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This old-fashioned meatloaf recipe with oatmeal is a simple, easy dinner that comes together with just 10 minutes of prep! It’s a family-favorite that only requires a handful of pantry staples. Pair the world’s best meatloaf with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or creamed peas for a cozy and nourishing meal any night of the week!
Table of Contents
- How to Make a Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal | 1-Minute Video
- What is meatloaf?
- Ingredients for Old-Fashioned Meatloaf with Oatmeal and Ketchup
- How to Make the Best Meatloaf with Oatmeal
- Serving Suggestions
- Preparation and Storage
- Recipe Variations
- Tips for the Best Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal
- Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal Recipe
How to Make a Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal | 1-Minute Video
Meatloaf has stood the test of time! It’s a classic family dinner that everyone at the table can agree on, made with affordable, hearty ingredients, and ready with minimal effort. My kids have come to love this meal just as much as I do, so the traditional recipe is a regular in our kitchen.
What is meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a dish made with ground beef and a variety of other seasonings and binders, which is then shaped into a loaf and baked. You can shape the loaf by hand and cook it on a flat pan, or you can prepare meatloaf in a loaf pan (as shown here). Ground beef is the traditional meat used in a meatloaf; however, you can also use ground turkey, ground chicken, or a “meatloaf mix” consisting of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal.
Once meatloaf is cooked, it can be sliced like a loaf of bread and served in individual portions. Paired with your family’s favorite sides, it’s an easy dinner recipe that makes everyone happy!
Ingredients for Old-Fashioned Meatloaf with Oatmeal and Ketchup
This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pan of old fashioned meatloaf with oatmeal and milk. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Ground beef: I use 85% lean meat.
- Oatmeal: uncooked quick oats are my preference for this dish, since the finer cut helps them blend more easily into the meat mixture. If you use gluten-free oats, it’s a nice way to prepare a gluten free meatloaf, too!
- Onion: for savory flavor.
- Worcestershire sauce: for salty, umami flavor that pairs well with the beef.
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
- Garlic powder and onion powder: for even more savory flavor.
- Milk: soaks the oats so that they act as a binding agent and keep the meatloaf moist.
- Eggs: give the meatloaf structure. Egg is the ingredient that keeps meatloaf from falling apart.
- Ketchup: a classic meatloaf topping.
Why Add Oatmeal to Meatloaf
Most meatloaf and meatball recipes include breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, stuffing mix, cooked rice, or oatmeal. Oatmeal isn’t necessarily better than bread crumbs — any of these will work — so you can certainly substitute oatmeal for breadcrumbs, as you’ll see in this recipe.
Oatmeal and these other fillers help to keep the texture of the meatloaf light, and help to absorb (and therefore retain) more moisture in the meatloaf so that it doesn’t become dry.
Why Use Milk in Meatloaf (the Secret to Moist Meatloaf)
Milk is added to meatloaf to soak the oatmeal. Soaking the breadcrumbs or oats in milk creates a “panade,” which acts as a binding agent and (more importantly) prevents the meatloaf from drying out. The panade is the secret to moist meatloaf! The milk activates the starch in the oatmeal to form a gel. This behaves similarly to a fat by lubricating the meat’s protein fibers and preventing them from becoming tough.
How to Make the Best Meatloaf with Oatmeal
This particular old-fashioned meatloaf with oatmeal comes together with just 10 minutes of prep. It doesn’t get much easier than that for a delicious meal that the whole family will love!
I’ve included detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the overview:
- Combine the Meatloaf Ingredients. In a large bowl, gently mix together the ground beef, oats, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, milk and egg. It’s not glamorous, but I find that it’s best to just get in there and use your hands to mix it all together!
- Transfer the Meat Mixture to a Loaf Pan. Place the ground beef mixture in a greased loaf pan.
- Bake the Meatloaf. Bake the meatloaf (uncovered) in a 350°F oven for about 1 hour.
- Add the Ketchup on Top. Tilt the pan to drain off the grease, and then spread the ketchup on top. Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake for about 10 more minutes.
- Slice and Serve. Allow the meatloaf to sit and rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice the meatloaf into individual portions and serve!
