A weeknight meatloaf dish is a standard fare tradition in most households;
It’s simple to prepare yet delicious beyond words.
Meatloaf is versatile, and you can serve it on almost every side.
The best part is that its leftovers taste even better in a sandwich.
If you’re using a new recipe, you might wonder what temperature and how long to cook meatloaf.
Meatloaf is cooked when it reaches a final internal temperature of 160F with 10 to 15 minutes of resting time.
The cooking time and temperature depend on meat thickness, size, and methods.
Although a digital thermometer gives the most accurate results, alternatives like forks, metal cake testers, and your fingers can check for meatloaf doneness.
This article highlights what temp to bake meatloaf in the oven and the internal temperature of meatloaf when it’s well done.
There’s also an additional recipe and meatloaf-cooking tips for both beginners and advanced cooks.
What’s in a meatloaf?
Ground meat, either beef, pork, or veal, is meatloaf’s main ingredient.
The ground meat should be at least 10% fat and 90% lean beef—this allows for a tender outcome.
There are bread crumbs, eggs, veggies, and seasonings to intensify the flavor and hold the meatloaf in shape.
Ketchup is the most common sauce, but you can use other sauces that wow your buds.
What defines a good meatloaf?
A good meatloaf is determined by how moist, flavorful, light, and crusty the outside appears.
Meatloaf shouldn’t be bland, dense, or soggy.
What should the internal temperature of meatloaf be?
The internal temperature of the meatloaf should be at 160F when completely done and safe for consumption.
Regardless of the cooking method, be it oven, pan-frying, or baking, take into account the final meatloaf temperature.
An instant digital thermometer is the most effective way to measure meatloaf temperature.
The exact cooking time depends on the shape and size of your meatloaf, the recipe used, and the cooking method.
Take all these into consideration, noting that the temperature reading should be at 155F and a 5 minutes stand to a final 160F for complete meatloaf doneness.
For instance, a thicker meatloaf size will take longer to bake in the oven than a thin slice.
What temp is meatloaf cooked? How to measure meatloaf temp
A digital meat thermometer is a simple and effective method for measuring the internal pork temperature.
Insert it in the thickest part of the meatloaf, avoiding the fatty areas.
The meatloaf is well cooked depending on the temperature reading and your desired doneness.
Once the meatloaf has reached 155F, remove the heat source and rest for a few minutes to a final 160F.
Clean your thermometer before and after use for accurate readings and to avoid contamination.
How to tell well-done meatloaf without a digital thermometer
Worry not if you don’t own an instant thermometer and are in the process of cooking meatloaf.
Here are a few tricks to check meatloaf doneness:
Use a fork: Insert a fork in the thickest part of the meatloaf, ensuring the tip isn’t touching the pan. If it penetrates without resistance, that’s an indication that your meatloaf is done. Immediately rub the fork to test the meatloaf temperature; a hot fork shows a well-done meatloaf. If the fork is cold or slightly warm, return to the oven for more cooking.
Use your finger: Gently squeeze the outside of the meatloaf with your fingers; if firm to teh touch, the meatloaf is cooked.
Use a cake tester: Insert a metal cake tester at the center of the meatloaf and press it against the inner parts of your wrist. If hot, then your meatloaf is done. A cold or slightly warm feel indicates your meatloaf needs to cook longer.
What temperature is meatloaf done in the oven?
The oven temperature for meatloaf is set at 350F, resulting in a tender and juicy meatloaf full of flavors.
A higher temp setting will dry out the crust or burn the outer part before the interior is well done.
This results in tender and juicy meatloaf full of flavors.
Preheat the oven to 350F for a few minutes, or start it at 425F and significantly lower it to 350F with your meatloaf inside.
Setting the oven at 350F and immediately popping on your meatloaf means the cooking starts at a temperature lower than 350F.
Thus, considering the initial temperature is important in regulating cooking time.
How to cook meatloaf: The classic meatloaf recipe
This classic meatloaf recipe is great, but the added sauces take it to a new level.
If you’re still wondering what temperature to bake meatloaf, this recipe details that.
- 2lbs ground beef/pork
- 2 large eggs
- 1 pack onion soup mix
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¾ cups bread crumbs
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¾ cups water (whole milk)
- ½ tbsp. kosher salt
- 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Meatloaf sauce (optional for serving)
- Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F
- Step 2: Mix breadcrumbs and whole milk in a large bowl. Finely chop the celery, garlic, and onions in a blender.
