Save on Pinterest

Traditional Meat Loaf

Total Time

Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour + standing


6 servings

Updated: Jan. 18, 2023
Topped with a sweet sauce, this traditional meat loaf recipe tastes so good that you might want to double it so everyone can have seconds. It also freezes well. —Gail Graham, Maple Ridge, British Columbia


  • 3 slices bread
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • GLAZE:
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Tear bread into 2-inch pieces; place in a blender. Cover and pulse to form coarse crumbs; transfer to a large bowl. Stir in egg, milk, cheese, onion, carrot, salt and pepper. Add beef; mix lightly but thoroughly. Transfer to a greased 9x5-in. loaf pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix glaze ingredients; spread over loaf. Bake 60-75 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160°. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Can you freeze Traditional Meat Loaf?

Bake meat loaf without glaze. Securely wrap cooled meat loaf in foil, then freeze. To use, partially thaw meat loaf in refrigerator overnight. Prepare and spread glaze over top; reheat on a greased shallow baking pan in a preheated 350° oven until heated through and a thermometer inserted in center reads 165°.

Savory Meat Loaf: Omit shredded carrot. Saute 1/2 cup chopped green pepper with onion in 2 teaspoon canola oil until tender. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook 1 minute. Cool slightly. Combine with the egg, milk, bread, cheese, salt and pepper. Add 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary. Proceed as recipe directs.

Traditional Meat Loaf Tips

Do you have to put milk in meat loaf?

No. While milk is a popular ingredient in meat loaf, you can use other liquids such as vegetable juice or broth, or even finely chopped mushrooms, which release a great deal of moisture. The milk or other liquid binds with the bread crumbs and eggs to create meat loaf’s familiar, sliceable, homey texture. Our popular Sweet-and-Sour Meat Loaf recipe uses tomato sauce as its liquid ingredient. 

What does bread do in meat loaf?

Bread is a binding agent for meat loaf—the magic happens when it’s mixed with eggs and liquid.

How do I make my meat loaf moist?

To ensure moist meat loaf, avoid overmixing the ingredients. Overmixing can make meat loaf tough instead of tender. Also be sure to use a fatty enough cut of meat—you want a meat or combination of meats that’s 90% lean or less.

Should meat loaf be cooked covered or uncovered?

It depends on the recipe. Glazed meat loaves like this one tend to get a bit sweet and caramelized when you bake them uncovered—and that’s exactly what you’re looking for in a tomato and brown sugar topping. For other variations, check out more meat loaf recipes.

Research contributed by Christine Rukavena, Taste of Home Book Editor.

Nutrition Facts

1 slice: 394 calories, 21g fat (10g saturated fat), 128mg cholesterol, 843mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (15g sugars, 1g fiber), 28g protein.

More from Taste of Home