This homemade classic meatloaf is comfort food at its best. Loaded with flavor using simple ingredients already in your kitchens, such as lean ground beef, onions, Parmesan cheese, and herbs and spices, this traditional juicy meatloaf holds together nicely and is topped with a tasty sweet tomato sauce glaze!
This easy meatloaf recipe is one of those dishes that takes very little effort, is an inexpensive and convenient way to feed your family on busy weeknights, and yet makes such a lasting impression. If you are interested in a fantastic version that doesn’t include red meat, try this amazing Turkey Meatloaf Recipe.
What is meatloaf?
It is a combination of ground beef and other ingredients such as chopped onions, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and spices. Bread or breadcrumbs and an egg are used for binding and then it is shaped into a loaf and baked in the oven.
The American version of meatloaf is usually topped with a sauce, like a tomato or pasta sauce, ketchup or bbq sauce, or in this case a sweet and tangy combination of ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.
Many comfort foods originate from a time when people used to have to stretch out their budget and while different countries and cultures adapt the dish to come up with their own version, the general idea usually remains the same and this traditional meatloaf recipe is by far the most requested family favorite recipe.
The neat thing about classic recipes like this one is that over time they become less about stretching out a budget and more about the flavor, the love, the experience, and well, comfort.
As we all know amazing food comes from the heart of your very own kitchen, whether it’s the aroma of the flavor combinations or the memories of childhood, you’ll have everyone’s mouth watering before it even comes out of the oven.
So head on in there and make this delicious recipe tonight, your family will thank you!
How to make this classic meatloaf
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and greasing a loaf pan. If you do not have one, you can use a glass baking dish or even a baking sheet and form a loaf shape with your hands. If you are using a loaf pan, place a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper underneath to avoid spillover messes as the juice from the meat bubbles up over the sides.
Add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, onion, Parmesan cheese, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and dried parsley in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and add to meat mixture.
Mix ingredients together being careful not to overmix. If you don’t mind mixing with your hands, now is the time to have some fun!
Place the meatloaf into the prepared meatloaf pan and spread it out evenly.
Mix the sauce in a small bowl and spread half of it overtop the meatloaf.
Place in the oven to bake halfway. Then, pour the remaining sauce and continue to bake until done.
Let the meatloaf rest for a few minutes before slicing. Then, enjoy it!
Pro Tips: There is ground beef, pork, and veal mixture that can be found in your grocery store if you wish to use a blend of different meats, however, keeping in mind using 80-85% ground beef instead of a leaner ground beef will help keep your meatloaf moist.
For a gluten-free option, swap out regular breadcrumbs for panko breadcrumbs, Italian bread crumbs, gluten-free bread crumbs or old fashioned oats.
If you happen to have frozen bread ends, stale bread, or really any bread at home, you can also make your breadcrumbs from scratch.
Saute the onions ahead of time to enhance their flavor and if you are wanting to add veggies to your meatloaf cook the onions with some carrots and celery or even add ½ cup diced green bell pepper or red pepper if you’d like.
How long should I cook Meatloaf?
Generally, it takes about an hour, however as ovens vary the important thing is to make sure the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F with a meat thermometer.
How to store
Store any leftover meatloaf in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat slices in the microwave on a microwave safe plate. Leftover meatloaf makes a mean meatloaf sandwich too!
How to Freeze Meatloaf?
You can freeze meatloaf for up to 2 months. Wrap the cooked and completely cooled loaf in plastic wrap first and then another layer of aluminum foil, then place it in a freezer bag. You can also freeze the loaf uncooked, then thaw completely in the refrigerator then cook per directions. Freeze without the meatloaf sauce and add the sauce just before baking in the oven.
How to Make Breadcrumbs
In an effort to not let your bread go to waste, making breadcrumbs is an efficient way to use up what you have left. It’s as simple as grinding hardened (basically stale) bread into as fine or as coarse of a grind as you like!
If you are using fresh bread, place slices in the oven at 300 degrees F until dry and then once cooled, go ahead and grind them.
What to serve it with Meatloaf
I’m sure we’ve all heard “Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes” once or twice or a hundred times. As sides go, but mashed potatoes are one of the easiest and best accompaniments. Try these quick Slow Cooker Loaded Mashed Potatoes too!
Love comfort food recipes? Try these great dinner recipes too:
For the Meat Mixture:
- 2 lbs 85% ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup regular breadcrumbs or fresh grated bread
- 1 onion chopped fine
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup dried parsley
For the Sauce:
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with spray oil or by rubbing oil onto the sides and bottom.
- Add all of the ingredients for the meatloaf mixture into a large bowl.
- Place the eggs and milk in a separate small bowl and whisk together
- Then add the egg mixture to the meat.
- Blend the meatloaf ingredients all together. Using you hands is best for this step to prevent over mixing. (you can use a spoon but hands end to work best so not to over mix)
- Place the meatloaf in to prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly.
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pour ½ of the sauce over the top of the meatloaf
- Place in the oven and bake at for 30 minutes.
- At the end of the 30 minutes, pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the meatloaf and spread evenly
- Return to the oven for and additional 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches
- 160 degrees.
- After you remove the meatloaf from the oven, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.