This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This Brown Sugar Glazed Meatloaf Recipe is moist, flavorful and incredibly easy. The easy ketchup glaze and secret ingredient make this the best meatloaf!

Sliced meatloaf with brown sugar sauce pouring over the top.
This flavorful Rosemary Pinot Noir Steak Chili is a spicy, hearty chili with tender pieces of steak and a hint of pinot noir and rosemary!
Subscribe to Chef Lindsey Farr!
Get the latest chef-created recipes and more right to your inbox!

This moist brown sugar meatloaf recipe will cause a frenzy! You will be positively inundated with praise, requests for seconds and demands to make it again! It is easy to pull together and I even share how to make it in 10 minutes with the air fryer!

A delicious brown sugar glaze adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this familiar comfort food! This will be the new family favorite! Serve this easy weeknight dinner with creamy mashed potatoes to catch the extra sauce and roasted cauliflower.

Why this is the best meatloaf recipe:

  • The right fat ratio: No matter the ground meat you choose make sure there is between 3-10% fat in the mix. That little bit of fat helps keep the meatloaf moist, but too much fat will just make for a greasy meatloaf. No one wants that.
  • Flavorful: There is flavor from the inside out! The onions and spices flavor the inside and the brown sugar meatloaf sauce and fresh rosemary flavor the outside!
  • Saltines: The crushed saltines add a bit of salt and they absorb the milk and some of the juices from the cooking meat. This holds all the moisture INSIDE the loaf rather than letting it all run out.
  • Liquid: Just enough milk to add a bit of moisture, soften the saltines but not take away from the structure.
  • Flavor locked in: Not only is the sauce delicious but it also locks in all that moisture and keeps the top from drying out. Even if you don’t double the sauce, make sure you have enough to cover the top of the loaf. 
The best meatloaf sliced on white plate with perfectly cooked texture.

What is the secret to moist meatloaf?

This brown sugar meatloaf isn’t complicated, but a few key points will ensure that it is moist, juicy and flavorful!

  • Percentage Fat: Choosing a ground beef that is between 3-10% fat will have enough fat to flavor and moisten the loaf but not so much to make it greasy.
  • Crushed saltines: Crushed saltines or coarsely ground breadcrumbs will absorb the moisture from the milk and the juices from the meat. This will keep it moist. Breadcrumbs can do the same but it will make a more dense loaf.
  • Saucy: The sauce on the top does more than just add flavor; it locks in the moisture and keeps the top from drying out!
  • Cooked just right: Over baked meatloaf will be dry meatloaf. Bake just until an instant read thermometer registers 160°F.
  • Give it a rest: Letting the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes will allow the juices to reabsorb into the meat and will keep it moist just like with steaks and chicken.

In the video I use a blend of ground beef, veal and pork like I do for these ricotta meatballs. It was EVEN better than just the ground beef that I usually use. This is optional but feel free to use whatever you have on hand!

How Do You Cook Meatloaf Using an Air Fryer?

You can make mini meatloaves using an Air Fryer baking oven! Make 4-6 mini loaves, top with the meatloaf sauce and bake in a preheated air fryer oven set at 385°F for 8-10 minutes.

Cleaning Tip: I lined my air fryer baking sheet with aluminum foil then spray with nonstick cooking spray for a simple cleanup.

Ingredients

  • Brown Sugar: You can use dark brown sugar or light brown sugar. You can reduce the amount of sugar if you’d like, but keep a little for that caramel molasses flavor.
  • Ketchup: Any brand of ketchup will suffice. I like ketchup without a lot of added flavorings, dyes, or ingredients. This is the body of the meatloaf sauce and key to locking in the flavor.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: I may pronounce it wrong every time, but Worcestershire sauce rounds out the flavor of the sauce. It balances the sweetness of both the ketchup and brown sugar and adds a nice depth and warmth.
  • Ground Sirloin: No matter the ground meat you choose, ensure there is between 3-10% of fat in the mix.
  • Milk: Any milk will do. I have used everything from whole milk to skim milk, and most recently I made it with unsweetened almond milk. It was still phenomenal! My husband wasn’t any the wiser.
  • Eggs: These whole eggs are the binders. They work with the connective tissues in the meat to hold everything together.
  • Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty than table salt, and a teaspoon of salt weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It heightens the flavor and will make the meat more tender.
  • Spices: Ground black pepper and ground ginger bring the flavor. You can’t taste either distinctly, but you would notice if they weren’t there.
  • Onion: Finely diced onion is obviously here for flavor, but it also adds to the moisture of the final meatloaf. As it cooks, it releases its inherent moisture, which flavors the meatloaf inside out and adds to the moisture retained by the saltine crackers.
  • Saltine Crackers: Unlike bread crumbs, crushed saltine crackers add a bit of salt, but also absorbs the milk and some of the juices from the meat that is cooking. This holds all the moisture INSIDE the loaf rather than letting it all run out.
  • Chopped Rosemary: A sprinkle of chopped fresh rosemary pairs beautifully with the sauce and the fragrant meatloaf. You could also mix some into the ground beef mixture to bump it up a notch.  

