Meatloaf is a delicious and hearty meal that is perfect for a comforting dinner. However, getting it just right can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes to cooking times. With so many different variations and sizes out there, it’s easy to make mistakes and end up with a less-than-stellar meal. Trust me, I went through a ton of trials and errors (and ruined a lot of meatloaves) before I stumbled upon this life-saving hack.
Let me save you from all the hassle of searching for perfect cooking times for meatloaf. So, here’s the deal, for a 1lb meatloaf, bake it in a 350-degree oven for about 30-45 minutes, and if you’re cooking a 2lb, add an additional 30 minutes making it between 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes. If you’re planning to cook a 3lb, let it hang out in the oven for around 1 ½ – 2 hours. This trick will ensure your meatloaf comes out juicy and heavenly every time.
Keep reading this, as we talk about the best cooking times, and temperatures to cook meatloaf. By following this guide, you’ll never have to worry about how long to cook meatloaf at 350. So let’s get cooking. Especially if you’re making a chicken-basked meatloaf you don’t want it to be undercooked.
What Is Meatloaf and Where It Did Come From?
Meatloaf is a nostalgic dish with centuries of history behind it. It’s the perfect comfort food, combining delicious ground meat and veggies together with warming herbs and spices – all baked in one tasty loaf.
There’s something special about meatloaf that has connected many cultures over the centuries. Originally dating back to medieval Europe, it was a way for people from all walks of life to create delicious dishes with leftover scraps and ingredients they had on hand. This meal truly embodies ingenuity- a ragtag orchestra playing beautiful notes out of almost-expired food. Today, meatloaf can be found on menus around the world, from Italy to America.
Is Meatloaf Good For Health?
Listen, I know meatloaf had that bad reputation, but hear me out. It’s actually pretty delicious and nutritious. If you’re looking to cut down on fat, just substitute ground turkey or chicken for beef – easy-peasy. We’ve even created a quick and easy guide to figure out how much chicken you’ll need to prepare for each person.
And don’t forget to add some veggies like carrots or spinach to make it even healthier. Besides, if you’re watching your calories, switch things up with leaner cuts of meat and maybe some ketchup post-cooking. I’ve tried it all and found these tips really make a difference.
To make the perfect meatloaf, you’ll need a few key ingredients.
- Ground beef: Ground beef is the star of this show. Choose a leaner cut for a healthier option. If you wanna nail that meatloaf flavor and have it juicy as ever, definitely go for 80/20 ground beef.
- Breadcrumbs: Now, let’s talk about the binder – breadcrumbs. These babies keep your meatloaf from crumbling apart. I always try to use Italian or seasoned breadcrumbs when I’m cooking. If they’re not available, Panko crumbs are also a great option.
- Onion and other vegetables: Onions add flavor, but feel free to mix it up with different veggie options like carrots or spinach. However, you might wanna pre-cook them beforehand to ensure the taste isn’t overpowering.
- Seasonings and Herbs: Get creative here. I always sprinkle in some fresh parsley and Italian seasoning-it’s oh-so-savory and adds a great aroma. Besides, the recipe won’t be complete without everyone’s kitchen pantry staples: salt & pepper. These small additions will make all those delicious flavors stand out in any dish.
- Egg: Eggs help keep it all together acting as a binding agent.
- Milk: An easy addition of some liquid will give it that savory flavor you’ll enjoy. A splash of milk is all it takes.
- Ketchup/BBQ: This is what brings it all together and adds flavor, so don’t out on it.
What is Meatloaf Sauce Made Of?
Put a little extra love into your meatloaf by adding an easy, homemade sauce. Simply mix ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce together for the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. You can even step it up with garlic powder and onion powder to give some additional flavor notes. Then spread this delicious mixture across the top during baking to have that golden-brown crust.
Ingredient for Topping
Spice up your meal with a tasty chili sauce! Whether you choose to pick some up from the grocery store or whip together a homemade version, this zesty condiment can add bold flavor. Feel free to get creative – try mixing it 50/50 with BBQ sauce for burgers and ribs, or just go classic by combining it with ketchup. So no matter what kind of recipe you’re making tonight, adding chili sauce will be sure to make all the difference in the enjoyable culinary experience.
Variations & Additions
Meatloaf is such a versatile dish that you can personalize based on your taste. Whenever I make meatloaf, I try to add some of my favorite foods like bell peppers and mushrooms to make it more flavorful. Once, I even added cranberries and some cheese, and it turned out to be so delicious. If you’re looking to make it more healthy, just try switching to turkey, chicken, or fish instead of beef. Let’s make this classic comfort food your own.
Easy Meatloaf Recipe
Let’s bake meatloaf together.
- Start by preheating your oven to 350° F, then spritz a loaf pan with nonstick spray and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients and stir until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Now transfer it all into that greased-up loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or so.
- While you wait why not whip something special? Grab another small bowl; combine some ketchup, brown sugar, white vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Now, whisk away till smooth.
- When there are just 15 minutes left of the bake time, let’s spread the meatloaf glaze all over the top. That gives it a yummy, crispy coating. Mmm!
- When it’s all done, we’ll let it cool for about 5 minutes and then add some fresh parsley on top. Sit back and smell its divine aroma– enjoy this scrumptious meal hot from the kitchen.
Meatloaf is an all-time favorite family dinner option. Adding sides will take it up a notch. My personal favorite is mashed potatoes when serving Southern-style meatloaf, or you can try something new. Tantalize their taste buds with sautéed broccoli and garlic, creamed spinach, or slow-cooked simple yet delicious garlic potatoes.
Expert Tips for a Perfect Meatloaf Every Time
Here are some tried and tested tips to make sure that your meatloaf turns out just right.
- Start off with wet ingredients for flavor and moisture to add flavor and moisture. Then add a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you want to give it an extra zing.
- Don’t forget to fry up a small amount before cooking so that you can adjust seasonings as needed – trust me on this one!
- To ensure caramelized edges and provide more room for your meatloaf, use a slightly larger pan than usual.
- You can even mix everything together ahead of time but remember not to take it straight from the fridge to the oven. Let it come up temperature first while preheating is taking place in the background.
- Lastly, always check the internal temperature to ensure it’s cooked thoroughly or not using a thermometer. It should be around 160° F.
- And after you take it out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes and enjoy that heavenly aroma while you wait. This simple step helps to ensure each golden slice looks as perfect as possible.
How Long To Cook Meatloaf?
Depending on the size of the meatloaf, oven temperature, and other factors, the cooking time may vary a bit. A 1 lb meatloaf can take 30-45 mins to bake at 350°F. In my experience, it usually takes about an hour and a half till it’s done, which leaves plenty of time to take a break or get those side dishes ready.
Now here’s a pro tip: use a meat thermometer for the perfect meatloaf every time. Stick it in the middle and make sure it reaches 160°F.
How To Tell If Meatloaf Is Ready?
You can’t just rely on the cooking time or color of the beef being browned. Here’s a simple trick I usually use when I don’t have a meat thermometer. Just press your finger down into the center of the loaf. If it springs back up, then your meatloaf is most likely cooked. Otherwise, if your finger leaves a dent, it needs a bit more time in the oven.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Why Does My Meatloaf Fall Apart?
There are two common reasons why your meatloaf might be falling apart. First up, it might be overcooked. Don’t leave it in the oven for too long or it’ll dry out and disintegrate (been there, done that).
Another possibility is that you’re not using enough binders, like eggs or breadcrumbs. To avoid that, I usually aim for 1 egg per pound of beef.
Why Do You Put Milk in Meatloaf?
If you want to transform your meatloaf from an ordinary into a heavenly dish, never forget the milk. Not only does it add amazing moisture and flavor for maximum deliciousness but it’s also great at holding all of those tasty ingredients together.
What is the Best Filler for Meatloaf?
Breadcrumbs, oatmeal, and crushed crackers are the best fillers to use in a meatloaf. You can also toss in your favorite spices and herbs for extra flavor. And if you’re really feeling indulgent, try melting some cheese on top.
Should a Meatloaf be Covered While Cooking?
For juicy and succulent meatloaf every time, cover it at the start of baking. This will help keep it from drying out. Then uncover in the last few minutes to give a delicious golden-brown finish.
How Can You Cook Meatloaf Faster In The Oven?
Here’s what I do to shorten my cooking time and still enjoy a hearty, homemade meal.
First off, if I know I’m going to have a busy week, I’ll make the meatloaf in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer. It saves so much time and stress.
Another option is to make a smaller meatloaf. It reduces cooking time and is perfect if you’re only cooking for a few people.
One other thing you can do to cut back on cooking time is to use a meatloaf pan. These pans are designed to collect excess fat, which means a faster cook time.
What Temperature Should Meatloaf Be Cooked To?
Cooking meatloaf to perfection can be tricky, but let me share a tip that always works for me. To make sure your meatloaf is savory and safe to eat, aim for an internal temperature of 160° F.
How Long to Cook Meatloaf at 375° F?
For a juicy and perfect result every time, start by preheating your oven to 375° F. Then, cook it in 30-minute increments, adjusting the time based on the size. For one pound of meatloaf, I cook it for around 25-30 minutes, and for two pounds, it usually takes around 40-50 minutes. If I’m baking a three-pound meatloaf, I like to let it cook happily for an hour or maybe even a little longer.
How to Not Overcook Meatloaf?
To avoid overcooking your meatloaf, grab a meat thermometer and check the internal temp as it bakes. I usually stick it in the center to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. And don’t forget to keep an eye on it; you don’t want it to dry out or burn.
Can I Freeze Meatloaf?
Of course, you can freeze meatloaf. Here’s what I do: I make a huge batch of the meat mixture and freeze it so I can have a quick meal anytime. I even shape the meatloaves and cover them in foil before freezing. That way, I can just pop them into the oven without having to deal with multiple loaf pans.
If you wanna freeze any leftover meatloaf, make sure to allow it to cool first. I typically wrap it in freezer paper and remove any air from the freezer bags to avoid frost.
How Do You Store Leftover Meatloaf?
You’ve got plenty of delicious options for enjoying it again. Not only does this yummy dish last up to four days in the fridge but you can also keep it frozen and enjoy it later. To ensure they stay fresh, slice them into servings and store them away in an air-tight container.
How to Reheat Meatloaf?
You can always reheat it in the microwave, but it’s not going to taste all that great. What I like to do is pop it in the oven instead. I preheat to 250° F and toss the meatloaf in a baking dish with a dash of beef broth, gravy, or even just water (about a tablespoon worth). Then I cover it with foil and let it heat through. This usually takes about 20 to 25 minutes.
This is all you need to know about best meatloaf recipe. To get the best flavor and texture for your meatloaf, be sure to cook it at a slow temperature over an extended period. You may need to use aluminum foil during the baking process if your loaf is browning too quickly. Don’t forget – always check with a thermometer when cooking any type of food! Lastly, all ovens are different so keep watch while you bake and adjust times accordingly to ensure success every time. Happy cooking!