At What Temperature is Meatloaf Done? Complete Guide

Meatloaves don’t need much introduction as they’re well known for being the traditional food at family dinners. And, when you cook a meatloaf, it’s done at 160 degrees internal temperature.  

This meaty goodness is uncomplicated to be the best centerpiece at the meal table, but sometimes it can be a dry and crumbly disaster at the dinner table that no one tries a second time. It all depends on if your meatloaf is done or not.

Even though it’s a classic and straightforward dish, you can screw it up in many ways. We’ll discuss the correct internal temperature so that not only is it fully cooked but also juicy and tender! You’ll have excellent results every time!

What Temperature is Meatloaf Done? Meat to Meat Variations Discussed.

The internal temperature must be 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71 degrees Celsius, but that’s for ground beef; let’s look at meatloaves with other composing meats like turkey or chicken.

What should be the Classic Meatloaf Internal Temperature when Done?

Classic meatloaf is made from a mixture of two types of meat, beef and pork. You should cook them at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. Afterward, aim for an internal temperature reading of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

What temperature is Turkey Meatloaf Done?

When cooking a turkey meatloaf, the internal temperature should be slightly higher than just ground beef or classic meatloaf. The ideal internal temperature for this meatloaf is about 164 degrees Fahrenheit. Not a big difference, but it’s necessary to make it safe.

Turkey meatloaf needs to be cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour and 15 minutes.

What Should be the Chicken Meatloaf Internal Temperature when Done?

Chicken meatloaf needs to be cooked at a higher temperature and for longer. Preheat the oven to about 365 degrees Fahrenheit and place your meatloaf inside. Bake it for about 80 minutes.

The temperature inside must be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to eat.

What are the Different Temperatures for Cooking a meatloaf?

Meatloaves vary in sizes, 1 lb, 2 lb, and even bigger ones such as 3lb and 4lb! Likewise, you can cook meatloaves at different temperatures: 300, 350, 375, 400, and even 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The deciding factor is the size; higher temperatures are better for bigger meatloaves.

Why do cooking times and temperatures vary so much?

The cooking times for meatloaves depend on many factors, such as

  • The type of oven, if it’s gas or electric.
  • The density, the type of meat, leanness, and texture of your meat mixture determine the thickness of your meatloaf.
  • If you use denser veggies in your meatloaf, the mixture will be thicker and, thus, a long time and temperature.

Therefore, you should always soften or caramelize veggies such as carrots and onions; believe me, it’ll work wonders for your meatloaf.

How Can You Check if your Meatloaf is Done?

The best way to tell if your meatloaf is done is to check its internal temperature. A meat probe is a must for this purpose. You can quickly check the internal temperature of the meatloaf by just inserting the probe inside the middle of your meatloaf after the desired time. 

The meatloaf’s doneness can’t be determined just by the timer, and if you want to catch it the minute before it overcooks and all the delicious juices dry up, you need to monitor it constantly.

 The exact internal temperature that your meatloaf should hit is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When the internal temperature of your meatloaf has reached this temperature, it’s ready and safe to eat.

After reaching 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you should rest it, and when the temperature drops to 155 degrees, you can remove it from the oven. The best way is to use the probe and when you notice that the temperature hasn’t reached 160 degrees yet, just let it bake for a little longer.

It’s also acceptable if the meatloaf’s internal temperature goes slightly above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but don’t let it get too high.

How Can You Check Meatloaf for Doneness Without an Instant-read Thermometer?

Although having an instant read thermometer is a must, yet if you don’t have it on you for some reason, there are ways you can check if the meatloaf is ready manually in many ways. They aren’t that accurate.

Using a metal cake tester

Take your metal cake tester and insert it right into the center of the meatloaf until it’s in the very middle. Take the tester and press it against your wrist; if you feel it’s hot or warm, your meatloaf is likely done.

If you have the slightest uncertainty in your mind and feel that it’s not warm or cool, it needs to cook for longer.

Use a fork

This method is similar to a cake tester; you can even use a knife and insert it into the middle until it reaches the center. Take it out and feel it against your wrist; if it’s not hot enough and cool, then you need to continue cooking it.

Follow the recipe instructions.

If you go this way, you won’t even need to check if it’s done or not. You can just follow the recipe word for word, and it would be easy to finish things up. 

For example, the recipe calls for cooking a 2lb meatloaf at 400 for about an hour; if you prepared the ingredients properly with the right amount, things should be fine.

It’s common to find folks making their traditional recipe meatloaves with recipes that have been handed down and perfected for generations and making it the same way each time. If you know what you’re doing, things will turn out according to plan.

Although there can be some unexpected problems, such as your oven baking unevenly and other environmental factors, that’s unlikely. You’ll probably be golden!

Use your finger

Okay, this is probably the least effective way to check your meatloaf doneness as it only tells you about the outside, but we’ll explain it anyway. Press your finger against the outside of your meatloaf, and if it’s firm, it’s likely done.

Another way families have traditionally used to check the meatloaf doneness for a long time is to poke your finger inside the meatloaf to test how it is. There is a risk of burning yourself this way; in addition, it’s unhygienic. I wouldn’t want to eat a meatloaf that has had people poke it… ew!

If you go for bare hands, please don’t forget to wash your hands. You don’t want to contaminate it! When you poke the meatloaf, it should be easy to penetrate; if it’s not, it’s not cooked yet.

Or you can also first wear your sanitized bbq gloves.

