Basic (yet very tasty) Meatloaf

posted by Andrea | 09/23/2014
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basicmeatloaf

I just looked back over the past few months of food posts and I realized that in all my “excitedness” about meal planning and freezer cooking, I only posted 5 actual recipes since way back in May! So I guess it’s time for a few more super simple, family-friendly, budget-friendly recipes.

Today’s recipe definitely fits the bill for super simple, family-friendly, and budget-friendly — and although I’m often told that meatloaf is just too much work, I almost guarantee that you can get this meal on the table with less than 15 minutes of hands-on work (not too bad if you ask me!)

I’ve tried to keep this recipe as basic as you can possibly get — with only one bowl and one loaf pan to wash (you’ll understand how as you read the recipe below)!

This is a fabulous recipe to make on a busy day because you can mix everything up in the morning (or even the night before) and then just pop it in the oven about an hour before dinner. I spend the hour it’s in the oven mixing up a few side dishes, setting the table, and cleaning up the kitchen.

If you’re looking for a yummy fall comfort food that requires little to no effort on your part, this recipe is for you!

Recipe for Basic Meatloaf:

{print recipe}

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. dry bread crumbs (or 2 slices of bread broken into small chunks)
  • 1/2 c. – 1 c. milk (I start with 1/2c. and add more as necessary)
  • 1 small onion; chopped (or 1 T. dried minced onion)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef (or turkey, or combination)
  • 1 T. prepared mustard
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a medium bowl, mix egg, milk, bread, onions, salt and pepper until well combined.
  • Add in ground beef and mix until just combined (I try not to over mix in order to keep the meat from drying out).
  • Dump meat mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap
  • Wrap plastic tightly around meat to form a loaf shape (I hate touching the raw meat, so this is my way around it!)
  • Once the mixture is “molded” together, unwrap plastic and “dump” meat into a greased 9″ x 4″ loaf pan
  • Squeeze a little mustard and ketchup on top of meatloaf (no need to get another bowl dirty mixing this up!)
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar
  • Refrigerate for later, or bake for 1 hour @ 350*F (or until meat is thoroughly cooked through)

One helpful tip — after I pull the meatloaf out of the oven, I immediately tip it slightly to the side to let all the grease drain out one corner of the pan into a small bowl. If you don’t do something to get the grease away from the meat, your meat will be soggy and very greasy.

So as I mentioned before, this is just a VERY basic meatloaf recipe.

Yes, it tastes perfectly fine “as is” (which is often how we eat it) but feel free to add in other spices, seasonings, different flavored bread crumbs, variations to the sauce, or anything else you think you might enjoy. It’s pretty hard to mess this one up!

I’ve seen recipes for Meatloaf with Chili Sauce, Cheeseburger Meatloaf, Italian Meatloaf, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, Turkey Meatloaf Muffins, and SO many more. Just google them, look them up on Pinterest, or on AllRecipes.com — you’ll find a bunch!

However, I think you’ll find that if you look closely, many of those seemingly-complicated meatloaf recipes with 20+ ingredients all come back to my basic recipe above with additional mix-ins and seasonings.

So the next time you have a craving for meatloaf, try this basic recipe so you’re not too overwhelmed. It will take less than 15 minutes to get it in the oven… and you’ll be enjoying yummy comfort food an hour later. Or, if you don’t have an hour for the meatloaf to cook, make them into meatballs to shave about 20 minutes off the cooking time (here’s my yummy meatball recipe).

Dave is a HUGE meatloaf fan — and actually, it’s one of the meals Nora gobbles up as well. Maybe it’s because Dave and I both grew up in “meat and potato” families — or maybe it’s because it’s just so tasty on a cool fall day.

Plus, the leftovers are fabulous! 

p.s. Look for that cheesy mashed potato bake recipe next week! 

What is your favorite meatloaf “variation”?

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly, recipes!

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32 comments

  1. Debbie

    01/15/2015

    I love making meatloaf because it’s so easy, and we’re also meat lovers. I use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, whatever oatmeal we have on hand, and don’t even measure. Somehow it feels a little bit healthier to me when I know it’s oatmeal. Add ketchup, low sodium soy sauce, chopped carrots and onions, pepper, egg and you’re good to go.

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  2. Roxanna Kowan

    01/14/2015

    When I make meatloaf I use my broiler pan. I cover the bottom with foil and then spray the top with cooking spray. I form the loaf just like you do and set it on the broiler pan. All the slits allow the grease to drain and at the end I can just throw out the foil with all the grease inside it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good idea… but is the broiler pan difficult to clean? I’d think all the grease in the cracks would be a pain?

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    Roxanna Kowan Reply:

    It isn’t that hard to clean as long as you spray the pan with cooking spray. Make sure you do both sides of the rack (or whatever you call the top part of the pan) or else it is kind of pain to get the grease off the back.

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  3. Paula

    01/14/2015

    I make mine into 12 meatloaf muffins. I do put a cookie sheet underneath when baking as the fat/juice will drip out and I just drizzle with ketchup but since not everyone likes ketchup in my family they can be personalized. I just use the recipe on the back of the Lipton Onion soup mix.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I LOVE mini meatloafs — and the idea of personalizing them 🙂

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  4. Cheryle

    10/09/2014

    Does anyone ever cook meatloaf in the microwave? I’ve done it for years. Takes 15 minutes or less. I use ground beef though; it may take longer if you use ground turkey or pork or sausage.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… I’ve never tried meatloaf in the microwave before — I guess I’m not a big fan of actually “cooking” or “baking” in our microwave. We just use it to re-heat leftovers, but interesting to know you CAN cook a meatloaf in the microwave 🙂

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  5. Stephanie

    09/29/2014

    I haven’t made meatloaf in forever because 1lb just doesn’t seem enough for my family of 5 and I haven’t wanted to use more than a lb. But when we did have meatloaf I always added strips of bacon on top. Talk about a yummy flavor! Even if you don’t want to eat the bacon the flavor is amazing because it stripsdown into the meat.
    I have heard of baking meatloaf on a broiler pan so that all the grease falls through the holes. I have never tried it though.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds yummy with the bacon (we LOVE bacon).

