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Does anybody have a recipe for a firm (I mean FIRM) meatloaf? Ours inevitably comes out too soft, difficult to slice, falling apart.

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  1. Don't know what recipe you're using David so can't say for sure what needs attention but you might find that by simply adding (or increasing) the dry ingredient (bread, bread crumbs, cracker meal, oatmeal, crushed cereal, corn meal, etc.) and some egg(s) to your recipe you can firm it up a bit.

    1. Actually, it could be that there is TOO much filler in the meat. Too much bread crumbs (or other starch) can make it softer (in my experience), as could too much wet veggies.

      1. Where to begin ...

        1 1/2 lb meat (mix whatever you want)
        1 medium onion diced
        2 eggs medium, not large or ex large
        1 tsp worschestershire sauce (sp? I know)
        1 tsp garlic
        Salt and pepper
        2 tablespoons garlic
        1 slice of bread soaked in milk and then squeezed (my secret) works every time
        1 rib celery diced fine
        1/2 green and red pepper fine chopped
        2 roasted red peppers fine diced
        1/4 cup bread crumbs dried
        1 tablespoon parsley fresh
        1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

        Mix well, don't over mix and make into loaf and bake. I like to use a mix of ketchup, honey and BBQ for a sauce but any sauce you wants is ok with me.

        Cook like always ...

        FULL PROOF AND ALWAYS WORKS, ALWAYS RAVE REVIEWS. Too much egg and too much ingredients with out any bread or fillers makes it fall apart. Mine doesn't but very moist. FYI ... I like a mix of turkey, veal and beef. But anything works for me. Beef is more fat and more juicy, turkey is dryer but a mix is good.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kchurchill5

          I like the texture I get with English muffins, I use them in my meatballs too.

          1. re: kchurchill5

            Thanks for the great recipe, kchurchill, as I know I'm always looking to change up my meatloaf but I'm wondering about the garlic? You say, 1 tsp garlic, then s&p, then 2 tablespoons garlic?
            I like the red and green peppers - I don't usually include those but I'm going to try it next time.

            1. re: MrsCris

              Oops .... typo
              Just 1 of the garlics, sorry about that
              I do 1 tablspoon garlic, my fault, was probably trying to copy from a recepe. my apologies. I like the peppers some don't. If my family comes, Dad doesn't like peppers, I grate them or chop fine, adds flavor, but you can't see them. Or just leave them out. I make my many ways depending on who I am making it for. A lot of times food is determined by who is coming for dinner

          2. If you go here:
            you'll find a recipe halfway down from Scoutie, dated January 22, 2007. I've made it a number of times with all beef. and using fresh bread crumbs, and it's been great. You'll note that the recipe indicates a wait of at least twenty minutes after the loaf comes out of the oven before slicing. As a matter of fact, I've got one in the oven right now. This recipe has replaced my old standby of forty years!

            3 Replies
            1. re: critter101

              good lord, that recipe sounds amazing. i just copied it to try the next time i want meat loaf.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Made that I think ... I pretty sure that was the recipe ... it was good. Definitely not great. OK in my book. My boyfriend and son didn't like it and neither did Mom, so it was good, but ... not the best ever by any means... Sorry! Just my opinion.

              2. Assuming you're using a binder like agg, the more mixing and kneading of the meat will lead to a firm / tough meat loaf. Something usually not thought to be desirable.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  very true, I like to mix as little as possible. I'm not sure she wants tough but firm. I think You understand too. I think she is perhaps using too many veggies or egg or not the right combo of ingredients. Too many veggies not fine chopped tends to cause her problem. What do you think?

                2. Finely chopping the vegetables and sweating them in a saute pan first will also help (the sauteeing dries them a little and adds flavor) but the proportion of meat to egg to filler is the most important thing. At least one egg per pound of meat; 2 if you add a lot of vegetables and filler . Using a serrated/bread knife with a sawing motion may help you.

                  1. I just made this tonight -- literally just put it in the refrigerator for during the week. It's Martha Stewart's Meatloaf 101. It's my go-to recipe. It's very simple and very good. I have made it in a loaf pan (which I did today) and made it just on a baking sheet. I think it comes out firmer in the loaf pan. Also, I make it only with beef, no pork. And, the recipe calls for cooking time of 1 1/2 hours. I cook it for more like 1 hour, 45 minutes. I don't like to see any pink in the middle.

                    I let it cool, then slice, and it's firm. My kids love it too.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: valerie

                      Cook's Illustrated recommends adding in 1/2 tsp. of powdered gelatin (for 2 pounds of meat). They hydrate it in a mixture of egg and a bit of chicken stock, then mix it in with everything else. They conclude that cracker crumbs (2/3 cup per 2 pounds of meat) are the best binding agent.

