Easy Classic Meatloaf

Easy classic meatloaf recipe sliced on a plate

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Resting Time: 10 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
598 Calories
29g Fat
36g Carbs
47g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 598
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 198mg 66%
Sodium 1105mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 47g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 127mg 10%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 799mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There's nothing quite as comforting as a classic meatloaf, and this easy recipe delivers a meatloaf that's moist and full of flavor. The simplicity is part of what makes this meatloaf so good, and you are likely to have most of the ingredients on hand.

There's no need to pre-cook or chop any ingredients either. Just combine everything in a bowl, shape the loaf, and bake! This simple meatloaf recipe is a great fit for Sunday dinner, and it's easy enough for a weeknight.

The Secrets to a Moist Meatloaf

Nobody wants a dried out meatloaf, so keep these tips in mind to make a juicy meatloaf.

  • Choose ground beef with enough fat: Ground beef with a lean to fat ratio of 80/20 or 85/15 will produce a moist and flavorful meatloaf (it's the best for burgers too). You need some fat to keep the meatloaf juicy, so now is not the time to go for extra-lean beef.  
  • Add some moist-makers: A combination of wet ingredients, including milk, ketchup, and egg, along with breadcrumbs, will help keep your meatloaf from turning into a dry puck.
  • Let it rest: Once the meatloaf is out of the oven, be sure to let it sit for at least 10 minutes to reabsorb the juices.

Do You Need a Special Pan to Cook Meatloaf?

While a regular loaf pan is just fine for cooking meatloaf, baking the meatloaf in a specialty meatloaf pan or on a rack will help drain away some of the excess fat. If you don't have a specialty pan, you can make a free-form loaf on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or ​9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan to achieve similar fat drainage. Or simply tip the pan to drain out the excess fat before you add the glaze.

How to Keep Meatloaf from Falling Apart

  • Add eggs and breadcrumbs: The combination of eggs and breadcrumbs serve as a binder to hold the meatloaf together.
  • Let the meatloaf rest after cooking: Just like when you are cooking other meats, it's important to allow your loaf to rest before you slice it. This will allow the juices to lock in, the loaf to firm up, and make it easier to slice. If you don't let your loaf rest, you run the risk of having the meatloaf fall apart.
  • Create a sling to remove the meatloaf from the pan: Line the loaf pan with parchment paper or foil, like a sling. Just grab the ends of the paper or foil and lift the meatloaf out of the pan when it's done.

Should Meatloaf Be Cooked Covered or Uncovered?

Meatloaf can be cooked covered or uncovered. Typically, when covering a dish, it is to keep more moisture in and prevent it from burning too quickly on top. This should not happen when cooking at the recommended temperature of 350 F. But, as each oven can vary in temperature, if you are cooking meatloaf uncovered and notice that it's starting to burn, place a piece of aluminum foil on top.

What to Serve with Meatloaf

For a tasty meal, serve the meatloaf with homemade mashed potatoes and peas and carrots or your favorite steamed or roasted vegetables. Meatloaf also pairs very well with macaroni and cheese, rice pilaf, scalloped potatoes, and mashed cauliflower.


Click Play to See This Simple and Delicious Meatloaf Recipe Come Together


For the Optional Glaze/Topping:

  • 4 tablespoons ketchup

  • 4 tablespoons honey, or maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 pounds ground beef

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons minced dried onions, or 1/2 cup finely minced onion

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons burger seasoning, or 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Easy classic meatloaf ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Heat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

    Loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. If using the optional topping, in a small bowl, combine the ketchup, honey or maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce until well mixed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate.

    Meatloaf sauce in bowl with a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, onion, burger seasoning (or salt and pepper), and 1/2 cup of ketchup.

    Ground beef and seasonings in large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Mix until well blended and pack into the prepared loaf pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake the meatloaf for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

    Unbaked meatloaf in a loaf pan on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Carefully drain off any excess fat.

    Cooked meatloaf in loaf pan with extra fat in bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Top the loaf with the optional glaze mixture or about 4 tablespoons of ketchup. Bake until the glaze is bubbly and the meatloaf is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. An instant read thermometer should register at least 160 F at the center of the loaf.

    Meatloaf in pan topped with sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes, tented with aluminum foil.

    Meatloaf tented in foil on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

    Cooked meatloaf in loaf pan with sauce on top

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • Mix up the meat: Experiment with meat mixtures. While beef gives excellent flavor and holds together well, adding a portion of lean ground pork will provide juiciness. Ground veal adds lightness to a loaf, and lean ground chicken or turkey provides a different flavor profile and reduces the overall fat and calories. (If using poultry, be sure the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 165 F vs. the minimum of 160 for ground beef, veal, and pork.)
  • Work in some veggies: Feel free to add some sautéed vegetables to the meat mixture—just be sure they are not too wet or they might make your meatloaf soggy.
  • Play with the spices: Swap out the spice blend for your favorite herb or spice blend, such as Cajun seasoning or chile powder.
  • Switch up the glaze: Instead of the optional topping, top the meatloaf with plain ketchup or prepared barbecue sauce just before it's finished baking. For a zestier meatloaf, try chili sauce or cocktail sauce on top.
  • Swap out the breadcrumbs: Use cracker crumbs, crushed cheese crackers, oatmeal, or soft breadcrumbs in the meatloaf instead of fine dry breadcrumbs. Any one of these will add texture and—with the eggs—help hold the meatloaf together. They also soak up excess moisture and are very important for keeping meatloaf tender.
  • Make mini meatloaves: Bake the meatloaf in individual muffin cups. Use about 1/4 cup of meatloaf mixture for each muffin cup. Or pack the meatloaf mixture into individual oiled ramekins, and then invert them onto a rimmed baking sheet for perfectly shaped individual meatloaves.
  • Add some bacon: Top the meatloaf with strips of raw bacon before baking, or add crumbled cooked bacon to the meat mixture.

Make It Ahead

To make a meatloaf a day in advance, prepare the loaf and cover the pan tightly. Refrigerate the loaf for up to 24 hours and bake as directed, or until it reaches at least 160 F (If the loaf includes poultry, cook until 165 F).

How To Store and Freeze Leftover Meatloaf

  • Refrigerate leftover meatloaf in shallow, airtight containers or wrap tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Use leftover refrigerated meatloaf within 4 days.
  • For longer storage, meatloaf may be frozen. Wrap the meatloaf or slices tightly with plastic wrap and heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 4 months. Defrost frozen cooked meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat leftover meatloaf in a 350 F oven or in the microwave until it reaches at least 165 F.