Meatloaf is one of those sentimental meals that bring back our childhood memories.
Well, almost every family had its own recipe, and most of these recipes had their own unique and exciting recipes, which made the meatloaf experience amazing.
So, this post will assist you to get back those childhood memories, with interesting and tasty mix-ins and amazing toppings.
But before we proceed, we need to give you some tips that will assist you to get the best meatloaf out of your oven or smoker.
How to prepare the best meatloaf?
Always use meat with high-fat content
Using leaner meat will make your meatloaf grainer and dry. If you want to use beef to prepare your meatloaf, then make sure that the fat content is at least 15%.
If you’re going to use turkey or leaner beef, then consider mixing the veal or ground port in order to get a tender and moist meatloaf.
Another interesting way of adding fat to your meatloaf is adding chopped bacon in the ingredients. Also, covering the meatloaf with bacon is another amazing way to make your meatloaf tender and moist.
Add some moisture in every step
Never forget to add ketchup, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire, tomato paste, BBQ sauce, or any combination of wet seasonings. These seasonings not only add texture and flavor to the meatloaf, but they also make it juicy.
If you want to use beef, veal, or pork in your meatloaf, make sure that you soak the breadcrumbs in milk. If you are using ground turkey for your meatloaf, soak the breadcrumbs in cream in order to boost the meat’s fat content.
If you are lactose-intolerant, then don’t worry about this as you can soak the breadcrumbs in stock, and you will still get moist and tender meatloaf.
But, how do you check whether the moisture content is enough? If you notice that the mixture of ingredients is sticking on the bowl, it’s a bit dry, so add some extra liquid.
Always add a tablespoon of liquid a time, until the mixture doesn’t stick to the bowl. Lastly, avoid using packaged breadcrumbs.
Sautéed veggies are key
Many people will be tempted to ignore sautéing their veggies, but this is an important step that will determine whether you will get a moist and tender meatloaf.
You can try a mixture of onion, celery, and carrots. Cook them, and then allow them to cool before chopping them.
You can use a food processor to blend the sautéed veggies, as this will give you a fine mixture, and also save you a considerable amount of time.
Start with the carrots first, and then add the onions and celery, which require less time to process since they are softer than the carrots.
But, exercise extra caution to avoid over-processing the ingredients.
Avoid overmixing the meatloaf ingredients
You might be tempted to do to, but this will make your meatloaf dense and dry. First, mix together the wet ingredients, and then add the processed sautéed veggies.
Mix them using your hands until they are well mixed and then stop. Make sure that the mixture is light-handed and loose.
You might think that the meatloaf is not compact, but you shouldn’t worry as it will become firmer when you put it in the oven.
Taste your meatloaf mixture
By tasting, we don’t mean that you taste it while it’s raw since it’s not recommendable to eat raw meat—even though some chefs use this method.
However, you should note that the other thing worse than a dry meatloaf is a tasteless one. So, just take your time to fry a small portion of the mixture—a teaspoon size just to check the seasoning.
This will assist you to determine whether the seasoning is OK, or you need to add some more herbs and spices.
You’d rather know the seasoning level before cooking rather than when you’ve already baked the meatloaf as this will help you to adjust the seasoning.
Lastly, allow the meatloaf to sit for a while before placing it in the oven or smoker.
Make sure that the meatloaf has some space in the pan
Never fill your baking pan to its edges with the meatloaf—although you might be worried about the shape, it will have. But, you should understand that baking a meatloaf using a loaf pan will give you a meat brick.
When selecting a baking pan, never choose a small baking dish or loaf pan. If the meatloaf fits tightly, it means that it will steam.
But, you can opt to use a large baking dish or sheet pan, and make sure that you leave some spaces in the edges to allow the meatloaf caramelize well.
Also, you can opt to make several small loaves, rather than a big meatloaf, since they will cook easily and faster.
In addition, you can easily freeze them for future use. If you plan to make extra meatloaves for sandwiches, then prepare mini loaves as they will remain moist till you use them.
Glaze your meatloaf
Even if you have made your meatloaf using the most amazing and high-quality meat, don’t forget to top it up. Sing ketchup works perfectly, but you can also consider using BBQ and chili sauces since they are also a fantastic alternative.
You can spike your meatloaf with ketchup, Dijon mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Lastly, you can make the recipe interesting by adding some bacon strips on top of the meatloaf.
Allow the meatloaf to rest
Always let the meatloaf to rest for around 5 to 10 minutes. Wrap the meatloaf with a foil as this will keep it hot and moist.
In addition, it will make it easier to slice meatloaf, and also it locks in those precious and luscious juices in the meatloaf.
Allthingsbbq also has this great video post about it on Youtube:
2 recipes for smoked meatloaf
- Ground beet chunk – 1 ¼ lb.
- Ground turkey – 1 ¼ lb.
- Ground pork – 1 lb.
- Bell peppers – roasted and chopped
- Fresh bread crumbs – ¾ cup
- Onion – 1/3 cup (finely chopped)
- Freshly minced garlic cloves – 1
- 2 beaten eggs
- Dried oregano – 1 tablespoon
- Kosher salt – 1 tablespoon
- Black pepper – ½ tablespoon
- BBQ sauce – 1 ½ cup (you can use homemade sauce or store-bought)
You will also need a heavy-duty aluminum foil to create your meatloaf pan, or use disposable aluminum foil pans (2).
