Old Fashioned Meatloaf

  • This Old Fashioned Meatloaf recipe is tender, juicy, and covered in a tangy topping – just the way Grandma made it! It’s a classic made with lean ground beef and oats for an easy weeknight dinner that’s oh so comforting. 

    Whole Old Fashioned Meat Loaf with saucy topping and fresh parsley

    It’s hard to beat a really comforting meal of old fashioned meatloaf, creamy mashed potatoes, and oven roasted green beans. Throw in a couple of savory pumpkin rolls or garlic cheddar biscuits and you have one highly comforting meal!!

    This recipe is actually my Grandma’s, but I added garlic, the saucy topping that so many love, and a little cayenne (don’t worry, it doesn’t make it spicy… just adds a little something). It’s the best way to eat meatloaf!

    Why you’ll love this classic meatloaf recipe:

    • It’s moist and juicy! I use oats for this recipe, not bread crumbs, because I find that they do a better job of keeping the meatloaf juicy.
    • It makes a really fast and easy weeknight dinner, but still has that completely homemade, comforting feel to it.
    • This is a good recipe to make ahead or freeze for a quick dinner in the future.

    Ingredients you’ll need:

    Meatloaf ingredients are very simple. You will need onion and garlic to start, then milk, oats, and an egg to help bind everything together. Next you’ll need cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and lean ground beef. For the saucy topping, you just need ketchup, brown sugar, and dijon mustard.

    Sliced classic meatloaf on plate with mashed potatoes and green beans.

    How to make Old Fashioned Meatloaf:

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Make the meatloaf: In a large bowl combine the onion, garlic, milk, oats, egg, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes to soak up the liquid. Then add in the ground beef and mix gently with your hands, just until combined (this should only take about 30 seconds, really!).

    Shape the meatloaf: Place ground beef mixture on a large baking sheet and shape into a loaf with your hands.

    Make the topping: If using the topping, combine the ingredients in a small bowl, then spread over the top of the meatloaf.

    Bake: Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until it reaches 160 degrees F. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before cutting.

    Close up of slices of meatloaf with tangy sauce and gravy.

    Tips for making this recipe:

    • Use lean ground beef to avoid a greasy meatloaf, but not so lean that it will be dry. I prefer a 85/15 ratio. I have uses a 90/10 ratio successfully as well, but I suggest sticking with 85/15 if possible.
    • Make sure to soak the oatmeal for a full 5 minutes. If you mix the oats in dry, they will pull moisture away from the meat, causing it to be dry and crumbly.
    • Don’t overmix or it will be tough. Mix it gently by hand (a mixer will overwork it) until it is just combined.
    • Let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it. Just like with other meats, this helps it hold on to all those precious juices. It also helps it maintain its shape.

    FAQs:

    Can meatloaf be prepped ahead?

    Yes, you can make Old Fashioned Meatloaf ahead. Make it, spread the topping on, then cover it and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Before baking, let it come to room temperature on the counter. Also, to make storage easier you can refrigerate it in a loaf pan.

    Can meatloaf be frozen? 

    Yes, you can make the meatloaf, add the topping, then cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature before baking.

    To freeze cooked meatloaf let it cool fully, then wrap tightly and freeze for 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

    Can I make in a loaf pan instead? 

    Yes, you can form the meatloaf on a sheet pan or bake it in a loaf pan instead.

    When is meat loaf done? Can meatloaf be pink?

    Meatloaf is done when it has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. It may be slightly pink in the middle, even though it is fully cooked at this temperature. This is normal for ground beef.

    Why did my meatloaf fall apart?

    If your meatloaf fell apart or was crumbly, you may not have soaked the oatmeal long enough. Or it might be overcooked, or you might have cut it too soon without letting it rest.

    Old Fashioned Meatloaf sliced on plate with gravy, green beans, and mashed potatoes.

    Other comfort food recipes:

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    4.64 from 11 votes
    Old Fashioned Meatloaf
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    1 hr 20 mins
    Total Time
    1 hr 35 mins
     

    This Old Fashioned Meatloaf recipe is tender, juicy, and covered in a tangy topping – just the way Grandma made it! It’s a classic made with lean ground beef and oats for an easy weeknight dinner that’s oh so comforting.

    Course: Beef, Main Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: Classic meatloaf, Comfort food, easy dinner, Easy meatloaf
    Servings: 6 -8
    Calories: 329 kcal
    Author: Malinda Linnebur
    Ingredients
    Meatloaf
    • ½ cup finely chopped onion
    • 2 large cloves garlic minced
    • ½ cup milk
    • ¼ cup quick oats old fashioned or rolled
    • 1 large egg
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 pounds lean ground beef
    Topping (optional)
    • ¼ cup ketchup
    • tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large bowl combine the onion, garlic, milk, oats, egg, salt and peppers. Let sit for 5 minutes to soak up the liquid. Add in the ground beef and mix gently with your hands, just until combined (this should only take about 30 seconds, really!)
    3. Place ground beef on a large baking sheet and shape into a loaf. Combine topping ingredients and spread over the top (if desired). Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before cutting.

    Recipe Notes
    1. Use lean ground beef to avoid a greasy meatloaf, but not so lean that it will be dry. I prefer a 85/15 ratio. 
    2. Make sure to soak the oatmeal for a full 5 minutes for a moist meatloaf that doesn’t crumble. 
    3. Don’t overmix or it will be tough. Mix it gently by hand (a mixer will overwork it) until it is just combined.
    4. This can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for 3-4 days. 
    5. FREEZER FRIENDLY: Freeze raw meatloaf for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking. Freeze cooked meatloaf for 3-4 months and thaw before reheating. 
    Nutrition Facts
    Old Fashioned Meatloaf
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 329 Calories from Fat 153
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 17g26%
    Saturated Fat 7g44%
    Cholesterol 127mg42%
    Sodium 609mg26%
    Potassium 586mg17%
    Carbohydrates 11g4%
    Fiber 1g4%
    Sugar 7g8%
    Protein 33g66%
    Vitamin A 146IU3%
    Vitamin C 2mg2%
    Calcium 53mg5%
    Iron 4mg22%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.
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