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Niche Topics (Food and Drinks) offers a large collection of delicious food and drink recipes to help you decide what to cook, whether it’s a family dinner, lunchbox for the kids, or entertaining friends at home. Each recipe promises a completely different taste experience, and all are really easy-to-make.


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5 Simple Tips to Make Meatloaf Moist


Hi Greta,

Meatloaf is one of the comfort foods that many people enjoy, but creating the perfectly moist meatloaf can be a real challenge. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to replicate Mom's best meatloaf recipe, it is not always easy to cook it with the exact same flavors and taste like Mom used to make.

Here are a few simple tips, handed down by my grandmother, which will make help you make meatloaf more moist and taste even better, time after time.

How to Make Meatloaf Moist and Flavorful

1. The first, and probably the most important step to a moist flavorful meatloaf is selecting the right meat blend. Nearly all meatloaf recipes call for a combination of ground meats such as pork, veal and beef, but you can also use only ground turkey, or only ground chicken.

If you want to use the pork/veal/beef combo, don't hesitate to experiment with different ratios, but make sure to keep the same total weight of the meat in volume. When you're making meatloaf from ground turkey or chicken, you have to add good amounts of binder or your loaf will be dense and heavy.

While using extra lean blend of meat like ultra lean ground sirloin is healthier for your family, the result is a dry and tough meatloaf that has less flavor. To make meatloaf moist, you need a certain amount of fat in the meat. A juicy meatloaf has a meat mixture ratio of 80% lean meat to 20% fat. That is why some cooks recommend ground chuck – it has the right proportion of fat to meat, and lots of flavor to offer.

No matter what type of ground meat you choose to use, just remember to keep the fat to lean meat ratio consistent. Any leaner than 20% fat will result in a dry meatloaf. And, any more than that, will give you a greasy meatloaf.


2. The second tip to a juicy meatloaf is to make sure you have equal parts of wet and dry ingredients. Some people use fillers (dry ingredients) such as crushed saltine crackers, garlic flavored croutons, chopped mushrooms (any type), cornflakes, quick rolled oats or oat bran to absorb the juices and make it less dense. I prefer Italian breadcrumbs to help bulk up the loaf and love the fuller flavor that they provide – use 4 ounces (about 1cup) of dry breadcrumbs for every pound of beef. Use a minimal amount of breadcrumbs or the loaf will be soggy.

Wet ingredients will bind onto the dry ingredients and help keep the meat moist. Some meatloaf recipes call for beef broth, vegetable juice (V8 juice), ketchup, egg, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, or even beer. However, there are so many other options that you can use to kick up that extra flavor – mushroom soup, sour cream, plain yogurt, soy sauce, or apple sauce.

To determine the right blend of wet and dry ingredients combined together, squeeze the mixture in your palm and see if it hold its shape.

I usually add 1cup of finely grated potato, zucchini or carrot (or a mixture) to the loaf in place of ¼ pound of ground meat. It not only adds moisture but also gives extra flavor, body and sweetness to the loaf. And, not to mention, a great way to sneak in veggies into picky kids' and husband's meals!

A well-seasoned meatloaf with just the right amount of flavor will taste fabulous and keep the whole family coming back for more. You can add minced garlic, chopped onions, or celery but let me suggest a few more ideas – dry onion soup mix, Italian seasonings, horseradish, thyme, sage, oregano, chili powder, chopped green olives, and lots of shredded cheddar cheese.


3. The most common mistake most people make when it comes to meatloaves is overmixing. When you overmix the meat mixture, your meatloaf will be tough, dry and crumbly. One great way to avoid overmixing is to sprinkle seasonings over the ground beef so that you do not work it too much. Alternatively, beat eggs and any other wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour it over on top of the seasonings.

Some say mix the meat mixture with your hands while others suggest a thick wooden spoon or even a potato masher for the job. If you hate the mess and feel of cold raw meat between your fingers, here's what you can do – put all the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag, seal, and then mash everything together.  


4. Instead of packing the meat mixture into a regular loaf pan, use your hands to mold it like a loaf. Then place on a cookie sheet, and bake it "free form". That way, the meat loaf will bake faster and more evenly (the meat will not become too brown and dried out near the edges). You will be rewarded with a tender and juicy meatloaf that has a nice crusty, glazed exterior.


5. Overcooking will cause the meatloaf to dry out so do not bake it for more than an hour and keep the oven temperature at 350˚F or less. The cooking time will also depend on the thickness of your meatloaf. Always use an oven thermometer and cook the meatloaf according to the temperatures recommended in your recipe.

When your meatloaf is done, remove from oven and let it steep in its own juices for at least 10-minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to hold together better so that it will not crumble or fall apart when you slice.



By Rebecca Garcia

I just got married 3 months ago and have been learning to cook real food for my husband every day. My knowledge of good home cooking is very sketchy and my question is about meatloaves. I have tried making meatloaf a few times, but they always come out kind of dry and bland. Why is my meatloaf dry and crumbly? What is the secret for making meatloaf more moist? Please help! – Greta, Kentucky.

how to make meatloaf moist