Classic Beef Meatloaf

8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Classic Beef Meatloaf that’s tender, juicy, easy to make and the only recipe you’ll ever need for this classic comfort food favorite recipe!

Cooking with ground beef is so popular because it is economical, easy, and kid friendly, just like Ultimate Sloppy Joes and Slow Cooker Beef Chili. This Dinner recipe is sure to be added to your regular rotation!

Meatloaf Recipe sliced in red loaf panCLASSIC BEEF MEATLOAF

Classic Beef Meatloaf is that perfect comfort food for when you want a hearty, familiar, and slightly nostalgic dinner. Just like a Perfect Simple Roast Chicken, this meatloaf recipe is great for feeding a hungry family, and will also yield plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches (tips on that below). If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, there are also some unique meatloaf recipes on the the site including Philly Cheesesteak MeatloafBacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf and Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf that your family is sure to love, too!

While it doesn’t seem like there is anything exciting or outrageous about this meatloaf (no cheese stuffing like in philly or cheeseburger versions), this meatloaf will be your ace in the hole for a classic, easy weeknight option. This easy meatloaf is really comfort food at it’s best. It is an American classic, served up with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Vegetables, maybe even a Wedge Salad.

One of the most common mistakes people make when making meatloaf (and hamburgers) is that they want to be sure the mixture is perfectly uniform so they will unintentionally over-mix the meat. This creates a denser meat which tastes firm and dry. For this recipe, you’ll mix all the ingredients together before adding to the beef, which helps to incorporate everything evenly without over-mixing.


  • Make sure you have a ground beef with at least 15% beef fat.
  • Soak you milk and breadcrumbs together in a large bowl. This will hydrate them to add more moisture to the meatloaf.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except for the beef and topping.
  • Add in the beef and mix until just combined, handle the meat mixture as little as possible.
  • Place beef into loaf pan and coat with topping mixture.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 55-60 minutes in a loaf pan on a baking sheet.



When it comes to deciding on the type of meat to use in your meatloaf the classic option is to use beef. A standard 80/20 will work fine, but will leave a bit more fat than most prefer. Use 85/15 and you will find it is tender and juicy.

If you go leaner than 85/15, you might find the flavors to be impacted by your choice of a leaner cut of meat. If you do want to use a leaner ground beef, just expect a slight difference in flavor and texture. A good trick with leaner beef is to grate the onions instead of mincing for extra moisture.

If you would like to swap protein you can of course use ground chicken or ground turkey. Check out this recipe for Turkey Meatloaf for more tips on using turkey.

You can also make a fully classic version of meatloaf where you mix proteins! This variation has also been tested with this recipe to make sure it would work perfectly for you.

Three Meat Meatloaf

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ pounds ground veal
  • ¼ pounds ground pork

You can continue the rest of the recipe as directed using these ingredients in place of the 1 ½  pounds of ground beef. This classic three meat variation of meatloaf will add a depth of flavor that beef alone wouldn’t provide.

A bit more shopping, a bit more expensive (mainly because of the veal), but a classic is a classic for a reason, and the three meats combined together will make the meatloaf mixture authentic to your local Italian restaurant.

If you do try it with the added meats, you can make it worth the extra effort by doubling your recipe and rolling some of the mixture into meatballs (skip the thyme in that half of the recipe). Those meatballs simmered in Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce will be a quick way to do double meal prep duty in the kitchen.

Meatloaf Recipe in Loaf Pan


Classic Beef Meatloaf sliced in loaf pan


  • Breadcrumbs: This recipe uses classic dried breadcrumbs for ease and availability, but you can use panko breadcrumbs (increase to 2 ⅓ cup), ground saltine crackers (cut salt in recipe by half if you do this), homemade breadcrumbs, or even just stale bread.
  • Toppings: Personalize the toppings to your taste, especially if you prefer to lean more savory or sweet. Ketchup and brown sugar make a perfect sweet topping, or add in BBQ sauce, steak sauce, or even soy sauce for a more savory flavor.
  • Meats: Swap ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef in this recipe, or follow the instructions above to make a classic mixed meat Italian meatloaf.


The best thing about meatloaf is using leftovers for amazing sandwiches! Follow the instructions below to enjoy a second meal out of this recipe.

