Easy, Delicious Homemade Meatloaf
Meatloaf is one of the quintessential American home-cooked dinners. And for good reason! It’s easy to make, hearty and super satisfying. Everyone’s family has their go to meatloaf recipe and this is our favorite! It upholds the classic taste and texture that everyone loves, but the combination of bell pepper with the onion and spices takes it to the next level. Plus, it’s topped with a sweet, tangy glaze that everyone looks for on meatloaf.
We’ve also included some tips and tricks for making the perfect meatloaf every time.
Why Does Some Meatloaf Fall Apart?
The key to making a crowd-pleasing meatloaf lies with the texture. Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for a meatloaf to come out of the oven dry and crumbly, with is an understandable turnoff.
The most common reason as to why your meatloaf may fall apart is that it doesn’t have enough binding agents, like eggs and breadcrumbs. These ingredients are key because they’re what makes the meat mixture stick together and stay together while it cooks. Our recipe has both eggs and breadcrumbs to make sure the meatloaf stays together and moist!
Another reason could be that it’s overcooked. People often get nervous cooking something like meatloaf because you won’t know it’s done until you slice into it. But remember that ground beef and eggs don’t take too long to bake. I always use a thermometer to know exactly when my meatloaf is done so it doesn’t over cook. And the crucial step here to ensure that you meatloaf is cooked through and juicy? Letting it sit for at least 10 minutes. This allows the meatloaf to reabsorb the juices. Plus, it continues to cook in the pan for that allotted time. Whatever you do, DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
- Ground beef: We used 85/15 ground beef, which is lean but still has some fat. This helps the meatloaf retain its natural juices and beef flavor.
- Onion: Minced onion is key here because it combines so seamlessly with the ground beef. You don’t want big chunks of onion in the meatloaf.
- Red bell pepper: This is one ingredient that helps our recipe stand out. The red bell pepper offers pops of color that compliments the glaze, but it also gives a bite of freshness that pairs well with the onion and beef mixture.
- Italian bread crumbs: We prefer Italian bread crumbs over plain because they are flavored in a way that compliments the meat mixture and spice blend. Bread crumbs serve as a binding agent for the loaf, helping it not crumble after it’s cooked.
- Spices: We combined Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce to create the perfect flavor profile to compliment the rest of the meat mixture and ensure flavor in every bite.
- Milk: Like the breadcrumbs, milk serves as a binding agent for the meatloaf. But don’t add too much! Two tablespoons will suffice.
- Tomato paste: Adds extra tomato flavor to the meatloaf.
- Eggs: Like the breadcrumbs and milk, eggs act as a binding agent to hold the meatloaf together. We found two eggs did the trick.
How to make the sweet, tangy glaze: Most traditional meatloaf recipes feature a ketchup-based glaze, and this one’s no different! But we jazz it up with some light brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Just combine these three ingredients in a bowl and set aside until it’s time to spread on top of the par-cooked meatloaf.
Make This Easy Homemade Meatloaf in 4 Simple Steps
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and grease a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix until just combined. (Make sure not to over mix!)
- Form the meatloaf into a loaf shape and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the center of the loaf reaches 140 degrees with a meat thermometer. Remove it from the oven, and spread the glaze on top of the loaf. Return it to the oven, and continue cooking until the meatloaf reaches 160 degrees.
- Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes to finish cooking and seal in the juices. Then slice, serve, and enjoy!
- Lightly toast your breadcrumbs in a tablespoon or two of butter in a nonstick skillet until a light golden brown. This will amp up the flavor in the meatloaf.
- Swap the ground beef for ground turkey or ground chicken if you’re looking for a lighter option.
- If you’re a garlic lover, add a minced clove or two to the meat mixture.
- Serve with sides like creamy mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, roasted garlic Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, warm German potato salad, mashed sweet potatoes, or a side salad.
How To Store and Reheat Homemade Meatloaf
- Store any leftover meatloaf in the fridge in an airtight contain for for up to 4 days.
- Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet until desired heat is reached, or enjoy cold.
Can I Freeze Meatloaf?
Yes! But you should freeze it raw. Frozen cooked meatloaf is certainly doable, but it is likely to end up being super dry once thawed.
To freeze this dish ahead of time to cook later, simply mix all of the ingredients together and form the loaf. Then wrap it securely with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight freezer-safe bag. Raw meatloaf should last up to six months in the freezer.
What Can I Do with the Leftovers?
One of my favorite ways to eat meatloaf is leftover the next day. And sandwiches are the perfect way to use up leftovers!
Simply warm the leftover slices in a skillet or in the microwave, and then place it between two pieces of white bread, each smeared with some ketchup. You honestly don’t even have to reheat the meat; enjoy it cold!
You could also use the meatloaf slices as the beef for a patty melt. YUM!
Another option is to crumble pieces of the cooked loaf and sub it for ground beef in recipes like a chili or casserole. There’s really no wrong way to eat meatloaf!
More Beef Dishes To Try
If you like this easy homemade meatloaf recipe, then you’ll love these beefy entrees:
- 1 pound ground beef, we used 85/15
- 1/2 cup onion, minced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, minced
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix to combine. Make sure not to over mix.
- Form the meatloaf into a loaf shape and place onto the prepared baking sheet. When the meatloaf reaches 140 degrees remove it from the oven and baste it with the glaze. Return back to the oven and continue cooking until the meatloaf reaches 160 degrees.
- Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes to finish cooking and to seal in the juices then slice and serve!
- Combine all three ingredients in a bowl and set aside.