Meatloaf Recipe Variations

  • Meat Choice: I have made this same recipe with turkey, chicken, ground beef, and a mix of beef, veal, and pork. It is exceptional every time.
  • Cracker Magic: You know what is also awesome in this meatloaf? Ritz crackers. I don’t like to play favorites, but Ritz crackers are everything. Just substitute for the saltines and make sure you have an extra sleeve for snacking.
  • Brown Sugar Meatballs: Why yes, you can make this meatloaf into meatballs. Give ‘em a little sear and pouring the double batch of the brown sugar sauce over the top and simmer until cooked through. Make a sub, top rice or stab them with a toothpick for an easy appetizer.

Mini Meatloaves: Short on time? No problem. Make 4-6 mini meat loaves instead. They cook in under 20 minutes! Life happens, but nothing should stand in the way of your meatloaf dinner.

Recipe Substitutions

  • Turkey or Chicken: This recipe is also fabulous with turkey and/or chicken. For the best results, choose ground poultry with 3% fat. This is especially important with leaner proteins like chicken.
  • Non-Dairy Milk: I have successfully made this with unsweetened almond milk. Any non-dairy milk will do! Just make sure it’s unsweetened and unflavored. No one wants their meatloaf to taste like vanilla.

How to Make

Follow these easy instructions to make flavorful, moist meatloaf with an easy brown sugar glaze! Exact measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F

Prepare the sauce:

Step 2: In a bowl mix ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce together in a small bowl. I like to double it to have extra for serving.

Prepare the meat mixture:

Step 3: In a large bowl add ground beef, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, onion, ground ginger, and crushed saltine crackers. Mix together with your hands or a wooden spoon.

I like to continue to knead the mixture until it forms a cohesive ball. This activates the meat proteins. It only takes an extra minute, but it will help your meatloaf stay together and hold in all those juices keeping the meat extra moist and tender!

Step 4: Shape the meat mixture into the shape of a loaf that will fit your pan. For me this means approximately 9 inches by 4 inches. There is no wrong shape. You will just have to adjust the baking time. Place meatloaf in loaf pan or 9×9 inch baking dish.

Step 5: Generously spread the ketchup glaze mixture on the top of the loaf and allow it to run down the sides.

Allowing the glaze to run down and coat the sides will help keep the meat moist while also adding flavor.

Bake meatloaf:

Step 6: Bake in preheated oven until the internal temperature reads 160°F on an instant read thermometer. This will take approximately 60 minutes. You can also check by poking the center with a cake tester, letting it sit inside for 20 seconds and then touching it below your bottom lip. It should be hot. If it is hot, it’s done! Just a little pro tip as a former line cook.

Extra Sauce: If you did decide to double the sauce, place remaining sauce in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil then simmer on low until reduced slightly.

Step 7: Allow the meatloaf to rest 10 minutes before serving. If you made mini loafs, just 5 minutes will do. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary. This is optional but it really is sensational!

Meatloaf with two slices sliced off over a white plate on a wood slate background.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Allow the meatloaf to rest 10 minutes before serving. This gives the juices time to reabsorb and settle, keeping your meatloaf moist!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to cook meatloaf so it drains the excess grease

There are several ways to keep the meatloaf from being too greasy. Bake it in a loaf pan with a removable perforated bottom. The bottom will allow the grease to drain. I prefer to bake my meatloaf in a 9 x 9 inch dish so that the grease drains away from the meatloaf. Alternatively, you could bake the meatloaf on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking dish.

How to store meatloaf?

Cool meatloaf and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to store mine in a baking dish with a lid because plastic wrap will pull the glaze off the top! Meatloaf will last 4 days refrigerated or one month frozen. The faster you cooled and stored the meatloaf properly, the longer it will stay fresh.

