Meatloaf

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The best meatloaf recipe topped with a sweet and tangy glaze. Learn how to make a meatloaf from scratch that’s fork-tender and juicy by adding a panade. For maximum flavor, the beef is mixed with breadcrumbs, garlic, onions, celery, parmesan cheese, and savory seasonings, then baked until golden brown.

two slices of meatloaf on a dinner plate served with mashed potatoes

Meatloaf is all about easy weeknight meal preparation and comfort food satisfaction. We’ve all grown up with our own versions that our parents used to whip up to feed the family. I’ve taken a classic meatloaf recipe and used simple pantry ingredients for convenience while boosting the flavor and juiciness of each serving.

When on a budget, using ground beef can create a tasty dinner solution that shines on the plate without the high price tag. Meatloaf is an attractive dish to prepare because once it’s mixed, the oven does the larger part of the cooking while you prepare the sauce. The combination of savory beef and a thick sweet tomato-based glaze that gets slathered over the top makes for wide eyes and rumbling stomachs.

whisk mixing a panade in a bowl

The key to tender and juicy meat

A panade is a mixture of bread or breadcrumbs that is combined with broth or milk to create a paste. The starchy mixture that’s formed and combined with the ground beef coats the proteins and then sets into a gel once cooked. The gel prevents the proteins from binding together too tightly which is the shrinking that you see when meat is cooked. The panade keeps the moisture in the meatloaf while retaining most of its shape.

For this recipe, I use flakey panko breadcrumbs, chicken broth, and eggs to make the panade. I let the breadcrumbs soak until most of the moisture gets absorbed, ensuring that the starches hydrate. I prefer the size of the larger Japanese breadcrumbs versus the Italian style, as it creates softer texture in the meatloaf. The eggs also add extra fat to the meatloaf, preventing the meat from drying out, something I’m sure we’ve all tasted before.

ingredients to make meatloaf placed in a metal mixing bowl

How to make a simple meatloaf taste better

Using fresh vegetables, aromatics, and pantry ingredients that contain glutamates are the easiest way to naturally enhance the flavor potential of boring ground beef. Sauteing the onions, garlic, and celery lightly browns the produce which enhances the sweetness and taste. Pre-cooking the vegetables guarantees more flavor, even before the meatloaf is cooked.

Tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and Worcestershire are rich in glutamates, molecules that are high in umami and savory notes. These are added to instantly increase the beefy, savory flavors of the ground meat. Chopped parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika are herbs and seasonings that add an earthy taste to the recipe, as the beef by itself is bland.

raw meatloaf mixture inside a loaf pan before going in the oven

Tips for cooking the best meatloaf

  • Select ground beef that is about 80 to 85% lean meat. The fat adds flavors and moisture.
  • Use a loaf pan to create a compressed, domed shape so excess juices get collected in the bottom of the pan.
  • Baking at a moderate temperature of 350-degrees gently cooks the meat and prevents drying out.
  • Add the tomato-based glaze at the end of cooking so that the sauce clings to the surface and creates a flavorful sticky crust.

basting brush applying a tomato-based glazed on top of meatloaf in pan

Add a glaze for extra flavor

One of the highlights of digging into a piece of meatloaf is grabbing an edge with the tangy sauce. Most recipes use a mixture of ketchup and brown sugar, for a barbecue-like flavor. However, I reverse engineered a version to use many of the ingredients that are already in the meatloaf mixture so you don’t have to buy extra stuff.

My recipe glaze is a combination of pure maple syrup, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce balance nicely. To set the glaze on top of the meatloaf, the glaze is brushed on the surface multiple times then briefly roasted at 500-degrees to quickly thicken the sauce. This process gets repeated a total of three times, to ensure that the glaze is rich and flavorful.

Serve this with

When my family comes home to the smell of meatloaf baking in the oven, they can’t wait for it to be ready. I like to serve it with and side of fluffy mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, and crispy green beans. It’s a feast that makes for satisfied and happy eaters!

close photo of meatloaf slices with red tomato-based sauce on the edges

More beef recipes

How to successfully bind the meatloaf together

Don’t serve up dry meatloaf or one that doesn’t hold well together. In order to keep the huge ground beef patty together, incorporating a starchy breadcrumb panade, melty cheese, and eggs keeps the meat sliceable. The egg proteins and starches in the bread will solidify as they cook, keeping the moisture from escaping while adding structure to the meatloaf.

