Matt Morgan

Hey I'm Matt Morgan. Meatloaf was something I grew up on as a kid and was always my favorite dish. Its something that developed into a passion of mine so after years of perfecting my stable of meatloaf recipes I decided to share my passion for you to enjoy with your family!

What Are the Ingredients for a Classic Meatloaf?

Meatloaf has been a staple on family dinner tables for generations. Its hearty texture and rich flavors have made it a go-to option for a wholesome and fulfilling meal. But what are the ingredients for a classic meatloaf? While meatloaf recipes tend to vary based on who you ask, you’ll find that the best meatloaf recipe contains a few core ingredients:

Ground Meat

At the heart of every meatloaf lies the ground meat. Ground beef is the most popular choice, but you can also use a mix of meats, including ground pork, veal, or all three. Ground meat provides the foundation for the meatloaf’s texture and taste.


Breadcrumbs act as a binder, holding the meatloaf together while adding a subtle texture. They also contribute to the overall volume of the dish. Classic meatloaf recipes often call for plain breadcrumbs, but panko breadcrumbs tend to work best.


Eggs are another essential binding ingredient that helps hold the meatloaf together. They provide moisture and help create a cohesive mixture. Typically, one to two eggs per pound of ground meat are used.

Onion and Garlic

Adding chopped onions and minced garlic adds a new layer of flavor to the meatloaf. Sautéing the onions and garlic before mixing them into the meat mixture can further enhance their flavors.

Herbs and Spices

A medley of herbs and spices elevates a classic meatloaf from ordinary to extraordinary. Common choices include dried thyme, oregano, smoked paprika, parsley, salt, and black pepper.


To keep the meatloaf moist and tender, it’s important to add some liquid. Many recipes call for milk, which also contributes to the overall flavor profile. The liquid helps prevent the meatloaf from becoming too dry during baking.

What Can I Put on Top of Meatloaf Instead of Ketchup?

Adding a glaze to the top of your meatloaf is a simple way to add an extra bit of sweetness to the taste of your meatloaf. Most meatloaf recipes suggest a classic ketchup glaze to top off your dinner, but if you’re looking for a new twist on an old favorite or aren’t a fan of ketchup, you may be wondering: What can I put on top of meatloaf instead of ketchup? Luckily, there are plenty of options for a meatloaf glaze that doesn’t include ketchup and adds new and unique flavors to a classic dish. Some popular substitutions include:

  • Barbecue sauce
  • Roasted tomato and dried chili sauce
  • Sun-Dried tomato sauce
  • Mustard and Barbecue sauce
  • Coca-Cola and Barbecue sauce
  • Honey Barbecue sauce
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Gravy
  • Sweet Onion-Mushroom Gravy
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Brown sugar
  • Worcestershire Sauce

Overall, ketchup adds a touch of sweetness and acidity to the meatloaf, so when you’re looking for substitutions, you will want to use something that captures one or both of those tastes to really round out your dish. However, you can try any ingredient you want as a thin glaze brushed on top of it to get the taste and texture you prefer.

What Can You Put Under Meatloaf to Soak Up Grease?

Cooking meatloaf leaves you with a mouthwatering dish. However, it can also leave excess grease, especially if your ground meat was a bit on the fatty side. Fortunately, there are a few ways to eliminate unwanted grease while maintaining your meatloaf’s flavor and texture.

Parchment Paper

Lining your loaf pan with parchment paper creates a nonstick surface that makes it easy to get the meatloaf out of the pan when it’s done. If you cut the paper so that it hangs over the longer sides of the pan, you’ll also have a sling you can use to pull the loaf up and out of the grease that may have collected at the bottom of the pan.

Wire Rack

Placing a wire rack in your pan can elevate the meatloaf, allowing excess grease to drip away from the loaf. This method allows for even cooking while preventing the meatloaf from sitting in a pool of grease, resulting in a leaner final product.

Bread Slices

A neat trick to soak up the grease under your meatloaf is to line the bottom of the pan with bread slices. The bread soaks up the grease as the loaf bakes. When the meatloaf is done, you can either throw out the bread or bake it to make some truly indulgent toast.

What Is the Basic Meatloaf Formula?

While meatloaf is a very adaptable dish that can be customized in tons of different ways, the basic meatloaf formula almost always contains the same ingredients, starting with meat, eggs, and some sort of grain-based binder.

