Are you aiming for a perfectly cooked, juicy 1 Lb meatloaf? Then you should bake a pound of meatloaf for about 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
But that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of other secrets to cooking the perfect meatloaf.
From selecting the right ingredients to tried-and-tested tips and tricks, there’s an art to crafting it.
There are also common pitfalls to avoid to prevent your meatloaf from falling apart.
Ready? Make a show-stopping meatloaf the main event tonight!
Why Do Cooking Times Vary for Meatloaf?
The size and shape of the meatloaf greatly influence the cooking time. A thicker, larger loaf will require more time to cook compared to a smaller, thinner one. For example, a meatloaf formed into a thin rectangle will cook more quickly than a thick loaf.
The ingredients used in meatloaf also affect cooking time. Different types of meat cook at different rates. The coarseness and density of the flesh affect how long it will cook. Plus, if you want to add veggies, it requires additional cooking time.
Ovens also vary significantly in their accuracy of temperature, circulation of heat, and hot spots.
Because of these variables, keeping an eye on the meatloaf while it bakes is crucial.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground beef (or a mix of ground beef, and pork) – This is the main component of the meatloaf.
- Breadcrumbs – They help bind the ingredients together and keep the meatloaf from falling apart.
- Milk – It’s used to moisten the breadcrumbs, which makes the meatloaf tender.
- Aromatics and spices – This recipe includes onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and dried thyme. They bring an irresistible depth of flavor to the meatloaf.
- Worcestershire sauce – It adds a complex, umami flavor to the meatloaf.
- Ketchup or barbecue sauce (optional) – It adds tanginess, sweetness, and moisture to the meatloaf.
- Meatloaf glaze – It’s made with a mix of ketchup, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard. It caramelizes as the meatloaf bakes to perfection.
How to Cook 1 Lb Meatloaf
1. Preheat the oven and prepare the ingredients. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While preheating, soak the breadcrumbs in milk for 5 minutes and bring out all the ingredients.
2. Make the meatloaf base. Combine the ground beef, soaked breadcrumbs, chopped onion, minced garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the ketchup or barbecue sauce (if you’re using it). Mix it until well combined.
3. Shape the mixture into a loaf. Place it on a broiler pan to allow the fat to drain. Alternatively, you can use a baking pan topped with a rack.
4. Make the glaze. Mix the ketchup, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Drizzle half the glaze over the meatloaf and reserve the remaining for later.
5. Bake meatloaf. Place the glazed meatloaf in the preheated oven and bake it for 45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven at the 45-minute mark and spread the remaining glaze. Bake it for another 15 minutes.
6. Check for doneness. Poke the meatloaf with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should read 160°F (71°C).
7. Let the meatloaf rest and enjoy. After baking, allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving it.
Should You Cook Meatloaf Covered or Uncovered?
Generally, meatloaf is cooked uncovered. This method allows the meatloaf to develop a nice crust and for the glaze to caramelize.
However, if your meatloaf is browning too quickly, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
Do you prefer a softer crust? If so, cover your meatloaf for the first part of baking. Remove the cover for the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking.
What Temperature Should Meatloaf Be Cooked to?
Like other dishes made with ground meat, meatloaf should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
If you’re using ground turkey or chicken, the internal temperature should be 165°F (74°C). This ensures any potentially harmful bacteria are killed, and the meat is safe to eat.
Is It Better to Use Milk or Water in Meatloaf?
Milk is generally the preferred choice when choosing between milk or water for meatloaf. The breadcrumbs absorb the milk, creating a mixture that helps bind the ingredients.
Milk adds moisture and contributes to a more tender and flavorful meatloaf. It’s all thanks to the fats and proteins it contains.
Water can moisten the meatloaf but doesn’t contribute as much to flavor. Broth can be a flavorful option if you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative.
What Is the Secret to Moist Meatloaf?
Achieving a succulent, tender meatloaf relies heavily on incorporating moisture-infusing ingredients into your recipe.
Breadcrumbs play a critical role as a binding agent. However, adding eggs, milk, and sauces is necessary to incorporate the desired moisture.