                      1. re: zamorski

                        The gelatin thing is a substitute for finding ground veal and works like a charm. I use it all the time now. Not only does it bind the meatloaf, it helps trap the juices as well.

                    2. This is my recipe that I like to use often:

                      2 lbs ground sirloin or mix ground pork and sirloin
                      2 garlic cloves (2 tsp minced)
                      1.5 tsp salt
                      2 tsp pepper
                      1/2 tsp ground mustard
                      1 T worchestershire
                      1 cup milk
                      1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
                      1 cup canned Italian bread crumbs or even Panko
                      most of a minced yellow onion
                      1/2 cup minced parsley
                      1 tsp celery seed
                      1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
                      2 beaten eggs
                      1 tsp balsamic vinegar
                      2 T ketchup

                      Saute veggies, except parsley, and quickly cool in freezer.

                      Mix all ingredients by hand (I use latex gloves), put on sheet pan in a loaf shape with parchment lining

                      Brush with some balsamic vinegar/ketchup mixture on the top before putting in oven.

                      Heat at 375 for an hour (give or take) to 155F Uncovered. Rest for 10 min. before slicing.

                      My measurements are approximate. I don't usually measure exactly. Adjust salt and seasonings as you see fit.

                      I promise you it comes out firm. I use 85/15 beef for mine. Try to use leaner cuts for even more firmness. I find using an actual loaf pan increases the moisture and makes a less firm dish.

                      1. There's a really great recipe in Jonathan Reynold's book, now out in paperback. I started making it way back when he was writing essays for The New York Sunday Times' Magazine and included it there....It's always a giant hit. I've had people, who are confessed meatloaf haters, go back for thirds!

                        1 Reply
                        1. I follow my mom's basic recipe, using 2 lbs. combined beef and pork (though she did 2:1 and I do 1:1), plus chopped onion and peppers, S&P, ketchup, horseradish, an egg and about a cup of fine cracker crumbs. Mix thoroughly WITH YOUR HANDS, adding more crumbs if the loaf is too moist. Cooked either as a freestanding loaf or in a pan, this gives a nice moist meatloaf that eats well for a meal, then proceeds to serve its true purpose subsequently: to make meatloaf sandwiches.

                          Curiously, my brother uses the same basic recipe, except he uses rolled oats as the breading, makes the loaf much wetter and sloppier, mixes it with a fork, and thus ends up with the meatloaf HE likes, which is loose and almost gooey. He wants meatloaf sandwiches, too, but he prefers to apply it like a spread, whereas I slice mine thin like lunch meat.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Meatloaf sandwiches ... One of the only reasons why I make meatloaf ... got to have it. In fact don't laugh, I always make 2 loafs every time. One for dinner and leftovers and one to bag for sandwiches. Every time. My favorite.

                            Mustard, Wheat bread, lettuce, crisp ice berg and meatloaf. Classic!!

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              Aside from sandwiches, the only way I use leftovers is to smear a ketchup/horseradish mixture over slabs in a gratin dish and put them in the toaster oven when I need some dinner protein at the last minute...UNLESS I have some leftover mashed pots, too, then I will zap them together for lunch. But meatloaf sandwiches is really the goal all along. I like sourdough myself...

                                1. re: zamorski

                                  I love leftovers, always grew up on them and always have them. I make a good meatloaf, I don't mind eating the leftovers. I guess I'm not very picky and can eat just about anything.

                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                Mayo and pepper. Bread negotiable but usually sourdough.

                            2. I'm with you, gotta have it "FIRM."

                              I tried bread crumbs, no bread crumbs, egg, no egg and no luck. Not one poster mentioned the meat and I'm beginning to think maybe the meat(s) have to be lean. Now I got an itch for a grilled cheese and meatloaf sandwich.

                              I used to go to this butcher and bought the meat loaf mix and it was firm, then they were bumped out by Whole Foods, that was the end of that.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: monku

                                Meat doesn't have much to do with it. I never get anything particularly lean - beef no leaner than 80/20, and sometimes I use sausage instead of plain pork and/or add chopped bacon. What does it, it think, is FINE cracker crumbs (cheap saltines!), add and knead in hard with your bare clean hands until the mixture is dense, well-mixed, and a little dry - the fat will moisten it nicely. I imagine your butcher mixed his in one of those big old floor-model Hobarts with the giant paddle, which would do much the same thing, and if you have a KitchenAid (which is just a miniature Hobart) and didn't want to get your hands all icky you could do likewise. I could too, but my mom believed firmly in doing it by hand, and besides that I can feel exactly when it's just right.

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  I'll try it next time. Better be FIRM !!!

