The Ingredient That Will Change Your Meatloaf Forever

Meatloaf may seem like the type of recipe where you can eyeball the measurements, or experiment with the ingredients. It's basically just ground beef in a pan, right? Nope. The unfortunate truth is that meatloaf isn't as foolproof as you might think. The wrong ratios can cause it to either fall apart, or come out of the oven as hard as a brick.

Italian restaurant Rao's, however, has the perfect solution: Extra water. According to Food52, the restaurant uses a ratio of two pounds of meat to two pounds of water. As simple as it sounds, this will make your meatloaf lighter and more moist without reducing the texture to crumbles.

Food52 recommends incorporating the water at two different stages of the cooking process. First you'll mix the water with the ground meat, then you'll use it to deglaze the pan after cooking the onions (or any other sautéed vegetables your recipe calls for). Once deglazed, you can go ahead and add it all — water included — into the meatloaf mixture.

How much water should you add to your meatloaf?

Unless you have your hands on a copy of the famous Rao's recipe, you'll probably have to play around with the exact amount of water for your meatloaf. TODAY shares that the best way to go about this is to start off by adding only a tablespoon of water at a time into the ground meat. Slowly keep adding it just until the meat stops sticking to the side of the bowl.

For some recipes you'll need more water, and others will require less, but that all depends on the moisture content of the other ingredients. Keep in mind that if you're using seasoning that is mostly liquid-based, such as Worcestershire sauce or ketchup, you won't have to use as much water. The same goes for the vegetables. Ingredients like carrots and celery add flavor and texture, sure, but they also add moisture. Remember, you want your meatloaf to turn out juicy, not soggy, and the right amount of water can help achieve that perfect consistency.