Here’s a great basic meatloaf recipe for your files. Meatloaf is homestyle cooking at its best – tasty, satisfying, and economical. And it’s one of those meals that always pleases my husband, especially if served with mashed potatoes and corn or peas.
It’s great for an easy weeknight dinner and the leftovers can be used to make sandwiches the next day.
This basic meatloaf recipe with bread crumbs is a personal favorite. It is the kind of basic recipe I love since it can be modified in lots of different ways.
One time you can make this basic meatloaf recipe with bread crumbs using ground beef and the next time using ground turkey (my favorite) or a combination of ground meats.
You can bake this basic meatloaf recipe in a loaf pan, as a free form loaf on a baking sheet, or in muffin cups for individual meatloaves ready in half the time.
Change the spices, vegetables, and sauces you use in this basic meatloaf recipe to create meatloaf your way! If you like more flavor increase the spices to suit your tastes. If you like things spicy add a finely diced jalapeno. If you prefer your meat loaf with chopped bell pepper add it. This basic meat loaf is a great starting point.
- 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (see note)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 medium)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup milk or water
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme, optional
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder, optional
- ½ cup ketchup, for spreading on top
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Prepare your pan – lightly grease a 9×5-inch or 8×4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Alternatively, to bake a free-form meat loaf, line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil that you lightly grease with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, gently mix together all the ingredients except the ketchup. Spread the mixture into the prepared loaf pan or shape the meat loaf into a 9×5 inch loaf shape and place it in the 9×13-inch pan. Spread the ketchup over the top.
- Bake uncovered for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done (160 on instant read thermometer) When done, remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes to allow the meatloaf to set then remove the meat loaf from the pan and enjoy.
Note: To make fresh bread crumbs, tear bread into pieces and place them in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the crumbs are fine. One average slice of bread usually produces about 1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs.
Bacon Meatloaf – Omit the ketchup and instead top the meatloaf with 4 strips of bacon and bake as directed.
Individual Meat Loaf Muffins – Spray 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the meatloaf mixture evenly among the cups. (They will be very full.) Brush the meatloaf muffins with ketchup. (You will probably only need about 1/4 cup to cover them all.) Place the muffin pan on a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 160 when the tip is inserted into the center of the meatloaf muffins located in the center of the muffin pan.
Italian Meatloaf – Omit the worcestershire sauce and dry mustard. Substitute 1 cup diced tomatoes with their juice for the 1/2 cup milk and add 1/2 teaspoon dried basil into the meatloaf mixture. Top with 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes or tomato sauce and bake as directed.
Mexican Meatloaf – Omit the worcestershire sauce and thyme. Substitute 1 cup salsa for the 1/2 cup milk, and add 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese when mixing the meatloaf. Top the meatloaf with 2/3 cup salsa instead of the ketchup and bake as directed.
My Favorite Meat Loaf - Omit worcestershire sauce and dry mustard. Substitute 1 cup cup diced tomatoes with their juice for the 1/2 cup milk and add 1 cup chopped bell pepper to the meat loaf mixture and bake as directed.
Basic Meatloaf with Bread Crumbs Recipe Sources: Betty Crocker Cooking Basics, Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, New Tenth Edition, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: AnniversaryHints & Tips
- Mix the ingredients together gently for the most tender meatloaf.
- Baking the meatloaf as a free-form loaf on a baking sheet will result in a drier meatloaf, while baking it in a loaf pan will make it moister. I prefer it formed into a loaf shape and baked in a foil lined 9×13 or other rectangular pan.
Shortcuts & Substitutions
- You can substitute the 2 cups of fresh bread crumbs with 1 cup of dried bread crumbs, 3/4 cup of quick cooking rolled oats or 3 -4 slices of bread torn into small pieces.
- Try topping your meat loaf with barbecue sauce or chili sauce instead of ketchup.
- Try making your meat loaf with a combination of 1 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground pork or sausage
If you have trouble determining whether your meatloaf is done, a Digital Instant Read Thermometer can help make life much easier.
And if you decide to make meatloaf regularly, you may want to invest in a special Nonstick Meat Loaf Pan designed to let the fat drip away from contact with your cooking meat loaf.
More Great Meatloaf Recipes