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This easy meatloaf recipe is a cozy homestyle favorite that will get your nostalgia going! It’s simple to make with everyday ingredients, and the glaze is extra special.

Love classic recipes? Try my Shepherd’s Pie or Easy Beef and Noodles next for another satisfying favorite.

closeup of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes

Why you’ll love it

This homemade meatloaf recipe is just like your mom and grandma used to make, and nobody can resist good old-fashioned comfort food. Our tried and true recipe also ensures you’ll bake juicy and tender meatloaf every single time. No dry meat here, folks.

It also feeds a crowd and makes excellent leftovers and happens to be very affordable, so there’s nothing stopping you from making this cozy family meal as often as you want! There’s a reason meatloaf has been beloved for so long; everyone craves those familiar flavors.

Ingredients you’ll need

For the loaf

  • Breadcrumbs and milk – we’re using panko breadcrumbs and whole milk to form what’s called a panade, which just means a paste to keep it ultra moist. I also like how panko is lighter than regular breadcrumbs.
  • Ground beef – for this recipe 80-85% lean is the ideal balance and isn’t either too lean or too fatty
  • Eggs – for binding
  • Garlic – use even more if you’re a big fan
  • Onion powder – this adds a great aromatic flavor
  • Italian seasoning – a tasty blend of dried Italian herbs including rosemary and thyme that comes in a single convenient jar that can be found in the spice aisle of your grocery store
  • Salt & pepper – it’s important to be quite generous here
  • Parsley – chopped fresh parsley gives a pop of freshness in every single bite
  • Ketchup – it makes the meatloaf itself have more moisture and flavor

For the glaze

  • Ketchup – you can’t go wrong with this classic. I like Heinz best.
  • BBQ sauce – my twist also uses BBQ sauce for a little bit of smoky, tangy quality and more rich flavor! Use your favorite brand.
  • Brown sugar – for a hint of sweetness and balance. I wouldn’t skip it because it helps to keep the glaze on the meat when it caramelizes.
ingredients for meatloaf in bowls on a marble surface

How to make meatloaf

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

mixing breadcrumbs and milk and adding ingredients for meatloaf in a glass bowl

Preheat your oven and prep your ingredients. In a mixing bowl, add the breadcrumbs and milk, and mix together. Add in the remaining meatloaf ingredients.

adding meatloaf mixture to a baking pan

Gently mix with your hands, taking care to not overwork it. This is key! Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes.

making the glaze for meatloaf and adding it to the loaf pan

In a small bowl, add in the glaze ingredients and stir until combined. Remove the meatloaf from the oven, and then spoon the glaze evenly over top. Pop it back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until it reaches 155F. Let it rest before eating it to finish cooking and redistribute the juices.

Can I make meatloaf without a loaf pan?

  • Absolutely. Simply form it into a loaf shape on a lined baking sheet, but keep in mind that timing will vary, so I would definitely use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s 160F before consuming.

Make-ahead tips

  • Prepare the meatloaf until just before the baking step, and store in your fridge for 1-2 days, covered.
  • You can also freeze meatloaf before cooking. Wrap it up tightly, and store for up to 6 months in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight when you’re ready, ensuring that it’s fully thawed before baking.
  • Prep the glaze just before you’re about to apply it, and then finish the baking process as indicated in the recipe.

Pro tip

  • If you’ve never lined a loaf pan with parchment paper before, it’s really easy. The key is to leave some paper hanging over the edges so you can easily pull out the meatloaf. Here is a handy video tutorial for how to do it if in doubt!

Substitutions and variations

  • You can swap the ground beef for a 50/50 ground beef/ground pork mixture. Some grocery stores sell a meatloaf blend. That will work well too.
  • Regular breadcrumbs may be substituted for panko, but keep in mind they’re a bit more dense.
  • In a pinch, substitute the milk for beef or chicken broth.
  • If you want to replace the onion powder with fresh onion, you definitely can. If using chopped onion, I recommend sautéing it for a few minutes first to soften it up, or you can grate a raw onion for a better texture.
meatloaf in slices on parchment paper

Tools for this recipe

  • Effortlessly mince garlic cloves without having to peel them using a garlic press.
  • To ensure your meatloaf isn’t overcooked or undercooked, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer. Instant read ones are super affordable and take about 2 seconds to use. If you’re looking for something a little more fancy, a meat thermometer with a probe and timer can be inserted in the meatloaf before adding it in the oven, and the timer will go off when it reaches 155F.
  • I use this loaf pan, but if you make meatloaf often, this loaf pan with a built-in insert helps you lift the loaf out easily.

