How Long Does It Take To Cook Meatloaf?

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Meatloaf is a classic dish. Maybe you have tried your hand at cooking it before, but it didn’t turn out quite right. Maybe, on the other hand, this is your first attempt. If so, you are probably wondering how long it takes to cook meatloaf. Don’t worry. We did some research to find the correct answer to your question. See our findings below.

There is no one set time for cooking meatloaf. It will vary, depending on factors such as the size of your pan, size of your meatloaf, and oven temperature. However, baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit produces the juiciest, most tender meatloaf possible. At this temperature, you should cook your meatloaf for approximately 35 to 45 minutes per pound. 

Now that you know the basics of how long to cook meatloaf, it’s time to dive deeper. Keep reading to find out how long to cook meatloaf from as small as 1-pound and as large as 5 pounds at 350, 375, and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also learn how to tell if it’s done, whether it should be covered or uncovered, and much more!

Baked chicken meatloaf on a slate tray. How Long Does It Take To Cook Meatloaf

How Long Does it Take to Cook Meatloaf?

Since the size of your meatloaf will vary, depending on the crowd you’re feeding, your pan size will vary as well. In addition, different recipes call for different cooking temperatures. For this reason, there is not one specific time for cooking meatloaf. However, we will outline the cooking times by pan/meatloaf size and oven temperature.

Oven Baked Meatloaf with vegetables.

Below, you will find the proper pan sizes for different size meatloaves:

Loaf Size ⇒ Pan Size

  • 1 lb – 6×4
  • 2 lbs – 9×5
  • 3 lbs – 10×4
  • 4 lbs – 10×6
  • 5 lbs – 11×6

Check out this pan on Amazon made specifically for cooking meatloaf.  

If you prefer a decorative dish, check out this loaf pan on Amazon. 

What Temperature is Best for Cooking Meatloaf?

When making meatloaf, cooking at lower temperatures for longer times produces the best results. For this reason, 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature for cooking meatloaf. Any temperature higher than this will result in a dryer, tougher finished product.

If you are ever unsure how long to cook your meatloaf when using a 350-degree setting, just add approximately 35 to 45 minutes for each additional pound.

Below, you will find a list of times for cooking meatloaf at varying temperatures.

Tomato Timer Clock

350 Degrees

  • 1 lb: 35 – 45 minutes
  • 2 lbs: 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes
  • 3 lbs: 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours
  • 4 lbs: 2 hours – 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 5 lbs: 3 hours – 3 hours 30 minutes

375 Degrees

  • 1 lb: 25 – 30 minutes
  • 2 lbs: 40 – 50 minutes
  • 3 lbs: 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 4 lbs: 2 hours – 2 hours 20 minutes
  • 5 lbs: 2 hours 50 minutes – 3 hours 15 minutes

400 Degrees

  • 1 lb: 25 – 27 minutes
  • 2 lbs: 35 – 40 minutes
  • 3 lbs: 55 minutes – 1 hour 10 minutes
  • 4 lbs: 1 hour 50 minutes – 2 hours 10 minutes
  • 5 lbs: 2 – 4 hours

Do You Cook Meatloaf Covered or Uncovered

There are a wide variety of recipes, and some call for the meatloaf to be cooked uncovered. However, it is best to cover it with foil when cooking meatloaf until only 10 to 15 minutes remain.

When you cover your meatloaf with foil, you lock the heat inside, allowing it to cook faster. Additionally, foil traps moisture inside, making for a juicier outcome.

How Do you Know When Your Meatloaf is Done?

The most accurate way to tell when your meatloaf is done is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. According to The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the internal temperature should read 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meatloaf for the most accurate reading.

You can find instant-read meat thermometers on Amazon. 

Oven-safe Thermometer

Another tool for accurately measuring the temperature of your meatloaf is called an oven-safe thermometer. Unlike the typical meat thermometer, insert the oven-safe thermometer into the center of your meatloaf before placing it into the oven.