    Also, we almost always use 1.5 or 2 lbs of beef for a meatloaf as you’re right, 1 pound just isn’t enough (in our case, we like leftovers). Although 2 pounds of meat for one meal is a lot more than we would normally use, I figure it’s still WAY cheaper and tastier than ordering it at a restaurant, and a nice “splurge” every now and then 🙂

    I think I’m definitely going to try your bacon idea next time! Thanks!

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  6. Michele

    09/24/2014

    Made this last night and my family LOVED it! Thank you!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome — glad you liked it!

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  7. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    09/23/2014

    Simple, but delicious. I used to make meatloaf a lot and then I started cooking meatballs because of the reduced cooking time. When I don’t have bread crumbs on hand, I use oats. I like to add chopped veggies when I have time, but leave them out when I am in a hurry. Love one bowl meals that can be prepped ahead of time and freeze well. Thanks for the recipe, Andrea!

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  8. laura

    09/23/2014

    One thing I can never understand about meatloaf is how to keep it all together? I always take it out of the oven, let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then slice to serve and it ALWAYS falls apart. Tastes great, however it never stays together, never! Drives me crazy. I do put a binder in the meat such as an egg or two if it is a larger meatloaf. Anyone have suggestions, and am I the only one this happens to?

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    I used to have this same problem! 🙂 I read a great tip (see my comment above) about pressing your meatloaf into a 9×13 pan. Make a hole in the meat in the middle of the pan (should look like a rectangle shaped donut of meat). It helps the meat to cook evenly and mine doesn’t fall apart now. Hope this helps! 🙂

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  9. Sue

    09/23/2014

    Mine is basically the same.. I just do it in the crock pot.. I make a loaf and I put instead of the mustard,sugar etc on top.. I just pour over some tomato sauce..

    Sue in NJ

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  10. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    09/23/2014

    Sometimes I make meatloaf just so I can eat a cold meatloaf sandwich the next day! I do love good meatloaf leftovers. My “Everyday Meatloaf” recipe is my Great-Grandma’s and very similar to yours. It’s one of my favorite meals!

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  11. beth engelsmsa

    09/23/2014

    i usually throw potatoes in the oven to bake with the meatloaf–easy and delish!!

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  12. Jessica Hanson

    09/23/2014

    This might seem like dumb question, I really love how you make doubles of recipient then freeze it have you done it/ would you recommend it with this one?

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    Every fall I make 6 meatloaves for the freezer! They freeze extremely well and defrost quickly! I freeze mine raw.

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  13. Amanda

    09/23/2014

    Yea, you def want to make sure at least one of the meats when you blend is a little fatty. We use a very lean beef, and mix it with ground sausage, so the sausage brings the fat to the party. I also use a packet of onion soup mix to help with the seasoning… otherwise, mine isn’t very different.

    My husband loves meatloaf, and thanks to this post, he’s getting it tonight 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Enjoy your meatloaf tonight!!

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  14. Charissa

    09/23/2014

    Is there a percentage of fat you prefer to have in your meat? Just thinking about which meat is the best meat to buy for meatloaf….

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh boy, I don’t think I’m the person to ask about that. I just buy whatever is on sale 🙂

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    Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving Reply:

    I buy whatever’s on sale…but like to use 80 / 20 in my meatloaf, which is a very similar recipe to Andrea’s. I hope that helps, Charissa!

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  15. Siobhan

    09/23/2014

    Thanks so much. I’ve been wanting to look for an easy meatloaf recipe. I made your tilapia recipe last week…so good!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I hope you love this recipe too Siobhan. It’s simple, but tasty!

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  16. Trudy

    09/23/2014

    I make mine with ground turkey. I use italian seasoned breadcrumbs, to which I add a little more spice (usually garlic powder and Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle)….then an egg. I always find that when working with turkey, you have to increase your seasoning or else it’s very bland.

    Mix it all well, form into a loaf in a 9 x 13 glass dish. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes till the middle is done.

    I don’t add ketchup to the top….it’s just plain. Isn’t it funny how every family does it a little bit different? And my family really loves it….

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hmmm… never considered this before. Then I could put more brown sugar on top 🙂

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  17. Mary

    09/23/2014

    I make a one dish meal when I make meatloaf. Instead of a loaf pan I use a roaster and put cubed potatoes and carrots all around the meatloaf. Yummy. Hubby also takes cold meatloaf sandwiches to work.

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  18. Emily

    09/23/2014

    My family loves meatloaf!! I found this tip years ago…instead of using a loaf pan, press the meat into a 9×13 and leave a hole in the middle (is should look like a rectangle shaped donut). It allows the meat to cook evenly and faster. My recipe is similar to yours but my cooking time is about 30-40 minutes. Yay for fall cooking!

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  19. Sherry

    09/23/2014

    My recipe is very similar but instead of bread crumbs I use boxed stuffing mix It adds a nice flavour to the meat. But the best part is the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar sauce on the top! To help with all the grease I make my meatloaf into a loaf shape but bake it on a cookie sheet so that the fat has enough room to spread out away from the meat. Meatloaf is a huge favourite around here. Especially cold on a sandwich the next day.

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