Classic Homemade Meatloaf

$9.56 recipe / $0.96 per slice
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.96 from 22 votes
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The concept of meatloaf kind of makes me raise an eyebrow because, well, it’s a loaf of meat. But when it’s executed well it’s just so good. So filling, so cozy, and so delicious that I look forward to eating the leftovers over the next few days (hello meatloaf sandwich, I’m looking at you). This Classic Homemade Meatloaf recipe is the traditional meatloaf that we all know and love—tender, juicy, full of flavor, and with the perfectly tangy tomato glaze on top. It’s so perfect when paired with mashed potatoes and green beans. Like a plate of pure comfort!

Side view of sliced meatloaf on a platter, side dishes in the background

The Secret to Good Meatloaf

Milk. The secret to good meatloaf is milk. It sounds weird, but it makes a HUGE difference. Milk hydrates the breadcrumbs that are used as a binder in meatloaf, which keeps the loaf super moist and tender.

During the testing phase for this recipe, I made one without the milk just to see if really made a difference and I’m here to say that the difference was ENORMOUS. The meatloaf without milk was dense, a little tough, and notably drier than the meatloaf made with milk. So don’t skip it! P.S. I’m sure that non-dairy milk would have the same effect.

Loaf Pan or Baking Sheet?

There are two camps when it comes to meatloaf: baking in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet. I’m team baking sheet, but I think ultimately it’s going to boil down to personal preference. I find that loaf pans don’t allow for quite enough evaporation so the bottom can get a little soupy. Baking sheets allow for a little more evaporation, leaving the meatloaf perfectly juicy and flavorful.

But if shaping is difficult for you or you want those perfect square edges, you might prefer a loaf pan.

Two slices of meatloaf on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

How to Keep Meatloaf from Falling Apart

There are a couple of tricks to making a meatloaf that holds together in nice slices. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a recipe that has the right amount of binders (egg and breadcrumbs). This is essentially the glue that holds the meat together.
  • Use ground beef with a finer grind, or that has been double ground. Really coarse ground beef won’t mix as thoroughly with the binders and may crumble when sliced.
  • Mince the onion as finely as possible. Large chunks of onion will prevent the loaf from holding together as well.

What to Serve with Meatloaf

My favorite pairing for meatloaf is what I have pictured here, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans. It’s so simple, classic, and balanced with the meatloaf and its tangy glaze. But here are some other good side dishes for meatloaf:

Overhead view of sliced meatloaf on a platter
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Classic Meatloaf

4.96 from 22 votes
This classic meatloaf recipe is just like the traditional meatloaf grandma used to make. Tender and juicy with the perfect tomato glaze!
Side view of sliced meatloaf on a platter
Servings 10 slices
Prep 15 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 5 mins



  • 1 large egg ($0.21)
  • 1/3 cup milk ($0.14)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.02)
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs ($0.32)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
  • 1 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/2 cup minced onion ($0.14)
  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef (85/15) ($8.03)


  • 1/2 cup ketchup ($0.40)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.06)
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard ($0.03)


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. In a separate small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mince the onion.
  • Add the ground beef, egg mixture, breadcrumb mixture, and minced onion to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined. Avoid over mixing.
  • Place the meatloaf mixture on a rimmed baking dish and shape it into a loaf that is approximately 4-inches wide, 8-inches long, and 2-inches tall.
  • In a separate small bowl, stir together the glaze ingredients (ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard). Spread the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the meatloaf.
  • Bake the meatloaf for 50-55 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 5-10 minutes after baking, then slice and serve.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 204kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 15gFat: 11gSodium: 465mgFiber: 1g
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How to Make Classic Meatloaf – Step by Step Photos

Wet and dry ingredients for meatloaf in separate bowls

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Start by pre-mixing some of the ingredients for the meatloaf so there will be less mixing required for the meat (overmixing the meat can make meatloaf tough). In a small bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup milk, one large egg, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. In a separate bowl, stir together ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt.

minced onion on a cutting board

Mince about a ½ cup onion. Make sure to chop or mince the onion as finely as possible. Chunky onion can make the meatloaf fall apart more easily.

meatloaf mixture in a bowl

Add the milk mixture, breadcrumb mixture, and minced onion to 1.5 lbs. ground beef (85/15). Mix with your hands until everything is evenly combined. Avoid overmixing.

shaped meatloaf in baking dish

Place the meatloaf mixture on a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish and shape it into a loaf that is approximately 8″ long, 4″ wide, and 2″ tall.

meatloaf glaze ingredients in a bowl

Next, combine the ingredients for the glaze. Stir together ½ cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.

Glaze being spread over the meatloaf

Spread the glaze over the top and sides of the meatloaf.

baked meatloaf with a meat thermometer inside

Bake the meatloaf in the preheated 350ºF oven for 50-55 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

front view of a sliced meatloaf on a platter
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  1. So, it took mine forever to come up to temp. Then when it was finally at 165 (70 ish min later) it has tons of fat that was all in the pan. What did I do wrong?

    1. It sounds like a temperature control issue. Use an oven thermometer to check if your oven is calibrated. XOXO -Monti

  2. I’m officially throwing out my old meatloaf recipe. This one tastes better AND it’s less work – win-win! The only change I made was substituting Dijon mustard in the glaze since that’s what I already had on hand. Next time, I’ll try the garlic herb mashed potatoes, too. Thanks for another great dinner!

  3. Will it make a difference whether I use panko instead of regular breadcrumbs?

    1. The only difference will be how much happier your mouth will be! #TeamPanko for life! XOXO -Monti

  4. I’ve tried multiple meatloaf recipes and this is the best Meatloaf recipe I’ve tried so far! I’m sticking with this one from now on. Super easy and tastes great. Husband and 10 year old went back for seconds!

  5. Made this tonight and it turned out great. The glaze tasted much better than using just ketchup or barbecue sauce. The only thing I changed was I used ground turkey instead of ground beef.

  6. YES!! I love this meatloaf so much! The glaze on top is just perfect flavor for me! I will absolutely make this again soon! This time I prepared it with roasted carrots and I’m just gobbling it up.

  7. You can’t get a better meatloaf than this!!!  When my sister and brother-in-law come to visit, he always wants and gets meatloaf.   

  8. This is the first time I have made this using the Classic Homemade Meatloaf Recipe.. I decided to double the ingredients. By doing so it made two loafs rather than one. In the past, each time I made this for dinner, there never seemed to be any left over for sandwiches the next day.
    Both loaves turned out great! The glaze over the top added just the right touch for flavor. I reccomend using a 90/10 hamburger. I used 80/20 because it was on sale and I thought it was a bit too greasy. I would definitely make this again. I am going to attempt to freeze some of it and hope it is as delicious the second time around.

  9. This was a really easy and delicious recipe! The ingredients were cheap and simple, and the meatloaf came out juicy! I made the mistake of sprinkling a bit more Italian seasoning than the recipe called for because I was concerned the small amount wasn’t going to be flavorful enough. I was wrong and I wish I hadn’t added more Italian seasoning! The amount the recipe called for is perfect! We will be using this as our go-to meatloaf recipe from now on!

  10. My first attempt at meatloaf and we absolutely loved it.
    It was so moist and I loved that about it. I will definitely
    make this again.