Meatloaf is one of those dishes that is done differently in every household. Some use Italian seasoning, some use Worcestershire sauce. Some bake it, some smoke it.
We all argue over whose mom made it best. But, when it comes to cooking a meatloaf that weighs in at just one pound, how can we get perfect results?
Ask around for the cooking time, and you’ll get answers ranging from 25 all the way up to 45 minutes for a 1lb meatloaf. Most people claim that approximately 40 minutes will do the job just nicely and bring your meatloaf to a safe internal temperature.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for more than just safety when that meatloaf is in the oven. I’m looking for optimum texture, flavor and moisture.
So, what’s the secret formula? Is there a perfect cooking time and temperature for foolproof meatloaf success… every time?
At what temperature do you cook a 1lb meatloaf?
Just as every household has its own recipe, every household has its opinion on the best method and temperature at which to cook a meatloaf.
It is true that meatloaf can be cooked at a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit right up to a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The option you choose depends on your desired outcome, the amount of time available to you, and the weight of your meatloaf. In this case, with a 1lb meatloaf, cooking it at 400 degrees may cause the meat to dry out.
This will leave you with a less flavorsome result and something of a crumbly texture: not ideal. Among domestic and commercial chefs alike, the consensus seems to be that lower and slower is the best option.
This method retains more moisture and means you’re more likely to achieve juicy, crowd-pleasing results. But beware: if you’re cooking your meatloaf as low as 300 or 325 degrees, then do make sure it is cooked all the way through.
To ensure this is the case, you may want to leave your meatloaf to cook perhaps 10 or 12 minutes longer than you would if you were cooking it at a higher temperature.
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How long does it take to cook a 1lb meatloaf at 350?
It will take approximately 40 minutes to cook a 1lb meatloaf at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Comparatively, if you were to cook it on a lower heat as mentioned above, you may wish to leave your meatloaf to cook for as long as 50 – 55 minutes.
At 350 degrees, however, 45 minutes is the maximum amount of time you’ll want to cook your meatloaf for. Any longer than that and it really will begin to dry out. And believe me, you don’t want that.
How long does it take to cook a 1lb meatloaf at 400?
Though this is not highly recommended, one has to admit that we are sometimes pressed for time and can’t help wondering if we can save some precious minutes by cooking our meatloaf at 400 degrees and getting it on the table faster than a bolt of lightning.
Well, that’s totally understandable. Kitchen extraordinaire Martha Stewart’s meatloaf recipe calls for 45 minutes baking, even at 400 degrees Fahrenheit! But, it should be noted that her recipe is for 2lbs of meatloaf.
Common consensus is that at 400 degrees, you will actually need around 30 minutes to cook your meatloaf.
So, the question to ask yourself is: is it worth shaving off that 10 – 15 minutes extra cooking time? And remember: the higher (the temperature), the drier (the meatloaf).
Is your time worth more than a moistened, juicy meatloaf? Unfortunately, only you know the answer to that one.
Table showing meatloaf cooking times and temperatures
|Approximate cooking time for 1lb meatloaf||For each extra pound, add approximately 20 minutes of cooking time.|
|325||50 – 55 minutes|
|375||35 – 40 minutes|
How do you know when meatloaf is done?
Okay, time’s up! The clock’s run down and the oven is bleeping. But hold on – before serving up your meatloaf to your salivating family members, be sure to check your meatloaf is truly done.
The easiest and most accurate way to check for this is to use a food thermometer. Make sure the tip of the thermometer is resting in the center of your meatloaf. If the temperature registers at the safe standard of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, then you’re good to go.
Should you cook meatloaf covered or uncovered?
Again, this is a vital aspect of the meatloaf cooking method. And it is often something that is overlooked. For a dish where moisture is key, whether you choose to cook your meatloaf covered or not can change the results drastically.
Disappointingly, the correct method isn’t clear. This is because many recipes differ as to whether you should cook your meatloaf covered or uncovered.
For a juicier meatloaf (and a splatter-free oven), keep your baking tin covered with a lid or aluminum foil while you cook your meatloaf.
For optimum results and to achieve the browned appearance on top, remove the lid or foil for the final ten minutes of baking. This way, you get the best of both worlds.
For even better results, wrap your meatloaf in bacon. This incredible ingredient works two-fold at keeping your meatloaf moist.
First, the bacon forms a protective barrier, preventing those juices from escaping as your meatloaf cooks. Secondly, the fat from the bacon will melt as your meatloaf bakes.
This not only adds flavor to your dish, but works to stop it from drying out, too. Winner! Important side note: if you cover your meatloaf in bacon, do not then add a lid or aluminum cover.