Balancing these components correctly is the secret to mastering a moist, flavorful meatloaf.
Should You Drain the Grease From Your Meatloaf?
Do you want to achieve a crispy exterior? Then it’s a good idea to drain the grease 15 minutes before the end of cooking time.
It’s also helpful to prepare your meatloaf in advance. This method can simplify the slicing process and provide a more appealing presentation.
How to Tell if Meatloaf Is Done
The most reliable way to tell if meatloaf is done is by using a meat thermometer.
Insert it into the center of your meatloaf, ensuring it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. The temperature should read 160°F to tell if the meatloaf is done.
Do You Need to Let Meatloaf Rest After Baking?
Yes, it’s essential to let the meatloaf rest after it comes out of the oven. Resting for 10 to 15 minutes allows the juices to redistribute throughout the loaf.
This process makes the meatloaf more moist and flavorful. Plus, it also makes it easier to slice without falling apart.
So, resist the temptation to cut it immediately for easier slicing and the best results.
Why Is My Meatloaf Falling Apart?
There are a few reasons your meatloaf may be falling apart:
1. Insufficient Binders: Using inadequate eggs and breadcrumbs will cause your meatloaf to lose shape. For each pound of meat, incorporate one egg and half a cup of breadcrumbs.
2. Overmixing: Overworking the mixture will yield a dense, crumbly loaf. Mix it just until it’s combined to maintain tenderness.
3. Lack of Moisture: Dry mixtures will crumble. Incorporating finely chopped vegetables or liquids like milk or broth will enhance the moisture.
How Long to Cook 1 Lb Meatloaf in an Air Fryer?
If you’re using an air fryer, cooking one-pound meatloaf should take 25 to 30 minutes. To start, ensure your air fryer is preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Preheating helps to achieve a more even and faster cooking process, similar to traditional ovens. Once preheated, place your meatloaf in the air fryer and let it cook.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Baked Meatloaf
- Quality Ingredients: Start with good quality, lean ground meat. A mixture of beef and pork is often used for the most flavorful meatloaf.
- Don’t Over-mix: When combining your ingredients, try not to over-mix. Over-mixing can result in a dense, tough meatloaf.
- Add Moisture: Wet ingredients like milk, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup add moisture for a tender meatloaf.
- Check the Consistency: Before baking your meatloaf, cook a small portion in a frying pan to check the seasoning and consistency. Adjust as needed.
- Give it Space: Use a bigger loaf pan for more even cooking and better crust formation.
- Use a Thermometer: A meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
- Rest Before Slicing: Allow your meatloaf to rest for 10 to 15 minutes after removing it from the oven. This helps to lock in the juices and makes it easier to slice.
What to Serve with Meatloaf
Meatloaf pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Mashed potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Creamy Broccoli Salad
- Macaroni and Cheese
- BBQ Baked Beans
- Benihana Fried Rice
- Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- Butternut Squash Soup
Remember, the best side dishes for your meatloaf depend on your personal preference and dietary needs. Feel free to mix and match to find your favorite combinations!
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Leftovers
Allow your meatloaf to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, wrap your meatloaf in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
You can also slice the meatloaf and store individual slices in air-tight containers. Store the wrapped or containerized meatloaf in the refrigerator. It will typically last about 3-4 days.
To prolong the freshness of meatloaf, consider freezing it. If you plan to freeze your meatloaf, do so before you bake it.
Mix the ingredients, shape the loaf, and wrap it tightly in plastic or aluminum foil.
If you’re freezing after baking, let the meatloaf cool completely before wrapping or storing it in a container.
Whether raw or cooked, place the wrapped loaf into a freezer bag to add another layer of protection. Press out as much air as possible from the bag before sealing.
For the best quality, use frozen meatloaf (raw or cooked) within 6 months.
If your meatloaf is frozen, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before reheating it. For uncooked meatloaf, cook it as you would after completely thawing.
Set oven to 250°F (120°C) to reheat cooked meatloaf. Place the meatloaf in a dish and add a bit of broth or sauce.
Cover the dish with foil to lock in the moisture, and heat it for 25-30 minutes.
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