Classic Meatloaf

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The best meatloaf is easy to make from simple, everyday ingredients. Ground beef is mixed with onion, herbs, and savory flavors, then topped with the tastiest glaze that goes beyond just ketchup. Serve it with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables for a cozy, comforting dinner the whole family will love.

Sliced meatloaf on a platter.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

What Makes This Meatloaf Special

When I’m craving something meaty and comforting that’s not meatballs, chili or Shepherd’s pie, this classic meatloaf always hits the spot. It’s moist, filling, hearty, and just like my mom used to make. Here’s why it’s the recipe I come back to again and again:

  • It’s got the best texture: It’s sturdy enough to help hold its shape, while still being juicy and tender. So many meatloaf recipes are overly dense and compacted, but not this one.
  • It’s more flavorful than you think: And that’s thanks to herbs and Worcestershire sauce! Not only does Worcestershire sauce enhance the meatiness, but it also adds a layered umami flavor that ketchup doesn’t have on it’s own. That’s why it’s also added to the glaze!
  • It’s naturally gluten-free: While some folks use breadcrumbs in their meatloaf, I prefer quick-cooking oats. They have a similar texture, will keep the meatloaf moist, are a pantry staple, and are naturally gluten-free. A win all around!
  • It’s a budget-friendly dinner idea: Meatloaf was popularized as a way to “stretch” a package of ground beef. Because if you mixed it with vegetables and herbs you could feed more people! And good news – leftovers can be turned into unique meals throughout the week (I’ve got a few ideas below).
Ingredients for meatloaf.

Easy Meatloaf Ingredients

  • Ground Beef: I use 85% ground beef in this recipe so it’s moist and juicy, but you can use any leanness you prefer. I also like to buy freshly ground meat from the butcher for the best texture. Packaged ground beef tends to be more compacted, which can cause you to overwork the mixing of the meat (and you don’t want to do that).
  • Quick-Cooking Oats: Although you can use breadcrumbs, quick-cooking oats are a great gluten-free option. Rolled oats work as well, though they’ll have a more noticeable texture. Just don’t try steel cut oats as they don’t cook properly and will be too hard to chomp down on. And just remember that you can use any leftover oats to make oatmeal in the mornings!
  • Other Filling Ingredients: You’ll need onion, garlic, eggs, milk (dairy or dairy-free), ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, fresh parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. These items add tons of flavor and oomph to the recipe.
  • Meatloaf glaze: A simple mix of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and granulated sugar are all you need for this ultra-flavorful glaze. It’s a little bit savory, and a little bit sweet! I’m also using coconut sugar, though brown sugar is commonly used as well.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Raw meatloaf in a pan.

How To Make Meatloaf

Before we get started, let’s chat about the cooking equipment needed. You’ll need either a 9×5-inch loaf pan or rimmed baking sheet (or casserole dish). While a traditional meatloaf is often made in a loaf pan, I prefer to free-form the meatloaf in a casserole dish. It means there’s more surface area for the glaze! And that means more flavor in every bite.

Combine ingredients. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, onion, garlic, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, oats, milk, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until well combined, just don’t over-mix! Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very dense loaf.

Brushing sauce on meatloaf.

Form the loaf. If using a casserole pan or rimmed baking sheet, form the mixture into an approximate 9×5-inch loaf. Alternatively, you can add the mixture to a loaf pan.

Coat with the glaze. In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Brush it all over the top and sides of the meatloaf.

Cooked meatloaf in a pan.

Cook. Place the meatloaf in the oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes or until the internal temperature has reached 160°F (70°C).

Slice and serve. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, slice it up and serve it with mashed potatoes and your favorite veggies such as broccoli (or broccolini!) Note: If the meatloaf does not rest long enough after it’s baked, it can fall apart when you try to slice it.

A white plate of meatloaf.

Common Questions

Can I halve the recipe with one pound of ground beef?

If you’re using one pound of ground beef, halve the rest of the ingredients without any other adjustments, and it should work just fine. But I recommend checking the internal temperature much sooner to see if it’s fully cooked.

Can I use other types of ground meat?

You sure can! Ground pork is another delicious option, especially when you use half pork and half beef. If using ground turkey, just be aware that it’ll be lighter in flavor, but still delicious.

Why is my meatloaf taking longer to cook?

All ovens heat differently, so try bumping up the temperature next time you make this. And remember to use an instant-read thermometer to ensure you don’t overcook it.

