The Mix-In Mistake That's Drying Out Your Meatloaf (& How To Prevent It)

In theory, meatloaf seems like an easy enough dish to make. But those who have had lousy meatloaf at school or at a friend's house know that it's not guaranteed to turn out right. Some blame the dryness, the lack of texture, or even the mere sight of it, per HuffPost. But if prepared with care, meatloaf can be moist yet crisp on the outside, with hints of vegetables throughout.

Less heavy than a prime rib roast, and requiring less handwork than meatballs, meatloaf is really the perfect entree for a family or group of friends to share. Despite what one may think, good meatloaf isn't made by simply throwing ground beef and seasonings into a pan and letting everything bake into one large log. In fact, there are a lot of mistakes you can make with meatloaf, which may leave you with a drab, flavorless brick of meat. One particular error doesn't even come from which ingredients you use, but from the way you bring all of the elements together before cooking.

Use your hands to prevent overmixing

So you've followed a classic meatloaf recipe and avoided the most common errors. You sauteed your chopped vegetables, soaked your bread crumbs sufficiently in milk, purchased the right kind of meat, and added a binding agent. Yet your meatloaf came out dry, overcooked, and tough. This is most likely a result of overmixing. Overmixing your meatloaf ingredients can ruin the texture, moisture, and structure of your meatloaf.

When you are a bit overzealous about combining your ingredients, you can accidentally overwork the ground beef. According to Old World Garden Farms, the protein fibers cling to one another during the mixing process, making the meat tougher. Overmixing your meatloaf will invariably give you a dryer and denser loaf. In fact, Cook's Info suggests putting the food processor and electric mixer to the side because they will make it harder for you not to overmix. 

To prevent this from happening, you should always hand-mix your ingredients so that you can gauge when everything's just incorporated. In fact, shaping the meatloaf before it goes into the oven further kneads it, so it's always safer to stop mixing earlier rather than later.