The Reason You Should Always Soak Bread For Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a classic comfort food for many of us, evoking memories of the family dinners of our childhoods. While the name isn't exactly drool-inducing, a well-prepared meatloaf certainly is, usually featuring a mix of ground beef or pork, onions and garlic, fresh and dried herbs, eggs, and dried bread that's packed into a loaf pan and baked until hot and juicy. Equally popular among adults and children alike, meatloaf makes a great companion to other comforting dishes such as mashed potatoes and mac and cheese.

Making meatloaf at home tends to be simple, but the dish can suffer from textural problems, either turning out greasy or, at the other end of the spectrum, too dry (via The Spruce Eats). Dryness tends to be the more common issue, and can be due to cooks using meat that's too lean, over-mixing the meat, or not letting the meatloaf rest before cutting into it. But did you know that dry meatloaf can also be the result of skipping a crucial step when it comes to the recipe's bread?

Always soak bread before adding it to meatloaf

While many meatloaf recipes call for already-ground bread or cracker crumbs (via Allrecipes), plenty also call for stale bread. All of these starchy options are used for their binding potential, helping (along with the eggs) to hold the meatloaf together in the pan and, especially, after it's sliced. But if you're following a recipe that calls for bread, not crumbs, be sure not to skip one crucial step: Soaking the bread in milk before working it into the loaf.

According to The Kitchn, if you incorporate crumbled dry bread into a meatloaf, the bread will suck up some of the loaf's moisture, leaving it too dry. Instead, you'll want to soak the bread in milk (or chicken or beef stock, if you don't eat dairy, according to The Stay At Home Chef) for a few minutes, as instructed by Food Network, then work the soft mash into the meatloaf along with the rest of the ingredients. That way, you'll end up with a nicely structured meatloaf that's moist and juicy, too.