Basic Components of Meatloaf

  • Ground Meat: Ground beef or a blend of ground beef, pork, and veal are the most common options, but ground turkey is also a popular choice.
  • Binder: Every meatloaf needs a binder to hold it together. Common choices include breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, or oats.
  • Eggs: Eggs act as a binding agent, ensuring that your meatloaf holds its shape. Typically, one to two eggs per pound of ground meat is recommended.
  • Vegetables: Enhance the flavor profile of your loaf with vegetables like onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Sauté them before adding them to the meat mixture for a sweeter, milder taste.
  • Seasoning: Bring your meatloaf to life with a blend of seasonings. Salt, black pepper, dried herbs, and Worcestershire sauce are common, but you can go in a lot of different directions here.
  • Liquid: Adding a liquid element, like milk or broth, keeps the meatloaf moist during baking.
  • Optional Additions: If you want to get really creative, add cheese or even hard-boiled eggs in the center.

What Are Some Fun Facts About the Food Meatloaf?

Meatloaf is a classic comfort food enjoyed by many, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fascinating or mysterious dish. There are several interesting pieces of meatloaf trivia that most people have never heard. Here are some fun facts about meatloaf!

  • Meatloaf’s roots trace back to ancient civilizations, where it was created as a way to use leftover meat and meat scraps, making it a practical and economical dish.
  • Meatloaf gained popularity in the United States during the Great Depression, as it provided an affordable and hearty meal for families during tough times. It was also a staple of American dinners during World War II, when meat was rationed.
  • Different cultures have their own versions of meatloaf, which showcase how versatile of a dish it is. For instance, the Middle Eastern kibbeh and the Italian polpettone share similarities with meatloaf.
  • National Meatloaf Appreciation Day, celebrated in the United States on Oct. 18, is dedicated to honoring this beloved dish.
  • The largest meatloaf ever was made in Walpertshofen, Germany, in 2009. It weighed 6,874.01 pounds.

Should I Use Parchment Paper in My Meatloaf Pan?

Meatloaf is a delicious and simple weeknight meal, but clean-up can be annoying due to all the baked-on residue left in your pan. The constant scrubbing and scraping of the baked-on grime has many people wondering, “Should I use parchment paper in my meatloaf pan?”

Parchment paper is a great option to line your pan the next time you cook meatloaf. It prevents the meat from sticking to the pan resulting in a meatloaf that is evenly cooked all the way through and looks ready to eat. Instead of greasing your pan with spray, butter, or olive oil which can all lead to a meatloaf that may look a little greasier, or adding aluminum foil on top to get that even heat distribution, parchment paper distributes the heat equally throughout the pan without sacrificing taste or texture.

Adding parchment paper to your pan is simple. Select a piece that is large enough to fully cover the sides and bottom of the pan and press it down onto the surface of the pan. The edges of the parchment paper should extend over the top of the pan to help maintain the shape of your meatloaf while it’s in the oven and allow for easy removal when done. It will act as a barrier between the meatloaf and the pan for even heat distribution and make cleaning up a breeze!

Cooking Meatloaf on a Traeger or Other Wood Pellet Grill

Cooking on a wood pellet grill lets you infuse your food with rich, smoky flavor, and just about any meat can taste better when cooked this way, including meatloaf. Next time you’re craving this delicious dish, don’t fire up the oven: Once you try cooking meatloaf on a Traeger or other wood pellet grill, you may never make it another way!

If you’re in a hurry, you can grill your meatloaf on a pellet grill just like you would on any other grill. But if you have the time, slow-smoking your meatloaf will take its flavor to the next level.

How to Cook Meatloaf on a Traeger

  1. Combine the ingredients for your favorite meatloaf recipe as you normally would.
  2. Add your wood pellets to the grill. Apple, hickory, and mesquite are particularly good choices.
  3. Set your grill to the right temperature: 350 degrees for grilling or 225 degrees for smoking.
  4. Form your meatloaf and place it on the grill to cook. If you’re grilling the loaf, it will take between 40 minutes and an hour; if you’re smoking it, plan on giving it two hours to cook.
  5. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, baste on your favorite glaze.
  6. When the inside of the meat reaches at least 160 degrees, pull it off of the grill and let it rest for a few minutes. Then, slice and serve.

Should Meatloaf Be Covered or Uncovered When Baking?

There’s a common debate among meatloaf chefs: Should meatloaf be covered or uncovered when baking? I prefer to cook my classic meatloaf uncovered, but both methods have their merits.

Covered Meatloaf

When covered with foil or a lid, meatloaf retains moisture and cooks more evenly. The trapped steam helps prevent the outer layer from drying out, resulting in tender and juicy meat throughout. This method is particularly useful if you’re making your loaf with a leaner meat that tends to dry out quickly. Additionally, covering the meatloaf can speed up the cooking process, ensuring that it cooks thoroughly without over-browning.

