This air fryer meatloaf recipe is probably one of the easiest ways of cooking a classic, family favorite meal. Moist and flavorful, comforting and delicious – this is how a good meatloaf recipe should be!
I do love my air fryer. Not only for cooking foods that are usually deep-fried but for regular dinner recipes as well. The cooking times are short, the cleaning up is minimal, and the results are always tasty. For example, take a look at our Air Fryer Lamb Chops, Air Fryer Frozen Fish Sticks, Quick Turkey Burgers, or the air-fried Asparagus; they are delicious.
This is a classic meatloaf recipe made easy, comfort food at its best, something that the whole family will love, I know that mine loves it!
Best reasons for cooking meatloaf in the air fryer
- Cooking time: a classic baked recipe needs about 1 hour in a conventional oven. This particular recipe requires less time, only about 25 minutes, so about half the cooking time. The time issue makes the recipe a good choice for busy weeknights.
- Cleaning up: you only have to clean the basket of the machine. Whenever I cook a meatloaf in the oven, I have to clean the oven afterward; the fat makes quite a mess inside it.
- Less fatty: the fat drips away into the basket, so the meat doesn’t cook in a pool of fat.
What do you need?
- I prefer lean ground beef. Otherwise, I find the dish to be too fatty. The best choice is 85% - 90% lean beef.
- You can use a mixture of ground pork and beef as well, it tastes delicious, but it will have more calories.
- Dried herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Then salt and pepper, yellow mustard (or Dijon), and Worcestershire sauce.
- These spices are optional; you can spice this easy meatloaf any way you like. Use a ready mix or dried Italian herbs, special spice mixtures created for meatloaves or meatballs, curry, or any other spices you like.
- Add some chili flakes or cayenne pepper (to taste) for a bit of heat.
- Fresh herbs are delicious as well. You can add parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill, summer savory, and so on.
- I usually have regular ones, but panko breadcrumbs are great as well.
- You will need some ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce for the sweet tangy glaze. For a spicier glaze, replace ketchup and sugar with sweet chili sauce or bbq sauce.
How to cook meatloaf in the air fryer?
While the list of ingredients might seem long, this meatloaf recipe is super easy and quick to make. All you have to do is to gather and mix two sets of ingredients. And do a little chopping in between.
- Chop the onion and bell pepper very finely. Grate the garlic. (1)
- Place in a large bowl, add meat, egg, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper, mustard, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. (2)
- Mix well but don’t overmix, or the loaf might become too dense. (3)
- Shape into a small loaf, about 7 inches (8 cm) long, 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide, and 2 inches (5 cm) high. (4)
- Mix ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat the air fryer according to its instructions. For example, I preheat mine to 370 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
- Place the loaf in the air fryer basket. (1)
- Cook for 15 minutes (2), spread the glaze on top of the loaf (3), and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. (4)
- Let rest shortly before slicing.
As mentioned above, mix well but don’t overmix the meat; the mixture should not turn pasty; otherwise, the loaf might be too dense.
Grate the onions as well; it makes the food more tender and imparts it even more flavor. However, grating onions is quite annoying for the eyes.
Use a digital meat thermometer to check if the food is done. Checking early enough will avoid overcooking; an overcooked loaf will be dry and crumbly. Start checking 8 minutes after adding the glaze and add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if necessary.
Let rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 10, so it will have time to set. This way, it will be less likely to crumble when you cut it.
It is preferable to use a serrated knife when cutting.
Can I use another kind of meat?
- You can use a mix of beef and pork. Ground turkey is great as well.
Can I make a large loaf in the air fryer?
- Double the ingredients for a 2 lbs loaf. However, make sure that the basket of the machine is large enough to hold a bigger loaf. In this case, you will have to increase the cooking time considerably, it might take up to 45-50 minutes, and you should check with the digital thermometer to make sure that the loaf is cooked properly.
- Or you can form two small loaves out of 2 lbs of meat and cook them as instructed. You might need to add a little extra time as well if you are cooking two loaves; that’s why a thermometer is the best way of knowing when the meat is properly cooked.
Can I cook this recipe in the oven?
- Yes. Spread the mixture in a small, lightly greased loaf pan. Cover with the glaze and cook in the preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) for about 45-55 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).
- Alternatively, shape the loaf and bake it on a regular baking tray lined with foil or parchment paper.
Why does the meatloaf fall apart?
- You might not have enough binding agents, so make sure to weigh the ingredients well.
- You might have overbaked it; that is why checking early enough is essential.
- Or you might have tried to slice it too early. Letting it rest for just 5 to 10 minutes will stop it from crumbling too much.
- However, a bit of crumbling is normal. A tender loaf crumbles a little; if it doesn’t, it might be too tough.
What about leftovers?
- They keep well in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Can I reheat the leftovers?
- Definitely, you can reheat the leftovers either in the air fryer, microwave or oven.
Can I freeze the meatloaf?
- There are two options. You can freeze the shaped and uncooked loaf and have it ready in advance. Wrap it well and freeze it for 3 to 5 months; the sooner you use it, the better. However, never freeze an uncooked meatloaf that was made with defrosted meat. Only freeze it if you made it with fresh ground meat. Defrost in the fridge overnight and cook as instructed.
- You can also freeze the cooked loaf or the leftover pieces. Let cool completely, wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months. Then, defrost in the fridge or reheat from frozen. Make sure the food is heated through before serving.
What else to do with the leftovers?
- Make sandwiches; they are delicious!
- Crumble the meat, reheat it and serve it pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes.
- Crumble it and add to soups or casseroles. Make tacos or chili.
- Make some kind of Bolognese sauce by reheating the crumbled meat in a good tomato sauce, like this Hearty Marinara Sauce.
What to serve with it?
My favorite choice is mashed potatoes. Try cauliflower mash (as in the pictures), white bean mash, or parsnip mash for a lower-carb version. Baked potato wedges are delicious as well. You can also serve it with garlic bread, Cornbread without Buttermilk, or dinner rolls.
When it comes to vegetables, try some roasted veggies. I love roasted broccoli or cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus in spring, carrots, parsnips, or a mixture of roasted vegetables. Boiled or steamed vegetables like carrots, peas, broccoli, or cauliflower are delicious as well.
Or how about a fresh green salad, coleslaw, or raw broccoli salad?
More Easy Dinners
Air Fryer Meatloaf
- Air fryer
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg large
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs 30 g/ 1 oz
- ½ small onion about 30 g/ 1 oz
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ red pepper about 80 g/ 3 oz
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup 60 g/ 2 oz
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Mix: Chop the onion and pepper very finely. Grate the garlic. Place in a large bowl. Add the remaining meatloaf ingredients and mix well but don’t overmix; the mixture should not turn pasty.
- Shape: Shape a small loaf about 7 inches (8 cm) long, 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide, and 2 inches (5 cm) high.
- Cook: Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Carefully place the loaf into the basket. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Glaze: In the meantime, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Brush the meatloaf with the sauce and cook for another 8-10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit/ 74 degrees Celsius.
- Rest: Transfer the meatloaf to a warm serving platter and rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.