How To Remove Meatloaf From A Loaf Pan

So, you’ve just cooked a sizzling meatloaf in a loaf pan, and now you’re wondering, “How the heck do I get the meat out?!” Don’t panic; even if you didn’t line your loaf pan with aluminum foil, there are easy ways you could get this meatloaf out in a jiffy. In this post, you’ll learn all the research we’ve done on safely removing meatloaf from a standard loaf pan. 

After letting your meatloaf cool for 10 - 15 minutes, follow this simple technique to remove it from a loaf pan:

  • Use a butter knife to slice along the sides of your loaf pan. 
  • Take two forks and gently press them into the sides of your meatloaf.
  • Carefully pull up on your meatloaf and transfer it to a plate. 

As with most other classic recipes, there are many strategies on how to bake and plate the “ultimate” meatloaf. We’ll try to distill a few essential tips that should help you cook the tastiest meatloaf imaginable in this post, so be sure to keep reading.

A meatloaf baked in tomato sauce, How To Remove Meatloaf From A Loaf Pan

How Do You Remove Meatloaf From A Loaf Pan?

There’s no precise technique for taking your meatloaf out of a loaf pan. However, many people who cook meatloaf in this pan report success poking two forks on the meat’s sides, gently lifting it up, and placing it on a serving plate. If you notice your meatloaf is sticking to the sides of the pan, then be sure to run a butter knife around it to make it easier to pull.

You can see a visual explanation of this method in the following YouTube video:

While using two forks to pull your meatloaf usually works fine, there are a few other ways you could get your meatloaf out without it falling apart. For instance, some recipes recommend using a sturdy spatula to pull your meatloaf out of the pan.

Find out more on this Amazon link.

However, if you’re looking for the easiest way to remove meatloaf, you should consider buying a loaf pan designed explicitly for meatloaf. Yes, these pans exist, and they will help you lift your meatloaf and quickly dispose of grease. 

Find out more on this Amazon link.

You could learn more about how these special loaf pans work in this YouTube review:

Whatever method you use, it’s essential to let your meatloaf rest for about 10 - 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. This rest period allows the natural juices to get reabsorbed, giving your meatloaf flavor and firmness. Indeed, if you don’t wait for your meatloaf to settle after taking it out of the oven, there’s a better chance it will collapse into pathetic pieces. 

Can I Line My Meatloaf Pan With Aluminum Foil?

Meatloaf at the dinner table

Another fantastic way to lift your meatloaf out of a loaf pan is to create a “sling” with a layer of aluminum foil. If you’re going to use this tip, be sure to use a piece of aluminum foil large enough to go over the edges of your loaf pan. When your meatloaf has cooled out of the oven, you should be able to pick up the aluminum foil, let the excess grease drip, and transfer your meatloaf to a plate. 

While using this aluminum foil method isn’t a requirement, it can save you a lot of aggravation and clean-up time.

Should Meatloaf Be Cooked In A Loaf Pan?

There are two camps in the meatloaf community: loaf pan vs. free-form. Honestly, neither of these methods is “superior” to the other. However, you’ll find that most pro chefs recommend cooking free-form. 

Some people have an issue cooking in loaf pans because they don’t provide enough space for your meat to caramelize properly. Instead of creating a crispy exterior shell, meatloaf in loaf pans will steam, thus creating a spongier texture. Plus, when you cook meatloaf free-form, you can spread your special topping sauce all over the sides of your delicious meal.   

If you’re going to cook a free-form meatloaf, use a baking dish that gives your meatloaf breathing space as it cooks. If you don’t have a large enough baking dish, you could experiment with cooking your meatloaf on a sheet pan. Either way, these methods should ensure your meatloaf will develop a crispy outer coating.

Find out more on this Amazon link.

While most chefs prefer baking dishes or sheet pans, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to use loaf pans. If you’re a fan of meatloaf that has a juicier texture, then you may prefer using this pan. Also, you could pour out the grease from a loaf pan before the last 15 minutes of baking to enhance your meatloaf’s caramelization. 

If you want a few tips on cooking an awesome free-form meatloaf, be sure to watch this guide:

Is It Better To Cook Meatloaf In A Glass Or Metal Pan?

Meatloaf served in a glass casserole dish

You can cook meatloaf in glass or metal pans, but metal tends to be the more popular choice. In general, metal pans have a more even heat distribution versus glass, so there’s less need to worry about uneven heating. Also, the glass will act as an insulator, which means it will take longer to reach your oven’s temp.  

If you use a glass baking sheet, you may need to keep it in the oven slightly longer than a metal pan. Also, when you take your meatloaf out of the oven, please remember that glass retains heat, which means it will technically still keep baking.

However, please keep in mind all of these concerns are relatively minor. As long as you keep a close eye on your meatloaf, it should be fine in a glass or metal pan. 

Find out more on this Amazon link.

By the way, if you’d like to learn more about these distinctions, you’ve got to check out our post on Baking Cakes In Glass Or Metal Pans.

Do You Drain The Grease From Meatloaf?

Baked egg and vegetables stuffed meatloaf covered with bacon

If you are cooking meatloaf in a loaf pan, you should drain it about 15 minutes before the end of cooking. Getting rid of this excess grease will encourage your meatloaf to form the delicious crispy top that many chefs strive for. Keeping grease inside your pan will keep your meatloaf soft and a bit soupy. 

If you can’t be bothered to drain this grease, then there are a few hacks you may be interested in. The simplest hack is to buy a special loaf pan with drainage spouts. Alternatively, you could buy a disposable foil baking sheet, poke holes in the bottom, and place your meatloaf under a baking sheet. 

For those who like to be adventurous, you could try putting a layer of white bread on the bottom of your meatloaf pan before putting your meat in. According to folks who try this method, the bread absorbs all of that greasy goodness and makes for a pretty awesome (albeit unhealthy) side dish. 

Should I Cover My Meatloaf?

Meatloaf with gravy

Whether you should cover your meatloaf with foil depends on your taste preferences. Since this foil will trap the meatloaf’s moisture, it will result in a spongier texture. Those who prefer their meatloaf to have a crispier exterior won’t be a fan of this effect. However, if you love a juicier meatloaf, this method may be suitable for you.

Just keep in mind that most recipes that use a foil tent while baking will take it off about 15 minutes before removing their meatloaf from the oven. These final 15 minutes of cooking help create a crispy texture, especially if you drain out the grease.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that some people use a tent of aluminum foil after taking their meatloaf out of the oven. This technique is handy if you need to keep your meatloaf warm for more than 15 minutes before dinner time.  

Take Care When Scooping Your Marvelous Meatloaf!

Taking meatloaf out of a loaf pan isn’t the most challenging kitchen task, but it requires a bit of finesse and focus. Whether you use two forks, a sturdy spatula, or an aluminum sling, there are a few methods you could use to scoop out the perfect meatloaf. Plus, if you’re struggling to get your meatloaf out, you could always consider buying meatloaf-specific loaf pans.

By the way, did you know the ideal cooking time for meatloaf will change depending on your oven’s heating style? To learn more on this topic, you’ve got to read our article, “Do Convection Ovens Cook And Bake Faster?

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