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Just set it and forget it! You can “bake” a classic comfort food dinner in your slow cooker with this easy Crockpot Meatloaf recipe. Pair it with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or green beans for an easy, family-friendly meal on your busiest nights.

Close up shot of sliced Crock Pot meatloaf

Crockpot Meatloaf Recipe

That’s right — you can make a classic meatloaf recipe in the slow cooker! This easy crockpot meatloaf is just a twist on my mom’s traditional recipe, which I’ve adapted to suit the low-and-slow cooking method.

Since a standard oven-baked meatloaf requires about an hour to cook, we need to be home early enough to get it in the oven before supper. On busy weeknights when we’re running around to soccer practices, PTO meetings, or late camp pick-ups, a Crock Pot dinner comes in very handy! I can prep it early in the day (or the night before), let it cook on my counter while we’re gone, and then return at mealtime to a delicious homemade dinner. A handy little trick to keep in your back pocket!

Two slices of slow cooker meatloaf on a plate

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need to cook meatloaf in the crockpot. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Lean ground beef: I like to use 85%-93% lean meat, which has enough fat to stay moist and juicy, but not so much that it gets too greasy. I don’t recommend extra-lean ground beef, since it can dry out with too little fat.
  • Onion: adds flavor and moisture to the meatloaf.
  • Eggs: give the meatloaf structure.
  • Breadcrumbs: a binder that helps hold the meatloaf together and keeps it from falling apart. I like to use Italian style bread crumbs for extra flavor, but any variety will work.
  • Worcestershire sauce: moistens the breadcrumbs and adds salty, umami flavor to the dish.
  • Salt and pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Thyme: for a savory, earthy touch.
  • Ketchup: a classic sweet glaze for the top of the meatloaf.
Ground beef mixture for meatloaf

How to Make Meatloaf in a Crockpot

This easy crockpot meatloaf comes together in just minutes, and then the slow cooker does all of the work!

  1. Gently combine all of the ingredients (except the ketchup) in a large bowl.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf.
  3. Place the meatloaf in a slow cooker.
  4. Spread a thin layer of ketchup on top of the meat.
  5. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf reads 160°F. When finished, there will be a lot of pan drippings in the bottom of your Crock Pot. That’s fine — just leave the drippings in the pot to discard later, and use a large spatula to transfer the meatloaf to a cutting board. Slice the meatloaf into individual servings, garnish with fresh herbs (if desired), and pair with your favorite sides!
Raw meatloaf in slow cooker
Squirting ketchup on meatloaf
Sliced crock pot meatloaf garnished with herbs and covered in ketchup

Alternate Oven Baked Method

If you prefer, you can bake the meatloaf in the oven instead of using a slow cooker. To do so, place the meatloaf on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for about 1 hour, or until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.

What to Serve with Easy Crockpot Meatloaf

This classic comfort food deserves equally delicious, cozy sides! Here are a few good options that go well with meatloaf:

Close up shot of meatloaf on a plate with mac and cheese and fresh herbs

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Prep Ahead! You can assemble the meatloaf in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Have leftovers? Freeze the meatloaf before or after cooking! Wrap cooked meatloaf tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Wrapped properly, the cooked meatloaf will stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 days. The leftovers are great on a meatloaf sandwich!
  • How to Reheat Meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the meatloaf in an oven-safe baking dish and add 1 tablespoon of beef broth or water. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until meatloaf is warmed through.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of using lean ground beef, substitute with a “meatloaf mix” from the butcher (which usually includes ground beef, ground pork and ground veal).
  • You can use the same Crock Pot meatloaf recipe to make turkey meatloaf! Just substitute ground turkey for the ground beef. I don’t recommend using 99% lean turkey breast, since it will likely be too dry. Use a ground turkey blend that has a bit more fat in it for flavor and texture!
  • Brown sugar glaze: instead of just ketchup, make a glaze using ½ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar.
  • If you prefer to use oatmeal as a binder instead of breadcrumbs, that’s fine! Just substitute an equal amount of oats for the breadcrumbs called for in this recipe.
  • For more flavor, make your meatloaf with dry stuffing mix as the binder instead of plain breadcrumbs.
  • Like meatloaf with cheese? Add a handful of grated cheddar (or other good melting cheese) to the mixture!
  • Make this a Crock Pot Italian Meatloaf by using Italian style breadcrumbs and adding Italian seasoning to the meatloaf mixture.

