There really is no limit to the amount of ingredients that can be put in meatloaf and I encourage you to try adding a few of your family favorites like putting bell peppers, onions, carrots, or zucchini inside the mix. Even the stuffing which comes in boxes as well as bags, has many flavor varieties to try with this classic comfort food recipe.
Unlike burgers, meatloaf is one of those fix it and forget it type of dishes. Once it goes in the air fryer, instant pot, or oven, that’s all it needs. My mashed potatoes, green beans, or brussels sprouts go great with stuffing meatloaf.
Why make meatloaf in an air fryer?
It’s delicious in its own right. It comes out terrific air fried. The top forms a crust that is out of this world tasty. Honestly, I can get away adding less liquid or wet ingredients to the bowl, too. This meatloaf is moist and it doesn’t drip a ton of liquid while it heats in fryer.
Plus, It’s just another way to cook or bake meatloaf that doesn’t require the oven which is perfect for summer when I don’t want the house to heat up. Plus, I’ve even prepared it while traveling on a summer road trip right in our hotel room. If you’re debating whether or not to buy an air fryer, do it. You WON’T regret it.
How to make Air Fryer Meatloaf
- Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9 x 5 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Place in loaf pan and pat down.
- Grab parchment paper and lift meatloaf out.
- Place in the air fryer basket.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Check the center of the center of the meatloaf with kitchen thermometer. The internal temperature should read 160 degrees F.
- Brush top with ketchup.
- Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.
Other Methods of Cooking Meatloaf
No Air Fryer, No Problem…. it can be baked in the oven or pressure cooker, too. If you’re planning on making meatloaf without an air fryer, simply place it in the oven in the casserole dish and bake it at 350°F for 1 hour. Spread the ketchup on the last 10 minutes of baking. Of course, this can also be made in the pressure cooker with this Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes recipe.
Air Fryer Meatloaf Ingredients
Meat: When using ground beef, I use lean ground beef, especially for this recipe, I like to get 90% lean 10% fat beef. Since the fat in the beef will turn to liquid, instead of it overflowing in the pan, it helps to moisten to stove top stuffing. In addition, other alternatives include ground chicken, ground turkey, or ground pork. Although I have not tried other meats, I’d love to hear how it turns out.
Bread Crumbs: Boxed or bagged stuffing of any flavor can be used here. I like to use Stove Top brand stuffing mix. Here I used cornbread breadcrumbs but I have made it with turkey and herb before as well. Gluten-free stuffing is available as well. Sometimes, I add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese to the mix.
Ketchup: Use a store bought or homemade version if you’d like to make your own from scratch. There are a variety of ketchups out there, use your preferred ketchup. Besides ketchup, BBQ sauce is another option or mixing in a little brown sugar and mustard into the ketchup. There are so many great regional types of barbecue sauce to experiment with in this recipe.
Sauces: Not only do I use ketchup, but I also use Thousand Island dressing. My mom has been using this in her meatloaf recipe for decades and I have to say it’s one of my favorite substitutions and flavor additions. It makes sense, too. Major hamburger restaurants serve their burgers with a secret sauce that usually contains thousand island dressing. It compliments beef very well and is a tasty addition in meatloaf. I only use the thousand island dressing in the meatloaf and not as a glaze. For the glaze I use ketchup.
Vegetables: Personally, I don’t need to add any vegetables to this comfort dish. The stuffing mix contains dried vegetables and herbs that flavor the base of this meal. However, I do add plenty of freshly minced garlic since I love it a lot. Do feel free to add fresh onions, bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, or hot peppers like jalapenos or poblano peppers for some added spice and heat.
Eggs: Eggs help to bind the ingredients together. Therefore, it will stay in its classic rectangle loaf shape once it’s transferred to the air fryer. Eggs can be stirred before hand in a small bowl or while in the bowl.
Reader Questions and Tips
Q: Do I have to use stuffing or can I use something else?
A: Stuffing is just one of many options to use in meatloaf. I use it because it comes packed with a ton of flavor that I like to take advantage of. However, I grew up using crackers. From saltine crackers to butter crackers or Ritz crackers. Substitute 1 sleeve of crackers in place of stuffing.
Q: Does this freeze well?
A: Absolutely! Cool the meatloaf first then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and store it in an airtight bag for up to 2 months. To reheat, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. Unwrap it and cut it into slices. Reheat on a microwave plate until warm. Another option is to reheat it whole in the oven. To do this, simply unwrap the meatloaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake at 300 degrees F in the oven covered in foil until the center is heated.
Q: How do I store meatloaf?
A: Cooked meatloaf and leftovers will store for 4 days in your refrigerator. Wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container.
Q: Can I make this ahead of time?
A: Meatloaf is one of those dishes that tastes great both the same day and the next day. This is a great recipe to make ahead of time. Store it in the pan mold and then store it in the refrigerator prior to cooking. Make sure to pull it out by the parchment paper before air frying it. It can also be prepared for the freezer.
Q: How do I know when the meatloaf is cooked enough?
A: Use a meat thermometer to make sure it is done cooking. Stick it in the center and in the middle, not the bottom of the meatloaf. It’s done when the temperature registers 165 degrees F.
Other Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love
- air fryer steak bites
- air fryer baked potatoes
- air fryer cajun steak bites and mushrooms
- air fryer salmon
- air fryer chicken bites
- air fryer donuts
Air Fryer Meatloaf
- 2½ lb ground beef 90% lean
- 6 oz stovetop stuffing any flavor
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced or ½ tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup water or beef broth
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tbsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup thousand island dressing
- ½ cup ketchup
- Prepare a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper making sure it overlaps on the sides.
- In a large bowl, stir together ground beef, eggs, minced garlic, worcestershire sauce, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and thousand island dressing.
- Place beef mixture in loaf pan. Pat it down.
- Using the parchment paper, lift the meatloaf out of loaf pan and place in the air fryer.
- Trim any long edges of parchment paper.
- Using a knife, cut two slits on the bottom of the paper so liquid can drain below.
- Check the center of the center of the meatloaf with kitchen thermometer. The internal temperature should read 160 degrees F. The meatloaf can be baked an extra 15 minutes if it's not done cooking in the center.
- Bake at 350°F for 1 hour. Brush top with ½ cup ketchup the last 5 minutes of air frying.
- Allow meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes then cut into slices.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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