Press the tool all the way into the meatloaf without allowing it to touch the bottom of the pan. Leave the thermometer inserted for the duration of cooking. You will get real-time temperature readings sent to your phone. When it reads 160 degrees, your meatloaf is done.

You can also find a selection of oven-safe thermometers on Amazon. 

Clear Juices – Press & Look Test

If you don’t own a meat thermometer, don’t worry. You can still tell when your meatloaf is done. When you believe it is ready, remove the pan from the oven. Look at the juices in the bottom of the pan. They should be clear and not red or pink.

Take the meatloaf out of the pan, placing it on a plate or serving platter. Gently press the meat until the juices drain into the plate. If the juices are clear, your meatloaf is done.

Why is My Meatloaf Falling Apart?

In order for meatloaf to stick together, it needs plenty of ingredients such as eggs and breadcrumbs or crackers. If you skip this step or do not add enough, your meatloaf will fall apart. Additionally, an overcooked meatloaf will become dry, causing it to fall apart.

If your meatloaf is too mushy, on the other hand, you have probably added too many breadcrumbs, eggs, and/or milk. In some cases, you can fix a mushy meatloaf by placing it in the refrigerator until it reaches the desired consistency. If this doesn’t work, it may be time to sear it in a pan until it is brown on all sides.

Should Meatloaf Rest Before Serving?

When you remove meatloaf from the oven, you should always let it rest for approximately 10 minutes before slicing or serving. This plays two important roles.

First, when you allow the dish to rest, your meatloaf will stick together better. Second, when the meatloaf rests, the juices have time to settle into the meat. However, if you cut into it too soon, the juices will drain out of the dish instead, leaving you with a dry dinner.

Can Meatloaf be a Little Pink Inside?

It is perfectly normal for meatloaf to be a little pink inside. As long as the juices run clear and the meat is not red, it is okay to eat it. If you’re ever in doubt, use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is at least 160 degrees.

Can Undercooked Meatloaf Make You Sick?

According to the CDC, consuming raw or undercooked beef can make you very sick. In severe cases, it can even cause death. Chances are higher when consuming raw or undercooked ground beef. The following illnesses/diseases can be contracted from eating undercooked meatloaf:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Shigella
  • Staphylococcus aureus

Can You Recook Undercooked Meatloaf?

If you get ready to serve your meatloaf and realize it’s undercooked, do not serve it to your guests and family. However, you don’t have to toss it in the trash either.

Instead, turn the oven back on, heating to the proper temperature. Cover the meatloaf with foil, and pop it back into the oven. Cook it until the juices are clear and it reaches an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.

Tips for Making the Best Meatloaf

If you have had problems with your meatloaf not turning out well, you may just need a few pointers.

Overmixing

Have you ever cooked a really tough meatloaf? Chances are, you probably overmixed it. Doing so can be detrimental to your meatloaf, making it dense and tough.

Parchment Paper

If you aren’t lucky enough to have one of the above-mentioned meatloaf pans, you know the struggle of removing your meatloaf from the pan. Here is a tip that will help with that.

Line the bottom of your loaf pan with parchment paper. Tear off enough excess to hang over the edges of your pan. When it’s time to transfer the meatloaf to the serving tray, simply grab the parchment paper and remove it with ease.

Save the Juice

Don’t throw away all that juicy goodness at the bottom of the pan. Instead, pour it over the meatloaf as you serve it. Not only will it make for a tastier entre, but it will also make your mashed potatoes moist and yummy.

Onions

Do you struggle with crunchy onions in your meatloaf? To fix this, you can chop the onion more finely or saute it before adding it to the mixture.

Summary

Cooking times vary for meatloaf, depending on the size of the pan/meatloaf and the oven temperatures. The best temperature at which to cook meatloaf is 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are unsure of times, simply add 35 to 45 minutes for each pound.

Never eat undercooked meatloaf. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature is at least 160 degrees, or make sure the juices run clear and not red or pink.

For more useful tips, read the following posts on our blog:

Can You Refreeze a Hamburger?

Can You Leave a Meat Thermometer in the Meat While It’s Cooking?

8 Types of Cooking Thermometers You May Need 

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