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Meatloaf

The best meatloaf recipe topped with a sweet and tangy glaze. Learn how to make a meatloaf from scratch that’s fork-tender and juicy by adding a panade.
Pin Print Review
3.9 from 90 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¾ cup finely minced yellow onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 pounds ground beef, 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated, about 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

Glaze

  • cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions 

  • Set oven rack to the middle position, preheat to 350ºF (177ºC).
  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk together eggs and chicken broth.
  • Add breadcrumbs and whisk to combine and allow to absorb all of the moisture.
  • Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, once hot add garlic then saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  • Add onions and celery, saute until tender and the moisture is released and evaporated, 6 minutes.
  • Cool the vegetable mixture before adding to the meatloaf by transferring to a small plate and placing in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl add ground beef, breadcrumb mixture, cooked vegetables, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, parsley, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt, pepper, and thyme.
  • Use hands to gently mix meatloaf ingredients until combined, about 1 minute, being careful not to overmix.
  • Transfer meatloaf mixture to a lightly greased 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan.
  • Press meatloaf into the bottom and sides of the pan, then use hands to make a smooth and slightly domed surface.
  • Bake in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 135 to 140ºF (57 to 60ºC), about 45 to 55 minutes.
  • Carefully remove meatloaf from the oven and carefully drain off excess juices from the bottom of the pan.
  • To make the glaze, preheat oven to 500ºF (260ºC).
  • In a small bowl whisk together glaze ingredients; maple syrup, ¼ cup tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
  • Use a brush or spoon to spread an even layer of glaze on the top and sides of the meatloaf, bake for 3 minutes.
  • Brush a second layer of glaze, bake for 3 minutes.
  • Brush a third and final layer of glaze, bake until sauce is lightly browned and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Allow meatloaf to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
  • Once slightly cooled, cut into even sized slices. Serve with extra glaze on the side.

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Nutrition Facts
Meatloaf
Amount Per Serving
Calories 428 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 131mg44%
Sodium 894mg37%
Potassium 513mg15%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 430IU9%
Vitamin C 2.8mg3%
Calcium 144mg14%
Iron 3.3mg18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

63 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Marlene says

    Hi Jessica

    I would like to make this meatloaf for my brother who lives in a different state from me. Should I freeze the meatloaf in tins “raw” and let him cook it off once we ship it too him overnight? Would follow the food guidelines for shipping. Look forward to your guidance.

    MJ

  2. Penny Grant says

    I had your meatloaf in the oven about 20 minutes when I opened the fridge for something—there sat my “cooling veggies” on a shelf!!! I was sick–that was a lot of chopping. I was really mad at myself. The meatloaf turned out pretty good and I will try again in a few weeks. I have big block letters to remind me to incorporate the veggies before baking. We are enjoying delicious sandwiches.

    I will be trying your tortilla soup soon. Enjoyed your oatmeal recipe this morning–super easy, super delish. Thanks!

  3. Kathy E. says

    Jessica, this is a fabulous recipe! My husband couldn’t even hold up a conversation during dinner tonight as he kept working away at this meatloaf! To keep the calories down, I subbed one pound of ground beef for lean ground turkey….he sure didn’t notice! I will make this again, for sure! Thank you!

  4. Julie says

    Hi Jessica.
    I just wanted to ask a question if I could.
    Do you think that this meatloaf recipe would be okay for hamburger patties?
    I was thinking of making the meatloaf and then slicing thick pieces to put on a hamburger roll.
    I was so taken by your Swedish meatballs that I cooked last night.
    They were so juicy and moist and I was hoping to recreate that same moisture in the meatloaf.
    If you have a hamburger patty recipe I would love to try it.
    Thank you for your time and kind regards.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Julie- Yes, you can use the meatloaf as patties for burgers. It will be like a meatloaf sandwich, yum! Search my website for “stovetop burgers” for my recipe and tips.

  5. Liz says

    Jessica,

    This was my first time making meatloaf and this is a damn good recipe. My boyfriend got braces and requested a soft meal and wanted meatloaf. Thank you for this recipe. The flavors balance well and the celery gives a nice subtle crunch. 😚👌😙👌

  6. Amber L says

    I’m vegetarian and thinking of trying this with the Beyond or Impossible products. Do you have any insight on why this may or may not work or any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I have tried the Impossible product and really liked it for burgers. The texture was surprisingly similar to ground beef. I think you could use it 1:1 replacement for the meatloaf recipe. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  7. Darlene Couch says

    I made this for my family. First time in the kitchen for years. I had to replenish a lot.
    The taste was wonderful, but when I tried to remove it from the loaf pan it crumbled. Not sure what happened. I followed the directions. Let it sit in the pan to cool for 15 minutes to Cool.
    Perhaps it was the way I tried to remove it.
    Perhaps I should have placed a pan on top and flipped it. Oh well it was a tasty dish.

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