Slow Cooker Meatloaf

8 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes

Slow Cooker Meatloaf has the flavors of classic meatloaf with a delicious glaze made with ketchup and brown sugar, done in your slow cooker!

Classic Beef Meatloaf is a classic comfort food, especially when served with a side of Easy Mashed Potatoes. Turning favorite Dinners into a Slow Cooker Recipe means you get all the deliciousness with a fraction of the work!

Slow Cooker Meatloaf sliced on serving platter

A classic meatloaf recipe is made in an oven but using a slow cooker allows you to have a flavorful dinner on the table as soon as you walk through the door. It’s the perfect busy weeknight meal that lets you enjoy one of your favorite comfort foods without the wait. Plus this hearty meaty dinner makes amazing leftovers all week long!

There’s something to be said about the nostalgic flavors of meatloaf but what can make them even better is the set and forget magic of Slow Cooker Meatloaf. You just throw it together, pop it in the Crock Pot, and let it cook all day long. You could even prep Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes the night before and reheat them for a hearty homemade meal that is ready to serve in no time at all.

One of the best parts about this Slow Cooker Meatloaf recipe is that you can even prep it the night before. Just combine all the ingredients, shape your meatloaf, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The next morning, add the aluminum foil to the crockpot, coat it with cooking spray, and pop the meatloaf right in. So easy!

Slow Cooker Meatloaf ingredients in mixing bowl

This tasty, tender meatloaf is super easy to make but what really sets it apart is the sweet, tangy, and rich flavor you get from the glaze on top. It helps lock in the juices as the meat finishes cooking for the most flavorful meatloaf. Serve this amazing meaty dinner with comfort food favorites like Mac and Cheese or  Garlic Mashed Potatoes plus easy Sauteed Green Beans for the perfect delicious meatloaf meal. 

What is Meatloaf?

Meatloaf is a comfort food dish made from ground meat, typically beef, mixed with ingredients like eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. The meat mixture is shaped into a loaf and then baked or cooked, often with a glaze or sauce on top. The origins of meatloaf are believed to trace back to Europe, but it became more popular in the United States during the Great Depression as an economical way to stretch meat.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf ingredients in mixing bowl

How to Make Slow Cooker Meatloaf

  • Prep: Cut foil strips and line the pot of the cooker by crossing over each other, similar to wheel spokes or an asterisk. Coat inside of cooker and foil generously with cooking spray.
  • Meat: Whisk the eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, sage, salt, and onions until combined. Mix in beef until just coated, careful not to over-mix.
  • Cook: Shape meat into a round loaf and place in the center of the foil strips. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 5-6 hours on low.
  • Glaze: Whisk the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Spread over cooked meatloaf. Cover pot and cook another 15 minutes. 
  • Serve: Lift meatloaf out of the pot using the foil strips. Rest meatloaf for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Classic Comfort Food Sides

FAQs for Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Can you put raw ground beef in the slow cooker?

Yes, you can put raw ground beef in the slow cooker. Slow cookers are designed to cook food at low temperatures over an extended period, which allows the ground beef to cook thoroughly and reach a safe internal temperature.

What is the secret to keeping meatloaf moist?

The secret to keeping meatloaf moist is to use ingredients that add moisture, such as eggs and milk, and to avoid overmixing the meat mixture, as excessive handling can lead to a denser texture. Additionally, using a glaze or sauce during cooking helps retain moisture and adds extra flavor to the meatloaf.

Do you have to brown the beef before making meatloaf in the slow cooker?

Normally you would brown meat, especially ground beef, before putting it in the slow cooker because not only does it give it a lot of flavor but you can drain the grease. However, since we are using a foil sling to keep it from resting in the grease while it cooks, you don’t need to brown the meat first.

Why use aluminum foil to cook meatloaf in the slow cooker?

Lining your slow cooker with aluminum foil strips keeps the meatloaf from burning or drying out during the long cooking time. It also makes clean up a snap since you won’t have meat and glaze burned on a casserole dish or baking sheet.

When is ground beef safe to eat?

