How to Cook the Perfect Meatloaf

By Mr Negroni  •   4 minute read

How to Cook the Perfect Meatloaf

How to Cook the Perfect Meatloaf: A Step-by-Step Guide

Meatloaf is a classic comfort food that has graced family dinner tables for generations. When done right, it's a juicy, flavorful, and satisfying dish that can be the star of any meal. In this detailed guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to cook the perfect meatloaf, from selecting the right ingredients to baking it to perfection.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


  1. Flavorful: A blend of spices and a tangy glaze create a deliciously savory dish.
  2. Moist and Tender: Using the right combination of meats and binders ensures a juicy texture.
  3. Versatile: Easily customizable with different ingredients and flavors.
  4. Comforting: A hearty and satisfying meal that everyone will love.


For the Meatloaf:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Step 1: Preheat the Oven

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease a loaf pan.

Step 2: Prepare the Meatloaf Mixture

  1. Soak the Breadcrumbs: In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes until the breadcrumbs are softened.
  2. Mix the Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, soaked breadcrumbs, chopped onion, minced garlic, beaten eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and paprika. Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients until just combined. Avoid over-mixing, as this can make the meatloaf tough.

Step 3: Shape the Meatloaf

  1. Form the Loaf: Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking sheet or loaf pan. Shape it into a loaf about 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. If using a baking sheet, make sure the loaf is compact and evenly shaped.

Step 4: Make the Glaze

  1. Combine Glaze Ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard until smooth.

Step 5: Bake the Meatloaf

  1. Apply the Glaze: Spread half of the glaze evenly over the top of the meatloaf.
  2. Bake: Place the meatloaf in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Add More Glaze: After 45 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven and spread the remaining glaze over the top. Return it to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C).

Step 6: Rest and Serve

  1. Rest the Meatloaf: Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the loaf, making it more moist and flavorful.
  2. Slice and Serve: Slice the meatloaf into thick slices and serve with your favorite side dishes.

Tips for Perfect Meatloaf

1. Choose the Right Meat

  • Mix of Meats: Using a combination of ground beef and pork adds flavor and keeps the meatloaf moist. You can also use a mix of beef, pork, and veal.
  • Fat Content: Opt for meats with a moderate fat content (80/20 ground beef) for the best flavor and texture.

2. Don’t Overmix

  • Gentle Mixing: Mix the ingredients until just combined to avoid a dense, tough meatloaf.

3. Use a Panade

  • Breadcrumb and Milk Mixture: Soaking breadcrumbs in milk (a panade) helps keep the meatloaf moist and tender.

4. Add Flavorful Ingredients

  • Aromatics and Seasonings: Adding ingredients like onions, garlic, herbs, and spices enhances the flavor of the meatloaf.

5. Rest Before Slicing

  • Resting Time: Let the meatloaf rest after baking to allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier loaf.

Customizing Your Meatloaf

Add-Ins and Variations:

  • Vegetables: Finely chopped vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, or celery can be added for extra flavor and nutrition.
  • Cheese: Mix in shredded cheese or stuff the meatloaf with cheese for a gooey surprise.
  • Spices: Adjust the spices to your taste, or add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a bit of heat.

Dietary Modifications:

  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or oats.
  • Low-Carb: Substitute breadcrumbs with almond flour or crushed pork rinds.

Serving Suggestions

Side Dishes:

  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a classic pairing with meatloaf.
  • Green Beans: Steamed or sautéed green beans add a fresh, crunchy contrast.
  • Roasted Vegetables: A mix of roasted root vegetables complements the savory meatloaf.


  • Red Wine: A robust red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot pairs well with the rich flavors of meatloaf.
  • Beer: A full-bodied beer like a stout or porter can complement the hearty dish.
  • Iced Tea: A refreshing glass of iced tea makes a great non-alcoholic option.

Storing and Reheating


  • Refrigerate: Store leftover meatloaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Wrap the meatloaf tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.


  • Oven: Reheat slices of meatloaf in a 350°F (175°C) oven for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
  • Microwave: Heat individual slices in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel, until heated through.


Cooking the perfect meatloaf is all about balancing flavors, textures, and techniques. With the right ingredients and a few simple tips, you can create a delicious, comforting dish that will become a family favorite. Whether you're serving it for a cozy weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this meatloaf recipe is sure to impress. Enjoy!

Did you try this recipe? Share your experience and any customizations you made in the comments below!

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