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Best Meatloaf Recipe (Tender & Juicy)

This Best Meatloaf Recipe is packed with flavor and tenderness. The secret is the tangy and savory sauce added to the meatloaf as it bakes. You can’t go wrong with this perfect weeknight dinner!

Glazed juicy meatloaf on a plate with potatoes in the background.
The best meatloaf is easy, moist, and incredibly delicious – out of many, this is the best meatloaf recipe we’ve made.

Video: Watch Us Make this recipe

Why This Recipe Stands Out

We all love a good meatloaf, but what sets this one apart is the incredible flavor and tender, moist texture. Here’s why we can’t get enough of this meatloaf:

  • Easy Ingredients: You likely already have all these ingredients in your pantry! Plus, it uses pantry staples like our Teriyaki Meatloaf.
  • Quick to Make: This easy meatloaf bakes up in a little less than an hour, for the perfect weeknight meal.
  • Big, Bold Flavor: The combination of tangy and savory sauce takes this meatloaf to a whole new level. We also love the sweet and tangy flavor of the BBQ Turkey Meatloaf.
  • Perfectly Moist: The meatloaf is incredibly moist and tender, thanks to the sauce that’s added to it as it bakes.
  • Prep it Ahead: This meatloaf recipe can be prepared in advance, making it the ideal recipe for meal prep!

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Ground Beef – You’ll need 2 pounds of 85-90% lean ground beef; 10-15% fat is just enough to keep the meatloaf moist.
  • Onion and Garlic The sautéed chopped onion and garlic paired with salt, pepper, and thyme are highly aromatic.
  • Eggs and Breadcrumbs – To hold it all together, create a binder using eggs and breadcrumbs. Use either plain or seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Worcestershire Sauce and Beef Broth The added Worcestershire sauce and beef broth provide the umami flavors in this meatloaf.
  • Brown Sugar, Mustard, and Ketchup – These three ingredients come together to create a sweet-tangy sauce. Make sure to save some for serving.

Substitutions And Variations

Take a look at some of our favorite variations and substitutions:

  • Meat: This recipe calls for ground beef, but feel free to use ground turkey or even ground chicken. You can even try using a mix of beef and pork for a different flavor profile.
  • Sauce Flavor: The sauce is what makes this meatloaf extra special. If you’re pressed for time, you can substitute the brown sugar, mustard, and ketchup with your favorite BBQ sauce, as we do in this BBQ Turkey Meatloaf.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. In a large heavy saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add seasonings and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add Worcestershire sauce, eggs, beef broth, bread crumbs, and whisk the ingredients together. Add ground beef and stir until fully combined.
  1. Form the beef mixture into a loaf shape in a larger baking dish.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, coarse mustard, and ketchup. Brush a quarter of this sauce evenly over the meatloaf.
  1. Bake the meatloaf for 50 minutes. Brush another quarter of the sauce onto the meatloaf and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Allow the meatloaf to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with the remaining sauce.

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

We’ve got you covered with our best make-ahead tips for this meatloaf recipe:

  • Make the Glaze: The brown sugar, mustard, and ketchup glaze can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a week. When you’re ready to cook, you can simply brush it on the meatloaf and bake.
  • Prep Entirely Ahead: You can prepare the entire loaf and store it in the fridge a day ahead. This makes it ideal for meal prepping.
  • Freeze for Later: The meatloaf can be frozen either before or after baking. If unbaked, freeze meatloaf mixture in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Once baked, freeze meatloaf in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Sliced meatloaf with a glazed topping on a cooking tray.
This is, by far, the juiciest and most delicious meatloaf you’ll ever try! It is the best meatloaf recipe, hands down!

What To Serve With Meatloaf

Potatoes

  • Mashed potatoes are the perfect side to soak up the delicious meatloaf juices. Try our Creamy Mashed Potatoes or our Garlic Mashed Potatoes for a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
  • Try our Crispy Roasted Potatoes. They’re crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and packed with flavor.
  • Baked potatoes are another simple and quick side dish.

Vegetables

  • Honey Glazed Carrots are a classic choice to pair with meatloaf. The sweet glaze balances the savory meatloaf perfectly.
  • If you want to sneak some extra veggies into your meal, try our Easy Chopped Greek Salad. It’s fresh, crunchy, and a great contrast to the hearty meatloaf.