Ways To Enjoy Leftover Meatloaf

  • With a variety of sides: I also love mashed sweet potato and mashed cauliflower (for a lighter option), as well as sauteed spinach, coleslaw, and creamed corn.
  • Make a meatloaf wrap or sandwich: Whether using bread or lettuce leaves, a slice of meatloaf is the perfect “patty” to make a sandwich.
  • Crumble into a stir fry: If I’m stir-frying vegetables and want to add ground beef, crumbled meatloaf is so easy! Just break it up with your hands (or spatula) and mix it into any stir-fry.
  • Make a bolognese sauce: Crumble the meatloaf into finer pieces to make a quick and easy bolognese sauce, like in my zucchini noodle bolognese.
Sliced meatloaf with broccolini and mashed potatoes.

More Ground Beef Recipes

I hope you love this meatloaf recipe that comes from the heart of my childhood (thanks mom!). If you make it, don’t forget to write a comment below on how it turned out. Your review will help other readers in the community!

A platter of sliced meatloaf.

Classic Meatloaf Recipe

4.93 from 26 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Here's my secret to the best classic meatloaf recipe! It's tender and moist, layered with flavor, and brushed with a tasty meatloaf sauce. Watch the video below to see how I make this in my kitchen!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Meatloaf Glaze

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar

Instructions 

  • Combine ingredients. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, onion, garlic, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, oats, milk, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix together the ingredients until well combined, but try not to over-mix.
    Mixing ingredients for meatloaf.
  • Form a loaf. On a casserole pan or rimmed baking sheet, form the mixture into an approximate 9×5-inch loaf. Alternatively, you can add the mixture to a loaf pan.
    A pan of raw meatloaf.
  • Coat with the glaze. In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Brush it all over the top of the meatloaf.
    Sauce brushed on meatloaf.
  • Cook. Place the meatloaf in the oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 160°F (70°C).
    Meatloaf in a pan.
  • Slice and serve. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, slice it up and serve!
    A platter of meatloaf.

Lisa’s Tips

  • To store in the fridge: Any leftovers will stay good for 3 to 4 days.
  • How to freeze: Let the meatloaf cool completely before wrapping individual slices with plastic wrap or foil and storing it in a freezer-safe bag. They’ll stay good for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • Make-ahead tip: You could also prep the meatloaf raw, wrap it with plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge the night before. Then bake it fresh the next day.

Nutrition

Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 626mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 249IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Classic Meatloaf, Gluten Free Meatloaf, Meatloaf, Meatloaf Recipe, Meatloaf with Oats
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




75 Comments

  1. Easy and soooo delicious! The glaze was a wee bit too sweet for me so next time I will reduce the coconut sugar. I’m excited for leftovers!5 stars

    1. Happy you loved the recipe, Jennifer! And yes, you can certainly tweak that in the sauce for next time. Enjoy!

  2. Every recipe you post is so good!!
    We made this and subbed cooked white rice for the oats….and then Worchestershire we subbed for molasses in the glaze. My daughter has an oat/soy allergy so this allowed us all to enjoy. This worked beautifully despite not completely following the recipe. We all loved the flavors and despite using rice it held together and was moist.5 stars

    1. Hi Sarah – Wonderful! I’m glad your meatloaf turned out great with the few substitutions, especially the rice.

  3. Why is sugar put in meatloaf ? It seems so much sugar is used in cooking and baking. I do not use sugar in main dishes and a lot less in deserts. Less sugar is better for your health.4 stars

  4. It was not too dry and everybody liked it. Even my dad liked it who is usually very picky about how dry or salty it is . He said that it was perfectly seasoned.

    Thanks.5 stars

  5. This was so good! I’m honestly not a meatloaf fan but I made it for company one night and they have asked me to make it for them again. I also made it for my daughter’s family after she had a baby and she asked for the recipe. A week later she said she made it for dinner again. Your recipes are a go to for me all the time. Thank you!

  6. Best meatloaf recipe we’ve ever had. I usually don’t use a glaze but this is amazing. One question I do have is in the video it says three tablespoons of ketchup and on the printed recipe it says two tablespoons of ketchup. I’m sure it doesn’t make a ton of difference but we are both low sodium and I have to figure out the nutrition from the recipe.5 stars

  7. I really want to try this recipe, but I don’t eat meat. However, I do eat lots of ground turkey! Will this recipe work with turkey, what %, & does it need ingredient modifications? I have been using 93%, 7% but noticed other options. I really appreciate you getting back to me.

  8. Just made this delicious meatloaf this evening, my picky 6 year old gave it 2 thumbs up and my toddler inhaled it- high praise! I was sceptical about the oats, but Lisa, you have done it again will definately make this over and over, thank you!!

