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For the perfect meatloaf – crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and very flavorful – bake your meatloaf for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F, then rest it for 15 minutes.
After years of making meatloaf for my family, tweaking and experimenting, I have developed the perfect meatloaf recipe. I am happy to share it with you!
How long to bake meatloaf?
After many experiments, I have come to the conclusion that for a juicy meatloaf, you need to bake it for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.
I have tried different temperatures and cooking times (such as 40 minutes at 400 degrees), but ultimately, we were all happiest with 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
Of course, the best way to make sure that a meatloaf is done is to use a thermometer. The meatloaf’s internal temperature should reach 160° F.
To glaze or not to glaze?
Always in search for the perfect meatloaf recipe, I resisted making ketchup glazed meatloaf for years. Why ruin a good, savory meatloaf with a thick glaze of a sweet condiment? It just didn’t make sense.
Until I tasted ketchup glazed meatloaf at my friend’s house. I was smitten! Her secret? She glazes the meatloaf at the start of baking, and does not re-glaze, as most recipes instruct you to do. The ketchup bakes into the meatloaf, caramelizes as it bakes, and without a second glazing, the flavor is quite subtle – it enhances the meatloaf rather than overpowering it.
Back home, I was determined to develop a meatloaf recipe with a ketchup glaze that would still be low carb. I generally don’t use ketchup – it’s too sugary.
The solution presented itself to me on a trip to Whole Foods, when I discovered this unsweetened ketchup, available on Amazon. Now I could glaze my meatloaf to my heart’s content! But of course, it’s perfectly fine to use any regular old ketchup, since you’re only using 1/4 cup for the entire meatloaf.
In this meatloaf recipe, almond flour and breadcrumbs are interchangeable
Since I wanted to keep this meatloaf recipe low carb and gluten free, I used almond flour in the mixture instead of breadcrumbs. The almond flour works beautifully to absorb the meatloaf juices, keeping them inside the meatloaf. The grated Parmesan also helps absorb juices. But if you don’t mind bread, go ahead and use breadcrumbs in this meatloaf recipe.
Never bake a meatloaf in a loaf pan!
It’s always best to bake a meatloaf on a large baking sheet, so that the outside can crisp up. If you bake your meatloaf in a loaf pan, it will bake inside its own juices, and won’t crisp up.
How to keep meatloaf from being too dense
One of the most important things you can do to keep the meatloaf tender and fluffy (not a brick!) is to handle it lightly. Mix just until everything is incorporated, and when you shape it into a loaf, be gentle.
How to avoid a dry meatloaf
I have three tips for keeping meatloaf juicy:
1. This meatloaf recipe uses lean (85/15) ground beef. This is the leanest you should go when making meatloaf. 80/20 blend might be even better. Definitely avoid very lean ground beef when making meatloaf. A 93/7 blend is simply out of the question.
2. The addition of cheese, egg and breadcrumbs (or almond flour) also helps to keep the meatloaf nice and moist.
The almond flour helps absorb the juices released from the meatloaf as it bakes. It’s not as efficient as breadcrumbs, so more juices will escape, but it still does the job pretty well.
3. Rest the meatloaf for about 15 minutes before slicing. This will help the juices to redistribute and settle.
A metal pan is better
I tried this meatloaf recipe with foil and with parchment paper. For some reason, the meatloaf turns out much better when the pan is lined with foil. I’m not sure why – maybe better heat distribution? If you’re worried about exposure to aluminum, maybe use an unlined stainless steel pan.
This meatloaf recipe is now my family’s favorite. I make it almost every week!
Watch the video:
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1/2 cup almond flour (or breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup unsweetened ketchup (or regular ketchup)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with foil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme.
- Add in the ground beef, almond flour and Parmesan. Gently mix, just until uniform.
- Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the loaf with the ketchup.
- Bake the meatloaf until the center of the loaf registers 160° F, 50-60 minutes.
- Rest the meatloaf for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.