Bread and Pasta

  • Dinner rolls are always a hit with meatloaf. They’re perfect for mopping up any extra sauce and can be used to make mini meatloaf sandwiches.
  • Mac and Cheese is a kid-friendly favorite that pairs well with meatloaf. Our Homemade Mac and Cheese is quick to make and oh-so-creamy.

Commonly Asked Questions

How do you make a juicy meatloaf?

The key here is to not skip out on the added moisture. In this classic meatloaf recipe, you’ll notice that it requires both Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Along with our special sauce, those will give you the most tender, meatloaf ever.

Is it better to cook meatloaf covered or uncovered?

You can bake this easy meatloaf recipe uncovered. The added moisture in the mixture itself as well as the addition of the sauce provides plenty of moisture. Baking uncovered also allows meatloaf to brown nicely.

What ingredients keep the meatloaf from falling apart?

The secret to keeping meatloaf from falling apart is the binder. In this recipe, the binder is the breadcrumbs and the eggs, which hold all the ingredients together.

Why do we place a pan of water on the lower rack in the oven?

Placing a pan of water on the lower rack in the oven provides moisture in the oven and helps to keep the meatloaf moist while it bakes.

How do I know when the meatloaf is cooked through?

The meatloaf is cooked through when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.

How long does the meatloaf keep?

This meatloaf can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure to store it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Sliced meatloaf with a glazed topping on a cooking tray.

The Best Meatloaf Recipe

4.84 from 68 ratings
The secret in this classic juicy meatloaf recipe is in the tangy and savory sauce added to the meatloaf as it bakes as well as for serving. The results are juicy, tender, and moist – the perfect weeknight dinner.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For the Sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F, with rack on middle position. Place large pan of water on lower rack underneath.
  • In a large heavy saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add a pinch of kosher salt, pinch of pepper, and the thyme. Saute 30 seconds more, and transfer to large bowl.
  • Add 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, beef broth, and bread crumbs. Whisk by hand to combine ingredients. Add ground beef and stir with wooden spoon until fully combined.
  • Form beef mixture into a loaf (roughly 2x5x8) in a large baking dish or meatloaf pan dish.
  • In a bowl, combine brown sugar, coarse mustard, and ketchup. Spoon about a quarter of this sauce into a small bowl and brush sauce evenly over the meatloaf.
  • Bake about 50 minutes. Brush another quarter of the sauce onto meatloaf and bake 10 more minutes or until meatloaf is cooked through.
  • Let meatloaf sit at room temp about 10 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with remaining sauce.

Notes

  • Always use a large heavy saucepan to sauté your onions and garlic. This will ensure that the heat is distributed evenly and prevent the ingredients from burning.
  • Use seasoned or plain bread crumbs of your choice for the meatloaf. Seasoned bread crumbs will provide an extra bit of flavor.
  • Let the meatloaf sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the juices to be redistributed, making the meatloaf juicier.
  • Feel free to double the sauce, if you love extra sauce for serving. 
  • Serve the meatloaf with the remaining sauce for a delicious, moist, and flavorful meal. It goes great with Creamy Mashed Potatoes or our Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1g | Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 522mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Method: Oven

More To Cook And Eat

  • Teriyaki Meatloaf – tender, juicy, and full of umami flavor. It’s amazing with fluffy rice.
  • BBQ Turkey Meatloaf – uses barbecue sauce instead of ketchup for robust results.
  • Garlic Marinated Ribeye Steaks – melt-in-your-mouth tender and bursting with garlicky goodness in every bite.
  • BBQ Baked Ribs – succulent baked ribs that fall off the bone; you won’t believe you made this in the oven.

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Recipe Rating




47 comments

    • Burt
    • 4 stars

    The only change I made is to use 50% ground beef and 50% ground pork. The result was delicious (and much better than beef alone)! 🙂

      • Amy Dong

      Thanks, Burt!

    • Mary Kelley
    • 5 stars

    Excellent meatloaf. Extraordinarily moist. I made in a loaf pan, and had to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Prep time more than 10 minutes…closer to 45. I used half brown sugar and the glaze was fantastic.

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