We’ve all been there – dry, flavorless, boring meatloaf. But not anymore! With these 6 simple secrets, you’ll become a meatloaf rockstar:
- Do not over-mix: spread your fingers apart and gently mix the meatloaf mixture until everything is just incorporated and no more. When you’re forming the loaf, don’t press it together too much otherwise you’ll compact the meat.
- Soak bread before adding: instead of adding dry bread or breadcrumbs as a binder, soak them in ½ cup of milk for 15 minutes first. They may look mushy, but they’ll keep the meatloaf moist.
- Dry veggies = dry meatloaf: instead of adding raw vegetables like onions, carrots, or garlic to the meat mixture, mince the veggies finely (or use a food processor) then sauté them in olive oil or butter until softened. Allow them to cool completely then add to the ground meat. This will help extract some of the moisture from the vegetables up front, keeping the meatloaf moist.
- Lean meat requires more help: without the extra fat, lean meats like turkey, chicken, or lean ground beef are prone to drying out. Add extra sautéed vegetables and wet seasonings like ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to the mixture before cooking. Or, consider replacing about 20% of the lean meat with something a little richer to help balance it out.
- Forget the pan: Instead of using a loaf pan, create a “free form loaf” by shaping the meat mixture in a loaf shape on a baking sheet. Since more of the meatloaf is exposed directly to the heat, it will cook faster and more evenly with a crispy exterior and moist interior.
- Let it rest!: just like you need to let a steak rest after it comes off the grill, you need to let meatloaf rest after it comes out of the oven. Remove the meatloaf from the oven, cover it loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute so they don’t leak out when you cut in.
By making sure to have the right blend of meat, veggies, and binder and right amount of wet ingredients from the start, your meatloaf will stay moist as it cooks. By being patient and letting it rest when it comes out of the oven, you’ll be rewarded with a perfect meatloaf every time.
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