No matter how old you get, there is always going to be that one bad day that will make you crave comfort food.
For us, one of the most comforting meals is a delicious meatloaf.
When you add cheese to that already homey and hearty meal, it just makes everything a little bit better.
However hard your day has been, this cheesy meatloaf recipe will feel like a warm hug to your heart.
Meatloaf is a pretty common dinner for lots of people growing up, particularly because it’s so easy to make, the ingredients are easy to find, and it can have so many variations.
Brown or white gravy?
Ketchup or barbecue sauce?
Plain and naked??
Your mom or grandma no doubt made it in her very own style and flair.
In fact, meatloaf is arguably THE quintessential American comfort food.
Most households have their easy meatloaf recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.
With this particular recipe, you can make it in small or large batches, or make it well ahead of time and it’ll still be just as good as when you made it right before serving time.
As you might have noticed, this recipe calls for oatmeal.
The oatmeal is great for retaining moisture and preventing the meatloaf from drying out while cooking.
The cooking time of a meatloaf will vary depending on the size and weight of the meatloaf.
It will also largely depend on the type of pan that you’re going to use and how you’re going to spread out the meatloaf inside.
Let’s try two different examples: using a loaf tin and using a shallow baking dish.
With a loaf tin, the sides of the tin are high and the meatloaf is going to be packed inside thickly.
This means that the heat is going to take a little bit more time to penetrate through the meat and cook it through completely.
Thus for a standard 2 lb. loaf tin (8 x 4 x 3 inches approx), your meatloaf will need around 30-40 minutes to cook through at 350°F.
On the other hand, if you’re going to use a baking dish, the area inside the dish is going to be wider and more shallow compared to a loaf tin.
When you shape your meatloaf inside, you’re going to spread it more thinly (around 2 inches approximately), and it will only take around 15-20 minutes for your meatloaf to cook in a 350°F oven.
What is meatloaf?
A meatloaf is a dish that’s made with ground meat (such as beef, pork, or poultry, or a combination) mixed with various ingredients and spices, shaped into a loaf or pressed into a loaf pan or baking dish, and baked.
What goes with meatloaf?
Meatloaf is pretty hearty and filling on its own, so you want to pair it with dishes that can complement the savory flavor, give it a textural boost, or lighten the flavor on your palate.
For sides, you can choose traditional complements to meat such as mashed potatoes or carrot fries.
Meat and potatoes are a classic combination, and carrot fries can add a sweet element to your meal. (A healthier finger-food option for kids, too!)
If you’re looking for a bit of texture contrast, choose vegetables! Roasted cauliflower or coleslaw can provide a fresh and crunchy contrast to your meatloaf.
Finally, adding a sauce or dip can lighten the heft of meatloaf, especially in a recipe like this bumps up the umami flavor with the addition of cheese.
Vinegar-based sauces or barbecue sauces can add a tangy note to cut through the heaviness of the dish.
Can you freeze meatloaf?
Yes, you can freeze meatloaf, provided that you take some steps to protect the dish.
The dish can be fully cooked, or raw and ready to cook.
Either way, you need to wrap the meatloaf tightly in foil or cling wrap to protect it from freezer burn and prevent the meat from drying out.
Once you are ready to cook the meatloaf, simply let it thaw in the fridge (it’s best if you take it out of the freezer the night before you want to cook it).
How to reheat meatloaf?
The trick to reheating meatloaf quickly without drying it out is to place a cover on the meatloaf to keep the moisture in.
If you’re using an oven, place tin foil over the meatloaf in your baking tin or dish.
If you’re using a microwave, you can either sprinkle the meatloaf with water or wet some parchment paper and cover the meatloaf.
If you’re using a frying pan, add some water into the hot pan and cover it with a lid to steam the meatloaf through.
How to make meatloaf moist?
There are a couple of ways to ensure that your meatloaf is moist.
First: You can use fatty cuts of meat, such as veal or pork. If you’re using leaner meat like turkey or lean beef, you can add chopped bacon.
