Best Meatloaf Recipe

4.84 from 30 votes
77 Comments

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This meatloaf recipe will change the way you think about meatloaf! Rich, moist and loaded with chopped vegetables, this hearty dish is sure to become a family favorite!

Meatloaf on a plate with ketchup glaze

Best Meatloaf Recipe

This meatloaf is truly the best I have ever tasted! It’s inspired by the famous Claim Jumper meatloaf. The restaurant boasts huge portions of classic recipes, and this is one of their signature dishes. The last time we went out for dinner there, my husband got the meatloaf. I can’t even remember what I got, because all I can remember is the bite or two from my husband’s plate. I kept wishing I had ordered it too! the flavor was so perfect that I knew I needed to go home and figure out how to replicate it. This is pretty darn close, with rich sauce, chopped veggies and lots of smoky flavor. My entire family loves this meal and asks for it all the time.

Keep the Glaze Simple

The glaze on your meatloaf doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I have seen some glazes that require over a dozen ingredients and it’s just not necessary. All you really need is ketchup. In the recipe we use ¼ cup for the top glaze but you can definitely add more to taste if you are a ketchup lover (lookin’ at you, Dad). The only time we don’t use ketchup is  ff we smoke it (see notes below). When smoking it, will sometimes use a BBQ sauce glaze instead, just to enhance the smoky flavor.

Claim Jumper Meatloaf with a couple slices on the end topped with a garnish.

Time and Temperature

You want the internal temp of your meatloaf to be 160 degrees F (70 degrees C) before serving. This usually takes about an hour at 350-degrees, possibly more depending on the size of your meatloaf. Always use a meat thermometer when cooking meat. Though meatloaf is quite forgiving when it comes to the time and temp you are cooking at, it’s always a good idea just to check the meat temperature. If you want to caramelize the glaze on top, you can bump up the temp to 400-degrees for the last 5-10 minutes.

Gluten Free Meatloaf

The easiest way to make this gluten free (or GF) is to simply swap out the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs. You can also use GF soda crackers and crush them. You definitely want to make a substitution rather than leaving the crumbs out completely because you will need something to bind it all together. However, DO NOT try using oats. I tried this and learned the hard way. It will all fall apart. Stick with GF breadcrumbs, crackers, or croutons.

Tips For Making The Perfect Classic Meatloaf

  • First, start with good quality, 85/15 beef and/or pork. Try to steer clear of super low fat varieties, because this can make the meatloaf dry and crumbly. A little extra fat in the meat can help maintain its shape and give it more moisture and flavor. Varieties with too much fat will make it greasy and fall apart. 85/15 seems to be the perfect blend.
  • Line your pan with parchment paper or use a cooking spray to make it easier to get it out of the pan once it is fully cooked.
  • Make sure your veggies are diced nice and small, so they sautee evenly.
  • Keep the ketchup! We have had readers omit the ketchup from this recipe but it has turned out dry. Ketchup is sweet and when baked it can turn into a gorgeous glaze.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for about five to seven minutes before slicing, this allows all the juices to redistribute after cooking.
Sliced meatloaf on a platter with glaze

Smoked Meatloaf

If you own a smoker, I highly recommend smoking your meatloaf. It is incredible and it’s so EASY to do! Here are the steps:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 250-degrees F.
  2. Follow the recipe below to step 4 (but don’t put the meat in a loaf pan).
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form your meat mixture into a loaf shape.
  4. Insert meat thermometer and smoke at 250-degrees for 45 minutes.
  5. Brush with ketchup (or BBQ sauce) and continue to smoke basting every 30-60 minutes until the internal temperature is reaches 160-degrees. This will take up to 3-4 hours.
  6. Remove and allow it to rest for 10 minutes or so before slicing.

What to Serve with Meatloaf

This meatloaf goes great with just a baked potato and a simple green salad, or with any of these delicious side dishes:

Meatloaf sliced part-way through

meatloaf on a plate

Best Meatloaf Recipe

4.84 from 30 votes
This meatloaf recipe will change the way you think about meatloaf! Rich, moist and loaded with chopped vegetables, this hearty dish is sure to become a family favorite!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Video

Equipment

  • Loaf pan

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Stir breadcrumbs and flour into the meat. Set aside.
    Meatloaf ingredients including bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, and salt in a bowl
  • Heat oil in a frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, and carrot. Sauté until onions are translucent.
    Carrots, peppers, and onions cooking in a fry pan
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs with milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
    stirring eggs, milk, and spices in a small bowl
  • Stir the whisked egg mixture, the sautéed veggies, and ½ cup ketchup into the meat. It will be thick, so use a strong wooden spoon or your hands to mix it all in (Tip:Use kitchen gloves to keep your hands clean!). Press the seasoned meat into a loaf pan, as pictured.
    Raw meatloaf in a loaf pan
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread ¼ cup ketchup over the top of the loaf. Bake an additional 45 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160-degrees.
    Cooked Meatloaf in a pan
  • Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve!
    Meatloaf dinner on a plate

Nutrition Information

Calories: 424kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 24gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 986mgPotassium: 523mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1719IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 3mg

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This recipe was inspired by our Mom’s best meatloaf recipe, the delicious meatloaf served at Claim Jumper Restaurant and Saloon, and Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes.

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. I have always used oats and very much not so. And it makes tastier than breadcrumbs or croutons.

    1. I used to detest my mom’s meatloaf because she used oats but it could have been that she used too much to stretch it. Texture had that… I don’t know, kinda slimy oatmeal feeling and very tasteless. Another problem is she couldn’t eat onion so who knows what the problem really was. I tend to substitute Ritz or townhouse crackers for breading in meatloaf. Tasty! One day I might get brave and try oats. I’m sure it’s a healthy choice!

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