What to serve with meatloaf

Leftovers and storage

  • Meatloaf will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat in a skillet over a low heat, or in the microwave works too. Try 30-second increments until warmed though.
  • Leftover meatloaf can be frozen for 3 months. It’s a good idea to wrap each slice in plastic wrap and then store in heavy duty freezer bags or Tupperware.
a plate with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a fork

If you have any questions or comments, I want to hear from you below! Do you think this is the best meatloaf you’ve tried?

closeup of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes
4.80 from 5 votes

Easy Meatloaf Recipe

This easy meatloaf recipe is a cozy homestyle favorite that will get your nostalgia going! It's simple to make with everyday ingredients, and the glaze is extra special.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 pounds ground beef see note
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce see note
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions 

  • Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the middle position.
  • Prep your ingredients, then add the panko and milk to a large bowl, stir it together, and let it sit for a few minutes. Add the rest of the meatloaf ingredients to the bowl and mix it with your hands (don't overwork it or the meatloaf will be tough).
  • Transfer the meat mixture to a parchment lined 9×5 loaf pan (ensure some of the paper hangs over the edges so you can easily lift the meatloaf out when it's done). Press it in gently and form the top into a loaf shape, but don't worry about being too fussy about this. Try not to over-handle it.
  • Bake for 40 minutes. I recommend placing the loaf pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips.
  • Meanwhile, add the glaze ingredients to a bowl and stir together until combined.
  • Take the meatloaf out of the oven and spoon the glaze over top. Return it to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the meatloaf is 155F in the middle.
  • Important: Let the meatloaf rest for 10-15 minutes. It will finish cooking as it rests (it's safe at 160F), and resting it will ensure it slices more easily and remains juicy. Lift the meatloaf out of the loaf pan, transfer it to a plate, and gently slice it.

Notes

  • I recommend using 80-85% lean ground beef for this recipe. Fattier ground beef can be a bit too greasy, and extra lean can be a bit dry.
  • For the glaze, I love the taste the BBQ sauce brings to the recipe, but feel free to swap with the same amount of ketchup if you prefer an all-ketchup glaze. 
  • See blog post for more tips and step-by-step photos.

Nutrition

Calories: 373kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 128mg, Sodium: 620mg, Potassium: 423mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 320IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Natasha, I love making your recipes. I’ve made them meatballs and the meatloaf. Now I have a question for you. Do I need to change anything in the recipe if I want to cook it in my cast-iron pan which is 10 inches round? Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Thank you, Paulette!! Do you mean molding the meat into a loaf shape using your hands and then cooking it in the pan? Or do you mean molding the meat into a 10″ round patty (using your pan as a mold)? In either case, I would think that the timing will be different than my recipe because the thickness will vary. If you’re doing the former, I’d just gauge timing based on if it’s a little flatter than the loaf pan you used when you last made my meatloaf (like say shave 10-15 minutes off the time before testing for doneness if it’s flatter). If you’re doing the latter, I am not sure what timing would be since I haven’t ever made something similar, but I would test early for doneness as it’ll likely cook a lot faster the flatter it is. In either case, I would use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s the perfect internal temperature as described in the recipe. 🙂 Let me know how it goes!

      1. 4 stars
        Thanks Natasha, for your prompt reply. The reason for my question is I always make a heart-shaped meatloaf on Valentine’s Day for my husband. You have made enough valid points however, that I might just make the meatloaf and a loaf pan. Thanks again for your help.

  2. 5 stars
    Hey! Yum! Made this tonight and is amazing! I’ve always used packaged seasoning. This recipe is amazing. Loved my mom’s recipe, but this is better. Thanks for making me step out of the box! Panko and your seasoning is so good. I used 80/20 beef. Perfect fat ratio for flavor. Plus the ketchup /bbq sauce and brown sugar topping was spot on for an impromptu dinner party of six. Sadly, no leftovers 😁

  3. I made the easy meatloaf recipe with the glaze…..no words 🤤🤤🤤sooooo good!!!! I think my husband has an actual tear running down his face 🤣

  4. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and my husband said it was better than his mom’s meatloaf, which is a huge compliment. I also think it’s better than MY mom’s meatloaf, too. Plus, my toddler even ate some. It was also very easy to make. That’s a quadruple win.
    My husband now expects this once or twice a month. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was my first time making a meatloaf. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out delicious. I never leave comments but I have made many of your recipes and have learned a lot about cooking from your blog. Thank you for all the amazing recipes!

    1. Yay!! I’m so happy it was a hit, Rachel! 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to write me a review, and your comment made my day!