Tips for the Best Crockpot Meatloaf Recipe

  • Use 85%-93% lean ground beef, which works well to keep the meatloaf moist and juicy. Leaner ground beef has a tendency to dry out in the oven, while fattier beef can be greasy.
  • Use your hands or a fork to gently combine the meatloaf mixture. Be careful not to over-mix the meat, or it will become tough and dry.
  • Every brand/type of slow cooker runs at slightly different temperatures. If you have a Crock Pot that cooks pretty hot, your meatloaf will likely only require about 2 hours on HIGH or 4 hours on LOW. That’s why a meat thermometer is such a great tool — you can turn off the slow cooker when the meal is done.
  • You’ll know the meatloaf is done when it registers an internal temperature of 160°F and the juices run clear.
Long overhead shot of a plate of Crock Pot Meatloaf with mac and cheese

More Meatloaf Recipes to Try

Close up shot of sliced Crock Pot meatloaf

Crockpot Meatloaf

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 people
Calories 236.9 kcal
Just set it and forget it! You can "bake" a classic comfort food dinner in your slow cooker with this easy crockpot meatloaf recipe.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (I use 85%-93% lean) or a “meatloaf mix” consisting of ground beef, ground veal and ground pork
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, but any variety will work)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup ketchup

Instructions

  • Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Gently combine all ingredients (except ketchup) in a large bowl. Just be careful not to over-mix, or the meat will be tough. I like to use my hands for this!
  • Shape beef mixture into a loaf and place in the prepared slow cooker.
  • Spread a thin layer of ketchup over the top of the meatloaf.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf reads 160°F.
  • Remove meatloaf from slow cooker. Place on a cutting board, slice and serve.

TO BAKE IN THE OVEN:

  • Place the prepared meatloaf on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for about 1 hour.

Notes

  • Use 85%-93% lean ground beef, which works well to keep the meatloaf moist and juicy. Leaner ground beef has a tendency to dry out in the oven, while fattier beef can be greasy.
  • Use your hands or a fork to gently combine the meatloaf mixture. Be careful not to over-mix the meat, or it will become tough and dry.
  • Every brand/type of slow cooker runs at slightly different temperatures. If you have a Crock Pot that cooks pretty hot, your meatloaf will likely only require about 2 hours on HIGH or 4 hours on LOW. That’s why a meat thermometer is such a great tool — you can turn off the slow cooker when the meal is done.
  • You’ll know the meatloaf is done when it registers an internal temperature of 160°F and the juices run clear.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 236.9kcalCarbohydrates: 12.7gProtein: 24.9gFat: 9.6gSaturated Fat: 3.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 116.5mgSodium: 863.4mgPotassium: 48.7mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 2.1g
Keyword: crock pot meatloaf, crockpot meatloaf, easy meatloaf recipe, slow cooker meatloaf
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Have you ever tried meatloaf with oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs ..substitutions may be the craze for the near future.

    1. YES! Funny you say that, because I actually have a favorite meatloaf recipe with oatmeal that I’m publishing later this week. Stay tuned!

  2. I’m going to try and make a different meatloaf recipe. This recipe sounds great but I have a question. Why no milk? I’ve always used a dash. Just curios.

    1. Hi, Victoria! I use a little milk in other meatloaf recipes to soak the breadcrumbs (or oatmeal) and form a panade, which acts as a binder. My mom never used it for her recipe, and since you have a couple of tablespoons of liquid in the Worcestershire sauce, I don’t think you really need it here. That said, you can certainly add some. It won’t hurt. 🙂

      1. That makes sense. My Mom never did but she did use Oatmeal in it. Your recipe is in the crockpot now. Thanks for writing back.
        Thanks, Victoria

  3. 5 stars
    Hi there! Could you make the meatloaf ahead of time, freeze it, and then put it in the crock pot when you’re ready to use it?
    Thanks.
    Oleeta

    1. Hi, Oleeta! Yes, you can absolutely do that. My recommendation would be to let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before adding it to the slow cooker. Food safety experts advise against putting frozen meat in a slow cooker because the slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough fast enough to prevent the potential growth of harmful bacteria on frozen meat. That said, I know plenty of folks put frozen meat in Crock Pots and don’t have any issues.