Make this old-fashioned meatloaf for two or a crowd—a simple classic meatloaf recipe we have used for almost 50 years. Moist and tender with excellent taste, homemade meatloaf like grandma would make will become a classic at your home, too.
We all need everyday recipes for great comfort food and leftovers at times. It is not complicated and uses only eight common ingredients you already have at home. Just follow these easy step-by-step photos for the best meatloaf ever.
We have enjoyed this at least monthly for 40+ years. This is my wife's recipe, and the only variation is that I actually measured things to publish this. Please enjoy one of our standard recipes that have had decades of development.
Nothing less than a five will do. I do love our old-fashioned meatloaf recipe, and I'm very picky. This is super moist with great taste—a great recipe.
What is Meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a dish of ground meat that has been mixed with other filler. During the Great Depression, it was a way for families to stretch their budget by using inexpensive ground meat and leftover ingredients like bread or cereal. It is then formed into the shape of a loaf then baked.
When a starch like bread or grains is combined with an added liquid that forms a "panade," added to ground meat and keeps the results moist.
Ground beef is the most commonly used ground meat for meatloaf. I generally use ground chuck, but other versions will work fine.
Most ground beef is about 20% fat. Lean ground beef maybe just a little dryer, but lower-fat beef is preferred if you are using a pan like a loaf pan or making cupcake meatloaves where it is hard to drain.
You can mix in some ground pork or other ground meat to make it your own. Or you can also use ground chicken or ground turkey, but the flavor will vary.
For aromatics, some chopped onion is used. Also, some garlic can be added but is in most seasoning salt.
Other vegetables commonly added are celery, green bell pepper, or carrot. Whatever you add, they should be chopped small to cook thoroughly.
This recipe is so easy because the seasoning salt, black pepper, and ketchup provide the spicing and taste. So the quality of those ingredients becomes essential.
For the ketchup, I only recommend Hunts or Heinz. Please do not use generic, or your taste buds will pay the price. While I claim some expertise in ketchup, the seasoning salt is up to you, but Lowery's is my choice.
I'm super simple here. Just a nice coat of ketchup. Many recipes fancy this up with brown sugar, mustard, or even top with bacon or barbecue sauce. I like it simple.
👨🍳How to Make Old-Fashioned Meatloaf
Preheat the oven to 350° and choose a baking pan that will allow the size of meatloaf you are making to be about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick and a bit of space around the loaf to allow for drainage space and an opening for lifting out the meatloaf.
Mix all ingredients except for the ketchup for the topping. Keep it a little dry but mix thoroughly. Use one egg per pound of meat.
The meatloaf is done when the final internal temperature reaches 160° for beef meatloaf. But if any poultry is used, the final internal temperature needs to reach 165° to be safe. You must use an instant-read or meat thermometer.
⏰How Long to Cook Meatloaf
For a 2 pound meatloaf in a 350° oven, baking time will be about 1 hour.
Ground beef is safe at 160°, and the egg does not change that. If you use ground poultry in the meatloaf, it must be 165° to be safe.
|Size of Meatloaf||Approximate Baking Time at 350°|
|1 pound||30-40 minutes|
|2 pounds||1 to 1 ¼ hours|
|3 pounds||1 ¼ to 1 ½+|
|Mini or Cupcake||20 to 30 minutes|
Thicker meatloaf takes longer and thinner cook faster. But always cook to the final internal temperature, never by time alone since there are variables.
The main variables for how long to cook a meatloaf are the oven temperature and the weight and thickness of the meatloaf. There can be other variables, so only some generalities can be given.
You can use a higher temperature or convection. The higher the temperature, the more the surface will cook and brown before the center reaches the final temperature. So 375° is generally acceptable and will be a bit faster and more browning. Using convection will be like adding 25° to the oven temperature.
We always make a two-pound meatloaf for leftovers for the two of us. Make a one-pounder if you want fewer leftovers. A pound of meat will make four larger servings.
Make up a loaf 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. Cooking time will vary by thickness and weight.
You can use a cupcake pan for smaller servings, and it should take 20-30 minutes depending on the tray material, size, and how full you make it.
Of course, you are cooking to a final temperature, not by time estimates.
No, it is not needed. Meatloaf should be cooked uncovered. The meatloaf will still be moist.
When a starch like bread or grains is combined with a liquid, it forms a panade, which is then added to ground meat and keeps the results moist.
For meatloaf, the panade is made of bread, breadcrumbs, oatmeal, or crackers soaked in milk and is usually about ¼ to ⅓ of the volume of the meatloaf. You can use other things like oats for the starch, and, of course, you can substitute for the dairy with something like beef broth.
🍽️Serving and Storage of Meatloaf
What to serve with meatloaf?
We usually place a couple of baking potatoes in the oven with the meatloaf. Add in a simple vegetable like green beans or corn.
Reheat a slice in a microwave or make a meatloaf sandwich for leftovers.
How to store meatloaf
Seal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
If you are freezing the meatloaf, I suggest cutting it into serving-size slices and wrapping well. Good in the freezer for 3-4 days.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
All images and instructions are for a two-pound meatloaf—our usual amount. You can adjust the ingredient amounts in the recipe card with the serving setting—but it will not change the text instructions.
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a shallow baking dish with PAM.
Chop a medium onion.
Add all ingredients minus ¼ cup of ketchup for topping in a large bowl. Mix well, being sure not to leave any chunks of burger not mixed. I use clean hands for this. Officially, use a wooden spoon.
Move the meat mixture into the baking pan, shape, and cover the top with ¼ cup of ketchup.
Place in the preheated oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160° — about 1 to 1 ¼ hour. Remove from the pan for serving.
Old Fashioned Meatloaf
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 egg
- 1 onion - medium - minced
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon Lawry's Seasoning salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup ketchup
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a shallow baking dish with PAM. Note: instructions and images are for 2 pounds. You can adjust the ingredients in the setting above—does not adjust the text of instructions.
- Chop a medium onion for a 2-pound meatloaf.
- Add all ingredients except topping in a large bowl. Mix well, being sure not to leave any chunks of burger not mixed. I use clean hands for this. Officially, use a wooden spoon.
- Move the meat mixture into the baking pan, shape, and cover the top with ¼ cup ketchup.
- Place in the preheated oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160° — about 1 to 1 ¼ hour for a two-pound meatloaf. Remove from the pan for serving after a 10 minute rest.
My Private Notes
- Cheap ketchup would probably spoil this, so I always use Hunt's or Heinz.
- This is a very easy recipe to adjust. You need one egg per pound of meat. You can adjust the size of the recipe with the serving setting.
- This can be cut down to a 1 pound meatloaf and should take 35-45 minutes to bake. Or you can also use cupcake pan for smaller servings and it should take 20-30 minutes depending on the tray material, size, and how full you make it. Of course, you are cooking to a final temperature, not by time estimates.
- Ground beef is safe at 160° and the egg does not change that. If you use ground poultry in the meatloaf, it needs to be 165° to be safe.
- I like to use a 7-8 inch spatula to remove the meatloaf from the pan.
- Reheats well in a microwave when cut into slices but is also good cold for sandwiches.
- You can cut this recipe down, but we usually do about 2 pounds since the leftovers are great.
- Lots of handwashing, please. We have raw ground meat and eggs, so the risk of contamination is relatively high.
- We usually put a couple of baking potatoes in the oven with this. Cooking time is a good match.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days. Good frozen for 3-4 months. You can also make it ahead and hold it in the refrigerator for a day before cooking.
- Store cooked meatloaf in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freezer for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally published on February 17, 2010. Updated with refreshed photos and a total rewrite of everything except the actual recipe.