Easy Oatmeal Meatloaf

published Sep 29, 2021
Oatmeal Meatloaf Recipe

You’ll never know the oats are in there, but they act as a perfect binder and won’t dry out the meat.

Serves6 to 8

Prep20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes

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oatmeal meatloaf on a plate sliced
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

I’ll preface this recipe with some honesty: I didn’t grow up in a meatloaf-eating household. My mom comes from a big Lebanese family, and while dishes like spaghetti and meatballs made their way into our weekly rotation, meatloaf was one all-American food that was a bridge too far for her.

But over my years working as a recipe developer, I’ve made a lot of meatloaf — and I’ve really grown fond of it! For the most part, I’ve found that simple and classic is best (ketchup glaze is an absolute must), but I do make one major tweak: Swapping the traditional breadcrumbs for quick-cooking oats makes for a moist meatloaf that holds up well when sliced. (And if you use gluten-free oats, all your guests can dig in!)

Here, I’m sharing my very favorite oatmeal meatloaf, complete with fresh thyme and a heavy hit of Dijon mustard in the glaze. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What Does Adding Oatmeal to Meatloaf Do?

The oats act as a binder so that the meatloaf keeps its shape when sliced, and they melt right into the meat so you’ll never know they’re there. Plus, they are not as prone to drying out as breadcrumbs are. No one wants dry meatloaf!

In addition to the oats, I add moisture to the meatloaf in the form of grated onion — which also provides a flavor boost! Similar to the oats, the grated onion simply melts into the meat, so you don’t get any big chunks of onion in the mix.

What Are the Best Oats for Oatmeal Meatloaf?

Quick-cooking oats are best for meatloaf. Old-fashioned rolled oats require a longer cooking time, and can turn out tough. If you’re serving gluten-free guests, you’ll also want to make sure your oats are gluten-free, which makes this recipe a great allergy-friendly alternative to traditional meatloaf.

What Should I Serve with Oatmeal Meatloaf?

This oatmeal meatloaf would be great paired with buttery mashed potatoes or simple roasted vegetables. Just be sure to leave some for leftovers the next day — I like to sear a slice in a skillet with some butter until both sides are caramelized, then enjoy stuffed into a sandwich.

Oatmeal Meatloaf Recipe

You’ll never know the oats are in there, but they act as a perfect binder and won’t dry out the meat.

Prep time 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium white or yellow onion

  • 6 large sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1 cup

    quick-cooking oats

  • 1/3 cup

    whole milk

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    dry mustard

  • 2 pounds

    ground beef, preferably 85% lean

  • 1/3 cup


  • 2 tablespoons

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF.

  2. Peel 1 medium white or yellow onion and grate on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl (about 3/4 cup). Strip the leaves from 6 large fresh thyme sprigs and finely chop to get 2 teaspoons. Add to the bowl.

  3. Add 1 cup quick-cooking oats, 1/3 cup whole milk, 2 large eggs, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard, and stir to combine. Add 2 pounds lean ground beef and use your hands to gently mix everything until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to a 9x5-inch loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Place 1/3 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon hot sauce, if using, in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  5. Remove the meatloaf from the oven. Pour the glaze over the top and use a spatula to smooth it out. Return to the oven and bake until the glaze is slightly caramelized and the internal temperature of the meatloaf registers at least 165ºF, 10 to 25 minutes more.

  6. Let the meatloaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Pour off the excess grease into a small bowl if desired. Use a sturdy spatula (like a fish spatula) to transfer the meatloaf from the pan to a clean cutting board. Cut into slices and serve.

Recipe Notes

Loaf pans: Metal loaf pans will cook the meatloaf faster than glass or ceramic pans. If you don’t have a loaf pan, you can make a freeform meatloaf in the shape of a loaf on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Make ahead: The meatloaf mixture can be made, placed in a loaf pan, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Let sit at room temperature while the oven is heating.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.