Homemade Best Meatloaf Recipe! Ultimate Guide

This is the best meatloaf recipe, it’s easy to make and tastes delicious. This is a homemade recipe for people who love their Meatloaf tasty with flavor, creamy and tender yet not crumbling apart when sliced, and with a yummy caramelized meatloaf glaze. It’s so much more than just a giant hunk of ground beef in a loaf shape!

Best Meatloaf

It’s made with lean ground beef, a handful of seasonings, onions, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Then, it’s baked in the oven with a tasty zesty topping.

Meatloaf glaze

I also like to coat my meatloaf with a glaze, adding something to the meatloaf in looks and flavor.

Plus, it not only hides any cracks on the surface of the meatloaf – think of that glaze dripping down into those cracks!

Why This Recipe Works

Meatloaf recipes are typically made of ground meats mixed with vegetables, seasonings, and crushed crackers or fine breadcrumbs, and are held together with a binder; usually an egg or two. This top-rated recipe for Best Meatloaf demonstrates how to make a meatloaf using the most simple ingredients and tried-and-tested techniques:

Meat mixture

This recipe for Best Meatloaf uses extra-lean ground beef, which means the fat-to-meat ratio is about 4 percent fat to 96 percent lean. The low ratio of fat results in a meatloaf with minimal grease. But since fat carries flavor, you’ll want to add some back to keep blandness at bay. By adding a touch of sour cream to the mixture, this recipe benefits from that little extra fat plus a hint of tangy flavor at the same time. Note: adding milk is optional and may only be necessary if you’re cooking at higher altitudes.

Sautéed vegetables

Cooking minced aromatics (a fancy term for the onion and garlic) in butter before adding it to the meat mixture mellows the flavors and ensures you won’t bite into the sharp taste of onion and garlic.

Flavor boosters

There’s nothing shy about the taste of Worcestershire sauce, and adding it to the mix along with tomato sauce brings sweet and savory flavor to every bite. A top glaze of tomato sauce and ketchup creates a delectable sauce to finish the dish.

Baking technique

How long to cook meatloaf depends on the size of the loaf and the temperature of the oven. Ideally, you want to fully cook the inside to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). This recipe for Best Meatloaf gives you a clever 3-step approach:

You’ll bake the meatloaf for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) to fully cook the inside, and then increase the heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes to give the outside a tasty crust. Finally, you’ll brush the meatloaf with tomato sauce and ketchup, and bake it for 10 more minutes to caramelize the glaze.

How to make Best meatloaf

And here are process photos for how to make meatloaf. Also, see the quick video below – you’ll see how tender the juicy this meatloaf is!

Best Meatloaf

Ingredients of best meatloaf

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
  • 3 slices bread, toasted and crumbled
  • 7 buttery round crackers, crushed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 ½ tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
  • ¼ cup milk, or as needed (Optional)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Ingredients for a Best Meatloaf

  • Ground beef: I recommend using 80/20 ground beef for the perfect balance of flavor and juiciness.
  • Breadcrumbs: These help the meatloaf hold together and give it the right texture. Italian or seasoned breadcrumbs have extra flavor, but Panko bread crumbs will work too.
  • Eggs: These help bind the meatloaf so it doesn’t fall apart when you cut it.
  • Onions: Chopped onions add extra flavor to the meatloaf, pre-cooking them makes sure the flavor isn’t too strong.
  • Seasonings: Fresh parsley adds a bright, fresh flavor while Italian seasonings are savory and aromatic. Of course, salt and pepper are essential for any recipe, and they help bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
Best Meatloaf

Directions For Best Meatloaf

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Gather all ingredients.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook onion and garlic until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine onion and garlic mixture, beef, crumbled bread, crushed crackers, egg, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 can tomato sauce in a large bowl. Mix until well combined. Gradually stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is moist, but not soggy.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a 5×9-inch loaf pan.
  5. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Continue baking for 15 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).
  6. Mix the remaining tomato sauce and ketchup in a small bowl. Pour over the top of the meatloaf, and continue baking for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve hot and enjoy!
Best Meatloaf


Milk. The secret to good meatloaf is milk. It sounds weird, but it makes a HUGE difference. Milk hydrates the breadcrumbs that are used as a binder in meatloaf, which keeps the loaf super moist and tender.

During the testing phase for this recipe, I made one without the milk just to see if really made a difference and I’m here to say that the difference was ENORMOUS. The meatloaf without milk was dense, a little tough, and notably drier than the meatloaf made with milk. So don’t skip it! P.S. I’m sure that non-dairy milk would have the same effect.

