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Meatloaf (Family-Style or Mini Loaves)

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This simple yet delicious meatloaf can be made as one large loaf or quicker-cooking mini loaves, making it the perfect cozy meal any night of the week.

individual meatloaf servings on plates

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

This is a very good, very simple meatloaf recipe, and it’s a real stick-to-your-ribber. You can make it as one big family-style loaf or as mini loaves for individual servings. Just keep in mind that the family-style loaf takes longer to cook, about 75 minutes, while the mini loaves bake in just 40 minutes, making them more doable on a weeknight. I recommend cooking meatloaf on a baking sheet rather than in a loaf pan, as it allows for better heat circulation and more surface area for browning. Using a baking sheet also allows any excess fat to drain away, resulting in a healthier finished dish.

The glaze on this meatloaf is the standard ketchup topping; for a variation, try the BBQ-style glaze that is used in my popular turkey meatloaf recipe. Leftovers make excellent meatloaf sandwiches.

“My husband requests this recipe and it’s a favorite of mine as well. Exactly what you want when you are craving meatloaf!”

Lori Allen

What You’ll Need To Make Meatloaf

ingredients for meatloaf
  • Onion and garlic: Provide a flavorful base, adding depth and aromatics to the meatloaf.
  • Milk: Moistens the bread crumbs, contributing to a tender texture in the meatloaf by preventing it from drying out.
  • Eggs: Act as a binding agent, helping to hold the meatloaf together during and after cooking.
  • Thyme: Adds a subtle, earthy flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Adds a tangy richness and umami depth that enhances the flavor of the meatloaf. This versatile condiment serves as a key ingredient in a wide range of dishes, from smash burgers and deviled eggs to Caesar salad dressing.
  • Meatloaf mix: A combination of ground beef, pork, and veal, this blend is ideal, as it makes a juicier and tastier meatloaf than ground beef alone. (I also use this blend to make my popular spaghetti and meatballs recipe.)
  • Plain bread crumbs: Serve as a filler and binding ingredient, absorbing moisture and helping to structure the meatloaf.
  • Ketchup: Used as a glaze on top, adding a tangy, caramelized finish.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a 13 x 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or heavy-duty, nonstick foil.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic.

adding the minced garlic to the skillet with the onions

Cook 1 minute more. Do not brown.

cooked onions and garlic in skillet

Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to a large bowl.

onion and garlic mixture in large bowl

To the bowl, add the milk, eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.

adding the milk, eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the bowl

Whisk to combine.

whisked egg and onion meatloaf mixture in bowlAdd the meat and bread crumbs to the egg mixture.

adding the meatloaf mix and bread crumbs to the egg mixture

Mix with your hands until just combined.

meatloaf mixture in bowl

For individual loaves, form the mixture into 6 small (9-ounce) loaves and place on the prepared baking sheet. To make the loaves of equal size, I usually divide the meat mixture roughly in half and then divide each half roughly into thirds. Then, I scoop large balls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, reapportion if necessary, and then shape into loaves.

how to form mini meatloaves on baking sheet

For a large family-style loaf, form the meat mixture into a 12 x 5-inch loaf shape directly on the prepared baking sheet.

family-style meatloaf formed on baking sheet

Spoon the ketchup over the top and sides of the loaf (or loaves).

ketchup glaze spooned over meatloaf

Bake 40 to 45 minutes for the individual loaves or about 75 minutes for the family-style loaf, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the middle of the meatloaf (or loaves). Quite a bit of fat oozes out while baking; this is why I prefer to make it on a baking sheet rather than in a loaf pan. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then use a spatula to scrape the fat away from the edges. Transfer the loaf (or loaves) to a cutting board, slice if necessary, and serve.

sliced meatloaf on cutting board

Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t find meatloaf mix at my supermarket. Can I use ground chuck?

Most supermarkets carry meatloaf mix, but if you can’t find it, your best bet is to use equal parts ground beef and pork as a substitute. If you don’t cook with pork, go ahead and use all ground chuck, which is 20% lean ground beef.

Can meatloaf be made ahead of time?

Yes, you can refrigerate the uncooked loaf/loaves, covered, 1 day before you plan to bake them. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from cold. For already baked meatloaf/loaves, cool completely, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat, covered, on a baking sheet in a 300°F (150°C) oven until hot throughout.

