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The 5 Best Seasonings For Meatloaf

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Rising in popularity in the mid-1950s, meatloaf is considered by many as the ideal American comfort food.

A mainstay at many dinner tables, especially during the holidays, it is a versatile dish that you can spruce up every time using a variety of seasonings and spice blends.

When making the perfect meatloaf, other than its texture and moisture content, the secret to its flavor lies in its seasonings. What started as a basic selection of a few spices has now broadened into a complex variety of flavors.

The flavorful combination of herbs and spices is just what is needed to take the ground beef, pork, or turkey meatloaf to the next level. Sadly, many people face challenges in this regard and have a hard time getting the right flavor.

So, what are the best seasonings for meatloaf? The best meatloaf seasonings consist of a blend of flavorful herbs and spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning. You may also use variations to change up the flavor by using chipotle chili powder or Cajun seasoning.

Read on for our picks of the 5 best spice blends that go well with meatloaf, tips and tricks for seasoning it, and much more!

How To Season A Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a baked dish consisting of minced meat that is cooked and molded into the shape of a loaf.

It can be prepared using a variety of ground meats such as beef, pork, or turkey, and may include chopped vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, and green bell peppers.

There are several recipes for making meatloaf, many of which use regional or cultural ingredients such as Italian seasoning or a ketchup-based glaze.

Also, some recipes call for a single source of ground meat while others call for a proportional blend of ground beef, pork, and turkey.

Meatloaf is often cut into thick slices and served with a side dish or sauce. However, if your meatloaf is properly seasoned, it won’t need extra sides or sauces to help elevate its flavor.

Meatloaf seasoning mix usually consists of spices and dried herbs and can brighten up your meatloaf in an instant.

There are several pre-made meatloaf seasonings available in the market, but if you want to tweak the seasoning according to your taste preference, we suggest you make your own spice blend at home.

To season meatloaf, you must mix your ground meat with the dry seasonings as well as the wet ingredients at the same time. Mix it thoroughly until everything is well combined.

How To Make Meatloaf Seasoning

Making meatloaf seasoning is an incredibly easy process if you have the right ingredients.

You do not require any fancy gadgets and it will not take you more than 5 minutes to prepare it. You can also make a large batch and store it for later use.

Here are step-by-step instructions for making meatloaf seasoning:

  1. Pulse all your whole spices and dried herbs using a food processor or high-speed blender.
  2. Take a medium-sized mixing bowl and combine all the ingredients. Be mindful when adding salt as you wouldn’t want to add too much or too less.
  3. Properly mix all the ingredients using a spoon, making sure it is completely dry and has no moisture on it since it can spoil the seasoning fairly quickly.
  4. Combine the seasoning with your choice of ground meat and store the rest for later use.

The 5 Best Seasonings For Meatloaf

When it comes to meatloaf, certain spice blends work extremely well with ground meat in bringing out its flavor. Here are 5 of the best meatloaf seasonings for you to choose from:

1. Classic Meatloaf Seasoning

This classic meatloaf seasoning creates the perfect meatloaf for weekend dinners and big family gatherings. It is reminiscent of your childhood days and the classic meatloaf flavor loved by all.

Here’s what you’ll need to make classic meatloaf seasoning:

  • Dried mustard
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Dried basil
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

2. Cajun Seasoning

While every Cajun chef has their own spice blend, this classic Cajun seasoning works incredibly well with meatloaf and other similar recipes.

It adds a bit of spice and a whole lot of flavor and is incredibly easy to customize according to your preference.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Cajun seasoning for meatloaf:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Thyme
  • Fennel seed (optional)
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper

3. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is the perfect blend of 5 Mediterranean herbs and it comes together within minutes.

It can be used to season fish and vegetables and you can combine it with your classic meatloaf seasoning to quickly add a Mediterranean flair to your dish.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Italian seasoning for meatloaf:

  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Dried thyme (not ground)
  • Dried sage
  • Dried rosemary

4. Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning is delicious and full of flavor and can be used for so much more than tacos. It pairs wonderfully well with meatloaf and can be adjusted according to your taste and spice tolerance.

Here’s what you’ll need to make taco seasoning for meatloaf:

  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper

5. Chili Seasoning

Another natural blend that is used for meatloaf, grilled meat, roasted veggies, and so much more, chili seasoning can be made at home using a few basic ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need to make taco seasoning for meatloaf:

  • Chili powder (such as ancho chili)
  • Chipotle chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Dried Mexican oregano
  • Garlic powder

Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf Seasoning

Making meatloaf seasoning is incredibly easy. Here are a few useful tips that you can follow to make the best meatloaf seasoning you’ve ever tasted:

  • Adjust the spiciness of the meatloaf seasoning according to your taste preference. You may add cayenne pepper if you want it to be spicier or a bit of brown sugar to make it sweeter.
  • Use kosher salt instead of regular salt since it is easier to control its measurement and you can avoid putting too much or too less in the seasoning.
  • To get the best flavor out of your meatloaf seasoning, mix it with the meat and other wet ingredients before baking the meatloaf.

