For the most delicious homemade meatloaf, you’ve got to pay attention to both the oven temp and the internal temp. At the right temperatures, your loaf will turn out moist, perfectly sliceable and full of flavor. Keep reading to find out the best oven temp, internal temp and cooking time for meatloaf!
Best Oven Temp for Meatloaf
We recommend preheating your oven to 350 to 375°F (or 177-190°C) when baking meatloaf. At this temperature, you’ll get a perfectly cooked loaf that’s moist, juicy and flavorful. At a higher temperature, you may end up with a dry or burnt meatloaf, while a lower temperature could lead to an undercooked loaf or an extended cooking time.
If you like your meatloaf with a crispy sear on top, try preheating the oven to a higher temp of 425°F or 218°C. When it’s time to start baking, reduce the oven temp to 375°F or 190°C.
How Long to Bake Meatloaf
Regardless of the size of your meatloaf, 350°F to 375°F is the ideal oven temperature. Bigger loaves will take a bit longer to cook. Use the chart below to find out how long you’ll need to keep your meatloaf in the oven.
|Meatloaf Size||Best Oven Temp||Cooking Time|
|1-pound meatloaf||350 to 375°F||30 to 45 minutes|
|2-pound meatloaf||350 to 375°F||1 to 1 ¼ hours|
|3-pound meatloaf||350 to 375°F||1 ½ to 2 hours|
The cooking time will vary based on factors such as the shape of the loaf pan and the type of oven being used. If you have a convection oven or you’re using the forced air feature, your cooking time will be around 15 minutes less than what you see in the chart above.
How Do You Know When Meatloaf Is Done?
The best way to determine if your meatloaf is done is by using an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the oven 15 minutes before the expected cooking time and insert the probe of the thermometer into the center of the loaf.
At an internal temp of 160°F or 71°C, you can be sure the meatloaf is fully cooked and ready to eat. If the reading is below this temperature, you’ll need to bake the loaf for a bit longer.
Tips for Cooking Meatloaf in the Oven
- Use fresh ground beef to get the best tasting meatloaf. Ideally, you’ll want to use meat that was purchased on the day of cooking.
- Overworking the mix leads to a tough, dense loaf. Use your hands to gently combine the ingredients, but don’t overdo it.
- A ‘freeform’ meatloaf often tastes better than using a loaf pan. The loaf pan can cause the meat to become dense and compacted.
- Finely dice the vegetables to ensure you get the best texture. Otherwise, you may end up with a chunky loaf.
- Sauté the onion and garlic in butter before combining them with the other ingredients. This provides lots of flavor without being too overpowering.
- An oven thermometer is an easy way to ensure accurate baking. This device is especially useful for older gas ovens.
- An instant-read thermometer is the best way to test meatloaf doneness. At the right internal temp, you can be sure your meatloaf is fully cooked and safe to eat.
- Allow the meatloaf to rest for ten minutes after removing it from the oven. Slicing the loaf too early can result in you losing all the flavorful juices.
Do You Cook Meatloaf at 350 or 400?
We recommend baking meatloaf using an oven temperature of 350 to 375°F. At this temperature, you’ll get a fully cooked, moist loaf that’s easy to slice.
In our experience, the higher temperature of 400°F results in dry or even burnt meat.
How Long Should Meatloaf be Cooked at 350?
The cooking time is highly dependent on the size of your meatloaf. A 1-pound meatloaf is typically ready in 30-45 minutes, while a 2-pound loaf should take around an hour.
The internal temp is a more accurate way to determine doneness than cooking time. We recommend using an instant-read thermometer to ensure the meat has reached 160°F or 77°C.
How Long Does it Take to Cook a 1lb Meatloaf at 350?
For a 1-pound meatloaf, you can expect a cooking time of 30-45 minutes. It’s best to remove the loaf from the oven at the 30-minute mark and check the internal temp using an instant-read thermometer. If the meatloaf hasn’t reached an internal temp of 160°F, it will need a bit longer in the oven.
Can You Cook Meatloaf at 400?
While it’s possible to bake meatloaf in a 400°F oven, it’s not recommended. At this temperature, there’s a risk of burning the top of the loaf and ending up with a dry, crumbly middle.
If you’re strapped for time, you can try using this higher temperature, but be sure to check on the loaf at the halfway point (a 2-pound loaf should be fully cooked in 45-50 minutes).
If the top looks brown, cover the loaf with foil to help retain moisture and reduce the risk of burning. As always, use an instant-read thermometer to measure the internal temp.
What is the Secret to Moist Meatloaf?
For a moist, juicy meatloaf, avoid using meat that’s too lean. If you’re using ground beef, look for 80/20 or 85/15. Ground pork is fattier than ground beef, making it another suitable option for meatloaf. If possible, you can even combine beef and pork for a super meaty and moist loaf.
Should I Wrap My Meatloaf in Foil?
There’s no need to cover meatloaf in foil. However, if you’re using a higher oven temp, foil can be useful for preventing burning and moisture loss. For cooking temperatures above 350°F, try covering the loaf for the first 75% of the cooking time. Remove the foil during the last few minutes to get a nice browning on top.
Can You Freeze Meatloaf?
Whether cooked or uncooked, meatloaf can be frozen and saved for later. Here’s how to do it:
Uncooked: after you’ve combined the ingredients and shaped the loaf, wrap it in parchment paper and store it in an airtight container or sealed Ziploc bag. Store it in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake, transfer the meatloaf to the fridge overnight to allow it to defrost before cooking.
Cooked: allow the meatloaf to cool completely, then wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container or sealed Ziploc bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Leftover meatloaf can also be sliced up before freezing.
How to Reheat Meatloaf
Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake the meatloaf for about 30 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to check that the internal temp has reached 165°F. If you prefer to use the microwave to reheat, cut the meatloaf into 1-inch slices and heat them up in 30-second intervals until they’re hot and ready to eat.
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Oven Baked Meatloaf Recipe (+Meatloaf Oven Temp)
- 2 pounds ground beef 90% lean
- 1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs I used panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup water or milk
- salt to taste
Optional for Serving
- meatloaf sauce
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9”x5” loaf pan with butter or line with parchment paper. Set it aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well. It’s best to use your hands to mush and mix until they are well combined.
- Add the meat mixture to the loaf pan. Press the meat down and shape it into an even layer.
- Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
- Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. (It’s important to let it rest, otherwise, it may fall apart.)
- Brush with optional meatloaf sauce. Serve and enjoy!
- Don’t overmix, as it can result in a tough meatloaf.
- It’s best to line your loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
- Press the meat mixture gently into the loaf pan so that it can hold its shape better.
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