Meatloaf is synonymous with comfort food for many families across America. This mix of ground meat and spices, shaped into a loaf and baked to perfection, never fails to satisfy. Knowing exactly how long to cook meatloaf at 375 degrees Fahrenheit is key to ensuring your meatloaf turns out deliciously moist and tender every time.
What Is Meatloaf?
Meatloaf is made from a base of ground or minced meat like beef, pork, veal, or turkey. A blend of seasonings like salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices are added to the meat to flavor it. You can also mix in onions, carrots, celery, cheese, garlic, bread crumbs, and other ingredients to add moisture and more depth of flavor.
The meat mixture is shaped into a loaf pan and baked in the oven until fully cooked through. This hands-off cooking approach makes meatloaf a convenient one-dish meal for feeding families.
Why 375 Degrees Fahrenheit is Ideal for Meatloaf
Cooking meatloaf in a 350 to 375 degree Fahrenheit oven is recommended by most chefs and recipes. This temperature range allows the meatloaf to cook through gradually without burning or overcooking the exterior before the inside is done.
Baking at a high temp like 400°F may result in a burnt outside but undercooked interior. While a lower oven temp of 300°F will take much longer to fully cook the center without drying out the edges.
Setting your oven to 375°F hits the sweet spot for baking up a perfect meatloaf with a browned crust and moist, tender center every time.
How Long Should You Bake Meatloaf at 375 Degrees?
Most standard sized meatloaves take 30-45 minutes to fully cook when baked at 375°F. The total time depends on the thickness and shape of your particular meatloaf.
As a general guide, a meatloaf that’s 1.5 to 2 inches thick and shaped in a loaf pan should bake for 35-40 minutes at 375°F. Allowing it to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing also helps the juices redistribute.
The most reliable way to test doneness is using an instant read meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the meatloaf and it should register at least 160°F when fully cooked.
Factors That Affect Meatloaf Cooking Time
Several factors impact the exact time needed for baking meatloaf at 375°F including:
- Size and shape
- Meat type
- Extra ingredients
Larger meatloaves or ones shaped thicker will naturally require more time to cook through to the center than smaller, flatter loaves.
The type of ground meat used, whether beef, pork, turkey, veal, chicken or a blend, affects cooking time due to differences in fat content and density.
Added vegetables, cheese, and breadcrumbs introduce more moisture which can slightly lengthen the baking time needed for the interior to reach safe eating temperatures.
How to Tell When Meatloaf is Fully Cooked
Using an instant read meat thermometer is the most reliable way to check for doneness when baking meatloaf. Simply insert the probe into the center of the loaf.
Meatloaf is fully cooked when the internal temperature reaches at least 160°F. If it registers between 150-155°F, it needs 5-10 more minutes of baking time.
You can also test by inserting a knife into the center of the meatloaf. If the juices run clear with no traces of pink, it is done. Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Cook Meatloaf at 375°F
Follow these simple steps for baking perfect meatloaf at 375 degrees Fahrenheit every time:
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare loaf pan with nonstick spray or lining.
- In a large bowl, mix together 1 to 1.5 lbs ground meat, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1 egg, chopped onions, garlic, herbs, and seasonings until well combined.
- Transfer meat mixture into the prepared loaf pan, shaping into a loaf form.
- Bake at 375°F for 35-45 minutes until the internal temperature reads 160°F.
- Allow meatloaf to rest 10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing to serve.
For extra flavor, you can spread a meatloaf glaze on top made with ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and mustard during the last 15 minutes of baking.
Complementary Side Dishes for Meatloaf
Meatloaf deserves side dishes that match its homey, comforting essence. Here are some excellent options:
- Mashed potatoes – The classic mate for soaking up meatloaf juices
- Roasted vegetables – Carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts caramelized with herbs
- Green salad – Fresh contrast to the hearty meatloaf
- Mac and cheese – Ooey, gooey comfort food partner
- Cornbread – A slightly sweet, crumbly accompaniment
- Steamed vegetables – Green beans, asparagus, carrots for a lighter side
Tips for the Best Meatloaf
Use these tips for making insanely delicious meatloaf every time you bake it:
- Mixing two or more ground meats (beef, pork, veal) adds more flavor and textures.
- Incorporate breadcrumbs, grated onions or vegetables to add moisture and prevent drying out.
- Always use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness instead of relying on time.
- Let meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing for juicier results.
- A loaf pan shape makes a nicely formed, easy to slice meatloaf.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you bake meatloaf at 350°F instead of 375°F?
Yes, 350°F is also an acceptable temperature for baking meatloaf. It will just take 5-10 minutes longer to cook through compared to 375°F. Check for doneness with a thermometer.
Should meatloaf be covered while baking?
Covering meatloaf with foil helps retain moisture but can soften the exterior texture. For a nicely browned top crust, bake uncovered but brush with glaze toward the end.
Why does my meatloaf always fall apart?
Be sure to use enough breadcrumbs, egg, or oatmeal as binders when mixing the meatloaf. Overmixing can also cause meatloaf to lose structure. Handle the mixture gently when shaping.
Does adding milk make meatloaf more moist?
Yes, milk is an excellent way to keep meatloaf tender and moist. The lactose and fat help retain moisture. Replace up to half the liquid in a recipe with milk.
Is meatloaf healthy?
Meatloaf can be a healthy meal when made with lean meats, lots of vegetables, and whole grain binders like oats or breadcrumbs. Go easy on high-fat ingredients like cheese and limit salty seasonings.
How long should a 2 lb meatloaf bake at 375°F?
A 2 pound meatloaf will need about 50-60 minutes in a 375°F oven. Use a meat thermometer to confirm it reaches 160°F at the center when done.
What makes meatloaf moist and tender?
Using ground meat with a higher fat content, adding milk or grated vegetables, and preventing overmixing helps keep meatloaf moist. Avoid overbaking as well.
Should you bake meatloaf covered or uncovered?
Uncovered baking promotes browning but can cause drying out. Covered baking gives a softer texture. Try uncovered first then cover to finish if the top is browning too fast.
The Takeaway on Cooking Meatloaf at 375°F
Mastering the perfect meatloaf is easy when you understand exactly how long to bake it at 375°F. Allow 35-45 minutes for a standard sized meatloaf to cook through without drying out. Use an instant read thermometer to confirm it reaches 160°F for safe doneness.
With the right time and temperature, plus a few simple tips, you’ll be serving up the ultimate comfort food meatloaf to rave reviews at your dinner table.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.