Easy Meatloaf

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This all-beef meatloaf has very few ingredients and a whole lot of tricks up its sleeve. Serving it with mashed potatoes is optional, but highly recommended. Emma Laperruque

Food52 Review: This is one of our Big Little Recipes. Read more here: For Better Meatloaf, Use This Big Little Trick.The Editors

Serves: 6 to 8
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 15 min


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions (about 10 ounces each), finely chopped
  • 2 English muffins
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for glazing
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground beef (preferably 15 to 20% fat)
In This Recipe


  1. Add the butter to a very large skillet. Set on the stove over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions. Season with a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat as needed, for about 15 minutes, or until they’re soft and lightly golden. (It’s okay if they stick to the bottom of the pan a little, but you don’t want the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan to burn—they’ll come in handy soon.)
  2. While the onions are cooking, make the bread crumbs. Tear each English muffin into chunks, then add those to a food processor. Pulse until very fine.
  3. When the onions are done, turn off the heat, then add the ¾ cup water to the pan. Use a spoon to scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil.
  5. Add the bread crumbs to a large bowl, along with the eggs, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add the ground beef and stir until mostly combined (you can use your hands, too!). Add the cooled onion-water mixture (it’s okay if it’s slightly warm still—you just don’t want it hot). Don’t overmix, which can make the meatloaf tough.
  6. Dump the meatloaf mixture onto the lined sheet pan. Form into a loafish shape, roughly 9x5-inches. Add lots of ketchup and rub all over (you can use a brush but I just use my hands).
  7. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, rotating halfway through, until the center is firm to the touch and reads 150° to 155°F on a thermometer. (I like to start checking at 45 minutes just to be safe.) Let rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.

More Great Recipes:
American|Beef|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Dinner|Leftovers

Reviews (26) Questions (2)

26 Reviews

Kathy March 20, 2019
I am cooking my first meatloaf using this recipe, as I write. I cooked a small patty, as suggested to check and see if anything needed adjusting. It didn't, and judging by the sample, this will be my go-to recipe for meatloaf. I could have cut the recipe in half for one person, but I'm glad I didn't. I even set up an account here so I could leave a review.

I made two small changes-white pepper for the black I can't have, and I attempted to use
Sourdough English Muffins. but as they have no sourdough taste at all, it will be as if
I have used regular muffins. Next time, I will try a different brand of sourdough English Muffins and see what the taste difference is.

This recipe is the closest I have seen to the meatloaf my college made. It was very oniony and I loved it. I do think that they used raw onions, though.

To all of you naysayers who have left reviews saying you have to use this, that, or the other or not use something else in your meatloaf, give it a try first, and try it as written before you mess with it. Who knows, you might surprise yourself and actually like it. I think Emma nailed it, and I am very picky about my meatloaf.

