How to make the best meatloaf ever: A step-by-step guide

·3 min read

Meatloaf is a classic American dish that's easy to make and brings so much comfort, especially on a chilly night. This unfussy dish can be made in many different ways — with beef, a blend of different proteins or even turkey as a healthier option.

Christopher Arturo, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, answered our questions and shared his best tips for making meatloaf:

What type of meat should you use?

"One common mistake I see is when people use ground beef that is 90/10 lean to fat or 80/20 to make meatloaf," Arturo told TODAY Food. "This meat alone is not fatty enough to make a moist meatloaf. Instead, I recommend using equal parts ground beef, ground pork and ground veal. The beef alone will be too dry, and because ground pork is from the pork shoulder, it has a 70/30 ratio."

What type of binder?

A good meatloaf needs to stick together (and stick to your ribs!). Arturo recommends using a panade, which is a mixture of milk, eggs and breadcrumbs. "It will act as a binder and add moisture to the meat," he said. "For a three-pound meatloaf, the panade can be made with 1 cup milk, 2 eggs and 2 cups of breadcrumbs or white bread with the crust removed torn into pieces."

Use your hands!

"When you’re mixing the meatloaf, I like to mix the meats well by hand, which will help them get stickier, resulting in a more sliceable texture," said Arturo. "Then, fold in the panade and mix it through, being careful not to overwork the gluten which can give a chewy texture."

Mix it in

Diced veggies, herbs and spices will take your meatloaf to the next level.

"As for vegetables, I like to use celery, onion, carrot and fennel which adds moisture and flavor," said Arturo. "Use a food processor to cut them into small pieces, cook until soft and then chill before adding to the meatloaf. Don’t add the vegetables hot or you risk having them cook the meat."

For herbs and spices, Arturo said to use garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.

Top it off

Any meatloaf worth its weight will be topped with an appealing glaze.

"For the glaze, mix a little brown sugar, soy sauce, Sriracha and ketchup," said Arturo. You can also add Worcestershire sauce and grated garlic and ginger. "Add the glaze and then pop the meatloaf in the oven, on a piece of parchment paper at 375 F." The parchment paper makes for an easy cleanup and Arturo said the meatloaf is done when the internal temperature reaches 155F.

Craving meatloaf for dinner tonight? Try these amazing recipes:

Easy Classic Meatloaf by Elizabeth Mayhew

A basket weave of bacon on top makes this traditional meatloaf so appealing.

Katie Lee's Classic Meatloaf by Katie Lee

Katie Lee Biegel's recipe works great with ground chicken or ground turkey, too!

Sheet-Pan Turkey Meatloaf and Smashed Potatoes by Siri Daly

Siri Daly's sheet pan meatloaf is light in texture but heavy on flavor.

Valerie Bertinelli's Italian Turkey Meatloaf by Valerie Bertinelli

This lightened-up version of a classic is still flavorful when made with Italian herbs.

Dr. Oz's Meatier Meatloaf by Dr. Oz

The secret ingredients here are mushrooms and something totally unexpected!

Mom's Haitian Meatloaf on a Sandwich by Gregory Gourdet

Classic Haitian seasonings including thyme, parsley and fruity, fiery chile make this recipe so special.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf by Carolyn Grifel

Why? Because bacon makes everything better!

Asian-Spiced Turkey Meatloaf by Elizabeth Mayhew

To turn up the heat, add more ginger and red pepper flakes to this recipe.

Amazingly, there's no baking involved in this savory dish.

BBQ Meatloaf by Ryan Scott

How about a classic meatloaf with a sweet and smoky barbecue twist?


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