Everyone’s Favorite Meatloaf Recipe

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This all-beef meatloaf recipe has won over people who say they hate meatloaf. It’s meaty without being dense, slathered in a tangy sauce, and super easy to make. No wonder it’s everyone’s favorite meatloaf.

Two stacked slices of everyone's favorite all-beef meatloaf recipe served on a plate with buttered peas

Everyone’s Favorite Meatloaf Recipe

This is a recipe that overnight guests call ahead to ask for. It’s one that’s led to family arguments over who gets the last piece. It’s so good that countless people have told me that it’s now their family’s favorite meatloaf recipe, too.

It Lives Up To Its Name

Meatloaf is one of those recipes that people take great pride in. My mother, for instance, swears that hers is the best — yet it’s nothing more than a seasoned mixture of meats crammed into a loaf pan, buried under plain tomato paste, and baked until nearly rock-hard. Not surprisingly, I didn’t like meatloaf when I was growing up.

When I was first married, my husband said he loved meatloaf, so I made it once using my mother’s recipe. Notice, I said once. Two bites into it, he claimed to have come down with a cold, so he didn’t have to keep eating. The stuff wound up sitting in our fridge until it was nearly green.

After that embarrassing night, I began tinkering with meatloaf recipes. Then one night, I stumbled on a winning combination. “DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING!” my entire family proclaimed. And I haven’t.

No Fancy Meat Mixtures Required

If you’ve been making meatloaf with a combination of meats (beef, pork, sometimes veal) or you’re used to putting bacon on or in it to keep it moist, you might be tempted to turn your nose up at this recipe. Don’t.

I have nothing against bacon or other pork products. I just don’t like them in meatloaf. In my book, meatloaf means one thing: beef. This all-beef meatloaf is packed full of flavor and comes out juicy every single time.

Don’t Switch the Binder

A lot of time, meatloaf recipes go so heavy on the sauce that it becomes all you taste. That happens a lot with recipes that use breadcrumbs as a binder. Not so with this recipe, which relies on oatmeal rather than breadcrumbs or crushed crackers.

Now, using oats instead may seem strange. But give it a try. The oats help hold things together, sure, but they hold onto flavor without drying out, so every bite is full of beefiness. Your family won’t see the oats in there, but they’ll love the taste. (And, hey, they don’t need to know they’re getting a little extra fiber and nutrition in every bite.)

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Make-Ahead Tip

I like meals that can be prepared in advance and left in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook. This all-beef meatloaf recipe is one of them. You can make it in the morning and leave it (un-sauced) in the refrigerator covered with cling film until you’re ready to start dinner. Be sure to pull it out of the fridge when you’re preheating the oven to take the chill off.


This recipe keeps well in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days after cooking. You can also freeze it, whole or in slices. Use within 2 months.


If I thought that finding everyone’s favorite meatloaf recipe would end our family’s arguments over meatloaf, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now, rather than arguing over what goes into the best meatloaf recipe, we argue over how to make the best meatloaf sandwiches. Frankly, I opt for simplicity: I slap a slice between two pieces of bread squirted with ketchup and call it lunch.

How do like your meatloaf sandwiches?

Everyone’s Favorite Meatloaf Recipe

Delicious all-beef meatloaf topped with a sweet yet tangy sauce. Excellent for dinner, and it makes amazing meatloaf sandwiches, too.
Print Recipe
The Best Meatloaf Recipe - Moist and meaty, this is the meatloaf they beg for!
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:1 hr 30 mins
Resting Time:5 mins
Total Time:1 hr 50 mins


  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Skillet
  • Mixing spoon and bowl OR stand mixer
  • Loaf pan


For the meatloaf:

  • ½ cup yellow onion minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • lbs ground beef
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oatmeal, raw not instant
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • cup milk

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar packed (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C / gas mark 4. Grease a loaf pan and set it aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until it’s translucent but not brown. (About 3 minutes.)
  • Tip the onions, with the oil, into a large bowl and add the beef, oatmeal, egg, seasoned salt, ketchup, and milk. Combine using your hands. (Or use a stand mixer on low.) If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more oatmeal. If it’s too dense, add a bit more milk. You want it to look plump, not runny.
  • Scoop the meat mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of a wood spoon. 
  • Bake at 350°F / 177°C for one hour, or until a meat thermometer reaches 150 F. Check at 30 minutes and pour off any grease before returning the loaf to the oven.
  • Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a small pan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  • Spoon the sauce onto the meatloaf once it’s reached an internal temperature of 150°F / 65°C. Reserve unused sauce. Return the meatloaf to the oven and continue to cook another 20 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reaches 160°F / 72°C).
  • Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to rest 5 minutes before slicing. Top with reserved sauce as desired.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 709mg | Potassium: 425mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 2mg
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 361kcal
Author: Katie Berry

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Recipe Rating


  1. Your meatloaf recipe is close to one I have used for years with one exception.

    Instead of just adding milk to the mixture I soak one slice of white bread in milk and then crumble into meat mixture. Once baked, you would never know the bread had been added yet it adds a certain moistness and smoothness that I had not achieved with other recipes.

    As for leftovers, we like to saute onions until translucent, place slices of meatloaf on top and serve on either white or rye bread. The better half likes horseradish sauce on his, I;m happy just as it is!

    I wanted to tell you also that I was pleased for you and your family to hear the positive news on your hubby. Let’s hope all keeps going in the right direction.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Sue, thank you so much for the kind words about my husband’s progress. With brain cancer, we kind of expect a roller-coaster ride but it had been a while since we saw one of those “up” reports!

      I do have to admit that my meatloaf isn’t smooth. That’s actually something my guys said they like, because it’s more “toothy” to them, if that makes sense. My own personal taste runs toward a smooth one, so I’m going to give your method a try. (Sssssh… don’t tell them I’m tinkering with my recipe!)

    2. You are more than welcome in regard to hubby. Cancer is such a personal and family struggle that any good news is always welcome.

      As for the meatloaf, I won’t utter a word! I hope you enjoy if you give the minute change a try.

  2. 5 stars
    Yes, I’m making your meat loaf again tonight and even offered to take some into work tomorrow for a coworker who joked I should cook for her sometime. I have touted your meat loaf and handed out the recipe to coworkers and even strangers when I’ve printed it out for someone else and make sure they knew about the blog so they could look at your other recipes. I love it, I really do. 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you like it, Chelle! I’ve been craving meatloaf lately. It’s such perfect comfort food!

    2. Kim Levesque says:

      Can I use bread instead and how much

    3. Katie Berry says:

      I have no idea, to be honest. Substituting ingredients changes a recipe.

  3. Should the oatmeal be cooked before you add it?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      No! It’ll cook in the meatloaf and you won’t even notice it’s there, but it adds fiber and holds the loaf together.

  4. Do I cover the meat loaf while it’s cooking?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      No, cook it uncovered.

  5. 5 stars
    This is almost exactly the recipe I use and love, except I do sometimes add a slice of fresh bread soaked in the milk, and I always add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to the glaze, because we like a hint of spicy. I’m 60 years old and have tried umpteen variations of meatloaf over the decades, and while I’ve always been crazy about meatloaf, I was never satisfied that I’d done the best I could, until I started making it this way. I now have to make 3-4 pound meatloaves, because my family is disappointed if there isn’t enough left over for sandwiches for a couple days.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Oh, I love the idea of adding some cayenne to the glaze. I’ll give that a try next time, which won’t be long from now. Like you, my family is always happy to eat this meatloaf!