Like Erika, who reviewed this yesterday, I thought it was going to be WAY too many onions, but they cook down quite a bit, and it's just the right amount, and as she says, "The onions are everything!"
Author Comment
Emma L. March 20, 2019
Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback, Kathy!
Erika March 19, 2019
The onions are everything! I made this tonight and it did not disappoint. Easy, super tasty, and the kids ate it. What more could a busy mom ask for?! I didn't have English Muffins on hand, so just used dried breadcrumbs that I had in the pantry and it was still great. I also thought it was going to be way too much onion and it isn't. Just give it a try!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 20, 2019
Onions are my everything <3
Lulu March 17, 2019
This is really the best meatloaf. So delicious, juicy, soft and easy. Great flavor. I put the leftover two slices crumbled on my homemade pizza then added whole milk mozzarella over all. Wow! Thank you so much. Definitely going in my rotation.
Author Comment
Emma L. March 18, 2019
So glad you liked it, Lulu! And even gladder that you turned the leftovers into pizza!!
Renee March 17, 2019
I've been making different meatloaves for decades. This is now my fave. I don't understand the comments about it being bland. The only thing I added was some dry mustard. I also increased all the ingredients to make a big 3+ pound loaf. My family flipped! The texture is perfect. I believe the English muffins are a must. This meatloaf hit all my happy places. Full of flavor. Perfect!
Barbara March 13, 2019
Agree with Kevin.. Um no.... Dense with little favor. Way better meatloaf recipes out there!!!!
Mary March 13, 2019
Made this meatloaf this evening. Huge Success! I've tried so many different meatloaf recipes and this is by far the BEST! I did everything to the letter and it turned out perfect, albeit I did add a little bit of green/red bell pepper. When I saw the amount of onions and salt needed, I was afraid it was way too much; to my surprise, it wasn't. I like the fact it was full of flavor and moist but held together just right without it being too dense or loose. Additionally, clean up was a breeze. Best of all, my family loved it... first time ever! They were so afraid it was going to become another meal for our dogs. Thank you so much for this recipe. It is a keeper.
BJ T. March 10, 2019
My recipe very similar to yours! My secret ingredient “French Fried Onion Rings” (of green bean casserole fame). The grown kids come from near and far for the affectionately called “Loaf”
Author Comment
Emma L. March 11, 2019
Whoa! You mix the crispy onions into the meatloaf? That sounds so good.
Kevin K. March 10, 2019
Um, no. Just no. All beef is nowhere near as good as a beef-pork-veal or beef-pork-turkey mix. Lose one of the eggs. Ditch the ketchup (both in and on; glazed meatloaf always tastes cheap - just like this one) and add some minced carrot, minced red bell pepper and a much needed herb (thyme) to the onions at the outset of cooking them. Add a splash of Worcestershire (better than the ketchup silliness) and, for the best flavor and texture, cook the meatloaf in the morning (or even a day before); allow to cool, slice; reheat by sautéing slices in a butter-oil mix till cut sides are lightly caramelized; serve.
Robert H. March 10, 2019
This is a terrific recipe! It is good just as it is, but make it once (I did tonight) and you will immediately understand how you can riff on it for your own taste. It's as easy as, um, well, meatloaf.
Traveler March 9, 2019
I cant eat eggs. Is there something else I can use such as cream for a binder?
Author Comment
Emma L. March 11, 2019
Hi! Your best bet would probably be a vegan egg substitute, like a flax egg. I haven't tried this myself with meatloaf—but if you give it a go, please report back!
will F. March 9, 2019
great recipe! have you ever tried chili sauce instead of ketchup? So good
Author Comment
Emma L. March 11, 2019
I haven't...but now I must!
Suzy's M. March 15, 2019
yes I was going to say the same!!! so much more flavor!
Chris E. March 5, 2019
Very close to my mum’s meatloaf. She used to add the water to the breadcrumbs. She would also add a little brown sugar and vinegar to the ketchup. But your recipe took me right back!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 6, 2019
Thanks, Chris!
Fernandina M. March 5, 2019
1 TABLESPOON salt?? Really?
Jeff March 6, 2019
By weight, kosher salt is half as heavy as table salt for an equal volume. There is a lot of air between those big crystals. Check it out on your kitchen scale. Whether 1/2 tbs is still to much is up to you.
Author Comment
Emma L. March 6, 2019
Yes, really! As Jeff noted below, kosher salt is different than other salts, but feel free to reduce the amount to taste. One trick I like to use with meatballs: After forming the mixture, cook a tablespoon or so in a pan as a taste test, then adjust the salt accordingly.
Marsha S. March 16, 2019
kosher salt has less sodium than regular table salt. It's called table salt for a reason..it's there to add, if needed,salt to whatever one is eating at the table.
beulah March 5, 2019
I would really like to know what happened to the recipe for the homemade blackberry bar-b-cue sauce they say is included with this recipe Because I sure don't see it
AJ March 5, 2019
The blackberry sauce is found in a different recipe: