This meatloaf recipe is super easy to make and will easily become a family favorite. Its juicy texture and sweet & tangy topping makes it the most delicious comfort food.Jump to Recipe
Meatloaf is probably my #1 favorite comfort food. But it's gotta be done right - like my mom made it - soft and juicy with a ketchup/brown sugar glaze on top!
One of my coworkers years ago was from Philadelphia and he told me that he liked his meatloaf with a gravy-like topping. Whaaaat? Why would you ruin a good meatloaf with gravy when you can smear the tangy ketchup/brown sugar glaze over it instead?! I mean, I love a good gravy, but let's keep that on mashed 'taters.
If you're like me and love a good glaze on top, this recipe is for you. The meat is just right - not too soft and mushy, but not too firm. And the flavor is mild, allowing the topping to shine!
- Meat - In this recipe, I use ground beef. I prefer 85% lean ground beef. (but anything 80% or over will be fine!)
- Egg - This will help hold the meatloaf together.
- Liquid - This recipe uses a combination of ketchup and milk.
- Binder - There are SO many different things people use! I prefer saltine crackers! This gives meatloaf its classic soft texture!
- Spices - This traditional recipe uses just salt, pepper and minced onion. It gives it a little flavor, but it's not overpowering.
How to Make Meatloaf
If you've never made a meatloaf from scratch, no worries. It's actually quite simple!
In a large bowl, you will combine all of the meatloaf ingredients, except for the topping ingredients. You can use a spoon to mix it, but I prefer to use my hands. I feel like that's really the only way to make sure it's really well incorporated.
Then you'll form the loaf. You can either press it into a loaf pan or shape a loaf onto a baking sheet. If you're in a hurry, you can make it even quicker by pressing it into a thin layer of a square baking pan or in a muffin tin.
Next, you'll mix the ketchup and brown sugar to make a glaze. Spread it over the meatloaf in an even layer.
Bake the meatloaf until the center of the loaf reaches 160F. This takes about 50-60 minutes if cooked in a loaf pan, but will take significantly less time in the other pans mentioned above. Let the meatloaf sit for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
How Long to Bake
The time isn't as important as the final temperature of the meatloaf. The internal temperature needs to reach 160F in order to be food safe.
I typically cook the meatloaf in a loaf pan (see my comments above for other options) and it take about 50-60 minutes.
Can I Freeze Meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a really great freezer meal option! Use a disposible foil loaf pan and make the meatloaf as the recipe instructs. However, do not bake it. Place aluminum foil overtop and place in a freezer bag in the freezer. When you're ready to enjoy it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight before cooking.
If you have already cooked it and want to freeze the leftovers, that works too! Make sure the meatloaf is completely cool, then place slices in a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and freeze!
What to Serve with Meatloaf
Complete the meal with a green salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Loaded Mashed Potatoes, a side veggie and last but not least....dessert! Chocolate Cobbler would be the perfect ending to a scrumptious comfort food meal!!
Fun Variations of Meatloaf
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- 1 lb ground beef
- 15 saltine crackers crushed
- ¼ c ketchup
- 1 egg
- ¼ c milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced onion
- ½ c ketchup
- ¼ c brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, crushed saltines, ketchup, egg, milk, salt, pepper and minced onion.
- Press into a loaf pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients.
- Pour glaze over the meatloaf and spread evenly.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center of the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Let meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Great, classic meatloaf!!!! I was craving one and found your recipe. My only substitute was Italian style bread crumbs in place of the saltines.
I'm so glad you liked it!! It's a family favorite here, too! 🙂
Try plain Panko bread crumbs...That's what I use!
Keep everything else the same...You're right. This is a classic keeper!
This is basically my mom's recipe, it great. Only exceptions are instead of milk she uses V8 and instead of crackers she uses oatmeal. Same effect but the oatmeal is a smidge healthier than the crackers.
I tried many different meatloaf receipt's. This is my favorite and easiest to make. Simple and not a lot of ingredients.
Thanks for the review, Susan!!! I appreciate it so much! 🙂 -Kelsey