The trick to making a really good Make Ahead Meatloaf is 1) keep the meatloaf itself simple, 2) poke holes in it and 2) make enough glaze to cover it completely.
I try to keep at least 1 of these in the freezer at all times. It’s one of my family’s favorite comfort foods. My grandkids especially love this recipe.
And the best part? This recipe only calls for a few ingredients I usually always have on hand.
How to keep a make ahead meatloaf moist and tender
Sometimes meatloafs can be dense and dry. This is doubly so if you freeze it for later. To keep yours juicy and tender add 2/3 cup of crushed crackers or breadcrumbs.
This soaks up the fat from the beef and stores it keeping it moist. Breading also acts as micro mini spacers so the meat doesn’t compact on itself.
Glazing is also important to keep it from drying out. Poke at least 3 holes down the center of your meatloaf before you bake it. Then as you pour the glaze over it, it drips down into the meatloaf add more moisture as well.
If you plan on freezing it, mix up double the extra glaze.
Bake the meatloaf like the recipe outlines. Then when it’s cooled off and read for the freezer, pour the other 1/2 of the glaze over it and freeze. This extra moisture is added insurance against freezer burn and dryness.
Make Ahead Meatloaf Recipe
This recipe makes 1 large meatloaf that easily serves 6 people.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 pounds 80% ground beef, 1/2 package Lipton onion soup mix, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 cup milk.
- Make the glaze. In a small bowl combine: 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
- Gently press meat mixture into a loaf pan. Make sure there is at least 1 inch room at the top.
- Poke several holes in the meatloaf with your finger. Spread the glaze evenly over the top and into the holes.
- Bake meat loaf for 55 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160F. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- When mixing the meatloaf ingredients together, do it gently. Stop mixing when everything is just combined. Over mixing can give you a tough meatloaf.
- Bake the meatloaf on top of a baking sheet. A cookie sheet or baking sheet will keep the bottom of your oven clean in case the juices from your meatloaf bubble over.
How to Freeze your meatloaf
Once the meatloaf has cooled completely, wrap it in a freezer bag or plastic wrap. Then for good measure, wrap it with tin foil. Why the double wrap?
Wrapping it first with plastic wrap, helps keep it moist. Both the freezer and the refrigerator can dry out foods. This is a good thing to do with any freezer meals you make yourself.
Meatloaf wrapped like this can be stored in the freezer for 3 – 4 months.
How to bring your make ahead meatloaf back to life.
Ideally, you can take your meatloaf out of the freezer and let it thaw out in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Then reheat it in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes.
Ok, back to reality. I think the last time I had that much forethought was…
… still thinking… well, never. The best way (and most convenient) to thaw out your home cooked meatloaf is to treat it like a store bought lasagna.
Take off the double wrapping of plastic wrap and tin foil, cover the top with tin foil and bake it in a preheated oven at 350F (covered) for 50 minutes. Uncover it and let it bake another 15-20 minutes until the internal temp is hot.
The best meatloaf lets the beef really shine through. However, if you’d like to add a little more dimension to it try a combination of ground beef, pork sausage, and/or ground veal.
What to serve with it?
Try these sides to round out your meal…
Easy Make Ahead Meatloaf
With only 7 ingredients, this classic Meatloaf recipe makes everyone happy. It's easy, delicious, and it freezes great for a make ahead meal with no fuss. | www.lakesidetable.com
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1/2 package Lipton onion soup mix dry
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup cracker crumbs Saltines or Ritz
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce low sodium
Preheat oven to 350.
Thoroughly mix all the Meatloaf ingredients together and put it into a loaf pan.
For the glaze, whisk the ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce together.
Poke holes in the meatloaf with your finger and spread the glaze over the top and into the holes.
Bake for 55 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before you cut into it or else it might fall apart.
Variations: add 1 cup chopped white onion, fresh herbs, chopped garlic and/or lay fresh rosemary on top.
This basic recipe is fun to play with!