This slow cooker meatloaf is moist and flavorful and topped with a simple homemade barbeque sauce. This recipe has been adapted from my Mother-in-law’s recipe for “Family Favorite Meatloaf” and has been literally that, a family favorite! This recipe is easy to make in the crockpot and cooks very nicely between 4-6 hours, however, the meatloaf can also be baked in the oven (instructions in the recipe card). If you prefer a spicier meatloaf you may also enjoy Cheryl’s sausage meatloaf. Some of our favorite sides for this slow cooker meatloaf are Roasted ranch potatoes or Amish style mashed potatoes .
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The Best Slow Cooker Meatloaf
- crockpot (linked below)
- Mixing bowls (linked below)
- Whisk (linked below)
- Aluminum Foil (linked below)
- 2 pounds lean ground beef *see note
- 1 cup fine bread crumbs *see note
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup diced onion
For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
- Place the ground beef, milk, bread crumbs, eggs, salt, pepper and diced onion into a large mixing bowl. Massage the meatloaf well to combine all the ingredients. *see note below.
- Combine the ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate for later. (you can also combine the sauce when ready to use.)
- Shape the meat mixture into a loaf and place into a foil lined, 6-7 quart slow crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees.
- Drain the grease from the meatloaf, using the foil, then add the sauce and allow it to warm back up for 20-30 minutes. Broiler method: Remove the fully cooked meatloaf from the crockpot, then drain the grease and transfer the meatloaf to a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the top of the meatloaf and broil at 400 for several minutes until the sauce is sticky.
To bake the meatloaf:
- Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare the meatloaf as instructed above and place into a baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees. Pour sauce over the meatloaf at the last ten minutes of baking.
- 7 quart crockpot I prefer to use a large crockpot for cooking the meatloaf as large crockpots tend to cook hotter than smaller crockpots and are ideal for a big meatloaf such as this one *see note below if you prefer to halve the meatloaf.
- Mixing bowls A medium sized mixing bowl is useful for mixing up the meatloaf ingredients and a smaller mixing bowl works well for the sauce.
- Whisk I prefer to use wire handled whisks, because I have had problems with plastic or metal handled whisks leaking dirty water into food.
- Aluminum foil Aluminum foil makes removing the grease from the crockpot so much easier! Use enough foil to create a bowl of sorts with extra foil for handles on the sides.
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Ingredients needed: Eggs, ground beef, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, onions, salt, pepper and whole milk.
Step 1: Combine the meat loaf ingredients by massaging it well with your hands to incorporate the ingredients.
Massaging the meat for meatloaf or meatballs gives them the best texture, because it incorporates the egg, milk and bread crumbs into the meat more thoroughly. If the thought of handling raw meat is unappetizing to you, feel free to use gloves or just give it a thorough mix with a spoon.
Step 2: Mix the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard for the meatloaf sauce.
If you wish to do as much prep ahead of time as possible, the sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Simply give the sauce a stir and then pour it over the meatloaf when ready to use. If you prefer to mix the sauce later when the meatloaf is cooked, you can do that as well.
Step 3: Form the meat mixture into a loaf and place into a large 6-7 quart crockpot lined in foil. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours until the internal temperature reaches 160.
Why is my meatloaf the right temperature, but still pink?
If the meatloaf reaches 160 but is still a little pink inside, it is still considered safe to eat. The pink color can remain in the meat because of the mixing of carbon monoxide and the myoglobin of the meat. But, be sure to use an accurate meat thermometer and use your best judgement.
Step 4: Drain the grease from the meatloaf (using the foil for handles), then cover the meatloaf in the sauce and either broil the meatloaf and sauce in the oven, or warm the sauce back up in the crockpot.
Can this recipe be halved for a smaller family?
This meatloaf recipe can easily be halved if you prefer a smaller amount that serves 4-5 people. I recommend using a smaller 2.5-3 quart crockpot (as shown above) if you are planning on halving this slow cooker meatloaf recipe.
The sauce doesn’t taste right to me, what shall I do?
Feel free to adapt the ingredients in the homemade meatloaf sauce to taste! More mustard can be added for a stronger mustard flavor, and the brown sugar can be adjusted to preference as well.
Serve the meatloaf once slightly cooled. We enjoy our meat loaf with mashed potatoes and creamed corn, but, if I’m in a hurry I like to serve the meat loaf with steamed green beans and roasted Ranch potatoes!
Storage for this slow cooker meatloaf:
Leftovers of this meatloaf can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days. You can also form the meatloaf and let it chill in the refrigerate overnight before slow cooking the next day. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to several months.
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