How can you Make the Perfectly Moist Meatloaf – Recipe

Now you know how to check for doneness using different ways; let’s look at how the meatloaf is made!

Ingredients

  • A tablespoon of butter.
  • Half minced onion.
  • One clove of minced garlic.
  • Half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Half a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.
  • 1lb of 85-95% lean ground beef.
  • Bread crumbs from ½ a slice of toasted bread.
  • Seven crushed buttery round crackers.
  • One lightly beat egg.
  • Two tablespoons of sour cream.
  • 1 ½ tbsp of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Fifteen ounces (1 can) of divided tomato sauce.
  • ¼ cup of milk.
  • 2 tbsp of ketchup.

Preparing the meatloaf

  • Liquify the butter in a pan on medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic until they’re translucent, which takes 5 minutes. Remove skillet and season with salt and pepper.
  • Combine the beef with it, add breadcrumbs and crackers, and mix until everything is evenly distributed.
  • Then add the binding agents, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato sauce.
  • Mix until well combined, add the milk one tsp at a time until it’s moist, and then transfer to the meatloaf pan.

What about the glaze sauce?

You need these ingredients,

  • ½ cup of ketchup
  • 1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • ½ tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp of dried onion powder

Mix the sugar into the sauce until you have a smooth mixture, and then add the remaining ingredients. Mix until it’s smooth. Add salt and pepper according to how much you like it at the end.

Baking the meatloaf

  • Although you can bake meatloaf at a range of temperatures, our meatloaf is 2lb, so we’ll bake it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and put the loaf pan inside.
  • Glaze the sauce on top of the cooked meatloaf and then close the oven. 
  • Let it bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, then check for doneness. If done, your meatloaf is ready to be served with your favorite sides like mashed potatoes or baked cheese.

What will a Perfectly Done Meatloaf Taste Like?

The perfectly tender meatloaf will be delicious! The meat will be entirely done while still being moist and juicy simultaneously! If you undercook it, it won’t be very safe to eat. 

If you cook meatloaf or monger period (overcook it), not only can it burn, but it’ll also be scorched inside, and you won’t be able to swallow it!

What Makes a Good Meatloaf?

As in most baked goods, knowing the meatloaf’s internal temperature is a crucial step in creating the best meatloaf ever. The meat should be damp but not wet or soggy, which is done not only through proper temperature control but also through the use of binders.

What are binders, you ask? They are eggs, milk, or breadcrumbs, agents that keep the meat together and help retain moisture in your meatloaf such that it’s juicy even after the cooking process.

Dry meatloaf isn’t enjoyable; thus, temperature control is vital; on the flip side, no one likes a soggy mess. The second situation also occurs when there is too much fat in the meat you use. 

Once you have the perfect meatloaf, it should slice and not crumble into tiny pieces. This is made possible by properly mixing the ingredients to retain their shape during and after the cooking process.

FAQs

Why do we put milk inside the meatloaf?

Milk gives moisture to the breadcrumbs; that’s why it’s essential. You can also use a dairy-free substitute. Otherwise, your meatloaf won’t be as good.

How long should you cook different sizes of meatloaf at 375?

  • 30-35 minutes for a 1lb meatloaf.
  • 35-40 minutes for a 1.5lb meatloaf.
  • 45-50 minutes for a 2lb meatloaf.
  • An hour for 3lb meatloaf.
  • One hour and 15 minutes for a 4lb meatloaf.

Why isn’t it the center of my meatloaf cooking?

There is no way that your meatloaf should remain undercooked in the middle except that the oven temperature is not right or your instant meat thermometer is not accurate. 

To cook your meatloaf fully, you must cook it for 45 to 55 minutes. During the time, brush it twice with the remaining 1/4 cup of glaze sauce throughout baking, and keep cooking until an instant-read thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Can I eat meatloaf medium rare?

Meatloaf is not steak; the ground meat has been exposed to the environment and is more vulnerable to microbes. You might think that eating pink meat is the same as eating a steak; however, it’s not safe. You can only eat a meatloaf if it has attained an internal temperature of 160 degrees. No matter what color it is, though, it will be brown.  

How can I fix an undercooked meatloaf?

Bad luck can happen as soon as you start slicing the meatloaf; you can see it pink and undercooked. The good news is that you can fix it. 

Place the meat in an oiled roasting pan or Dutch oven, pour a few tablespoons of stock/sauce over it, and cover it with aluminum foil. Put this meatloaf in the oven for baking for at least 20 minutes or until it’s done.

Is it safe to touch the meatloaf?

As told earlier in this article, you may test its softness/toughness by touching it. However, this is dangerous since you can burn your fingertips if you aren’t used to being in the kitchen. In terms of meat contamination, all germs from fingers will be burned at high temperatures. So, they won’t be transferred to your meatloaf. But, it’s advisable to wear meat gloves before checking it.

Is it safe to eat leftover meatloaf left outside?

No, according to the USDA, edibles left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours must be thrown. Bacteria grow quite quickly at room temperature, and eating such meatloaf can make you sick. 

Reheating the meatloaf that has been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours will not keep germs at bay. So, either refrigerate the meatloaf or don’t use the meatloaf left overnight.

Final Thoughts

It’s not a super complicated process to check for the doneness of a meatloaf. Using an instant-read thermometer probe is the most reliable way to do this, as you can simply poke it and get an instant reading in a couple of seconds.  

We hope we have helped you make the most delicious meatloaf that everyone will enjoy! 

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