      1. Hi Tom – You can save this by clicking the little heart icon that pops up on the bottom right-hand side of the page.

    1. Oats was used in the old classic recipes by my granny and all the old timers. I prefer the oats over bread crumbs.

  9. My family loved it so much that I had to make this dish twice in one night! Thank so much for the recipe, and I will definitely be making this again… might need to do a double batch next time around so there’s enough for everyone for the first go-around!5 stars

  10. I halved this and it came out perfect. Adding the sauce on top at the beginning is a great idea. The meatloaf was moist and juicy and perfect to serve with mashed cauliflower.5 stars

  11. This was delicious! Next time I think I’ll leave the onions out because they were a bit too crunchy/raw for us. But other than that it came out perfectly! I used breadless breadcrumbs (IYKYK) instead of oats and it was great!! That sauce… to die for! 🤤4 stars

    1. Happy you enjoyed it Trisha! Next time, you could also saute the onion if you’d like, so it’s not quite as crunchy. :)

    1. Hi Ann – I have another recipe for Italian meatloaf that uses a marinara parmesan crust. Check it out! :)

  12. After my husband and I had a bit of a situation with him saying about a certain recipe “I like it but I like your ( my) other recipes better” we came up with a star rating system and this one was a 5 star recipe! Win win he doesn’t inadvertently insult me when he tells me he likes a recipe but likes another one better lol. 5 is the best btw in our new system. This was easy and I was a little skeptical about using the quick oats but I went for it. We aren’t gluten free and I almost switched to breadcrumbs. I made it exactly as is. Thanks so much for a great new find for the dinner rotation.5 stars

    1. Hi Kerry – Thanks so much for leaving a review and happy to both of you enjoyed this meatloaf so much!

  13. Hi Lisa, I made this recipe last night and it was a crowd pleaser. I used Turkey instead of Beef, and it worked beautifully. Thank you for all your efforts to bring us such amazing recipes.5 stars

  14. This recipe was excellent . But I was not happy with all the fat that accumulated in the bottom of the pan. I used 85/15 % mixture. Do you suggest placing loaf on a rack before baking?
    Pat C.

  15. I made this last night and it was delicious! This was the first time I used oatmeal (I was really nervous 😅) but it didn’t take away from the texture. I only used 1.35 lbs of grass fed beef, and I used coconut aminos since I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce, and it work.

    I will make this again and hopefully have all of the ingredients to make this recipe exactly as you put it. Thanks for making this recipe simple and delicious 😋.5 stars

  16. I don’t eat beef so I used ground turkey and this meatloaf is perfect! I loved the glaze, too! I usually dunk my meatloaf in too much ketchup, and I didn’t need any ketchup with the glaze. It was so delicious. Thank you.5 stars

  17. Just made this for dinner tonight and it came out spectacular. I did not even notice the instant oats as a substitution for breadcrumbs, I never would have thought to try oats. The hints of parsley is a great touch and really adds to the flavor profile. I will definitely be making this again and sharing this recipe with all my friends.5 stars

  18. Hi Lisa,
    I made this tonight, serving it with mashed potatoes and broccoli. The meatloaf was delicious! I’m looking forward to your turkey meatloaf recipe, as I rarely serve beef anymore. Thank you, Laurie5 stars

    1. Hi Laurie – Wonderful! I’m glad this recipe was a success. Stay tuned for a turkey meatloaf in the future!

  19. Made this recipe tonite! One thing I changed, I used 1lb ground beef and 1lb ground pork. I’ve tried many meatloaf recipes over the years, hubby said this was the best one yet!!!! Thank you #downshiftolgy

  20. I’m very interested in your recipes!! I don’t have Facebook or instagram. Are your recipes in your book? How much is your cook book?

    1. Hi Lisa – You can find all my recipes on this website! As for my cookbook, there is only a handful of recipes from the website that are in there. Otherwise, the rest are cookbook exclusives. You can find where to purchase the book in the cookbook section on the site (see top navigation).

  21. This looks delicious!! I don’t do oats though, so should I substitute something else or do you think it would be fine without?

  22. I love your meatloaf recipe but like 1/2 c breadcrumbs better than oatmeal. Thanks so much. Love your recipes.

    1. Hi Manel – As of now, oats are the only ingredient I’ve tried as a filler to keep the meatloaf bound and moist.

      1. Good to know this worked out with white rice instead! What kind of rice did you use by chance?

  23. Unfortunately we don’t eat meat but do eat ground turkey. I plan to try this recipe. Are there any changes you would make with seasonings, # of eggs, 85% or 93% fat, temperature & cooking time? Where can I purchase the pan you use? Do you spray it? Can I use parchment paper? Is it easy to clean?

    1. Hi Sharon – You can use ground turkey instead for this recipe and keep everything else the same. As for the pan, you can find it linked in the recipe card under equipment! And yes, I find it pretty easy to clean.

  24. I’m going to try this! When you say quick cooking oats, do you mean oats that specifically say gluten free on the box? I have celiac and was told regular oats can be cross contaminated.

    1. Hi Jann – Rolled oats work as well, though they’ll have a more noticeable texture. Just don’t try steel-cut oats as they don’t cook properly and will be too hard to chomp down on.