Once you know how to identify an uncooked meatloaf. As well as understanding the best cooking time to follow. You won’t need a thermometer to be certain its fully cooked.
Remove the meatloaf from the pan after baking. Check the color of any liquids in the pan, make sure they aren’t pink or red. Then place meatloaf onto a dry serving plate and gently press down the meatloaf in order to release any juices. If the liquid is clear then the meatloaf is fully cooked.
Read More: How To Freeze Meatloaf The Right Way
How To Tell When Meatloaf Is Done
Under cooked meatloaf is going to still consist of raw meat. So you wan’t to ensure the beef and or beef, pork mixture is cooked entirely.
The hard part can be knowing if your meatloaf is cooked all the way through. As mentioned on giveaway is going to be any liquids coming out of the meatloaf.
It isn’t enough now to make sure the liquids are clear. Which used to be a standard rule for ensuring meats are done enough for safe consumption.
This rule has changed especially when it comes to cooking beef. Because the liquids may not run clear, but it still remains that they should no longer run pink or red (Source).
Further you will want to view the inside of the meatloaf and look for color in the actual texture. Again making sure the beef is no longer appears red. The inside of your meatloaf should be brown all the way through.
A little bit of pink in your meatloaf is okay and safe to eat. Beef can remain pink even after cooking to a proper temperature due to excess nitrates. Typically these excess nitrates are coming from the other foods present in the meatloaf recipe, such as vegetables or other meats.
So this will involve simply slicing out a piece and seeing for yourself how the appearance looks.
Another method is to gently press the top or sides of the meatloaf. When it is fully cooked it should spring back to its original shape. Raw meat will instead remain slightly indented where you pressed down.
Meatloaf Cooking Tips
One of the best tips for making a good meatloaf is to ensure it turns out more moist than dry. Having a meatloaf that comes out too dry is a fairly common mistake that can be easily avoidable.
One trick to keep the meatloaf nice and moist is to simply add in water. Be careful not to add in too much though, around 3/4 cup of water per two pounds of beef is sufficient.
Add in your water as you mix your ground beef and other ingredients in a bowl. Its best to add in a little at time rather than dumping in too much.
Tip: You have enough moisture in your meatloaf mix when it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Carmalize your vegetables before adding them into your meatloaf. Doing this before will help give them more flavor. As sometimes baking the meatloaf alone is not enough time for the veggies to cook enough.
When caramelizing you can add water on top of already caramelized onions. This not only helps to cool them down before adding them into the beef, but the water turns into a broth you can use to add more flavor to your meatloaf.
Tip: Never over pack your meatloaf, loosely shape the meatloaf. This will help it cook faster and not turn out tough.
Before cooking your meatloaf you taste test how the flavor is going to turn out. To do you are going to simply fry up a small amount of meat in a pan. This will give you a good idea of how the meatloaf is going to taste.
Take out a bite size amount of uncooked but mixed and seasoned meatloaf meat. Cook it up on the stove in a small pan and give it a taste. Then adjust your seasonings if needed.
How Long To Cook Meatloaf
Generally the best cooking time for meatloaf is to go 60 minutes at 350° F. Larger meatloaf’s can go for about 1 hour 20 minutes.
A general rule of thumb for cooking time is 30 – 40 minutes per pound of meat at 350°.
You can cook your meatloaf faster by using a higher oven temperature. But you want to be careful of burning the edges. When cooking at 400° F go for 40 – 50 minutes.
Tip: Cooking meatloaf at higher temperatures does not really make any difference other than the time it takes.
350° is a common temperature for most foods because it’s a perfect middle ground between too hot and not hot enough.
It also has to do with the Maillard Reaction which is a chemistry term and what is responsible for browning in foods.
Instead of depending so much on oven temperature and cooking time. Use your senses to better judge how your food is cooking and when its done. You can usually begin to smell something when its really done cooking.
Also visually you should be able to tell when a meatloaf is fully cooked.
Internal Temperature For Meatloaf
You want the internal temperature of the meatloaf to reach 165° Fahrenheit (71° Celsius). Even if you are using different types of meat in combination, like pork and beef.
165° is the safest temperature to ensure your meat is fully cooked throughout. But some people might prefer their meatloaf to not be as done. If this is the case then aim for 155° F.
Remember to check the innermost section of the meatloaf when using a thermometer. The reason being is you want to measure the part that takes the longest to cook.
If the middle of the meatloaf is up to temperature. Then the rest is going to be done enough as well. The edges are going to get done faster than the very middle.
If you used a loaf pan then just stick your thermometer straight down into the middle and center. Make sure not to go to far where the pans heat will effect the reading.
If you cooked your meatloaf laid out onto a baking pan. Then you can slide the thermometer in sideways towards the center.
Best Meatloaf Pan
If you haven’t gotten yourself a good meatloaf pan. Then you really should check out these awesome ones available on Amazon. They’re the ones you see is so many cooking videos and shows.
They are very inexpensive (Less than $20!). The bottom of the pan has a perforated grease draining tray.
One thing I dislike about meatloaf is having a greasy and slimy bottom.
Not with these meatloaf pans! You will have a meatloaf that is crispy on top and bottom.
Check them out on Amazon here.