This classic comfort food deserves equally delicious, cozy companions! Here are a few side dishes that go well with meatloaf made with oatmeal:
- Party Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Baked Potato Wedges, 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Easy Potato Salad, or Skin-On Mashed Red Potatoes
- Duke’s Homemade Mac and Cheese, Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese, Crock Pot Mac and Cheese, Stovetop Shells and Cheese, or No-Boil Easy Mac and Cheese
- Jiffy Corn Casserole
- Coleslaw or Vinegar Coleslaw
- Arkansas Green Beans with Bacon or Southern-Style Green Beans
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
- Fried Apples or Baked Apple Slices
- Southern Succotash
- Southern Collard Greens or Sweet and Spicy Collard Greens with Bacon
- Fried Okra or Okra and Tomatoes
- Broccoli and Cheese, Easy Broccoli Casserole, or Broccoli and Rice Casserole
- Creamed Peas
- Apple and Butternut Squash Casserole or Southern Squash Casserole
- Cornbread Stuffing or Sausage Stuffing
- Cast Iron Cornbread, Sour Cream Cornbread, Honey Butter Cornbread, Fluffy Bakery-Style Corn Muffins, Broccoli Cornbread, Southern Cornbread, Jiffy Cornbread with Creamed Corn, Sweet Cornbread, Pumpkin Cornbread, Cake Mix Cornbread, Skillet Cornbread, or Corn Sticks
- 3-Ingredient Sour Cream Muffins
- Pumpkin Bread or Pumpkin Muffins
- Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits, 4-Ingredient Butter Swim Biscuits, 7UP Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Cheese Biscuits, Pumpkin Spice Biscuits, Cheddar Biscuits with Chives and Bacon, or Drop Biscuits
- Wedge Salad, Classic Caesar Salad, House Salad with Candied Pecans, Mixed Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette, or a Green Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Preparation and Storage
- Prep Ahead. You can assemble the meatloaf in advance and keep it covered with plastic wrap or foil in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake, allow the meatloaf to come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.
- Have leftovers? You can freeze the meatloaf before or after cooking. Wrap cooked meatloaf tightly and store in an airtight container 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. Leftover meatloaf is great the next day on a meatloaf sandwich!
- How to Reheat: 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.
- Like meatloaf with cheese? Add a handful of grated cheddar (or other good melting cheese) to the meatloaf mixture.
- Chicken Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal: Use 2 pounds of ground chicken instead of the ground beef. I recommend using ground chicken that has some fat in it (rather than just ground chicken breast) so that the meatloaf doesn’t become too dry.
- Rather than all ground beef, use a 50-50 combination of ground beef and ground pork, ground turkey, or a “meatloaf mix” of ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal.
- Swap out the oatmeal for cornbread crumbs, fresh breadcrumbs, or cracker crumbs (such as saltine crackers).
- Add herbs to the meat mixture, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, chives, parsley, or thyme.
- Add more vegetables to the meatloaf mixture, such as diced bell pepper, celery, or grated carrots. If you don’t want crisp vegetables in your finished meatloaf, you can sauté them in a skillet with butter before adding them to the beef mixture.
- Instead of just ketchup, stir together a small bowl of brown sugar glaze (like this one) to top the meatloaf, or add some mustard to the ketchup glaze as well.
Tips for the Best Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal
- 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.
- Lean ground beef (85%-93% lean) works best in this recipe. You need some fat to keep the meatloaf moist, but you don’t want it to be too greasy.
- Use quick oats in this recipe, since the finer, more processed oatmeal blends right into the meatloaf and you don’t even know that it’s there. You can substitute with old-fashioned rolled oats, but the larger, coarser oats will have more texture in the meatloaf.
- Do not cover the meatloaf while it’s baking.
- The meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F and the juices run clear.
Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Gently combine all ingredients except ketchup in a large bowl.
- Transfer to a greased loaf pan.
- Bake (uncovered) for about 60 minutes, or until meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F and juices run clear. Tilt the pan to drain off the grease; spread ketchup on top, and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.
- Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
- Prep Ahead! You can assemble the meatloaf in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, allow the meatloaf to come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.
- Have leftovers? You can 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 degrees 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.
- Use your hands to gently combine the meatloaf mixture. Be careful not to over-mix the meat, or it will become tough and dry.
- I use 85% lean ground beef, which works well to keep the meatloaf moist and juicy. Leaner ground beef has a tendency to dry out more in the oven.
- I prefer quick oats in this recipe because the oatmeal blends right into the meatloaf and you don’t even know that it’s there. You can substitute with old-fashioned rolled oats, but the larger, coarser oats will have more texture in the meatloaf.
- Like meatloaf with cheese? Add a handful of grated cheddar (or other good melting cheese) to the meatloaf mixture!
- Chicken Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal: Use 2 pounds of ground chicken instead of the ground beef. I recommend using ground chicken that has some fat in it (rather than just ground chicken breast) so that the meatloaf doesn’t become too dry. You can do the same with ground turkey!
- You do not need to cover the meatloaf while it’s baking.
- You’ll know the meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F and the juices run clear.