What Temperature Should Meatloaf be Cooked at?

Temperature for Juicy Meatloaf

The meatloaf internal temp is important in ensuring both the quality of your meatloaf and in food safety. Properly understanding and taking the temperature with meat thermometers for meatloaf is an essential skill in creating a tasty, moist meatloaf. Let’s follow us to get it!


What is Meatloaf?

Meatloaf is a classic, family dish made from ground meat. You can use any meat to make meatloaf or even make a vegetarian version of meatloaf without any meat at all.

Meatloaf has been enjoyed by families since ancient Rome, where the dish resembled scrapple. The dish began to take its modern form in the late 19th century when it began to appear in American cookbooks.

During the great depression, families used meatloaf to stretch their food budget by mixing inexpensive meat with spices and grains. Since then, meatloaf has gained an elevated status in American cuisine. In 2007, Good Housekeeping listed meatloaf as America’s 7th favorite food.


What Makes a Good and Moist Meatloaf?

Everyone wants to make good and moist meatloaf, but not everyone can understand and make it.

1. Fat

Actually, the main factor in your meatloaf’s juiciness is its fat content. When fat is heated, it melts as fat oil and lubricates to the meat muscle fibers, helping to keep the meatloaf moist. Therefore, making a moist meatloaf depends on how much fat is in the meatloaf and how well the meatloaf retains the fat.

fat meat for meatloaf

2. Animals Age

The second factor will affect the meatloaf good and moist is the age of the animals which are the meat from. As we all know, the older the animals, the more the meat collagen (connective tissue). The more collagen in meat, the tougher it is to cut and to chew.

3. Cooking Time

There is no doubt that cooking time is also the most important factor to affect meat moist. Take the meat just cooked as a standard, the longer meat is cooked, the more liquid it loses, and the tougher it becomes.

If you can control these factors to your benefit to create a good, moist meatloaf.


Quick and Easy Tips to Make a Perfectly Moist Meatloaf

Cut of Meat

During the baking process, the fat in your meatloaf liquefies to create juices. These juices are the source of moisture in your meatloaf. Regardless of which meat you choose, the ratio of fat to lean meat will determine how moist your meatloaf becomes. Your meat should have 80% meat to 20% fat for the best results. Ground chuck has this ratio and is commonly used in meatloaf for that reason. While some chefs use meat with higher fat content, that can make the greasy.

Shaping

A tightly packed meatloaf takes longer to cook, leading to a dry final result. You should loosely pack your meatloaf just enough so that it stays together. You should also avoid overmixing your meatloaf, as this can lead to a tough, dry texture.

Using a Meat Thermometer

You should cook your meatloaf at 325°F. Cooking the meatloaf at higher temperatures can lead it to dry out. You should use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meatloaf. If you rely on cooking time to ensure your meatloaf is fully cooked, you risk over or undercooking it, either leading to a dry, tough meatloaf, or a food safety hazard.

Vegetables

Adding your favorite diced vegetables to your meatloaf will add flavor and make the loaf juicier. Cook the vegetables before adding them to your mix, so that they have a soft texture, making them uniform with the rest of the meatloaf.

Filling

The breadcrumbs, oatmeal, or other fillings that you include in the meatloaf will soak up the extra juices. When there is not enough filling in the meatloaf, the extra juices drain away leaving the meatloaf dry. You can soak your starch in milk or broth before adding it to make your meatloaf extra moist without making it taste greasy.
meatloaf resize


How to Ensure the Inside of the Meatloaf is Fully Cooked

The only way to be sure that your meatloaf is fully cooked inside is to use a meat thermometer. Because you do not want to risk overcooking your meatloaf, you should use the kind of meat thermometer that can stay inside the meatloaf through the duration of the cooking.

If you do not already have a meat thermometer, try looking for a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer. The company offers a wide variety of meat thermometers, including a wireless meat thermometer. Using this kind of thermometer, stick the probe into the center of the meatloaf, then use the remote thermometer to monitor the temperature while you are working on other things.

For the best reading, insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meatloaf. The thermometer must go at least a half-inch into the meatloaf to work, but you will most likely need to stick the probe deeper into the meat. Ideally, the probe should reach the innermost part of the meatloaf.

The temperature you cook your meatloaf to depends on the kind of meat you are using. Just as the cooking temperature for pork and turkey are different the internal temp for meatloaf with pork will be different than the internal temp of turkey meatloaf.

Most meat thermometers have settings for both Fahrenheit and Celsius. While most scientists use Celsius for measuring temperature, it is easier for most people in the US to use Fahrenheit. Because you do not always have the option to use either metric, below is the meatloaf cooking temp for Celsius, as well as the temp for Fahrenheit.

Beef: For a beef meatloaf, you should cook the meatloaf to 150°F or 66°C.

Pork: The internal temperature for meatloaf with pork is 160°F or 71°C.

Beef and Pork: The internal temperature for mixed beef and pork meatloaf is 160°F or 71°C.

Turkey: The internal temp of turkey meatloaf should be 165°F or 74°C when it is done.

If you are mixing multiple kinds of meat in your meatloaf, cook the meatloaf to the higher temperature, as that is when the meatloaf is safe to eat. This might make the meatloaf slightly drier, which you can try to offset by using meat with a higher fat content or adding extra vegetables.

You might notice the cooking temperatures for these meatloaves seem a bit high. This is because ground meat can be exposed to harmful bacteria during the grinding process. Ground meat must be cooked to a higher temperature than whole cuts to account for any extra bacteria to which they have been exposed.

Moist meatloaf

The Importance of Internal Temperature

While cooking meat, taking an accurate internal temperature is a matter of safety. Eating undercooked meat puts you at risk of contracting several unpleasant, and sometimes deadly, foodborne illnesses, including E. Coli and Salmonella. These illnesses are especially dangerous for kids.

The CDC recommends using a meat thermometer to check meat temperature before eating anything. You cannot trust the color of the meat to ensure that it is truly done. Some meats change color in reaction to oxygen exposure, making them look done before they are.

Cutting into a piece of meat to check for doneness is not any better. Cutting open any kind of meat to check whether it is done, will release the juices inside of it. Typically, you should let your meat sit for a few minutes before cutting as to pressure its moisture.


How to Reheat Meatloaf

Most meatloaves are more than a single-family can eat in a night, so you are likely to have leftovers. Reheated meatloaf can turn out dry if it is not properly reheated. Luckily are several ways to reheat meatloaf while preserving its moisture.

If you have the time, you should try to bake or steam your meatloaf to heat it up. To bake it, put it in a pan with a tablespoon of beef broth or water, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes at 250°F. Because it has already been cooked once you do not need to worry about the internal temperature. For an extra moist meatloaf, steam the leftovers in a steamer basket or over a pan of water.

If you do not have that much time or you are heating up your meatloaf at work, you can heat it up in a microwave. To do this, put your meatloaf in a microwave-safe container with the lid slightly ajar. Leaving your meatl0af uncovered will allow all the moisture to escape and leave you a crumbly meatloaf. For extra moisture, you can lay a damp paper towel on top of the meatloaf.

An iconic comfort food, meatloaf always feels like home even though it is eaten all over the world. It is a forgiving dish that fits any occasion. You can eat it hot or cold, in summer or in winter, at a barbecue or at a fancy dinner party. It is a versatile meal, sure to make everyone happy.

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