What kind of ground beef for meatloaf? You should be using one that is lean, or at least has a small amount of fat in it. Then you will want to mix your meat and spices together to create an even mixture before adding anything else.
You can’t go wrong with ground beef. How do you use it, though? If you like meatloaf and are looking for the best type of ground beef to use, consider this method.
How to make meatloaf right — it’s about fat and starch
Can you believe it’s been four decades since “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”? I spent the better part of my Time Warp-ed college years dancing “just a jump to the left.” My real favorite song, though, was “Hot Patootie — Bless My Soul.” That’s the one that unleashed upon the living that remarkable singer, Meat Loaf.
Now, I’m pretty sure that Meat Loaf the chanteur was preceded by meatloaf the dish, but who can deny either’s profound impact on American culture?
Why you need to learn this
You may not be crazy about Meat Loaf, but, if you can’t make a good meatloaf, I question your commitment to American values.
The steps you take
In the more than 10 years I’ve been writing “Prep School” (Yipes!!!), this could easily be the shortest method ever:
1. Combine all your ingredients.
2. Bake until done.
Of course, I’m way too chatty to leave it at that, so let’s start with the ingredients.
First, there’s meat.
(You probably saw that coming, didn’t you, O ye wily Prep Schooner?)
Ah, but what kind of meat? Well, what do you like, because you can make meatloaf out of just about anything that’s not extinct. Beef, veal, lamb, pork, turkey, mastodon. Wait a minute …
Regardless of the meat or combination of meats, you want your meatloaf to have the following two qualities: You want it to be moist, and you want it to be flavorful. Fortunately, both are easy to achieve.
To ensure a moist meatloaf, you need two things: fatty meat and an added starch. Lean meats, like ground turkey or 90 percent ground beef, can seem dry. Thus, I recommend either a fattier beef (like ground chuck) or adding some ground pork or minced bacon.
You’ll also need a starch, like breadcrumbs, uncooked oatmeal or what the French call a panade, a mix of torn-up bread and milk. You add starch because the more you cook meat, the more juice is squeezed out of it as the protein nets tighten. If your meatloaf were made out of meat alone, that juice would flow out of the meatloaf into the bottom of the pan, leaving it as dry as a Bob Newhart routine. The starch actually absorbs the juices, keeping your meatloaf moist.
If you’re using dried breadcrumbs or oatmeal, use about a third of a cup per pound of meat with an equal to slightly less amount of milk. If you’re using torn bread slices, use about a cup, soaked in a third of a cup of milk, per pound of meat.
Now for the other ingredients.
You’ll definitely need egg, roughly 1 per pound of meat. The egg helps hold the whole thing together, making it easier to slice without crumbling like the hopes of a tone-deaf “American Idol” contestant.
Next, your flavoring ingredients. Aromatic vegetables like onion, carrot, green pepper or garlic are lovely. Different chefs advocate variously for adding the ingredients raw or briefly sauteed. Raw is easier, although a brief sweating in oil or butter will bring added moisture to your meatloaf.
Other liquid ingredients like Worcestershire or soy sauce, ketchup or barbecue sauce, add flavor along with moisture. The first two, being more concentrated, would be added in smaller amounts — a tablespoon per pound of meat — than the latter two, which could be added at maybe half a cup per pound.
Other ingredients include herbs, spices, various cheeses, rice, mashed potatoes — you name it. Remember, it’s your meatloaf.
No matter how you flavor you meatloaf, be sure to add enough salt. Salt brings out all those flavors. Without it, your meatloaf will be as sad and tasteless as a clown funeral. Add about a teaspoon for every pound of meatloaf, a teaspoon and a half if you’re using kosher.
Finally, you can mix all your ingredients in a bowl just long enough to bring it together into a homogenous mass. (If this is for a dinner party, by the way, try to avoid the phrase “homogenous mass.” Just sayin’.)
