The Best Temperature For Cooking Meatloaf

Making the best meatloaf is much more complicated than the name implies. While at its core, meatloaf is precisely that –- meat shaped and cooked in a loaf-like form — there are many exciting variations on the traditional recipe. A classic meatloaf calls for ground chuck, onion, rosemary, thyme, sage, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, and other ingredients. 

While meatloaf is often served family-style with humble sides such as mashed potatoes and gravy and carrots, there are many recipes to elevate the comfort food — from what types of meat (everything from veal to bacon) are used to create the loaf to glazes and toppings to ingredients like bell peppers to be added to the meat mixture. When meatloaf first became popular in the U.S., it was a meal to help home cooks cope with a lack of meat during the Depression, per Bon Appétit. The need to extend meat continued during WWII, and, according to The Atlantic, one recipe from The Culinary Institute from that time included beef, vegetable soup, and cereal.

Thankfully, today's updated meatloaf recipes are a little more fun and appetizing, such as French onion meatloaf and meatloaf cupcakes (via Today). 

Low and slow wins the meatloaf race

Once you have found the perfect meatloaf recipe and mixed the ingredients, you don't want the cooked meal to be a letdown. The ideal meatloaf should be hot, juicy, and cooked through. Thankfully, there is an easy way to guarantee your meatloaf has reached perfection. Food Network advises home cooks to follow the recipe's recommended time but to double-check that it's done with a meat thermometer. Once the internal temperature has reached 160 F, then you know the meatloaf is done and is safe to eat. 

To cook the meatloaf, MyRecipes says the oven should be 350 F. Lower temperature and a more extended amount of time will result in the moist dish you are craving. Using the meat thermometer, insert it into the meatloaf 15 minutes before the timer is up in the oven, and close the door behind it. Then, return the meatloaf to the oven. Opening the door a quarter of an hour before the timer is up means the oven's temperature won't fluctuate as much and will reach the right temperature quickly.