Classic Homemade Meatloaf

$9.56 recipe / $0.96 per slice
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.80 from 122 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. Meatloaf is 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 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

Ingredients for Meatloaf

This homemade meatloaf recipe is super simple, yet incredibly good. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef: Ground beef is the base for this recipe and we suggest using 85/15 (15% fat) ground beef. The fat gives flavor and keeps the meatloaf moist.
  • Onion: Onions add a wonderfully subtle savory flavor to the meatloaf.
  • Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs soak up moisture from the ground beef, milk, and eggs as the meatloaf bakes, keeping the loaf super tender and moist.
  • Milk: Milk adds moisture and flavor to the meatloaf.
  • Egg: Egg acts as a binder for the meatloaf so it doesn’t fall apart when sliced, plus it adds flavor, moisture, and richness.
  • Seasoning: This meatloaf is seasoned simply with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It’s just enough seasoning to add flavor without overpowering the natural beef flavor.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce is used in both the meatloaf and the glaze. It offers a deliciously savory umami flavor with just a hint of sweetness.
  • Ketchup: Ketchup is the base for the sweet and tangy glaze that goes on top of the meatloaf.
  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar helps balance the ketchup’s acidity and gives the glaze its beautifully glossy finish.
  • Yellow Mustard: Mustard adds depth and savory flavor to the glaze.

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

4.80 from 122 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 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Meatloaf

Glaze

Instructions 

  • 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.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 204kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 15gFat: 11gSodium: 465mgFiber: 1g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Video

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. I tried this classic meatloaf recipe mainly becuz I didnt have a box of lipton onion soup mix which I always used. This recipe was very good but i didnt do the glaze, instead I put all the glaze ingrediants right in the meatloaf. Delicious meal today.

  2. I made this twice so far except i just added more of my seasoning and i did put about equal of mustard ketchup and more of brown sugar idk but it ended up good the second round i did it. The first time i did it i followed recipe. Fantastic my family including my son loves it. I added broccoli and mash potatoes on the side.

  3. I enjoyed the flavor of the meatloaf and glaze. The only changes I made were that I baked in a muffin tin for mini loaves and grated the onion instead of minced.

  4. I love ❤️ your meatloaf recipe. At first I was skeptical about the milk but I decided to be open minded and try something new and I am very pleased with the results. Thank you 😊 so much. I will definitely be making this again. I have also told family and friends about the recipe and where to find it.

  5. I love this meatloaf! I have a question: Have you ever tried making it with half lentils? Like your lentil-ground beef sloppy joe recipe? I found a recipe on the pulses.org site for a lentil-ground meat (either beef or turkey) meatloaf, but I am hesitant to try it. Thanks for your great recipes!

    1. We haven’t! That would be a great one for us to try to develop though! I definitely think it would work well, I just don’t know about the proportions.

      1. I made this recipe and it came out so good. I ended up altering the sauce mixture the way i have been making it. All in all, it came out very good.

  6. I made this meat loaf last night. My husband and I enjoyed it. I found the spices very flavorful. I already have a meat loaf recipe but I thought I would try something else and I am glad I did. I will make it again.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful meatloaf recipe. I followed your directions and it came out very well!!!

  8. This is the best recipe I have ever used for meatloaf!! It was so moist! But did add green bell pepper to the meatloaf, only change I made to the recipe.