Truly Amazing Meatloaf

This easy meatloaf recipe is the best I’ve ever made! It is incredibly flavorful and tender in the middle, and the homemade meatloaf glaze is out of this world.

Best Meatloaf with Homemade Glaze

I cannot wait until you try this amazing meatloaf recipe. Adam and I love it, and everyone we’ve shared the recipe with said that it is the best they’ve made.

With such high praise, we knew we needed to share this classic meatloaf with you. We serve thick slices of this easy homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a big salad. Leftovers are also fantastic, and they make the best meatloaf sandwiches.

Slices of our Easy Meatloaf with a Classic Meatloaf Glaze

Key Ingredients

  • Ground beef: Use ground beef with at least 15% fat for the juiciest meatloaf. Look for 85/15 or 80/20 on the package when you’re at the store.
  • Veggies: I cook mushrooms, onion, shallot, bell pepper, and garlic in butter before adding them to my meatloaf mixture. They add so much flavor (especially the mushrooms, which I also use for turkey meatloaf).
  • Saltine crackers: I use saltine crackers instead of breadcrumbs. They are light and crispy, so they don’t weigh down our meatloaf.
  • Milk: Helps to keep our meatloaf juicy and tenderizes the meat.
  • Egg and egg yolk: Keeps the meatloaf tender and prevents it from drying out or falling apart.
  • Mustard: I use whole-grain or Dijon mustard. It adds so much flavor.
  • Ketchup: I like store-bought natural or homemade ketchup, which I use in the meatloaf mixture to make the sauce spread on top.
  • Worcestershire: Seasons our meatloaf and makes it taste more savory.
  • Maple syrup: Helps sweeten our meatloaf glaze. Thanks to the maple syrup, this is the tastiest glaze I’ve had with meatloaf.

How to Make the Best Meatloaf

To make meatloaf, you’ll start by cooking the veggies in some butter until soft and sweet. I give the mushrooms a head start and then stir in the onion and shallot. Then, when soft, I add the red bell pepper and garlic. The veggies take about 10 minutes, but cooking them this way guarantees the best texture for your meatloaf.

How to Make Meatloaf: Cooking mushrooms, onion, and garlic first.

Once your veggies are cooked and cooled, mix the meatloaf ingredients in a big bowl. You might have been told by someone else not to overmix meatloaf, but I’m going against the grain on this one and telling you to really get in there and mix! You want the mixture to look well blended, which improves flavor AND texture (it’s why our baked meatloaf won’t crumble apart).

Easy meatloaf ingredients in a mixing bowl

I bake my meatloaf on a baking sheet, not in a loaf pan. You can absolutely bake this meatloaf in a loaf pan if you’d like. I prefer the baking sheet for two reasons. First, a baking sheet means the easiest cleanup, which is enough for me, but the second reason I love using a baking sheet is that our delicious meatloaf glaze becomes more caramelized and sticky than when cooked in a loaf pan.

After forming my meatloaf mixture into a loaf on a lined baking sheet, I generously spread on my glaze. Speaking of the glaze, you will stir ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce together to make it. It’s super simple and tastes so good once it’s baked.

Adding our meatloaf glaze to the top of meatloaf

I bake the meatloaf in a 375°F oven until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, which takes 45 to 55 minutes. Then, before slicing, I leave the meatloaf on the counter to rest for at least 10 minutes, which allows the juices to redistribute and the middle to firm up a bit.

How to Make Meatloaf Ahead of Time

Refrigerate formed, unbaked meatloaf for up to 24 hours. Make your meatloaf mixture and shape it onto your baking sheet (don’t add the glaze). Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. You can also make the glaze, store it in an airtight container, and refrigerate it. When ready to bake, remove the meatloaf from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before spreading on the glaze. Then, bake as instructed in the recipe.

To freeze the uncooked meatloaf, form the meatloaf 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.

My Favorite Meatloaf Sides

I love serving this meatloaf with classic sides like mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese. Roasted veggies are amazing, too. I especially love roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, and this roasted asparagus.

For quick vegetable sides, try sautéed green beans, this garlic butter zucchini, and our easy sautéed veggies. Or try a simple salad dressed with one of our favorite homemade dressings. Try homemade ranch, quick honey mustard dressing, or this easy Italian dressing.

Truly Amazing Meatloaf

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

We love this easy meatloaf recipe! It’s juicy, tender, and has the most delicious sweet and sticky meatloaf glaze.

Makes 6 Servings

You Will Need

Meatloaf

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 sauce

Glaze

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

Directions

    1Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, cover with a lid or tent with foil, and cook for 5 minutes.

    2Uncover the pan and add the onion, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.

    3Add the red bell pepper, garlic, and Cajun seasoning and cook until the bell pepper is soft, about 5 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes.

    4In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooled mushroom mixture, saltine crackers, milk, egg, egg yolk, mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well until the mixture looks well blended.

    5Form the meatloaf into a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.

    6Make the meatloaf glaze by stirring ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

    7Spread the glaze over the meatloaf. Refrigerate while the oven preheats (5 to 10 minutes in the fridge helps firm up the meatloaf before baking).

    8Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

    9Bake the meatloaf for 45 to 55 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

    10Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing (I use a serrated bread knife for clean slices).

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Ground Beef: Choose beef with at least 15% fat for the best flavor and juiciness. Look for labels like 85/15 or 80/20 (these represent the lean meat-to-fat ratio).
  • Prep Shortcut: Save time by using a food processor to quickly chop the mushrooms, onion, and shallot.
  • Saltine Crackers: Saltine crackers in your meatloaf add both seasoning and a lighter texture. If substituting with breadcrumbs, add a pinch or two of extra salt to the mixture for flavor.
  • Leftover meatloaf: Lasts in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight and reheat in the microwave or a 350°F oven.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 of 6 slices / Calories 312 / Total Fat 17.7g / Saturated Fat 7.5g / Cholesterol 124.3mg / Sodium 498.2mg / Carnohydrate 19.8g / Dietary Fiber 1.4g / Total Sugars 10g / Protein 18.1g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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40 comments… Leave a Review
  • Gary Cousins April 3, 2024, 7:08 pm

    Made this jewel of a recipe again. perfection. Thanks guys. 🥰

    Reply
    • Adam April 4, 2024, 11:36 am

      Yay! You are so welcome:)

      Reply
  • Linda C. March 20, 2024, 8:01 pm

    I have tried several recipes in my quest for for the best meatloaf and my search has finally ended. This meatloaf was excellent!! I would love to serve this for company…do you have any tips for doubling it? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Adam March 27, 2024, 12:55 pm

      Yay! We are so happy you found us! This recipe should double easily. You would just make a longer loaf 🙂

      Reply
  • Kathy Brown March 10, 2024, 7:00 pm

    This is the best meatloaf recipe I’ve found. I used the McCormick meatloaf spices instead of the Cajun spices. My husband absolutely loved it.

    Reply
    • Adam March 10, 2024, 7:55 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      Reply
  • Elaine Green March 6, 2024, 12:50 pm

    I made it without green Pepper since I only thought I had one! It’s cooling and looks perfect. Just a perfect meatloaf. Thank you so much. Both of you.

    Reply
    • Joanne March 6, 2024, 1:28 pm

      This is just what we want to hear! So happy you enjoyed this recipe as much as we do.

      Reply

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