Meatloaf is a very popular dish in western cuisine, especially in Germany, Scandinavian countries and Belgium. From these traditional cuisines, it spread all over the world, although the recipes vary from one place to another. Made of ground meat shaped into a bread-like loaf, meat loaf is usually made from beef meat, but other types of meat, like lamb, veal or pork are also used. Since it is not very complicated to make and is both tasty and very nutritious, people are always on the hunt for good recipes to help them get the things just right.
One of very often asked questions on cooking forums and similar places online is “how long to bake meatloaf”. Although one would think that for a dish as popular as this one, the questions has been answered at great length already, there seems to be a lot of recipes out there which revolve around guessing rather than real cooking experience. Exact times can vary depending on a number of factors, like the shape and size of the meatloaf, baking temperature and whether or not your oven functions properly. Some households have a baking thermometer that can be used to rid you of any doubts and there are also some other tips and tricks that can be used for estimating when your meatloaf is done and ready to serve.
This article, however, will try to give you answers about how long it takes to bake a meatloaf at different temperatures so that even if you do not have any additional kitchen tools at hand, you should still be able to make a tasty and well-done meatloaf using the advice contained here.
How Long To Bake At 350
Although our first instinct when cooking any meal is to go and find recipes in a cookbook or online on one of the trusted sites, it seems that following the advice of people who have firsthand experience is the right way to go when baking a meatloaf.
General consensus seems to be that if you are baking a meatloaf at 350 degrees it takes about one hour to get it done, presuming you are making a 2-pound meatloaf. A good rule of the thumb to use is about 25-30 minutes per pound if your meatloaf is in one piece.
If you divide your meatloaf into smaller chunks, then the baking process will take less time, but if you are baking two smaller meatloaves together at the same time, add few extra minutes before taking them out as it takes slightly more to get them done if they are in the same pan.
How Long To Bake At 375
Slight increase in temperature from 350 to 375 will speed up the baking process but you will also need to stay more alert not to burn your meatloaf. If your oven operates properly and your temperatures are right, it should take about 45-50 minutes to get it done at 375 degrees.
A problem with many ovens in our homes is that after some time they tend to develop some “cold spots” and although the temperature is set right, not all part of your oven reach the same desired level. More experienced cooks are probably aware of particularities of their ovens so they know little tricks to use while baking things to ensure every part of the dish gets treated just right.
If you are one of those lucky ones who have a professional or semi-professional oven in their house then things will be much simpler for you. For the rest of us, despite all the advice, it will take some attention to make sure you get the desired result.
How Long To Bake at 400
Four hundred degrees is not your standard, everyday baking temperature and most people will advise you against it. Whether you are baking a meatloaf or some other type of meat dish, if you are doing at 400 degrees, you are running the risk of burning the crust while at the same time the core part remains undone.
If for any reason, you still insist at baking your meatloaf at 400 degrees, then you should probably make it rather thin, to avoid the above-mentioned issues. If you make it about 1 – 1 and 1/2 inches thick, it should bake fairly even on the outside and the inside.
Suggested time ranges from 30 to 45 minutes. If your meatloaf is thicker, then it will naturally take somewhat longer, but it might be challenging to get it done on the inside without burning the outside. You will need to check on it fairly often and make sure everything is in order.
So, to achieve the best results, either lower the temperature of your oven or make sure your meatloaf is not too thick if you insist on having your oven heat up to 400 degrees.
The advice in this article should certainly make a task of baking a meatloaf somewhat simpler. Considering that preparation of this dish only takes about 10 – 15 minutes, having a good idea about how long it will take to get it baked is quite useful.
Unfortunately, as you must have figured out by now, there are no rules set in stone, as every oven behaves differently and depending on the shape of your meatloaf, times can vary slightly. For these reasons, you will still have to stay alert and check on your meatloaf a few times during the process to make sure it is getting done just right.
If you do a lot of baking, getting a digital thermometer is also a good idea. These are fairly cheap and will make your life so much easier. You can then use the estimated times as your guidelines but use the thermometer to know exactly when your meatloaf is done.
If you want to know how long it takes to bake a meatloaf in your particular oven and do not have a thermometer, use the guidelines from this article but stay a bit more alert during the first few times. After that, you should know enough about particularities of your own oven to figure out the timing almost to the minute.
Images used via the creative commons version two license – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Image One by Chispita666 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gusilu/3379058868/
Image Two by JeffreyW – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/21086285849/
Image Three by Randychiu – https://www.flickr.com/photos/randychiu/4753749525/