaf mixture into a round or oblong loaf and place it in the center of the slow cooker. Cook on the low setting for 3 to 4 hours, or until an instant-read food thermometer registers at least 160 F. If desired, spread some ketchup over the loaf about 10 minutes before it's ready. Use the ends of the foil to lift the loaf out of the slow cooker. Slice and serve.

Recipe Variations

  • For some extra flavor, add about 1/4 cup of finely chopped bell peppers and a shredded carrot to the meat mixture.
  • For a moister loaf, sauté the vegetables briefly in about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or butter.
  • Instead of crackers, feel free to use fine dry bread crumbs. Or use some quick oats instead of bread.