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.
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.
How to make meatloaf
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Potatoes are my go-to. These Easy Garlic Mashed Potatoes are pretty traditional, or you could change it up with my Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole.
- For a veggie side, try Easy Roasted Green Beans as a fresh pairing.
- A side of Stovetop Mac and Cheese is a richer option to complement it.
- We enjoy making a meatloaf sandwich with leftovers!
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.
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?
Easy Meatloaf Recipe
- 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
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup BBQ sauce see note
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 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 9x5 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.
- 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.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.