Best Meatloaf

In the realm of classic comfort foods, few dishes hold a place as dear and as enduring as meatloaf. It’s a savory masterpiece that transcends generations and regional boundaries, a culinary embodiment of warmth and nostalgia that has graced countless family dinner tables. For many, the aroma of a freshly baked meatloaf is the essence of home, evoking a sense of comfort and togetherness that few other dishes can muster.

Prep Time:

15 mins

Cook Time:

1 hr 10 mins

Total Time:

1 hr 25 mins

Servings:

12

Yield:

1 meatloaf

Jump to Nutrition Facts

Good old-fashioned meatloaf stands alongside hot dogs and apple pie as iconic American foods. That’s not to say any of those dishes actually originated in America, but that hasn’t stopped us from embedding them deeply into our culture and lore, and making them our own.

Meatloaf especially is a product of ingenuity and making-do as thrifty, waste-not home cooks combine low-cost ingredients to make a satisfying main dish that will stretch ingredients and feed a family. Yet, as a highly customizable recipe, meatloaf can be found everywhere from classic diners to high-end restaurants, to everyday dinner tables.

Why This Recipe Works

Meatloaf recipes are typically made of ground meats mixed with vegetables, seasonings, and crushed crackers or fine breadcrumbs, and are held together with a binder; usually an egg or two. This top-rated recipe for Best Meatloaf demonstrates how to make a meatloaf using the most simple ingredients and tried-and-tested techniques:

Meat mixture
This recipe for Best Meatloaf uses extra-lean ground beef, which means the fat-to-meat ratio is about 4 percent fat to 96 percent lean. The low ratio of fat results in a meatloaf with minimal grease. But since fat carries flavor, you’ll want to add some back to keep blandness at bay. By adding a touch of sour cream to the mixture, this recipe benefits from that little extra fat plus a hint of tangy flavor at the same time. Note: adding milk is optional and may only be necessary if you’re cooking at higher altitudes.

Sautéed vegetables
Cooking minced aromatics (a fancy term for the onion and garlic) in butter before adding it to the meat mixture mellows the flavors and ensures you won’t bite into the sharp taste of onion and garlic.

Flavor boosters
There’s nothing shy about the taste of Worcestershire sauce, and adding it to the mix along with tomato sauce brings sweet and savory flavor to every bite. A top glaze of tomato sauce and ketchup creates a delectable sauce to finish the dish.

Baking technique
How long to cook meatloaf depends on the size of the loaf and the temperature of the oven. Ideally, you want to fully cook the inside to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). This recipe for Best Meatloaf gives you a clever 3-step approach: You’ll bake the meatloaf for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) to fully cook the inside, and then increase the heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes to give the outside a tasty crust. Finally, you’ll brush the meatloaf with tomato sauce and ketchup, and bake it for 10 more minutes to caramelize the glaze.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
  • 3 slices bread, toasted and crumbled
  • 7 buttery round crackers, crushed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 ½ tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
  • ¼ cup milk, or as needed (Optional)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Directions

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Gather all ingredients.

Step 2:

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook onion and garlic until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

Step 3:

Combine onion and garlic mixture, beef, crumbled bread, crushed crackers, egg, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 can tomato sauce in a large bowl. Mix until well combined. Gradually stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until mixture is moist, but not soggy.

Step 4:

Transfer the mixture to a 5×9-inch loaf pan.

Step 5:

Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Continue baking 15 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Step 6:

Mix the remaining tomato sauce and ketchup in a small bowl. Pour over the top of the meatloaf, and continue baking for 10 minutes.

Step 7:

Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories213
Fat12g
Carbs9g
Protein18g

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