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 also also become a classic at your home.
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.
What is Meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a dish of ground meat mixed with other fillers. 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 and 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.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
- Preheat the oven to 350° and choose a baking pan that will allow the size of the 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 must reach 165° to be safe. You must use an instant-read or meat thermometer.
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 may be 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 Long to Cook Meatloaf
For a 2-pound meatloaf in a 350° oven, the 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.
- 1-pound meatloaf will take about 30-40 minutes at 350°.
- 2-pound meatloaf will take about 1 to 1 ¼ hours at 350°.
- 3-pound meatloaf will take about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours at 350°.
- Mini or cupcake meatloaf will take about 20 to 30 minutes at 350°.
Approximate cooking times assuming 350° oven and 1 to 1 ½ thick meatloaf. Thicker meatloaf takes longer and thinner cook faster. But always cook to the final internal temperature, never by time alone, since there are variables.
Meatloaf for Two
Options for making meatloaf for two.
- It is easy to make this a one-pound recipe that is 4 servings of ¼ pound each.
- In the recipe card, change the number of serving from 8 to 4. This will do the math in the ingredient area.
- Mix as directed but use the amount of ingredient from the adjusted ingredient list, not in the instruction section.
- Form into a 1 to 1 ½ thick oval loaf in a baking pan that will not touch the sides.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes until an internal temperature of 160°.
- You can make meatloaf cupcakes and make the amount you want. Make the amount of meatloaf you want and divide into capcakes a between 1 to 1 ½ thick. The number will vary be the amount you make and the size of your cupcake pan. Cooking time will be about 20-30 minutes until 160°.
- You can make a half-pound meatloaf with 2 servings. Adjust the serving as described for the one-pound version but use a full egg. Cooking time will decrease to about 20-30 minutes until 160°.
I have set the recipe for 8 servings becauce that is what two of us usually make. The first meal, then perhaps one heat-up, and later some meatloaf sandwiches.
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 beef broth.
🍽️Serving and Storage
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.
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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 it, 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 hours. 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.
Your Own 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.