Air-Fryer Meat Loaf Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 30 min.
This air-fryer meat loaf is juicy and full of flavor, and it cooks in about half the time as an oven-baked loaf.

Updated: Jan. 04, 2024

A classic meat loaf may take an hour or more to cook in the oven, but air-fryer meat loaf arrives on the dinner table in about half the time. Quicker cook times does not mean a sacrifice in taste. This is one juicy, tender, well-seasoned loaf, with a gorgeous glaze to boot— all thanks to the handy air fryer.

Ingredients for Air-Fryer Meat Loaf

  • Egg: An egg helps bind the ingredients together so the meat loaf can hold its shape better.
  • Milk: Milk adds moisture and flavor to the loaf.
  • Crushed saltines: Saltines absorb the juices so those flavors stay in the meat loaf instead of cooking out. They also help the loaf retain its shape.
  • Ground beef: This meat loaf calls upon ground beef for the base. Use 90/10 ground beef so the loaf can hold its shape.
  • Ketchup: For that beloved sweet-tangy glaze, ketchup is key.
  • Worcestershire sauce: To balance out the sweetness in the glaze, a dash of Worcestershire sauce adds the perfect umami flavor.

Directions

Step 1: Make the meat loaf mixture

Mixing Ingredients for Air Fryer Meat Loaf TMB STUDIO

Preheat an air fryer to 325°F. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk, cracker crumbs, onion, salt, sage and pepper. Crumble the beef over the mixture, and mix gently until just combined as to not overwork the meat.

Editor’s Tip: One of the most common mistakes everyone makes with their air-fryer is not preheating it.

Step 2: Shape and bake the loaves

Shaped Meat in Air FryerTMB STUDIO

Shape the meat into two loaves. Place the loaves in a greased air fryer. Cook for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Create the glaze, and baste

Basting the Meat with Sauce in Air FryerTMB STUDIO

Meanwhile, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon the glaze over the meat loaves. Cook until a thermometer reads 160° when inserted into the center of the meat loaf, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Editor’s Tip: In our testing, we found that air-fryer cooking times vary dramatically, even among the best air-fryer brands. Keep an eye on your meat loaf, and check the internal temperature before removing from the air fryer.

Air-Fryer Meat Loaf Variations

  • Make it gluten free: Sub the saltines for gluten-free breadcrumbs, and double-check that your brand of Worcestershire sauce is certified gluten free.
  • Sub in a different meat: Not a fan of beef? Use lean chicken, turkey or lamb instead.
  • Add a spice blend: Add a few tablespoons of your favorite spice blends to the loaf batter, such as taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, Jamaican jerk or Greek seasoning.

How to Store Air-Fryer Meat Loaf

To store, allow the meat loaf to cool to room temperature. Wrap the meat loaf tightly in aluminum foil, and store in the fridge for up to four days.

To freeze, allow the meat loaf to cool to room temperature. Wrap the meat loaf tightly in foil, and store in the freezer for up to three months. To reheat, allow the meat loaf to partially thaw in the fridge overnight. Unwrap the meat loaf, and bake it on a greased baking pan at 350° until heated through and a thermometer reads 165° in the center.

Air-Fryer Meat Loaf Tips

Air Fryer Meat Loaf served with onion rings and peas TMB STUDIO

What kind of ground beef is best for air-fryer meat loaf?

The best ground beef for meat loaf in the air fryer is 90/10. These meat loaves are not baked in a pan, and too much grease falling into your air fryer can cause the grease to smoke and burn. You might be able to get away with an 85/15 ground beef if you’re looking for a little more fat.

Should you air-fry your meat loaf covered or uncovered?

You should air-fry your meat loaf in the air fryer uncovered.

How can you make sure your air-fryer meat loaf stays juicy?

To make sure your air-fryer meat loaf stays juicy, avoid slicing it right away. Let the meat loaf rest for about 10 minutes before digging in.

What can you serve with air-fryer meat loaf?

You can serve so many different side dishes for meat loaf. Try our Amish buttered noodles, oven-roasted asparagus or easy potato rolls.

Air-Fryer Meat Loaf

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Yield 2 mini meat loaves.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/3 cup crushed saltines
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • Dash pepper
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat egg. Add the milk, cracker crumbs, onion, salt, sage and pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Preheat air fryer to 325°. Shape into 2 loaves; place on a greased tray in air-fryer basket. Cook 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; spoon over meat loaves. Cook until a thermometer reads 160°, 10-15 minutes longer.

Nutrition Facts

1 meat loaf: 352 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated fat), 164mg cholesterol, 891mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (22g sugars, 1g fiber), 26g protein.

If you're looking for a hearty meal perfect for two, then look no further. This air-fryer meat loaf cooks quickly. Plus, it's easy to double for sandwiches the next day. —Michelle Beran, Claflin, Kansas