Best Meatloaf

Meatloaf Sauce

My favorite meatloaf topping is a flavorful zesty topping that caramelizes and gets a bit sticky to glaze the meatloaf as it bakes.

In this sauce for meatloaf, I use a combination of chili sauce and ketchup (just like my mom always made) and a pinch of brown sugar.

Tips and FAQ for the Best Meatloaf!

Why does my meatloaf fall apart? Because the mixture wasn’t mixed well enough, or the loaf wasn’t pressed together firmly. Using a loaf pan helps here! Also, some cracks are GOOD – extra flavor from the meatloaf glaze drips into the meatloaf.

Do you have to use a loaf pan? For the juiciest meatloaf, yes I strongly recommend using a loaf pan. It cooks more evenly and stays juicier because it cooks in its juices and holds its shape.

If you freeform it (ie bake without a loaf pan), the ends/sides will overcook before the middle is cooked. And if it holds its form like a block loaf without using a loaf pan, your mixture is way too dense which will make your meatloaf dry!

Should I cover the meatloaf when baking? No, you want the meatloaf to brown and the glaze to caramelize! But if it browns too quickly, just pop foil over it.

How long does it take to cook a 1kg / 2lb meatloaf? 1 hr 15 minutes at 180°C / 350°F.

Best Meatloaf

What to serve with Best Meatloaf

I can’t think of a better way to serve Meatloaf than on a pile of creamy mashed potato, though for a lower-carb version, cauliflower mash would be fantastic too.

A dollop of ketchup, a leafy salad, or steamed greens with dressing and you have yourself an epic plate of home-cooked comfort-food bliss, with the bonus of meatloaf sandwiches to enjoy tomorrow!


Best Meatloaf

Best Meatloaf Recipe!

This is a homemade recipe for people who love their Meatloaf tasty with flavor, creamy and tender yet not crumbling apart when sliced, and with a yummy caramelized meatloaf glaze. It’s so much more than just a giant hunk of ground beef in a loaf shape!
It’s made with ground beef, a handful of seasonings, onions, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Then, it’s baked in the oven with a tasty zesty topping.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, French, Italian
Servings 12 People
Calories 279 kcal


  • Dutch oven
  • Mixing bowls
  •  9×13-inch baking dish


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 3 slices bread, toasted and crumbled
  • 7 buttery round crackers, crushed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 15 ounces can tomato sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk, or as needed (Optional)
  • 3 tbsp ketchup


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • In a small pan, cook onions in butter over medium low heat until tender. Let them cool completely.
  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes
  • Add the ground beef, cooked onions, ketchup or chili sauce, Italian seasoning, parsley, and salt & pepper to the bowl. Mix until just combined.
  • Form a 8"x4" loaf on the prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes. While the meatloaf is cooking, combine the chili sauce and ketchup (and brown sugar if using). Spread mixture over the meatloaf and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. Broil for 1-2 minutes if desired.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 


Chili Sauce: Chili sauce is not spicy, it tastes like a very zesty ketchup with more tang and less sweetness. (Find chili sauce near the ketchup at the store). If you don’t have chili sauce, use extra ketchup or even a bit of BBQ sauce if you’d like.
Optional Additions: 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard or Worcestershire sauce can be added to the beef mixture. Onions can be added without cooking but may not soften as well and will have a stronger flavor.
Do Not Overmix: Mix the ingredients just until combined to avoid a dense meatloaf.
Use Lean Meat: Use 80/20 for great flavor without making it greasy.
Add flavors and moisture: Don’t skip the seasonings and soak the breadcrumbs in milk to keep the meatloaf flavorful and moist.
Skip the Loaf Pan: Use a baking pan instead of a loaf pan. This gives the meatloaf a nice crust. A loaf pan causes the meat to steam, and there’s nowhere for the drippings to go. 
Rest the Meatloaf: Let the meatloaf rest once it comes out of the oven to help redistribute the juices and make sure it won’t fall apart when sliced.
Keyword Best Meatloaf, Best Meatloaf Recipe, How to Make Best Meatloaf Recipe?, Meatloaf, Meatloaf Recipe

1 thought on “Homemade Best Meatloaf Recipe! Ultimate Guide”

  1. 5 stars
    “Finally found the perfect meatloaf recipe! It’s moist, flavorful, and a hit with the whole family. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe!”


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