Can meatloaf be frozen?

Yes, the cooked meatloaf (or loaves) can be frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat, covered, on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven until hot.

individual meatloaf servings on plates
Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

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Meatloaf (Family-Style or Mini Loaves)

This simple yet delicious meatloaf can be made as one large loaf or quicker-cooking mini loaves, making it the perfect cozy meal any night of the week.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2½ lbs meatloaf mix (see note)
  • ¾ cup plain bread crumbs
  • ¾ cup ketchup

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a 13 x 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or heavy-duty, nonstick foil.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Do not brown. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. To the bowl, add the milk, eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the meatloaf mix and bread crumbs to the egg mixture and mix with your hands until just combined.

For Individual Meatloaves

  1. Form the mixture into 6 small (9-ounce) loaves and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spoon the ketchup over the top and sides of each loaf. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the middle of a meatloaf. Let the meatloaves rest for about 5 minutes. Scrape any fat away from the edges of each meatloaf, then use a spatula to transfer them to a serving platter or plates.

For Family-Style Meatloaf

  1. Form the meat mixture into a 12 x 5-inch loaf shape directly on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the ketchup evenly over the top and sides of the loaf. Bake for 75 to 80 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the middle of the meatloaf. Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes. Scrape any fat away from the edges of the meatloaf (it will ooze out and brown while baking), then use a wide spatula to transfer the meatloaf to a cutting board or serving platter. Slice and serve.
  2. Note: Meatloaf mix is a combination of ground beef, pork, and veal that is more flavorful than ground beef alone. Most supermarkets carry meatloaf mix, but if you can’t find it, equal parts ground beef and pork is a good substitute. If you don't cook with pork, go ahead and use ground chuck, which is 20% lean ground beef.
  3. Note: If making individual meatloaves, the trickiest part of this recipe is making the loaves of equal size. I usually divide the meat mixture roughly in half and then divide each half roughly into thirds. Then, I scoop large balls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, reapportion if necessary, and then shape into loaves.
  4. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: You can refrigerate the uncooked loaf/loaves, covered, 1 day before you plan to bake them. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from cold. For already baked meatloaf/loaves, cool completely, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat, covered, on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven until hot in the middle.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 834
  • Fat: 54 g
  • Saturated fat: 19 g
  • Carbohydrates: 34 g
  • Sugar: 14 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 51 g
  • Sodium: 945 mg
  • Cholesterol: 262 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Can canned tomato sauce be substituted for ketchup?

    • — Jessica on February 15, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2024
      • Reply
  • We made the minis and they were SO good. Even my picky husband approved!

    • — Suzanne on February 14, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made the individual loaves today. I baked to 160 internal temp which took about 40 minutes. I had to refrigerate for a couple of hours after baking, as I was bringing them to a friends house. I followed the instructions and reheated uncovered at 300 for about 20 minutes and they were very dry! They tasted great right after baking (before refrigeration). How can I avoid the dryness??

    • — Mary on February 12, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, Sorry to hear they dried out when you reheated them. If you found them dry, I’d try microwaving them next time.

      • — Jenn on February 13, 2024
      • Reply
    • When I reheat any kind of meat, I always cover it so any moisture stays trapped. You need to heat them a little longer when covered but it’s worth the wait.

      • — Barbara on February 15, 2024
      • Reply
  • Made this last night and even my super picky 6yo liked it! The only sub I made was tomato soup instead of ketchup and it turned out great. This is definitely a keeper.

    • — Laura on February 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I plan on making these as mini loaves. Can I freeze some of them before cooking? I’d prefer to bake them fresh instead of reheating if possible 😊 Thanks so much!

    • — Kathy Wolff on October 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can you use panko breadcrumbs?

