Meatloaf is so much more than just a giant hunk of ground beef in a loaf shape. It should ooze with flavour, be moist and tender yet not crumble apart when sliced. And the caramelised glaze is the crowning glory!
The one thing that sets this meatloaf recipe apart from the others? Grating onion over breadcrumbs so they puff up when cooked, making this meatloaf extra tender and juicy with extra savoury flavour. Bonus: No need to fry diced onion separately.
A loaf made entirely of meat. What’s not to love? (Vegetarians are excused 😉)
It’s economical. It’s quick to prepare. It’s a classic family favourite. And leftovers make terrific sandwiches.
If you think that Meatloaf is really just a giant beef burger shaped like a loaf, it’s time to abandon that misconception. Meatloaf shouldn’t taste like a hamburger! It should taste like…. well, actually, that’s an interesting point. I’ve never really thought about what Meatloaf tastes like!
There’s no denying there are some similarities, being made from beef mince (ground beef). But whereas you wouldn’t eat a hamburger plain, without toppings, sauces, cheese and a bun, you can certainly eat Meatloaf plain because it’s so juicy and tasty.
A tastier, juicier meatloaf
I think there are two little things I do a bit different from the usual Meatloaf recipe.
1. I do my usual grating onion over panko breadcrumbs which soaks them so they later puff up during baking, making our meatloaf nice and tender. This is also how I get the savoury onion flavour into all things meatball / patties / meatloaf instead of dicing them then frying them separately. It’s much more effective.
Regular readers are so sick of reading about why I do this. I use this technique so often for both bread and breadcrumbs – like in my Classic Italian Meatballs that have been a firm reader favourite from the very beginning.
2. Beef bouillon cubes (stock cubes or powder) for the seasoning. That’s the dark brown stuff crumbled on top of the meatloaf mixture in the photo below. So much tastier than just plain salt!
Use a loaf pan for a juicier meatloaf
I know some recipes like to freeform meatloaf, but I find it’s better to bake meatloaf in a loaf pan because:
✔︎ it cooks more evenly;
✔︎ stays juicier because it’s cooking in it’s own juices; and
✔︎ holds its shape.
A freeform meatloaf is shaped like an oval bread loaf so it has pointier ends which will cook through faster and has a tendency to dry out a bit.
If you can shape it like a block loaf and it holds its shape, then your mixture is way too dry! And don’t even think about packing it tightly into a loaf pan then turning it out onto a tray to bake! Tight packing = dense meatloaf!
I also like to coat my meatloaf with a glaze which adds an extra something-something to the meatloaf both in looks and flavour.
Plus, it not only hides any cracks on the surface of the meatloaf – just think of that glaze dripping down into those cracks!
What to serve with 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 puree would be fantastic too.
Dollop of ketchup, steamed greens and you have yourself an epic plate of home cooked comfort-food bliss. Enjoy! – Nagi x
More timeless classics
- Beef Stroganoff
- Roast Chicken in Garlic Herb Butter
- Spaghetti Bolognese
- Beef Pot Roast and Beef Stew
And more meatloafs
- Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Sauce
- Chicken Meatloaf Wellington with Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Meatloaf Cupcakes With Mashed Potato
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Sometimes it helps to have a visual, so watch me make this Meatloaf recipe!
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (Note 1)
- 1 large onion , grated (brown, yellow)
- 1 kg / 2 lb ground beef (mince) , preferably not lean
- 2 eggs
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley (optional), or 2 tsp dried parsley or basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled or 2 tsp beef powder (Note 2)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar , lightly packed
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Oil or spray a loaf tin. (Note 3)
- Glaze: Mix together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Meatloaf: Place breadcrumbs in a very large bowl. Grate over onion. Mix so the breadcrumbs are all wet. (Note 4)
- Add remaining ingredients. Mix well using your hands. Form into a loaf shape, pinching together then smoothing over creases and cracks (helps prevent cracks during baking).
- Transfer into loaf tin. Brush generously with glaze, using about 1/2.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with most of the remaining glaze. If there is excess fat pooling, scoop/pour it off.
- Bake for a further 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Stand for 10 minutes before turning out and cutting into thick slices. You will probably get a bit of crumbling just on the edges of the first couple of slices, this is normal and indicative of the tenderness and juiciness of the meatloaf (zero crumble indicates firm packed harder meatloaf which isn't as enjoyable!).
- Ideal served with a dollop of ketchup, creamy mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.
LIFE OF DOZER
So exhausted after a big play session at the beach, he didn’t even stir when I pulled out a giant hunk of beef. 🥩