  • The meatloaf must be fully chilled (preferably overnight).
  • Slice into 1″ thick slices, taking care not to tear the slices.
  • Melt a ½ tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan on medium-high heat.
  • Sear each side of your meatloaf for 3-5 minutes, using half the butter on each side, to form a deep crust.
  • If using cheese, add your cheese to your meatloaf while searing the second side of the meat.
  • Serve on a bun that’s been buttered then toasted.

Classic Beef Meatloaf sliced in loaf pan

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Classic Beef Meatloaf

Classic Beef Meatloaf that's tender, juicy, easy to make and the only recipe you'll ever need for this classic homestyle favorite recipe!
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/2 yellow onion , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef , (85/15)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the milk and breadcrumbs together until the milk is absorbed.
  • Whisk in the eggs, onion, salt, thyme and pepper.
  • Add in the beef and mix with your hands until the ingredients are combined and add to a 9x5 loaf pan.
  • In a small bowl mix the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and spread over the meatloaf.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 60-65 minutes on a baking sheet (to prevent oil from spilling over into the oven).



Calories: 471kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 154mg | Sodium: 807mg | Potassium: 787mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 5.5mg

Classic Beef Meatloaf Collage

Photos from a previous version of this post.

Beef Meatloaf in loaf pan

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. BEST MEATLOAF EVER!!! I’ve made this recipe many times and it’s just so easy to make and has so much flavor.

  2. I liked this but next time would use half the milk (so moist it has hard time forming by end of cooking) and probably add some garlic salt. Also omitted ketchup from the glaze to go for more savory than sweet and it was a good bet. Sprinkling with creole seasoning just before serving was the perfect complement.

  3. This is another recipe that is different from what’s in the book Dinner then Dessert. I frankly found the book recipe very disappointing, revolting even. Online there is a lot more info like about breadcrumbs. (I used fresh bread grated into breadcrumbs. No info in the book about using dried breadcrumbs) and there was more thyme and no ketchup and No mustard. I think the last two ingredients would have made the recipe MUCH better. I guess you cut them out to keep the ingredients to a total of 7 but if it makes the recipe inedible I wouldn’t have included it in that book!

  4. Hi Sabrina,
    I admit I’m a bit confused. The ingredients measurements in the recipe above are apparently for a 1&1/2 lb meatloaf (as that what the recipe calls for) but this is supposed to be a 3 lb meatloaf (which is what I’m making). Do I just double all the amounts on everything or has that been adjusted except you forgot to adjust the meat measurement in said recipe amounts above. Help!

    1. Sorry about the confusion. I just adjusted the text to read correctly. If you’re wanting to make a 3 meat meatloaf, use 1 pound ground beef and 1/4 pound each of the other two. Thanks for letting me know that needed to be edited. Enjoy!

  5. I have a question about the amount of beef…it’s says 3 pounds…I’m making it now and I used the 3 pounds it called for and it was more than the 9×5 pan could hold…has anyone else had that problem? Is it supposed to cook 2 meatloafs? The only thing i did different was I used oyster crackers instead of bread crumbs.

    1. I think my pan was actually bigger, so sorry. I’ve rested and adjusted the recipe card to read correctly. Thank you for letting me know.

  6. Hi Sabrina
    I need to use Imperial weights for my cooking but otherwise I love your recipes. Meatloaf today yum yum

  7. Oh, my goodness! I haven’t had a meatloaf sandwich in years, and now I’m totally craving one. This meatloaf looks great!!!

  8. This recipe is so similar to our family’s favorite over the generations! I got a little tired of it growing up, so when we got married, I was sure I was going to find a better one. But, we were soon back to this as our all-time favorite … and we’ll be celebrating 35 years of marriage, 5 children, and 9 grandchildren this year! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

    We substitute 1 c. quick oatmeal for the bread crumbs, to ramp up the nutrition a bit. And, we add one shredded carrot — it adds nutrition and flavor, it looks pretty, and carrots go so well with beef!

    Our topping recipe is 1/2 c. ketchup, 1/4 c. mustard, and 3/8 c. brown sugar whisked together and then spread on top.

    Sabrina, I love your site! It’s my go-to so many times a week!!

  9. There is nothing more valuable than an easy and delicious meatloaf recipe! Thank you! I can’t wait to try this.

  10. So delicious and easy – this is my family’s favorite! It came out perfect, not dry or tough like other meatloaf.