Alton Brown's Top Tip For Avoiding Grainy Meatloaf

Ask anyone who likes to eat meatloaf, and they'll tell you that aside from the actual taste, the texture of the dish separates a good meatloaf from a great one. It has to be the perfect balance of meaty and tender, and if not, you'll be stuck eating a dish that's either too spongy or too dry. A dry meatloaf is often accompanied by an unpleasant graininess, and unfortunately, there's no amount of gravy that can cover that up.

According to Serious Eats, this meaty dish can turn grainy when the proportions of protein are off. For example, most meatloaves use a combination of beef and pork, but if you use 100% beef or more beef than pork, much of the moisture gets lost during the cooking process. That can easily result in that grainy texture you want to avoid. If, however, you're sure your recipe isn't to blame and it's still yielding a more coarse or crumbly meatloaf, it's likely due to the cooking process, Alton Brown says (via Food Network's YouTube channel).

Meatloaf is more temperature sensitive than you think

If your meatloaf is grainy, you may have accidentally cooked it too hot and too fast. When the oven temperature is set too high, "all the little proteins are going to ball up, and they'll just squeeze out all of the other ingredients. It'll crumble on the plate," Alton Brown explained in an episode of "Good Eats" (via YouTube).

While you might be tempted to crank up the heat to ensure you don't end up with any raw meat in the middle, meatloaf actually cooks better and more evenly with low and slow heat. Per Brown's instructions, 325 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest setting you should go for. For best results, stick a temperature probe into the meat, and when it hits 155 degrees Fahrenheit, it's ready to come out of the oven.

Though Brown's recipe uses only beef, which according to Serious Eats, normally contributes to grainy meatloaf, it still turns out moist because of the low and slow cooking process.