Second: Don’t skimp on ingredients that add moisture, such as eggs and tomato sauce (like this recipe uses).
What should the internal temperature of meatloaf be?
The internal temperature range for the safety of meatloaf is from 155 to 160⁰F.
If you cook meatloaf regularly, you might consider investing in an instant-read meat thermometer.
It takes away all the pain of guessing!
How to tell if meatloaf is done?
As mentioned above, the best and most direct way is to use a meat thermometer.
In some cases, you can use sight and touch, although this requires that you have a lot of experience cooking meatloaf.
What’s more, if you’re using cuts like chicken and pork that absolutely need to be cooked through, the thermometer is your best bet.
My grandma used to poke a butterknife in the middle (like a cake) and if the center juices ran clear, it was done.
Why does my meatloaf fall apart?
There are several reasons why your meatloaf is falling apart.
First, it might not have enough binding ingredients holding everything together.
In this recipe, the binding ingredients are the eggs and the oatmeal.
Second, your meatloaf might be overcooked!
Overcooked meatloaf tends to be dry and crumbly, which is why you need to follow the directions to ensure that your dish doesn’t dry out in the oven.
Finally, you might be slicing it too early.
After cooking, you should let the meatloaf rest for a few minutes to let the juices distribute and give the binding agents a chance to cool and “solidify” the meatloaf.
Easy Cheesy Meatloaf Recipe With Oatmeal
This is a great recipe choice for busy parents who don’t have a lot of time to cook, parents who want to introduce their kids to cooking, or people who want something that will still taste great even after being frozen and reheated.
The recipe is simple: mix the ingredients together, shape them into a loaf, and pop into the oven until done.
What’s more, you can even make an extra loaf and store it in the freezer for a quick meal.
The added cheese will be a delightful surprise for your dinner guests! Imagine cutting into this meatloaf fresh from the oven and seeing the little pockets of gooey melted cheese.
It’s getting us hungry just thinking about it!
- 2 ½ lbs of ground chuck
- 1 c. of cheddar cheese
- 1 small onion
- 1 small bell pepper
- 1 ½ c. of oatmeal
- 1 t. each of salt and black pepper
- ¼ t. of dried thyme
- ¼ t. of garlic powder
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 can of tomato paste
- A knob of butter or margarine to grease the loaf pans
- Preheat your oven to 350⁰F.
- While your oven is preheating, prepare your other ingredients. Grate your cheddar cheese (we like to use a rough grate so that you get bigger bits of melted cheese). Finely chop your onion and bell pepper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ground chuck, cheese, onion, bell pepper, thyme, garlic, and oatmeal until well-blended.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together the beaten eggs, and the tomato paste until thoroughly combined. Add to the meat mixture and blend well until thoroughly combined.
- Using your hands, press the meat mixture into two greased 4×8-inch loaf pans.
- Bake uncovered for one hour.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
While the recipe is recommended for 12 people, you can treat it more as a guide rather than a rule. There’s really no “fixed” serving size when it comes to meatloaf; it will all depend on your appetite. Plus, with a delicious recipe like this one, we won’t be surprised if those two pans end up feeding less than 12 people.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 363Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 382mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 31g
What if I don’t have oatmeal?
You can use binders that soak up moisture, such as bread or croutons.
You can simply tear up the bread with your hands, soak it in milk or stock, and it will work the same as oatmeal.
You can also use bread crumbs, but bread crumbs won’t work as well as a way to retain moisture because it will go mushy and soggy when soaked.
As a binder, however, bread crumbs work fine. If you’re going to use bread crumbs, you might consider adding a bit of milk or stock to the meat mixture itself.
1/3 cup will do just fine for this recipe.
Add the glaze
Since the recipe calls for cooking the meatloaf uncovered, you might find that the top of the meatloaf can get a bit dry.
You can prevent that by adding a simple glaze to the meatloaf.
Turn your oven up to 400F. Then mix together some ketchup, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Brush on the glaze after the meatloaf is cooked and place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes at 400⁰F.
The glaze will not only moisten the surface of the meatloaf, it will also create a tangy and caramelized layer!