Recipe: Pressure-Cooker Meatloaf

Recipe: Pressure-Cooker Meatloaf

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Diner-style meatloaf cooks up tender and tasty when made in the pressure cooker. Topped with ketchup and enjoyed warm or cold on a sandwich, it's easy to see how meatloaf became a comfort-food classic.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

The Meat

You can make a meatloaf with any ground meat — beef, pork, veal, or turkey. For the best flavor, I use a combination of two meats (my favorites are ground beef and pork). Whatever you use, make sure it contains at least 12 percent fat. This is especially true for turkey, as lean and ultra-lean ground turkey make a very dry and bland meatloaf.

If you're using all beef, I recommend using three-quarters ground chuck and one-quarter ground sirloin. This gives you a meatloaf that's flavorful without being too greasy.

The "meatloaf mix": You can often find this sold in the butcher's case. Be sure to ask your butcher what the blend contains. You want it to be meat only — no added binders or spices.

The Binders

To make a meatloaf that's moist, flavorful, and holds together, breadcrumbs and eggs are added to the mix. Instead of adding dry breadcrumbs directly to the ground meat, soak them in milk before adding. This simple step, called a panade, creates a starchy mixture. The starch swells during cooking, preventing the meat from getting tough and dry.

Make this dairy-free: If you are dairy-free, you can still make a panade. Replace the milk with either a mild tomato sauce or ketchup — just note that using ketchup brings a light sweetness to the meatloaf.

Making a Pan

To make a "pan" for your meatloaf, cut the foil into an 18-inch-long piece. Fold in half lengthwise. You want the piece 18 inches long by 6 inches wide.

Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray or brush lightly with oil. Shape the meatloaf directly on the foil. Place the shaped meatloaf onto the steamer rack, then lower the steamer rack into the pressure cooker. If your steamer rack doesn't have handles, use the ends of the foil to lower the meatloaf into the pressure cooker and onto the rack.

You don't want to cook meatloaf directly in the pot because you need to add 2 cups of water to the pot. If the meatloaf sits directly in the water, you'd get a soggy-bottomed meatloaf — and no one wants a soggy-bottomed meatloaf.

The Release

To prevent the meatloaf from overcooking, use a "quick" release method. Once the cooking cycle completes, turn the pressure cooker off. Don't allow it to switch to the "keep warm" setting. Turn the valve to manually release the pressure. (Consult your pressure cooker's manual for a complete step-by-step on this process. All models are different.) Once the pressure has released, remove the lid.

Learn More: What's the Difference Between Natural Release and Rapid Release

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Add a Finishing Touch

There are a few things that alway trigger lively culinary debate, and raisins in cookies and ketchup on meatloaf are two that spring to mind. I'm firmly on team ketchup. In fact, I like the tang that tomatoes bring to meatloaf so much that sometimes I make the loaf with ketchup or tomato sauce instead of milk.

When you cook meatloaf in a pressure cooker, how you finish it is really important. The meatloaf won't brown during cooking, so to avoid an unappetizing-looking meatloaf, brush the top with ketchup or barbecue sauce before cooking and all will be saved.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Pressure-Cooker Meatloaf

Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 small onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground meat (1 1/2 pounds ground chuck plus 1/2 pound ground pork OR 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck plus 1/2 pound ground sirloin)
1/4 cup ketchup or bbq sauce
2 cups water

Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, tear an 18-inch-long piece of aluminum foil, then fold the foil in half lengthwise to form a 18x6-inch piece. Grease the foil.

Add the grated onion, eggs, salt, and pepper to the breadcrumb mixture and stir to combine. Add the ground meat and mix together with your hands until the mixture holds together. At first it might seem too wet; keep mixing. It takes about 1 minute to come together.

Place the meat mixture on the foil and shape into a 7x5-inch loaf. Spread the ketchup or bbq sauce on top of the meatloaf.

Add the water to the pot of an electric pressure cooker. If your steamer rack has handles, set your meatloaf on the foil on the steamer rack and lower into the pressure cooker. If your steamer rack does not have handles, place the rack into the pressure cooker, then lower meatloaf on the foil into the pressure cooker by grasping the overhanging aluminum foil.

Close and lock the lid. Pressure cook for 35 minutes on HIGH pressure. When the cooking cycle completes, do a quick release of the pressure.

Check the internal temperature of the meatloaf. For meatloaf made with pork, the temperature should reach 160°F. For all-beef meatloaf, it should reach 155°F. If the meatloaf has not reached the correct temperature, return the lid to the pressure cooker and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Lift the meatloaf out of the pressure cooker using the handles of the steamer rack or the aluminum foil. (To prevent a burn, use potholders, as the meatloaf will be very hot and steaming.) Allow the meatloaf to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftover meatloaf can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
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