- Step 3: Sautee the finely chopped veggies in a skillet for 2 minutes or until they soften and turn gold with a translucent look.
- Step 4: Add the sautéed veggies to the breadcrumbs mix and stir to combine.
- Step 5: Add the beef, eggs and all the remaining ingredients, then mix well. Use your hands to mush and combine for best results.
- Step 6: Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and shape the meatloaf to desired even layer, preferably five inches wide. Brush the outside with ketchup.
- Step 7: Bake the meatloaf covered in foil on high-temp for about 45 to 55 minutes.
- Step 8: Let the meatloaf stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160F. This allows the meatloaf to stick together while evenly distributing the juices.
- Step 9: Brush with optional sauces and serve.
Tips for the perfect tender and juicy meatloaf
- Meat-to-fat ratio matters: Fat liquefies during cooking, giving the meatloaf a tender, juicy, and flavor outcome. If the ground meat is less fatty, you’ll have to compensate by adding extra liquids to prevent the meatloaf from drying out.
- Flavor twist: You can add maple syrup, soy sauce, or steak sauce instead of just water. This will deepen the flavors as per your taste buds.
- Sautee the veggies: Sautéing the chopped veggies before mixing allows them to release moisture and enhance deep flavors when baking inside the meatloaf.
- Don’t over-mix: Press the mixture gently with your hands while shaping so that it can hold the shape better and avoid making it dense. An overly compressed loaf will turn out tough.
- Soak the breadcrumbs: Dampen them in a broth to prevent them from soaking all the moisture in the veggies and meat.
- Covering the meatloaf: Bake the meatloaf covered with foil to retain its moisture. Uncover the meatloaf for the last 20 minutes of cooking for a perfect crust.
What’s the best side dish to serve with meatloaf?
This classic meatloaf is a heavy dish and thus requires light sides such as:
- Tossed salads: Potato salads, carrots, and cucumber salads are favorites.
- Freshly baked bread: Sourdough bread, corn muffins, biscuits, and bread rolls with sauce are the most common sides of meatloaves.
- Roasted veggies: Roasted asparagus and carrots, butternut squash, or roasted mushrooms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should the internal temp of meatloaf be when it’s done cooking?
An internal temperature of 160F means that your meatloaf is well done.
However, this depends on your desired doneness.
For instance, medium-rare, medium-well, and well-done meatloaf have different internal temperature ranges from 145F to 180F.
The standard for ground meat is a final temperature of 160F.
Can you freeze meatloaf?
Yes, you can freeze meatloaf before baking.
Shape unbaked meatloaf into mini-loaves, allowing for easier thawing and baking afterward.
For cooked meatloaf, slice and wrap each piece separately for ease in later use, especially when reheating.
Add sauces when reheating.
What’s the best method for reheating leftover meatloaf?
Depending on the urgency, you can reheat meatloaf in the oven, microwave, or skillet.
It’ll take about 5 minutes in the microwave but may result in a tough outcome.
In a skillet, you can add gravy or desired sauce to retain the moisture, which will take about 20 minutes.
Finally, reheating in the oven takes about 40 minutes, but the outcome is a tender and juicy meatloaf—thus, the best if not in a rush.
Let’s wrap it up
Who wouldn’t want a juicy and tender loaf that tastes better as a leftover?
The classic meatloaf recipe is simple, and you can use the leftover to make the best sandwiches.
Interestingly, the meatloaf sauce and ketchup combine well with any veggies of your choice titillating your taste buds.
Give it a try, and your loved ones will enjoy this delicacy.
Classic Meatloaf Recipe
- 1 oven
- 1 bowl
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Mix breadcrumbs and whole milk in a large bowl. Finely chop the celery, garlic, and onions in a blender. Sautee the finely chopped veggies in a skillet for 2 minutes or until they soften and turn gold with a translucent look.
- Add the sautéed veggies to the breadcrumbs mix and stir to combine.
- Add the beef, eggs and all the remaining ingredients, then mix well. Use your hands to mush and combine for best results.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and shape the meatloaf to desired even layer, preferably five inches wide. Brush the outside with ketchup.
- Bake the meatloaf covered in foil on high-temp for about 45 to 55 minutes.
- Let the meatloaf stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160F. This allows the meatloaf to stick together while evenly distributing the juices.
- Brush with optional sauces and serve.