The BEST Meatloaf is such an easy classic meal. This is my mother’s delicious recipe with an added touch of delicious sauce. Add this to your dinner rotation. I promise it’ll quickly become a favorite family meal!
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Please hear me out. I understand that the word “meatloaf” is a turn-off to some. If this is you, I beg you to set your qualms aside because you have just landed on this blog post detailing the most delicious meatloaf you will ever eat.
A few years ago I dug up my mother’s handwritten recipe from childhood and used it as my guide. I don’t remember ever eating a recipe as good as hers.
This recipe is a version of hers (and it is a great recipe!), with an added irresistible sauce. I have received so many comments and emails over the years from people who tell me this has become their favorite go-to recipe.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC MEATLOAF
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 5×9 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, crushed Ritz crackers, egg, milk, ketchup, finely chopped onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Mix everything together with your hands until it is thoroughly combined.
Pour the meat mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet (this is important!) so grease does not spill over the edges and into your oven!
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours (add the sauce at around the 45 minutes mark!).
MAKE THE SAUCE: In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, apricot preserves and Worcestershire sauce.
Mix well. Spread half of the mixture evenly over the meatloaf halfway through baking.
Reserve the remainder of the meatloaf sauce for dipping/topping. Let the meatloaf sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving or it may fall apart on you.
- Be absolutely sure that you place the pan of meatloaf on a rimmed baking sheet before you put it in the oven. At times this recipe can bubble over and I really don’t want to be the reason your oven caught on fire.
- To save yourself from having to clean an extra dish, place parchment paper on top of the baking sheet.
- Be careful not to overmix! Mix until all ingredients are just combined. Over-mixing can create a different, denser texture.
- To avoid an extra greasy meatloaf, use a leaner meat like ground turkey or even venison! Beef meatloaf is incredible, but I promise the flavor is still super amazing no matter which type of meat you use in the recipe.
- Let the meatloaf rest for AT LEAST 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven. If you slice into it too soon, it will fall apart. Heed this important warning!
- The apricot preserves in the sauce MAKES this recipe, but if you don’t have it on hand grape or cherry jelly or jam are great replacements!
- And speaking of sauce, DON’T SKIP IT. It’s that amazing.
WHAT MEAT IS BEST FOR MEATLOAF
This recipe works best with a leaner meat such as turkey, venison or a super lean beef (like 90/10 ground beef). The fattier the meat is, the more likely you will encounter grease issues. The lean meat will not take away from the flavor AT ALL, I promise. It’s the magic of this recipe!
HOW LONG TO COOK
If you are wondering about cooking times for cooking meatloaf all the way through, it takes an entire hour and a half. Make sure to place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet before putting it into the oven.
Meat juices will be bubbling over the edge and I don’t want you to burn your house down while making dinner. Let it sit for at least fifteen minutes before slicing and serving.
WHAT TEMP TO COOK
If you would like to ensure that your meat loaf is cooked all the way through, stick a meat thermometer into the center. You will want an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
The most accurate way to determine if chicken is done cooking is by using a Thermapen. Insert the thermometer into the center of the loaf to get a good reading.
WHY DOES MY MEATLOAF FALL APART?
Remember my last paragraph about letting it sit for at least 15 minutes after pulling it out of the oven? This is a vital step if you wish to keep your meal intact! The egg and crackers will work their magic and hold the meatloaf together, but it may fall apart if you slice too soon.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS DISH
Serve it with a side of this delicious Loaded Potato Casserole or scrumptious Mashed Potatoes made in your Instant Pot! This is a hearty, comforting dish, so any potatoes or veggies goes great with it.
EASY COMFORT FOODS TO WARM YOU UP AND FILL YOU UP
- Homestyle Ground Beef Casserole boasts flavor and creaminess over a bed of steaming egg noodles. This is a perfect hearty weeknight meal to put on the table.
- Instant Pot White Turkey Chili is packed with turkey meat, white beans and veggies, this comfort food is super flavorful and delicious.
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole is a delicious combination of the tastiest flavors you will ever eat in a single bite.
- Best Baked Ziti is packed with flavorful meat sauce and layers of cheesy goodness, you will enjoy each flavorful bite. This delicious dinner feeds a lot of people and is super filling and hearty.
- Best Instant Pot Chili is the absolute perfect comfort food, packed with flavor, texture, color and a tiny bit of spice. Perfect dinner or party food!
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS RECIPE FROM PIP AND EBBY
“Been using this recipe for years, we love it so much!! my husband was never a huge fan of meatloaf until I tried this recipe, now he asks for it regularly 🙂 thank you for sharing it, makes me feel like a rock star every time! “ ~Felicia
“Our whole family absolutely LOVES this meatloaf. I never cared for meatloaf until this recipe. Turns out great every time!! I make it exactly as directed, it is fabulous. We love the sauce so much that I sometimes make just the sauce and serve it with hamburger steak. ? “ ~Patricia
“This is by far the best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten/made. Everyone that has eaten it has loved it. I once put mine in muffin tins and swirled garlic mashed potatoes on top for a meatloaf cup cake. Soooooo yum!!! “ ~Ashley L.
Best Meatloaf Recipe
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 cup Ritz crackers crushed
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 5×9 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, crackers, egg, milk, 1/2 cup ketchup, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup ketchup, brown sugar, apricot preserves and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Spread half of the mixture evenly over the meatloaf halfway through baking. Reserve the remainder of the sauce for dipping/topping. Let meatloaf sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.