Make sure to follow the USDA’s website guidelines regarding beef’s minimum cooking temperature. It needs to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees to be considered safe to eat. You should use a meat thermometer to accurately check for doneness.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf meat mixture in mixing bowl

Key Ingredients

  • Ground Beef: The best ground beef for meatloaf is an 85/15 blend because it has enough fat to keep the meat moist and provide lots of flavor, but isn’t as greasy as an 80/20 blend. You could use lean ground beef, but you would want to add a tablespoon of olive oil for a juicy meatloaf.
  • Eggs: Eggs serve as a binding agent in the meatloaf, helping to hold all the ingredients together and giving the loaf its structure. It also adds a little extra fat to keep the meat from drying out.
  • Milk: Whole milk adds moisture to the meatloaf, ensuring it stays tender and juicy during the long, slow cooking process.
  • Breadcrumbs: Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs help bind the meat together with the eggs and milk so your meatloaf doesn’t fall apart. It also helps trap the natural juices so it doesn’t dry out and the Italian seasoning adds a little bit more flavor.
  • Seasonings: You don’t need a lot of seasonings for this tasty meatloaf, just some dried minced onions, salt, and rubbed sage. The dried onions add a little texture as well as an almost smoky onion flavor. The sage is earthy and the perfect fresh compliment for savory beefy flavors.
  • Glaze: The simple glaze made with ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce adds a delicious tangy, slightly sweet, caramelized crust. Not only does this add another amazing layer of flavor but it also locks in the moisture for the most juicy, tender meatloaf you’ll ever eat!

Can Slow Cooker Meatloaf be made ahead of time?

Yes, Slow Cooker Meatloaf can be made ahead of time. You can prepare the meatloaf mixture and shape it into a loaf in advance. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it in the slow cooker. 

Slow Cooker Meatloaf in slow cooker insert before cooking

Variations

  • BBQ Glaze: Another popular delicious glaze for meatloaf is BBQ Sauce. Just swap the ketchup with your favorite BBQ sauce recipe and glaze as usual.
  • Italian: Season the meatloaf with Italian seasonings like oregano, basil, and parsley and add Romano cheese to give this an Italian flair. Use Marinara Sauce instead of the ketchup glaze and serve with some extra sauce.
  • Turkey: Give this delicious dinner a slightly healthier twist by using ground turkey instead of ground beef. It’s higher in protein and lower in fat and calories. You can use this recipe for Turkey Meatloaf and cook it according to the recipe below.

Instant Pot Meatloaf

  • Once the ingredients are combined, place them on 1-2 pieces of aluminum foil.
  • Fold up the sides and shape it so nothing is able to fall out.
  • Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pot, add a trivet and place the meatloaf with aluminum foil on top.
  • Close the lid and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes and then allow a natural pressure release of 10 minutes.
  • Warm up the sauce ingredients and spoon it over the top of the meatloaf once it’s done.
  • If you want to make mashed potatoes at the same time, add cut-up potatoes under the trivet and mash once done.
Slow Cooker Meatloaf in cooker after brushing on glaze

More Amazing Meatloaf Recipes

How to Store

  • Store: Make sure not to leave Crockpot Meatloaf out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.Leftover meatloaf should be stored in an airtight container or storage bag in the refrigerator. It’ll last up to 3-4 days.
  • Reheat: The best way to reheat meatloaf is to wrap it in foil and warm it in the oven at a low temperature, around 325 degrees, until it is heated through.
  • Freeze: You can easily freeze leftover Crock Pot Meatloaf by placing it in a freezer-safe storage bag or container. You can also wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap. It’ll last up to 6 months.
Slow Cooker Meatloaf sliced on serving platter

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Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Slow Cooker Meatloaf has the flavors of classic meatloaf with a delicious glaze made with ketchup and brown sugar, done in your slow cooker!
Yield 8 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 1/2 pounds  ground beef
  • 1/4 cup  ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Cut three 25×3-in. strips of heavy-duty aluminum foil; crisscross so they resemble spokes of a wheel.
  • Place strips on bottom and up sides of a 5-qt. slow cooker.
  • Coat strips with cooking spray.
  • Combine the first 6 ingredients.
  • Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
  • Shape into a round loaf; place in center of strips in slow cooker.
  • Cook, covered, until a thermometer reads at least 160 degrees, 5-6 hours.
  • In a small bowl, whisk ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Spoon over meat loaf.
  • Cook until heated through, about 15 minutes longer.
  • Using foil strips as handles, remove meat loaf to a platter.
  • Let stand 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition

Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 356mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 163IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 3mg
Keyword: Slow Cooker Meatloaf
Slow Cooker Meatloaf collage

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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Comments

  1. I use cooking bags in my crockpot- makes clean up so much easier and you can serve from the crockpot or pull the whole bag out and put it on a platter, and split the bag and pull it out. I also use oatmeal instead of cracker crumbs-better texture and healthier. I use Picsweet frozen seasoning blend in my meat loaf as well. Instead of bbq sauce for stopping I often use salsa, enchilada sauce, manwich(sloppy joe seasoning sauce) etc as a topping.

  2. This looks good. I like all ingredients but did you cook this on low or high setting for 5 – 6 hours? Thanks. Love your recipes.