How to reheat meatloaf?

Reheat in a covered baking dish in a 350°F oven. The sauce will help keep it moist. I am usually too lazy for this option and I either eat it cold on a sandwich or reheat it in the microwave smothered in sauce!

Can you freeze baked meatloaf?

Yes, you absolutely can freeze baked meatloaf. Bake an extra one for a meal later that month! I wouldn’t recommend freezing raw meatloaf because it will actually take longer to get dinner on the table.

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

4.88 from 40 ratings

Brown Sugar Glazed Meatloaf

This Brown Sugar Glazed Meatloaf Recipe is moist, flavorful and incredibly easy. The easy ketchup glaze and secret ingredient make this the best meatloaf!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Mix the brown sugar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce together in a small saucepan or mixing bowl. I typically make twice the amount of sauce so there is extra for serving.
  • In a large bowl add ground beef, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, onion, ground ginger, and crushed saltine crackers. Mix together with your hands or a wooden spoon. I like to continue to knead the mixture until it forms a cohesive ball. This activates the meat proteins, which will help keep it from falling apart.
  • Shape the meat mixture into the shape of a loaf that will fit your pan. For me this means approximately 9 inches by 4 inches.There is no wrong shape. You will just have to adjust the baking time. Place meat loaf in loaf pan or 9×9 inch baking dish.
  • Generously spread the ketchup mixture on the top of the loaf. Allow the ketchup mixture to drop down the sides of the loaf. This will help keep the meat moist while also adding a variety of delicious flavors.
  • Bake in preheated oven until the internal temperature reads 160°F on an instant read thermometer. This will take approximately 60 minutes. You can also check by poking the center with a cake tester, letting it sit inside for 20 seconds and then touching it below your bottom lip. It should be hot. If it is hot, it’s done! Just a little pro tip as a former line cook.
  • While the meat cooks, bring the extra sauce to a boil and simmer on low. Drizzle the the extra sauce over the meatloaf. Add freshly chopped rosemary to taste.

Video

Notes

Presentation – You can make mini meatloaves using an Air Fryer baking oven! Make 4-6 mini loaves, top with the meatloaf sauce and bake in a preheated air fryer oven set at 385°F for 8-10 minutes.
TechniqueI suggest doubling the sauce. Trust me. You want to double the sauce. Or at least 1.5x! 
Storage Store cooked meatloaf in a sealed, air-tight container in the refrigerator. 
Adapted from Allrecipes.com’s meatloaf recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 743mg | Potassium: 398mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 163IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 310
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

Check out all our delicious, chef-created recipes for easy dinners!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




151 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe! I have two 10oz packages of ground beef. Do you think I can proceed with the recipe as written or do I need to modify anything?

    1. Hi Lisa! You can absolutely use ground beef in this recipe! I have made this same recipe with turkey, chicken, ground beef, and a mix of beef, veal, and pork. It is exceptional every time. The ingredients don’t need any direct adjustments, but the cook-time might be impacted as the fat content is different than ground sirloin. Just be sure to bake your meatloaf until the internal temperature reads 160°F on an instant read thermometer. I can’t wait for you to try this!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow, can’t believe the difference the saltines make! I happened to have a package of them in the back of my cupboard and they were nearing their best by date. This is how I’ll be making meatloaf from now on.

  3. 5 stars
    I love brown sugar glazed anything, so I was happy to see your recipe. Gave it to my friend, who loved it!! She said it was so easy to make and her family ate the whole thing without any complaining. She will definitely make it frequently.

  4. 5 stars
    Using the brown sugar in the glaze was a much needed improvement to the meatloaf. I use to not glaze my meatloaf because I couldn’t find one I liked. This was so tasty! Thank you for sharing!

  5. 5 stars
    This is a really great meatloaf recipe – it’s tender, flavorful, and easy to make. But that brown sugar glaze steals the show! It’s the perfect balance for the savory meat. And we loved the addition of rosemary! Such a great recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    This meatloaf recipe is a house staple! It comes out super moist and the glaze on top is delicious, kiddos love it.

  7. 5 stars
    This Brown Sugar Glazed Meatloaf recipe is a keeper! An easy and tasty recipe I will be making again.

  8. 5 stars
    Added the chopped rosemary as you suggested, and wow, this was a whole new level of flavors! Really appreciated the easy to follow instructions.