We set out to create the best meatloaf recipe. Here it is! This easy homemade meatloaf is juicy, tender, and has the most delicious sweet and sticky glaze.
⭐️ Try our popular turkey meatloaf recipe with over 500 happy reviews!
3 Secrets for moist & juicy meatloaf
- Skip the bread crumbs and use saltine crackers. Saltines are seasoned, light, and airy. Once you try them in meatloaf, you won’t go back.
- Cook your veggies before adding them to the meatloaf mixture for the best texture and undeniable flavor. Cooked onions and mushrooms keep the meatloaf moist and so tender.
- Use our easy meatloaf glaze. It’s a little sweet, tangy, and bakes to be sticky and caramelized. We both love it.
Adam and I love this meatloaf, and now, after telling you all about it, I’m itching to make it again. We serve thick slices of this classic meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a big salad. Leftovers are also fantastic, and they make the best meatloaf sandwiches.
Key ingredients for the best meatloaf
Cooked mushrooms add major flavor and moisture. We cook the mushrooms with onion and shallot until soft and sweet. Then we toss in some garlic and bell pepper for extra flavor. The cooked mushrooms hold on to moisture while the meatloaf bakes in the oven.
We use the same trick when making our turkey meatloaf. Cooking the onions and shallot has the added benefit of cutting down their raw flavor.
Crushed saltines act as a binder, absorb moisture, and keep the meat juicy. Many meatloaf recipes call for bread crumbs, but saltines are wonderful in this recipe. I love their light and airy texture.
An extra egg yolk adds fat, guaranteeing the meatloaf stays tender. We add the yolk along with one whole egg.
What meat should I use?
We use ground beef for this meatloaf recipe and prefer it with at least 15% fat. When shopping, we use ground meat with at least 15% fat and look for 85/15 or 80/20 on the package.
You can substitute the ground beef for ground turkey or chicken, just keep to the same fat content (15% to 20%). Thanks to the mushrooms, saltines, eggs, and milk, this meatloaf made with ground turkey and chicken will still be moist, tender, and flavorful.
How to make the best meatloaf glaze
I love the sticky, caramelized glaze in this recipe. We spread the glaze on top just before baking. As it bakes, it reduces and becomes a bit sticky.
To make our easy meatloaf glaze, combine ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
Does over mixing make dense meatloaf?
⭐️ When mixing the meatloaf ingredients, don’t worry too much about over-mixing.
Other meatloaf recipes warn against over-mixing, but giving the mixture a good mix makes for a much better texture after baking. It also stops the slices from falling apart.
What is the ideal baking temperature for meatloaf?
We bake a 1-pound meatloaf for 45 to 55 minutes in an oven preheated to 375° Fahrenheit. We bake it uncovered.
To guarantee that it’s cooked perfectly, I use a thermometer to check the internal temperature, which should be 160° Fahrenheit. Then, I leave it on the counter for 10 minutes before serving.
Joanne’s Tip: For clean edges while slicing, I use a serrated bread knife.
Baking sheet vs. loaf pan
We bake our meatloaf on a baking sheet instead of a loaf pan. Baking your meatloaf on a baking sheet instead of a loaf pan creates a delicious, crispy crust on all sides of the meatloaf. It also makes cleanup easier (scoring extra points in my book).
The importance of resting time
After baking, allowing your meatloaf to rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to slicing and serving is critical. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute and settle back into the meat, resulting in a moist and tender meatloaf that’s packed with flavor when sliced and served.
Can meatloaf be prepared the day before?
Yes, to prepare meatloaf a day in advance, follow these simple steps:
- Make the meatloaf mixture and form into a loaf on a baking sheet. Do not add the glaze. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Make the glaze and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- When you are ready to bake, remove the meatloaf from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Spread the glaze on top of the meatloaf and bake as instructed in the recipe.
Can you freeze meatloaf?
Yes, you absolutely can! In both cases, I like making extra glaze to spread on top as it bakes.
Uncooked meatloaf: Assemble on a foil-lined baking sheet without adding the glaze. Freeze for 2 hours, wrap in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, add the glaze, and bake as directed.
Cooked meatloaf: Let the meatloaf cool completely, then wrap in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake or microwave until heated through. I love freezing individual slices for easy meals later on.
Our Best Meatloaf (So Juicy!)
We love this easy meatloaf recipe! It’s juicy, tender, and has the most delicious sweet and sticky glaze.
You Will NeedMeatloaf
1 pound ground beef, 80% to 85% lean
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms, about 8 ounces
1 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 medium onion
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, optional
1/2 cup finely crushed saltine crackers, 12 to 15 crackers
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon mustard, whole-grain or Dijon
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or Pickapeppa sauceGlaze
1/2 cup (125 grams) ketchup, try homemade ketchup
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon mustard, whole-grain or Dijon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or Pickapeppa sauce
1Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, cover with a lid, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan, then add the onion, shallot, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.
2Add the red bell pepper, garlic, and Cajun seasoning and cook until the bell pepper is soft, about 5 minutes more. Allow to cool so it’s not piping hot.
3In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooled mushroom mixture, saltine crackers, milk, egg, egg yolk, mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
4Form the meatloaf into a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
5Make the glaze by stirring ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon the glaze over the top of the meatloaf and spread it into an even layer. Refrigerate while the oven preheats — 5 to 10 minutes helps to firm up the meatloaf before baking.
6Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° C).
7Bake the meatloaf for 45 to 55 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160° Fahrenheit (71° C).
8Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing — I use a serrated bread knife for clean slices.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Our easy recipe calls for ground beef with at least 15% fat. When shopping for ground beef, look for 85/15 or 80/20 ground beef (the numbers refer to the percentage of lean meat and fat).
- To speed up the prep time, use a food processor to chop the mushrooms, onion, and shallot.
- Using saltine crackers adds salt to the mixture. If you substitute with bread crumbs, consider adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the mixture.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.