This Mini Meatloaf recipe is such an easy way to make melt-in-your-mouth tender, SUPER juicy meatloaves in a fraction of the time! Using oats instead of breadcrumbs makes them healthier and gluten-free. The best part: these individually sized meatloaves are freezable so you can enjoy one, two, or eight at a time!
Where did meatloaf get such a bad reputation? It’s AMAZING! It’s like a big fluffy meatball or burger without the bun. Comfort food at its finest. What’s not to like? On its own, with ketchup, in a sandwich, with gravy… there are so many possibilities for such a simple supper.
And when the meatloaf is made mini, it’s extra amazing. Why?
- Not only do they taste amazing, they are also so adorable!
- They are extremely quick and easy to assemble- with only about 10 minutes of prep time.
- They can be made in bulk and frozen individually for really easy meals for one or two.
- Because they are small, they take half the cooking time of traditional meatloaf (only 25 minutes!)
- Meatloaf is already an inexpensive meal to make, and by making the mini loaves, it’s a little easier to make it go a bit further (and prevent you from going in for too many helpings).
- You only need 6 ingredients besides salt and pepper!
Have I convinced you yet? Good.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground Beef – I recommend 80/20 for the juiciest meatloaf, but lean will work too, as well as ground turkey, ground chicken, or a mix of ground beef and sausage.
- Onion – I recommend grating it on a box grater for the best results (so no big chunks of onion interrupting the texture).
- Quick Oats – old fashioned rolled oats can also be used, as well as breadcrumbs if you prefer (see recipe notes below for specifics).
- Milk – I used whole milk, but you can use lower fat, or plant-based for a dairy free option. I’ve also made this recipe omitting the milk entirely and it still comes out great.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
- Soy Sauce – you can use more salt instead, but the soy sauce adds a little something-something. Use gluten free soy sauce or liquid aminos if necessary.
- Ketchup – for topping. This is optional. You can also use bbq sauce to top the meatloaf.
How to make mini meatloaves
- First, MIX the panade in a large bowl. “Panade” is just a fancy word for the base of the meatloaf (or meatballs) minus the meat. In this recipe, it includes milk, quick oats, salt, pepper, soy sauce, grated onion (and its juices), and eggs.
- Then, ADD the ground beef. I recommend mixing it with your hands for even distribution.
- DIVIDE the mixture into 8 equal parts. I recommend pressing on the surface into the bottom of the bowl, then using a knife to cut 8 equal wedges, kind of like a cake, to ensure they’re evenly sized.
- FORM the meatloaves with your hands into 8 rounded oval shapes. Place on a buttered rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish, if baking right away (see below for freezing instructions).
- BRUSH with ketchup or bbq sauce, if you like.
- BAKE at 400 degrees for 25 minutes (or until internal temperature is 160 degrees F.).
How to freeze the meatloaves
After you’re done forming the mini meatloafs, you can wrap them tightly in plastic wrap like a burrito and stick them in your freezer.
Before baking, make sure they’re fully defrosted. I like to unwrap them when they’re frozen, place on a buttered baking dish or casserole dish, cover with foil, and place in the fridge to defrost. Then I can just top them off with ketchup and stick them in the oven- no unwrapping necessary!
For a plastic wrap free option, you can flash freeze freeze the meatloaves on a baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then transfer the meatloaves on a larger container or bag and take them out to cook as needed.
Can I make them bigger?
Sure! Form 4 or 6 loaves instead of 8 for a heartier portion size. Just make sure to cook for a little longer.
You can also put them in mini loaf pans instead of a baking sheet.
And, you can double the recipe to stock your freezer or feed a crowd. Or, cut it in half if you’re cooking for one or two.
Other easy ground beef recipes
- Easy Shepherd’s Pie
- Easy Baked All-Beef Meatballs
- Southwestern Veggie-Packed Turkey Meatloaf.
- Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
- Greek Meatballs (Keftedes) with Herb Butter
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- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or grease a rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, add the grated onion, quick oats (1 cup), milk (1/2 cup), 2 eggs, kosher salt (1 teaspoon), black pepper (1/2 teaspoon), and soy sauce (2 teaspoons) and mix until well combined. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes while the oats absorb some of the moisture.
- Add the ground beef (2 lbs.) to the bowl. Mix well- for best results, use hands.
- Divide the mixture into eight parts and form them into loaf shapes. (I like to flatten the mixture in the bowl and use a knife to portion it out into 8 "wedges," kind of like slicing a cake, to get even amounts).
- At this point, you can wrap the mini meatloaves in plastic wrap or flash freeze to store in the freezer, or refrigerate until you're ready to bake (see notes for more info on this). Otherwise, proceed to cooking.
- Place the mini meatloaves on the prepared baking sheet or casserole dish (as many as you want to cook – if frozen, defrost completely before cooking). Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes (or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees).
- This recipes yields 8 mini meatloaves. For a smaller batch, the recipe is easily cut in half. To feed a crowd, it’s easily doubled.
- For a larger portion/serving size, make 6 meatloaves from the mixture instead of 8 and bake for a few minutes longer.
- Make-ahead / freezer directions: After all the loaves have been formed, wrap the ones you don’t want to cook right away like burritos in plastic wrap. They can be kept in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to cook, or freezer for up to 6 months. Before cooking, make sure you defrost in the fridge for at least 24 hours to fully unfreeze the meat, otherwise you risk overcooking the outside and undercooking the inside.
- Ingredient substitutions: Old-fashioned oats can be used instead of quick (let them sit for a couple minutes longer in the milk/egg mixture). 3/4 cup breadcrumbs may be used instead of oats. Lean ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground lamb, or a mix of ground beef/sausage can be used (they will be a little less juicy with leaner meats). Milk can be omitted or replaced with a plant-based milk for a dairy-free version. 1/2 teaspoon more salt can be used in place of soy sauce.
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious on September 23, 2014. It has been republished with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and more pertinent information.