This will prevent the fat from melting and will result in your meatloaf being covered in unrendered bacon fat – not appetizing!
How long does it take to cook a 2lb meatloaf?
It will take approximately 1 hour to cook a 2lb meatloaf. Of course, it is also important to bear in mind the temperature at which you choose to cook it. At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, your meatloaf should definitely be cooked.
If you’re cooking it any lower, simply check the internal temperature using a thermometer and pop it back in the oven for a little longer if the temperature hasn’t quite reached the safe level of 160.
How long does it take to cook a meatloaf that weighs 3lbs, 4 lbs, or more?
The general rule of thumb when cooking meatloaves that weigh 3lbs or more is that you should add 20 minutes of cooking time per extra pound.
Of course, this may vary slightly according to the temperature you wish to cook it at. Handy hint: let your meatloaf rest for several minutes before you cut into it – especially with the heftier portions of meatloaf.
What this does is it allows the juices to settle back into the meat, rather than the juices escaping as you slice into it.
How to tell if meatloaf is overcooked
Your meatloaf is overcooked if it is dry and crumbly. You should be able to avoid this by checking your meatloaf’s internal temperature with a thermometer and also by not cooking your meatloaf for too long or at too high a temperature.
But, if disaster strikes and your meatloaf is overcooked, all is not lost. You should slice your overcooked meatloaf up, and arrange it in layers in a baking tin, alternating the layers with a tomato sauce or gravy of some sort.
Cover this with foil or a lid and bake until hot all the way through. The sauce will seep into the meat and works as a perfect solution to this problem.
Can you cook meatloaf from frozen?
You can freeze your meatloaf, raw and shaped, to be cooked at a later date. This is super convenient – especially for working adults with children.
You can also freeze your already-cooked meatloaf. Just make sure it has completely cooled beforehand and that you store it properly in your freezer, using freezer bags.
To safely cook meatloaf from frozen, you must fully thaw it first. Allow 24 hours for meatloaf to defrost thoroughly before cooking.
What pan should I use to cook meatloaf?
It is much easier to use a loaf pan as your meatloaf will then take a perfectly-formed shape without much effort on your part. However, it is totally fine (and not too difficult) to shape your loaf by hand.
For smaller meatloaves of just one pound, shaping by hand may be preferable so you can manage the exact thickness of your meatloaf.
What is the best meat to use in a meatloaf?
One benefit of cooking meatloaf is that you can choose whichever meat you would like to use in it. This is great for those looking to save a little on their weekly grocery shop, as you can get away with choosing cheaper cuts of meat and have them ground up.
One thing to definitely take into account, however, is the fat content of your meat. Though usually more expensive, leaner meat is actually not ideal for a good quality meatloaf.
Choose ground meat with a higher fat content. Why? Well, the fat will melt as you bake your meatloaf, giving you a much juicier (and tastier!) result.
What should I put in meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a super versatile dish and is a fantastic, easy way of incorporating vegetables into your diet, as you can chop them up finely and mix them in with your meat.
This is a particular clever trick for parents out there whose children have an aversion to all things green and leafy! If it’s your first-time cooking meatloaf, then you may wish to simply follow the recipe below.
Then, once you get confident, get creative! Look at fillings, glazings, accompaniments and let your imagination run wild!
How to serve meatloaf?
One of the greatest things about meatloaf is its versatility. You can serve it with whatever sides or sauces you wish. A side of rosemary roasted potatoes, fluffy and crispy, are a delicious choice.
Mashed potatoes and gravy are another family favorite. Or, go Italian with a tomato and herb sauce with a side of mac ‘n’ cheese. For the more health conscious, load up on those greens. The possibilities are truly endless.
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ½ cup milk
- Olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves – minced
- 1 onion – diced
- 1 carrot – diced
- 1 celery stalk – diced
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1lb ground meat (beef, veal, pork, mixture – whatever you prefer)
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (or your desired temperature, based on the information above). Line a baking tin or loaf tin with foil.
- Soak the bread crumbs in the milk until they’ve soaked it up to form a thick substance. You may need to stir this to help the crumbs break down even further.
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan. Add your onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and tomato purée. Stir for several minutes and put to one side to cool.
- Once cooled, place in a bowl with the meat, egg, soaked breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until the ingredients combine. Tip: to check the level of seasoning, fry a pinch of your mixture in a pan until cooked and then taste. Add more salt if needed.
- Place your mixture into the loaf tin or, if using a baking tin, shape the loaf by hand.
- Bake covered for 30 minutes, remove the lid (or foil) and then bake for a further 10 minutes.
- Using a thermometer, check that the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees F.
- Allow your meatloaf to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.