How To Store Meatloaf Seasoning

You can store your meatloaf seasoning in the same way you would store your other seasoning mixes. Stored properly, it can last for up to 6 months. All you have to do is follow these basic steps to get the most out of it:

  1. Once the seasoning mix is ready, transfer it into an airtight bottle or jar. Try to find a glass container since plastic ones are not suitable for long-term storage.
  2. Keep the bottle of meatloaf seasoning in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and moisture since heat and light speed up the process of it going bad.
  3. Keep an eye on the color of the seasoning, along with its smell. If you notice that they are starting to get dull, discard it and make a fresh batch for your use.

How To Glaze Meatloaf

A good glaze is a crucial part and the final touch to your meatloaf. Although you can experiment with some variations, a classic meatloaf glaze includes:

  • Ketchup or BBQ sauce (or both)
  • Brown sugar
  • Apple cider or red wine vinegar

Here are step-by-step instructions for getting the perfect glaze on your meatloaf masterpiece:

  • Combine the ketchup (or BBQ sauce), brown sugar, and vinegar in a bowl.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F, line a baking sheet with foil, and lightly grease it with some cooking spray.
  • Pile the seasoned meatloaf mixture onto the prepared pan and shape it into a loaf. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It does, however, need to have an even thickness throughout.
  • Spoon the glaze over the meatloaf and bake it for around 40 to 45 minutes until its internal temperature reaches 160°F.
  • Loosely cover it with some foil and let the meatloaf rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Making Meatloaf

Making meatloaf is easy and doesn’t involve any complex steps or ingredients. To get the juiciest, most flavorful meatloaf, here are some of the most common mistakes that you need to avoid:

Using Super Lean Meat

Using lean meat such as ground chicken or turkey can be tricky when making meatloaf since, due to its minimal fat content, it can easily dry out.

To prevent this from happening, consider using a meat blend, such as a combination of beef, veal, pork, or lamb. You may also consider blending your lean meat with about 30% ground pork to keep the meatloaf moist and tender.

Not Seasoning It Properly

Just as with any other type of dish, seasoning is crucial when it comes to making the perfect meatloaf and an improperly seasoned meatloaf will just taste bland.

Therefore, make sure to add a proper amount of seasoning to your ground meat to make it flavorful. Don’t forget to mix it properly with the wet ingredients before baking.

Using Uncooked Vegetables

Vegetables are a wonderful addition to meatloaf and give it extra flavor and texture. It is best, though, to use cooked vegetables instead of raw ones to make the final product more flavorful and tender.

When using onions, carrots, celery, and other vegetables, make sure to lightly sauté them in a bit of olive oil before adding them to the meat. Not only will they turn soft but also add a little more moisture to the meat.

Not Resting The Meat

We know it is difficult to resist the urge to slice, serve, and eat meatloaf, or any other kind of baked item, as soon as it comes out of the oven, but it is very important to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it.

Slicing into the meatloaf without letting it rest will cause the juices to seep out, leaving you with a drier meatloaf. Therefore, it is best to let it rest for 10-15 minutes after it is ready.

Related Questions

Now that you know all about meatloaf seasonings and have tips on how to season it properly, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!

How long should I cook meatloaf?

The ideal time for baking meatloaf is around 40 minutes at 375°F. You will know that it is done when it has reached an internal temperature of 160°F. You can use an instant-read meat thermometer to check this.

What causes meatloaf to fall apart?

Several reasons may cause your meatloaf to fall apart, including the meat mixture, the binding ingredients, the oven temperature, and its resting time.

If it is due to the meat mixture, you may want to add some fat to it or use a mixture of beef and pork.

When it comes to the binding ingredients, you can use egg as a binding agent and breadcrumbs soaked in milk to ensure it retains moisture and doesn’t crumble when baked.

With regard to the oven temperature, don’t bake the meatloaf at a high temperature since it will cause it to cook unevenly and fall apart when cut.

One final tip to help your meatloaf hold its shape is to let it rest for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.

Can you freeze meatloaf?

Yes, you can freeze meatloaf. After cooking, once it has cooled down completely, wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place it in an airtight freezer-safe container (we’d recommend these ones).

To make it more convenient for you when you defrost it, you can slice it up and freeze individual slices on a baking sheet. Once the slices are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

How can you use leftover meatloaf?

If you find yourself with lots of leftover meatloaf, there’s no need to worry since there are plenty of interesting ways you can use it.

Sandwiches are a perfect way to utilize leftover meatloaf. Simply warm the sliced meatloaf in a skillet or microwave, shred it, and add to it your favorite sandwich.

You can also use it in ground beef dishes, such as chili, casserole, beef tacos, beef quesadillas, spaghetti Bolognese, and nachos.

Small pieces of meatloaf also make a great cold appetizer. Simply place it on top of your cocktail bread and garnish it with olives.

For a warm appetizer, you can toast the bread, top it with meatloaf, cheese, and sauce, and quickly heat it in the oven.

If you’re looking for a great video on how to cook meatloaf, make sure to check out this one from the folks over at Babish Culinary Universe!

Up Next: How To Cook Thick Pork Chops


    1. Peg, it seems most recipe measurements, for spices, range from 1 teaspoon, or 1/2 teaspoon, when using approximately 1 lb of ground beef. Which can be adjusted by personal taste, and if more, or less meat is being used.

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