Uncovered Meatloaf

Leaving the meatloaf uncovered allows the top to develop a nice, crispy crust. The exposed surface caramelizes and browns, adding a visual appeal and pleasant contrast in texture as well as great flavor. Uncovering the loaf also helps excess moisture evaporate, giving the meatloaf a firmer consistency.

Which Is Better?

Covered vs. uncovered meatloaf cooking is largely a matter of preference. Try both methods and see which result you prefer!

Meatloaf Variations

While meatloaf may be a classic dish that families have made for generations, there is no such thing as a single meatloaf recipe that everybody in the world uses. There are plenty of different meatloaf variations, from small tweaks to the ingredients to different glazes to loafs made with all sorts of meats, from turkey to rabbit. It’s easy to make meatloaf fit your dietary needs or just the whims of your taste buds!

The Classic Meatloaf Recipe

There’s nothing quite as simple and delicious as a traditional meatloaf recipe. Using ground beef, eggs, ketchup, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoning, you can easily create a delicious meal the whole family will enjoy. It only takes a few minutes to put it together and less than an hour in the oven until it’s fully cooked, but once it’s out of the oven, it’s completely ready to serve alongside your favorite side dishes. It may seem simple, but the taste packs a punch that will have everybody asking for more.

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

Ground beef isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Some people prefer a healthier alternative that still offers a meaty taste, and if that sounds like you, a turkey meatloaf can be a delicious option for you to try. Like the classic meatloaf recipe, it’s full of flavor, and it won’t dry out easily. It comes together just as easily as a traditional meatloaf, with many of the same ingredients, but it also includes mushrooms that not only add to the taste and texture but make it even healthier!

Diabetic-Friendly Meatloaf

If you or somebody you love has been diagnosed with diabetes, you don’t have to cut meatloaf completely out of your diet. With a few changes to the recipe, you can easily create a diabetic-friendly meatloaf made with fresh ingredients that help you follow the doctor’s orders. This recipe uses a mix of ground beef and ground turkey with egg whites instead of eggs and old-fashioned oats as the binding ingredient instead of breadcrumbs. With a few changes to the original meatloaf recipe, you can easily create a meatloaf that’s just as meaty and delicious as ever.

Gluten-Free Meatloaf

gluten-free meatloaf is as easy to make as any other meatloaf, and it has more vegetables in it, which makes it a healthier, lighter alternative to the classic meatloaf that you may want to try even if you’re not gluten-free. It uses ground turkey or 90% lean ground beef, gluten-free oats, carrots, and zucchini to bind everything together and create a loaf that’s healthy and tasty.

Keto-Friendly Meatloaf

The keto diet is very popular these days, but it can be hard to find a keto meatloaf recipe that doesn’t fall apart at a single touch and still has a lot of flavor. Going keto may restrict certain ingredients from everyday use, but meatloaf shouldn’t be a splurge meal. You can still stay on your diet and enjoy it by using almond flour and cheese instead of breadcrumbs.

Meatloaf and Gravy

Ketchup is a popular meatloaf glaze because it adds a touch of sweetness and acidity in every bite, but not everybody likes ketchup. Gravy makes a great alternative to top your meatloaf, and it’s pretty easy to make while the loaf is baking. Once you plate your meatloaf, you can smother it in gravy and use some of the excess for your side dishes to tie the whole meal together.

Meatloaf with Oatmeal

Breadcrumbs are the most popular binding ingredient for meatloaf, but they’re not the only option. You can also choose to make your meatloaf with oatmeal to bind your ingredients together, meaning that if you’re out of breadcrumbs, you don’t have to make a run to the store or make something else for dinner. The oatmeal is a one-to-one substitution for the breadcrumbs, so you can add the same amount of oatmeal as you would breadcrumbs and end up with a similar result.

Should I Use Panko or Regular Bread Crumbs for Meatloaf?

Every meatloaf recipe requires a binder, otherwise, you don’t get the same moisture retention and tenderness when you cook it. Most recipes require bread crumbs soaked in moisture as the binder to improve the quality of your meatloaf, but there are plenty of other options. In fact, many people consider using Panko instead because it is light and airy and helps the meat crisp as it cooks. Both options are commonly suggested in recipes as they are household staples, but you may be wondering: Should I use Panko or regular bread crumbs for meatloaf? Is one better than the other?

Both options are great for meatloaf depending on your preference. Panko usually comes from white bread and doesn’t include the crust. It tends to be dryer and flakier in consistency than regular bread crumbs, so they absorb less and produce a lighter-tasting meal. Regular bread crumbs can be made from any type of bread and crust and if you use a food processor, they can be processed into finer crumbs than Panko and don’t tend to be as dry so they may be a better binding option. However, depending on what you have on hand, you can soak the bread crumbs or Panko in liquid before adding it to your meatloaf for the best results.