Meatloaf is a standard comfort food for many of us, however not all meatloaf recipes make the best meatloaf!
Just like there are many ways to boil an egg, there are countless numbers of recipes for meatloaf. And each one will most likely promise you award-winning results.
Even if you think you already have the best meatloaf recipe, there are a few helpful hints to make sure that you end up with a moist and delicious meal that the whole family will love.
Tips To Making The Best Meatloaf
1. Choose your meat carefully
It is best to use a blend of meat in your recipe.
A mixture of ground beef and pork sausage is ideal to produce a moist and delicious meal.
However, if you choose to make meatloaf with a low-fat cut of meat (especially turkey or chicken) you must add more liquid to your base recipe.
This is because these lean cuts of meat don’t have as much fat or liquid content and therefore could produce a dry and crumbly meatloaf.
2. Saute your veggies
Whatever vegetables that you choose to use, be sure to saute them in olive oil or butter before adding them to your meat mixture.
This not only allows the vegetables to break down and become tender. But also they add moisture, rather than absorbing the moisture when used in their raw form.
3. Soak your breadcrumbs/oatmeal
The biggest debate when cooking meatloaf centers around breadcrumbs vs. oatmeal.
The only thing that can be agreed upon is that a dry ingredient is needed to help bind the mixture.
However, the problem is that whatever dry ingredient you prefer, it will absorb excessive amounts of moisture when baking.
Therefore, additional moisture is needed to prevent even your best meatloaf recipe from becoming dry and crumbly.
One solution is to soak your breadcrumbs/oatmeal in milk for 15 minutes before adding them to your recipe.
However, I typically choose another solution.
Because I always seem to make the recipe at the last minute, soaking is not an option.
Instead, I add 3 tablespoons of chicken stock to my favorite recipe. This gives it the extra moisture that it needs.
4. Don’t overmix!
Most people prefer to mix the ingredients with their hands. It is just easier.
Although this is a great method, most individuals tend to squeeze and mash the mixture together too much.
Combine the mixture lightly, just until incorporated, and stop!
I actually prefer to use a utensil to combine the ingredients.
Not only is it a great workout, it is the only way to prevent me from squeezing the mixture too hard between my fingers.
5. Do NOT use a loaf pan
I grew up watching my parents make meatloaf and cooking it in the same loaf pan as we used when we made bread.
It made total sense to me.
However, as I began to experiment with different methods for making the best meatloaf, I ditched the loaf pan.
Instead, I place my loosely formed loaf on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
This allows it to evenly bake, leaving you with a crispy exterior and a moist interior.
6. Let it rest
After removing it from the oven, even the best meatloaf needs to rest.
Simply cover it with foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
This will allow the juices to redistribute so that you don’t end up with all the juices on the pan and not back in the meat.
Even if you already have a favorite recipe, these tips will make it truly the best meatloaf for you and your family.
However, if you are looking to try a new recipe, you will find our favorite classic meatloaf recipe below.
Check out our other comfort food recipes here: OWG Top 5 Comfort Food Recipes
Mary and Jim
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Classic Moist Meatloaf Recipe
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1/4 teaspoon of thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons of chicken broth
- 1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
- 3/4 pound ground chuck 80% lean
- 3/4 pound of ground sausage
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 extra-large egg beaten
- 1/4 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
In a medium pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown.
Remove from the heat and add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, sausage, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and a beaten egg and mix lightly with a fork.
Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Spread the ketchup/barbecue sauce evenly on top.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the internal temperature is 160° F and the meat loaf is cooked through.
Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms