I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fan of meatloaf. I know there are plenty who aren’t—and that’s perfectly fine. But for those of us who love it, it can be a comfort food miracle worker when made well.
Whether you’re trying to recreate Grandma’s recipe or create something new, here are some helpful tips that will make your meatloaf mouth-watering:
What type of meat do you use for your meatloaf?
The most common types of meat used in meatloaf include beef, pork, and poultry. Ground turkey is an excellent option for a lighter version of the dish, while chicken can be used as well. You should also try using ground pork or a combination of meats to make your loaf more flavorful.
However, there are some types of meat that should never be used in a meatloaf recipe. Raw fish or seafood are not recommended because they may give off an unpleasant flavor when cooked at high temperatures.
Ground beef is by far the most popular choice for making meatloaf; however, any type of ground meat or a combination thereof will work just fine for this dish as long as it’s mixed well with other ingredients like eggs and breadcrumbs before being packed into loaf pans, so it holds together well during the cooking time (and doesn’t fall apart).
Tips for making meatloaf
You can make delicious meatloaf by covering it with a sweet glaze or using a high-quality loaf pan. If you are using an oven, you will want to cover your meatloaf when it’s cooking so that the top doesn’t get too browned.
If you don’t have any foil to cover the top of your loaf, wrapping it in aluminum foil would also work well as long as there is some kind of sauce on top for flavor.
A meatloaf covered in a sweet glaze is a typical American classic
If you want to use a sweet glaze, mix together ketchup and sugar in a saucepan. Add other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, or mustard to give it more flavor.
Spread the mixture over the top of your meatloaf before baking it in the oven at 350°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you have time, use this same sweet glaze again once your meatloaf is cooked through—it’s one way to make sure that every bite gets that extra burst of flavor!
And don’t forget: A great way to keep your meatloaf moist after removing it from its oven-safe dish is by covering it with tin foil while cooking. This goes for all kinds of meatloaf recipes—even those that don’t call for any kind of glaze at all!
Do you top your meatloaf?
A flavorful topping can make a ho-hum meatloaf taste like a gourmet meal. Try the following toppings for your next meatloaf:
- Bread crumbs
- Spices (like cumin, paprika, and garlic powder)
- Ketchup, mustard, and spicy sauces (like BBQ or hot sauce)
- Salt and pepper
- Cheese (grated Parmesan is especially good here)
- Mushrooms (fresh sautéed mushrooms are best)
- Onion and garlic
Why should you cover your meatloaf in the oven?
The answer to the question of whether or not you should cover meatloaf in the oven is yes. Like many other foods, meatloaf can be successfully baked with and without covering. The choice depends on what type of crust you prefer—a moist, tender interior versus a browned, crispy exterior.
Covering is a simple process: Put foil over your pan before baking, then remove it halfway through the cooking time so that the loaf will begin to brown on top as well as underneath. You’ll end up with two different layers of cooked meatloaf instead of just one!
If you like your loaf’s exterior crispier than its interior (like when it comes out from under a broiler), 30 minutes under foil should do the trick for most recipes; if not, try longer next time until desired results are achieved
Cover it for the first part of cooking
If you’re using a loaf pan, you can cover it with foil during the first half of cooking time, then take off the foil for the second half. This helps trap in heat and moisture while preventing the meatloaf from drying out. It also helps create a crisp crust that’s great on top of your meatloaf.
What is the fat content of your meat?
The fat content of your meatloaf will determine how much moisture you need to keep in your oven during cooking time. A higher-fat meatloaf, like a pork or turkey loaf, will release more moisture than a leaner beef loaf.
If you don’t want to cover your meatloaf with aluminum foil or waxed paper, use a rack for even browning and checking on its progress without removing it from the oven. You can also make a glaze with ketchup and brown sugar or mustard (or both) to keep the top of your loaf moist while baking or broiling, in addition to brushing some on before serving.
Avoid overcooking your meatloaf by using a food thermometer
If you want to know if your meatloaf is cooked all the way through, use a food thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the center of the meatloaf until it reaches 165° F (74° C).
We hope we’ve given you the answers you need to make your meatloaf baking experience even easier. Remember that cooking is all about personal preference, so never be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you.
You can always use a foil tent or a lid if you want to be sure that your loaf stays moist throughout; but, in our opinion, it’s best to leave the covering off toward the end of the cooking time, allowing your meatloaf to brown more evenly and get a delicious crust on top.
But remember—as long as your meatloaf is cooked thoroughly and doesn’t have any pink spots left in the center (and as long as it tastes good), who cares whether you cover it or not?