This classic beef meatloaf recipe just feels cozy like home. Packed full of flavor, this meatloaf is super easy to make. Topped with a quick ketchup-based sauce, this traditional style recipe makes the best ground beef meatloaf. It will be a hit in your family too.
My husband loves this recipe. He’s a big meatloaf fan and grew up eating classic meatloaf regularly. He says I don’t make it often enough. I think he enjoys eating it the next day as meatloaf sandwiches as much as he likes it for dinner.
My kid took a little longer to come around. She struggles with new sauces sometimes, so we started by giving her just part of a piece from the bottom and just giving her a few bites with sauce. She does like meatballs, so explaining it like a slice of meatball helped her to be more interested too!
What You Need To Make Beef Meatloaf
This ingredient list is for quick reference. I know I always want to make sure I have everything on hand before I start a recipe! You can find the full instructions for the recipe in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Lean ground beef
- Parmesan cheese
- Bread or bread crumbs.
- Salt and pepper
- Dijon mustard
- Red sauce (ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar)
Want a meatloaf the kids are sure to love? You need to try my Mini Turkey Meatloaf Muffins, which are even great for picky eaters.
How Do You Make Meatloaf?
This is a very easy meatloaf recipe and won’t take you very long at all. Most of the work for a beef meatloaf recipe is waiting for it to finish in the oven, easy peasy!
The main steps to make this meatloaf is to
- Add all the ingredients together
- Mix ingredients- for both flavors and to bind it together into the meat
- Mix and add the sauce
- Bake the meatloaf (adding more sauce halfway through)
Do I have to use milk in meatloaf?
Milk is usually preferred because it soaks the breadcrumbs. This helps the breadcrumbs to stick together and bind the meatloaf, and also to keep from drying out. Other liquids can be used such as low sodium chicken broth, beef stock or broth, or even water can be substituted.
Do I have to saute the onions?
I’ve made beef meatloaf where I’ve sauteed the onions and somewhere I haven’t. Both versions were delicious but the version with the sauteed onions had a lot more flavor and didn’t have a sharp onion taste. So it’s possible to skip the saute but for more flavor, I like to take the extra minute to bring out the flavor of those onions.
How do you know when a beef meatloaf is done cooking?
Between having a red sauce that can sometimes look pink, and being a really thick recipe, it can be hard to tell when a meatloaf has finished cooking. Using a meat thermometer check that the inside of the meatloaf is 160 degrees, then you know it’s ready.
Love family dinners? Check out this crockpot pork loin, which is always a family favorite.
What kind of pan should I use?
I made and tested this meatloaf in a metal loaf pan. It made a nice juicy meatloaf with a little bit of crispiness soaked in sauce on the edges.
Glass pans are popular, but if you have a glass pan you want to turn your oven down about 25 degrees. Glass pans take a little longer to come to temperature. Glass pans hold in the heat a lot more then metal, which can sometimes over bake what’s inside but adjusting the temperature helps..
You can also find loaf pans in silicone. Silicone is great because nothing sticks to it. But if you like having edges that are a little more crispy to your meatloaf, silicone won’t crisp up the same way. If you use a silicone pan, slide a metal baking sheet underneath it. Silicone pans can be a little unstable so moving it in and out of the oven on a metal pan helps you keep from spilling hot filling accidentally.
Looking for a family-friendly ground meat recipe that cooks up faster? Check out these kid-friendly beef burgers, my ground pork meatballs, or my juicy turkey burger sliders which are all family favorites.
Why does my meatloaf fall apart?
Meatloaf can fall apart for many reasons. The most common reason is the ground beef needs a little more binders. Binders are ingredients like eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs which help the meat stick together. If the meatloaf becomes too dry it may need more binders. And extra half an egg, or soaking the bread or breadcrumbs in the milk before adding it to the beef can be help if you have trouble keeping enough moisture in your meatloaf.
Another reason a meatloaf sometimes falls apart is that it overcooked. When meatloaf overcooks, it dries out. This causes the binders to break apart and the meatloaf to crumble more. Make sure you’re checking the meatloaf with a meat thermometer so you don’t overbake.
Try this meatloaf with my dreamy mashed sweet potatoes! Yum!
Mom’s Classic Beef Meatloaf
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 2 Medium bowls
- Bread pan
- Fork or whisk
For the meatloaf:
- 1 onion diced
- 1 teaspoon salt plus a pinch for the onions
- 3 slices bread This will make about 1 cup of crumbs.
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup dried parsley
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Prepare the meatloaf
- Preheat oven to 350
- In a small pan, place a little pan spray oil and allow it to warm up. Then add the diced onions and a pinch of salt. Sautee over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the onions begin to brown then remove from the heat. Cooking the onions beforehand is optional but gives more flavor.
- Toast 3 slices of bread until they are a light brown. With a sharp knife dice up the bread into the smallest pieces you can. When finished you should have about 1 cup of breadcrumbs.
- In a large mixing bowl place the ground beef. Add the remaining salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried parsley to the large bowl. Then add the bread, parmasean cheese, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, dijon mustard and ketchup also to the bowl with the meat.
- In a seperate small bowl, crack the eggs. Add the milk to the eggs, then beat the mixture with a whisk or fork until the yolks are well mixed. Add the egg misture to the meat mixture.
- Mix the meatloaf with your hands. Try to mix until everything is just combined then stop. Overmixing can cause the meatloaf to be tougher.
- Spray a loaf pan with pan spray. Put the meatloaf mixture in the pan.
Make the sauce
- In a small bowl place the ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well with a spoon until combined.
- With a silicone brush or a spoon, spread half of the sauce on top of the meatloaf.
Bake the meatloaf
- Bake the meatloaf for 40 minutes.
- Pull the meatloaf from the oven and put the second half of sauce on the top.
- Bake the meatloaf for an additional 45 minutes. Check the inside with a meat thermometer. The meatloaf is finished when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Let the meatloaf rest for at least 5 minutes. Then slice and serve!
Did you make this recipe? Tell us about it in the comments, and leave a star rating too!