Follow these instructions to roast your red bell peppers
- First, start by grilling your bell peppers over a charcoal or gas grill—make sure that you grill the sides of the bell peppers until they turn black. It should take around 15 to 20 minutes for this process to be complete.
- Once done, place the grilled peppers in a small bowl, and then use a plate to cover the bowl. This allows the steam to make the skin of the peppers lose. Let the peppers steam for around 15 minutes, and then peel the pepper skins and remove the seeds. You shouldn’t rinse the peppers under running water in an attempt to remove the seeds and the skins since this can remove the smokey flavor.
- Chop the roasted bell peppers and keep them aside for later use.
- Start by mixing all your ingredients in a large bowl—but don’t add all the BBQ sauce. Add only ½ a cup and set the remaining sauce aside to top your meatloaf later. Now, mix all the ingredients together until they are well combined.
- Next, take your baking sheet and create a foil loaf pan. To do this, take a 24” piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and folding it in half to create a double layer. Mold the sides of the foil upwards to create a loaf pan, and then fill it with the meatloaf mixture.
- Prepare your smoker and set the temperature to 225 degrees F.
- When the smoker is ready, place your meatloaf pan directly on the indirect heat source rack of your smoker, and then smoke for around 3-4 hour, or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is around 165 degrees.
- If you don’t have a smoker, then don’t worry since you can as well as use your oven, which is an alternative method to smoking. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and then bake the meatloaf for around 1 ½ hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Make sure that you top your uncooked meatloaf with 1 cup of the remaining BBQ sauce before you place it in the oven.
- Once done, remove the cooked meatloaf from the oven/smoker and then allow it to cool for around 5 minutes. Remove your meatloaf from the pan, and then slice it to serve.
Classic meatloaf recipe
When trying to cook classic meatloaf, it’s important to note that the recipe relies on improving its rich beef flavor, instead of trying to change it to something else.
One thing you should understand about classic meatloaf is that you should top it using a ketchup-based sauce, and mostly, you will have to add some brown sugar for extra sweetness.
The loaf should be fork-tender, but it shouldn’t crumble, and it should have that rich beefy flavor. Every bite of the meatloaf should bring back the taste and nostalgia of the mid-90s.
How can you make your classic meatloaf tender?
There is something almost everyone hates—making a hard meatloaf. It’s something you should never dream of doing since it can have serious repercussions. To make your classic meatloaf tender, you should add eggs, liquid, and breadcrumbs.
The breadcrumbs should soak in the liquid, thus reducing the density of the loaf, while the eggs should bind the loaf altogether. But, you can still become a bit creative when preparing this recipe.
Although some recipes will tell you to use 1 cup of breadcrumbs, use ¾ if you want your meatloaf to be tender, and not to crumble when you take it out of the pan.
So, how do you make a classic meatloaf?
Most of the meatloaf recipes will require you to use milk as the liquid—and that’s how most people prepare their meatloaf.
Although milk is a good option for preparing meatloaf, consider using Worcestershire and beef broth when preparing classic meatloaf since it intensifies the richness of the recipe.
One thing you should understand about classic meatloaf is that it shouldn’t overpower its ingredients, like BBQ sauce—but, you should always make sure that you add the required flavor wherever possible.
Moreover, adding some small quantities of tomato paste and ground sage can make this recipe more interesting. This will give the classing meatloaf a touch of herbal sweetness, which blends very well with the rich beef flavor.
How long does it take to cook a classic meatloaf?
To achieve the best result, you should bake your classic meatloaf for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Always use a digital thermometer to check on the meatloaf after 45 minutes, since the baking time varies. Your meatloaf can cook within 50 minutes, and at times, it can take up to 1 hour 15 minutes for the meatloaf to cook.
All in all, it should be done when its internal temperature exceeds 160 degrees.
Check out these top BBQ smoker accessories as well
Classic meatloaf Ingredients
- Ground beef – 1 ½ lb.
- Breadcrumbs – ¾ cup
- Grated onion – ½ cup
- Beef broth ¾ cup
- 1 beaten egg
- Tomato paste – 1 tablespoon
- Worcestershire sauce – 1 tablespoon
- Table salt – 1 teaspoon
- Garlic powder- ½ teaspoon
- Ground sage – ¼ teaspoon
- Black pepper – ¼ teaspoon
- Ketchup – ½ cup
- Brown sugar – 2 tablespoons
- Worcestershire sauce – 1 tablespoon
- To prepare the sauce, you need to mix the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and brown sugar together in a small dish, and then set it aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- The crumble the beef gently into a large bowl. Sprinkle it with grated onion and breadcrumbs.
- Add all the other meatloaf ingredients in a separate bowl, and then whisk them to mix. Once all mixed, pour them into the bowl with the meat and then mix them using your hands to achieve the best combination.
- Next, put some tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom of your bread pan, and then add the mixed ingredients. Press them together to create the shape of the bread pan.
- Use the remaining sauce to top the meatloaf
- Now, the meatloaf is ready for the oven, and you can place it in the oven for around an hour, or until its internal temperature is over 160 degrees. Don’t forget to check whether the meatloaf is ready after 45 minutes.
- When the meatloaf is ready, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for around 5 minutes. You can serve it after that.
Try out any of these two recipes at home whenever you want to prepare a meatloaf. Don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.