                                  WO, you live in the LA area. I used to get it from this butcher in Sherman Oaks on the corner of Riverside Drive and Coldwater Canyon, then it became a Mrs. Gooch and then Whole Foods.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    My grandmother always said you had to mix meatballs by hand because the warmth of your hands melded it together. Whether true of not, I always think of her when mixing chop meat.

                                  2. re: monku

                                    Bread crumbs and egg and mine is tender but still firm

                                    1. re: monku

                                      How about baking in a loaf pan, and when you take it out of the oven, immediately weight the top with a couple of cans or something over a piece of foil? That would compact it as it cools down, and also force grease out. For a firm meatloaf, I agree with others you should limit (but not eliminate) the egg, breadcrumbs, and veggies. I would use fine ch. onion, sauteed first (or just steamed in the micro) and no other veggies. I would use regular, not extra lean, ground meat, because most of the fat will cook out anyway and lean beef will be dry. I occasionally get meatloaf at a little restaurant here in Mazatlán owned by a German. It is very fine-textured and firm. I like it a lot, but some of my friends don't. My only objection to his, is it is too mild! When I make meatloaf I spice it up much more(I almost always use some Italian sausage and ground beef). I can ask him next time how he achieves that texture.

                                      1. re: MazDee

                                        You mentioned forcing out the grease. I make my meatloaf (Martha Stewart's as linked in my post above) in this Williams-Sonoma meatloaf pan using 85/15 ground beef.


                                        It lets the some of the grease drain out and it doesn't make a mess. As I also mentioned, I've made it in this pan and made it on a baking sheet and it definitely comes out firmer when baked in this pan.

                                        1. re: valerie

                                          I have a Baker's Secret pan like that, but don't use it anymore - two pans to wash instead of one, and the inner one gets crudded up on both sides! It was a clever idea, but I just keep an eye on the meatloaf while it's cooking and suck out the excess fat with a turkey baster as necessary.

                                          For spicing up a meatloaf (the basic recipe I gave is milder than what I usually do these days) I use one or two finely-chopped poblano peppers, and substitute a good dollop of Pico Pica hot sauce (not the taco sauce) for some of the ketchup. This also adds a very nice flavor besides the heat.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            I like the meatloaf pan with the insert. It holds a loaf made with 1.5 lobs of meat and quite a lot of vegetables plus 2 slices of bread as filler. When done it pulls away from the pan so the loaf's sides brown. I removed the meat, then add enough boiling water to dissolve all the good fond-y bits in both pan and insert, stir with a rubber scraper to get everything off the pans, then pour into a saucepan and reduce enough to start making gravy. The pans are practically clean before they hit the dishpan (OK, so the dogs take care of any remaining molecules of goodness first).

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I actually use more meat than that -- I think I use 2.5 lbs. and it all fits in the pan. I don't have a problem with it getting dirty because as soon as the meatloaf is cooked, I slide it out onto a plate or cutting board to cool. So while the pan is still warm, I put it into hot water. Once the surface crud is off, both parts just go straight into the dishwasher. They wash beautifully.

                                              The only drawback is that the sides don't really get as browned, plus they don't get any of the glaze, but I don't mind. In fact, I generally make meatloaf for my kids to eat...my husband would never eat it. The kids are 2 and 4 and they love it this way!

                                        2. re: MazDee

                                          This meat loaf mix I got from the butcher made a firm meatloaf in a loaf pan without draining the fat or weighing it down or doing anything.

                                          1. re: MazDee

                                            mazdee, please let us know if the german chef gives you his meatloaf secret!

                                        3. Let it rest outside the oven for a bit before slicing, then it shouldn't fall apart.

                                          1. From a tip on this board, instead of bread crumbs, I crush up Ritz crackers. Also, I don't bake in a loaf pan, I like to form it into a loaf and cook inside pyrex, that way, it gets brown all over.

                                            1. hounds, which cuts of these -- Boneless - Eye Round, Sirloin Tip, Top Round, Bottom Round, Chuck --
                                              should i get to have ground into beef for meatloaf?

                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: walker

                                                  I like a mix chuck and I use a mix of turkey and veal too. I never like to use just one.

                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                    Chuck is the only one on the list with sufficient fat. The problem with really lean beef is that it throws off moisture rather than fat, and thus comes out dry and flavorless. As for adding other meats, turkey is an excellent choice. I've added ground lamb sometimes as well. We don't do veal around here...

                                              1. Sorry to bump an old post but it was the first hit when searching 'meatloaf.'

                                                Mix a good bit of salt in with the meat about 10 minutes before mixing the rest of the ingredients in. It'll give a dense, firm texture - assuming you aren't using way too much filler. Same reason you always salt just the outside and never mix salt in with ground beef for burgers - it makes them too dense.