Our Best Meatloaf (So Juicy!)

We set out to create the best meatloaf recipe. Here it is! This easy homemade meatloaf is juicy, tender, and has the most delicious sweet and sticky glaze.

Meatloaf with Sweet Sticky Glaze

Related: Try our popular turkey meatloaf recipe with over 500 happy reviews!

How to Make the Best Meatloaf

Adam and I love this meatloaf, and now, after telling you all about it, I’m itching to make it again. We serve thick slices of this classic meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a big salad. Leftovers are also fantastic, and they make the best meatloaf sandwiches.

There are a few things we do to make sure our meatloaf is moist, juicy, and flavorful. Here are a few reasons why I think this is the best meatloaf:

  • Using ground beef with at least 15% fat helps to keep the meatloaf moist and juicy.
  • Cooked mushrooms, onions, shallot, and garlic adds major flavor and moisture.
  • Crushed saltines act as a binder, absorb moisture, and keep the meat juicy. I love saltines in this recipe, but bread crumbs work well, too.
  • An egg and an egg yolk help to bind the mixture together, keeps it tender inside, and add moisture.

Making Our Meatloaf Mixture

For this meatloaf recipe, you’ll mix ground beef with flavorful cooked mushrooms, onion, shallot, and garlic. We also mix in crushed saltine crackers, eggs, ketchup, and a bit of mustard.

Cooking the veggies before adding them to the meatloaf mixture brings out their natural sweetness, softens them, and cuts down on the raw flavor of the onion and garlic. We use a similar vegetable mixture when making turkey meatloaf.

Cooking mushrooms, onion, and garlic for our meatloaf

When mixing the meatloaf ingredients, don’t worry too much about over-mixing.

Other meatloaf recipes warn against over-mixing, but giving the mixture a good mix makes for a much better texture after baking. It also stops the slices from falling apart.

Meatloaf ingredients in a mixing bowl

Baking Our Meatloaf

We bake meatloaf on a baking sheet instead of in a loaf pan. You can use a pan, but a baking sheet helps the glaze caramelize even more than if it were baked in a loaf pan. It also makes cleanup easier (scoring extra points in my book).

You’ll bake the meatloaf for 45 to 55 minutes in an oven preheated to 375° Fahrenheit.

To guarantee that it’s cooked perfectly, I use a thermometer to check the internal temperature, which should be 160° Fahrenheit. Then, I leave it on the counter for 10 minutes before serving.

The extra 10 minutes helps the juices set inside the meatloaf, making it moist and tender. For clean edges while slicing, I use a serrated bread knife.

Our Easy Glaze

I love the sticky, caramelized glaze in this recipe. We spread the glaze on top just before baking. As it bakes, it reduces and becomes a bit sticky.

To make our easy meatloaf glaze, combine ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, and Pickapeppa sauce (or Worcestershire sauce).

Adding glaze to the top of meatloaf

Make Ahead Tips

You can make meatloaf ahead of time. To make it a day in advance, follow these tips:

  1. Assemble on a small baking sheet, but do not add the glaze. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  2. Make the glaze and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  3. When you are ready to bake, remove the meatloaf from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Spread the glaze on top of the meatloaf and bake as instructed in the recipe.
Easy Meatloaf

Can You Freeze Meatloaf?

You can freeze meatloaf before or after cooking. In both cases, I like making extra glaze to spread on top as it bakes.

  • Uncooked meatloaf: Assemble 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.
  • Cooked meatloaf: Let the meatloaf cool completely, then wrap in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake or microwave until heated through. I love freezing individual slices for easy meals later on.

Our Best Meatloaf (So Juicy!)

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

We love this easy meatloaf recipe! It’s juicy, tender, and has the most delicious sweet and sticky 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 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 medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, cover with a lid, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan, then add the onion, shallot, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.

    2Add the red bell pepper, garlic, and Cajun seasoning and cook until the bell pepper is soft, about 5 minutes more. Allow to cool so it’s not piping hot.

    3In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooled mushroom mixture, saltine crackers, milk, egg, egg yolk, mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.

    4Form the meatloaf into a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.

    5Make the glaze by stirring ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon the glaze over the top of the meatloaf and spread it into an even layer. Refrigerate while the oven preheats — 5 to 10 minutes helps to firm up the meatloaf before baking.

    6Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° C).

    7Bake the meatloaf for 45 to 55 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160° Fahrenheit (71° C).

    8Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing — I use a serrated bread knife for clean slices.

Adam and Joanne’s Tips

  • Our easy recipe calls for ground beef with at least 15% fat. When shopping for ground beef, look for 85/15 or 80/20 ground beef (the numbers refer to the percentage of lean meat and fat).
  • To speed up the prep time, use a food processor to chop the mushrooms, onion, and shallot.
  • Using saltine crackers adds salt to the mixture. If you substitute with bread crumbs, consider adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the mixture.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

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

#Meatloaf #Juicy

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