Before baking, cook a tablespoon of the mixture in a little fat in a hot skillet. If you need to adjust any seasonings, do it now and fry another spoonful. When it tastes good to you, mold the mixture on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet, or press it into a loaf pan (9-by-5 inches), and bake in a 400-degree oven until it’s 165 degrees in the center, about an hour. Then, let it rest in its fat for about 10 minutes or so to allow any liquid to soak back. That’ll give you the juiciest, most flavorful meatloaf this side of Meatloavia.
Oh, and don’t forget the leftovers: meatloaf sandwiches. Yum.
Here are a few ideas for improving your basic meatloaf:
Greek style: Half and half lamb and beef mixed with egg, breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese.
Thai style: Half and half pork and turkey or chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger, 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, optional tablespoon bottled Thai curry paste.
Southwestern style: Beef or half and half beef and pork, egg, crushed tortillas (in place of breadcrumbs), 1 1/2 cups fresh or canned corn, cumin, chile powder, cilantro, optional minced jalapeno.
Classic Beef Meatloaf
Classic Beef Meatloaf that’s tender, juicy, easy to make and the only recipe you’ll ever need for this classic comfort food favorite recipe!
CLASSIC BEEF MEATLOAF
Classic Beef Meatloaf is that perfect comfort food for when you want a hearty, familiar, and slightly nostalgic dinner. Just like a Perfect Simple Roast Chicken, this meatloaf recipe is great for feeding a hungry family, and will also yield plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches (tips on that below). If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, there are also some unique meatloaf recipes on the the site including Philly Cheesesteak Meatloaf, Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf and Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf that your family is sure to love, too!
Classic Beef Meatloaf
While it doesn’t seem like there is anything exciting or outrageous about this meatloaf (no cheese stuffing like in philly or cheeseburger versions), this meatloaf will be your ace in the hole for a classic, easy weeknight option. This easy meatloaf is really comfort food at it’s best. It is an American classic, served up with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Vegetables, maybe even a Wedge Salad.
One of the most common mistakes people make when making meatloaf (and hamburgers) is that they want to be sure the mixture is perfectly uniform so they will unintentionally over-mix the meat. This creates a denser meat which tastes firm and dry. For this recipe, you’ll mix all the ingredients together before adding to the beef, which helps to incorporate everything evenly without over-mixing.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC BEEF MEATLOAF:
- Make sure you have a ground beef with at least 15% beef fat.
- Soak you milk and breadcrumbs together in a large bowl. This will hydrate them to add more moisture to the meatloaf.
- Add the rest of the ingredients except for the beef and topping.
- Add in the beef and mix until just combined, handle the meat mixture as little as possible.
- Place beef into loaf pan and coat with topping mixture.
- Bake, uncovered, for 55-60 minutes in a loaf pan on a baking sheet.
WHAT MEAT TO SELECT FOR MEATLOAF
When it comes to deciding on the type of meat to use in your meatloaf the classic option is to use beef. A standard 80/20 will work fine, but will leave a bit more fat than most prefer. Use 85/15 and you will find it is tender and juicy.
If you go leaner than 85/15, you might find the flavors to be impacted by your choice of a leaner cut of meat. If you do want to use a leaner ground beef, just expect a slight difference in flavor and texture. A good trick with leaner beef is to grate the onions instead of mincing for extra moisture.
If you would like to swap protein you can of course use ground chicken or ground turkey. Check out this recipe for Turkey Meatloaf for more tips on using turkey.
You can also make a fully classic version of meatloaf where you mix proteins! This variation has also been tested with this recipe to make sure it would work perfectly for you.
Three Meat Meatloaf
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¼ pounds ground veal
- ¼ pounds ground pork
You can continue the rest of the recipe as directed using these ingredients in place of the 1 ½ pounds of ground beef. This classic three meat variation of meatloaf will add a depth of flavor that beef alone wouldn’t provide.
A bit more shopping, a bit more expensive (mainly because of the veal), but a classic is a classic for a reason, and the three meats combined together will make the meatloaf mixture authentic to your local Italian restaurant.
How to make the best meatloaf ever — plus 10 recipes to get you started
Take meatloaf to the next level with these tips.
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.
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.”
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.