    • — Sara on September 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Sara, that’s fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • Good day Chef Jenn! I used 1/4 cup chicken stock in place of the milk, as I have dairy issues. The flavor was great. Others that have lactose intolerance might try this or, a vegetable stock, as I believe the milk is more for moisture than anything else. Thank you for all of the good recipes.
    Tastefully yours,
    Mark Waitsman

    • — Mark Waitsman on July 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this, and the flavor was excellent, but I didn’t like the texture and neither did my family. It wasn’t meaty or hearty/chewy. It had almost a slimy mouth feel. What did I do wrong? Might I have over mixed it? The meat was perfectly fresh, so I know it isn’t spoiled ingredients. It had something to do with how I put it together or maybe the baking. I would love to try again, but now I’m nervous. I hope Jenn might have some ideas.

    • — JenO on June 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen, I’m sorry you found the texture to be a little off. It definitely should not be slimy. Did you use meatloaf mix for the meat? If so, it sounds like the meatloaf may have been slightly underbaked.

      • — Jenn on June 13, 2023
      • Reply
  • Yum is all I have to say! I live by myself so made these into individual meatloaves. I ate one the night I prepared them and froze the rest. I wanted to wait to leave a review until after I ate a frozen one so that I could ensure they tasted good after thawing. Well, I can now say that they are delicious both ways. I totally love that I can make this one recipe and get 6 meals out of it — thanks for making my life easier (and tastier), Jenn!

    • — Scott on May 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is the recipe that will replace my 30 year old family favorite recipe! I make/made a really good meat loaf for decades and occasionally would try something new, which never matched up. Today, I told my husband I was going to try “a new recipe” his reply was “no, why mess with a good recipe”…my reply, “it’s Chef Jenn’s” he said “okay, give it a shot, she’s never let us down” 🙂
    Thank you once again for another wonderful recipe!

    • — Sharon T on April 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • I used 2/3- 80% ground beef and 1/3- ground pork as my meat mixture…only because that was in the freezer. The sauce I used on top was one very similar to yours on the turkey meatloaf recipe.

      • — Sharon T on April 18, 2023
      • Reply
  • I cut recipe in about half, made four loaves. I liked it , but I think the quality of my ground pork was not great,also didn’t use veal. Next time I make I hope to find meatloaf mix

    • — Mary on April 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Perfect as written. My husband requests this recipe and it’s a favorite of mine as well. Exactly what you want when you are craving meatloaf!

    • — Lori Allen on February 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can I leave the milk out for someone who is dairy free? Or what can I use instead?

    • — Carol on February 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, Any dairy-free milk will work here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2023
      • Reply
    • I tried tonight … turned out so good …… simple just like my Mother/Grandmother use to make! My go to recipe for meatloaf! 🥰. Hershey Kisses for dessert 😱

      • — Elizabeth on March 12, 2023
      • Reply
  • My husband said why don’t you make this more often🤣loved it. Also, made the creamy mashed potatoes…delicious. Love all your recipes…thank you😃

    • — Debi on February 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Is it ok to prepare the meatloaf and refrigerate it to cook later in the day? Thanks! Looks yummy!

    • — Tory on February 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep that’s fine!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • Without question, the best meatloaf ever.

    • — B.J. Alexander on February 22, 2023
    • Reply
  • Best meatloaf recipe I ever made!

    • — Kelly on February 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • I halved recipe and used one pound 95 percent lean beef. Unfortunately I had Italian meatloaf recipe open at same time on my tablet, so had already chopped celery, carrot, garlic and onions by the time I realized my mistake. I sautéed them together and followed the rest of the recipe as written. Tasted great, will make Italian one next time with its correct seasonings.

    • — Susan on February 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Turned out excellent! Another great recipe!

    • — Jenny G on February 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I used just ground beef, and it was great. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Mary Flannery on February 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • I would like to comment on your meatloaf recipes. I have made meatloaf using ground pork and ground beef and loved it. BUT I found that if you make meatloaf using ground beef and ground turkey it is the best. What makes it so good is that you get the great beef flavor but the meatloaf is light because of the turkey and wonderful. All the add ins are just the same.

    Your recipes are always my favorite and also anyone I cook for. I can’t believe I am writing to a cook as wonderful as you about this.
    Today I am feeling bold.

    • — Pat Debernardi on February 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • I’m glad you wrote! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Oops — At the top of the recipe for your meatloaf, it says the cooking time is 40 hours! I think that would be a tad over-done! Otherwise the recipe looks great.

    • — Loren Chudy on February 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • LOL – it’s fixed 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2023
      • Reply

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