The Best Temperature for Cooking Meatloaf — And How to Know When It’s Done

published Sep 7, 2022
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oatmeal meatloaf on a plate sliced
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

When it comes to totally comforting dinners, meatloaf has a standing spot at the top of the list. Whether it’s a classic meatloaf slicked with a blanket of sticky glaze, a cheese-stuffed meatloaf, or saucy Italian meatloaf, those juicy slices hit the spot every time. But as satisfying as this homey dinner is and as easy as it is to assemble, the same question always seems to linger: What it the best meatloaf temperature? I’m talking about both the temperature the oven should be set at and the meatloaf’s internal temperature to know when it’s done.

I know you’re wondering too, which is why we’re taking all the guesswork out of cooking meatloaf: This is the best oven temperature for cooking meatloaf, and the internal temperature it should hit when it’s done.

Meatloaf Internal Temperature

Anytime you’re cooking meatloaf, you’ll want to be sure to have an instant-read thermometer handy. This helpful kitchen tool takes all the guesswork out of knowing when meatloaf is done. Cook meatloaf until it registers 165°F when the thermometer is inserted into the center of the loaf.

How Long to Cook Meatloaf and at What Temperature

As a rule of thumb, set your oven to 350°F when cooking meatloaf, regardless of the ground meat used in the recipe. At this temperature, a meatloaf prepared with two pounds of ground meat (the amount called for in most recipes) takes about one hour to cook. It’s a good idea, though, to start checking it around the 50-minute mark (more in a minute about how to tell when meatloaf is done!). It will take the same amount of time whether the meatloaf is shaped and cooked on a baking sheet, in a loaf pan, or in a Bundt pan.

How to Tell When Meatloaf Is Done

Yes, recipes will almost always include a cook time, but there are more ways to tell when meatloaf is done. For starters, look for visual cues. When meatloaf is cooked, the top will be browned and the loaf will pull away from the edges of the pan.

As noted above, the most reliable way to tell when meatloaf is done is by checking the internal temperature of the meatloaf with an instant-read thermometer, inserting it into the center of the meatloaf. Meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Then you know the meatloaf is ready to be pulled from the oven. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice it up and dig in.

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