Easy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Crock-Pot Meatloaf

updated Jan 29, 2020
Crock-pot Meatloaf

Slow-cooked meatloaf is tender, juicy, and packed with flavor.

Serves6

Prep15 minutes

Cook6 hours to 8 hours

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

There’s nothing more cozy than a plate of juicy meatloaf capped with a tangy tomato-glaze. So as soon as the temperature drops, I add meatloaf back to the dinner rotation. The catch? Even if I’ve meal prepped the mixture, it’s an hour before the meatloaf hits our plates, leaving us hungry and waiting at the end of a long weekday. But the solution to my Monday meatloaf mystery was sitting on my counter the whole time.

The answer to my meatloaf woes is the slow cooker, of course. It only took one time to be greeted at dinnertime with the savory aroma of a homestyle dinner to make me a slow cooker meatloaf convert. In fact, now it’s the only way I cook weekday meatloaves any more.

Slow Cooking Is the Secret for Juicy Meatloaf

Are you the one who eschews the use of loaf pans, skillets, or (gasp!) muffin pan meatloaves, seeking the center slice instead? A slow-cooked meatloaf is tender and juicy without the pesky crispy edges that come from baking in close contact with a pan. The constant and closed low heat keeps the meat’s moisture where it should be — in the meatloaf.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

The Unexpected Tool You Need for Better Meatloaf

There’s something so satisfying about arranging a plate of perfectly sliced meatloaf alongside a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes or emerald green beans. But after one too many mangled slices (side-eye to you, oversized onion), I took a tip from Smitten Kitchen’s meatloaf and used the food processor to quickly cut aromatics down to size. Hauling that appliance from out of the cabinet turned out to be too much work with only one onion to chop for this slow cooker loaf. Now I grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater. The onion shavings melt into the meatloaf mixture, infusing it with flavor without turning into a distraction.

Credit: Kitchn

Crock-pot Meatloaf

Slow-cooked meatloaf is tender, juicy, and packed with flavor.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 6 hours to 8 hours

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons

    ketchup, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1

    small yellow onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 3/4 cup

    dry breadcrumbs

  • 2 pounds

    ground beef (80% fat / 20% lean)

Instructions

  1. Line a 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker with aluminum foil, leaving 2 inches of overhang.

  2. Whisk 3 tablespoons of the ketchup, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar together in a small bowl to make the glaze; set aside.

  3. Place 2 eggs in a large bowl and whisk until completely smooth and no white remains. Grate 1 small yellow onion on the large holes of a box grater, then add the onion and its juices to the egg. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ketchup, remaining 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and stir to combine.

  4. Add 3/4 cup breadcrumbs and stir with a fork until no dry crumbs remain. Add 2 pounds ground beef and mix with your fingers or the fork until well-mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared slow cooker and gently pat into an even layer that reaches to the edges. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf.

  5. Cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf registers 165°F, 6 to 8 hours on the LOW setting, or 2 to 3 hours on the HIGH setting. Use the foil to carefully lift the meatloaf out of the slow cooker, and carefully drain off the rendered fat. Set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The meatloaf can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Credit: Kitchn