Meatloaf has been a classic American dinner for decades. Make it the easy way next time with this simple Slow Cooker Meatloaf Recipe!
Maybe you grew up with fond memories of the weekly meatloaf.
Or maybe you didn’t.
When it comes to classic Americana recipes like Tuna Salad, Mac and Cheese, and meatloaf, there will always be variables. Your mom made the best…or you preferred it from the freezer section. Or you’d rather not have it at all. Ahem.
Fortunately, there are ways to redeem even the most dubious food experiences.
Like the time that your dad bought a meatloaf from the grocery store meat department, one that was covered in ketchup, only your mom thought that was the meat because she’d never made meatloaf, and so she cooked it for hours and hours, trying to get rid of the pink.
Yeah, that time.
That time almost ruined me for meatloaf. Until I had this meatloaf. And I have to say that now that I’ve made it in the slow cooker, the meatloaf experience keeps getting better and better around here.
A friend’s dad first made this meatloaf for me. I admit, I was a little scared, thanks to the aforementioned meatloaf experience. But, I was a guest, so I ate it, and I was thrilled to no end. YUM!
You’ll notice that it’s similar to one you might find on the back of a box of dry onion soup mix, only we’re using Homemade Dry Onion Soup Mix to Replace the Packets. Much tastier that way!
Cooking it in the slow cooker is a new thing for me, but one that works super well. It allows you time to do other things if your free window for meal prep is several hours before serving time.
Slow Cooker Meatloaf
It may seem odd to think that you can cook meatloaf in the slow cooker, but you can! You won’t get the brown crispy edges, but you’ll be rewarded by tender, juicy meatloaf. You can brown it in the oven for a few minutes before serving if you prefer.
You’ll notice that all my meatloaf recipes are unsauced. That’s how I roll. Especially married to a man who detests BBQ sauce or ketchup.
That said, if you like, you can spread some sauce on the top and glaze it in the oven prior to serving.
How do you make meatloaf from scratch?
Making meatloaf from scratch is super easy, especially when you keep a batch of homemade dry onion soup mix handy. You can always use a packet from the store if you prefer.
Combine ground meat—you can use any combination of ground pork, beef, turkey, or chicken—with eggs, bread crumbs, onion soup mix, and ketchup, tomato paste, or BBQ sauce.
Shhh… don’t tell my husband, but I use spicy BBQ sauce in this version. It’s adds a little kick without a ton of sweetness.
What can I substitute for bread crumbs in meatloaf?
Bread crumbs are a standard binding ingredient in meatloaf, but you can use a number of alternatives, such as:
- finely chopped mushrooms
- rolled oats
- cooked rice
Can you put raw meatloaf in the slow cooker?
Just as a slow cooker will cook other raw meats, such as cuts of pork and beef or even whole chickens, you can also cook meatloaf in the slow cooker.
As always, follow the USDA guidelines for food safety and slow cookers.
How do you make Slow Cooker Meatloaf?
The process of making slow cooker meatloaf is super simple.
- Lay out all your ingredients so you don’t forget anything.
- Combine the ground meat, onion soup mix, bread crumbs, eggs, and BBQ sauce. Combine well. I use the stand mixer to make this quick and easy.
- Lay out a long sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Turn the mixture out onto the foil and form it into a loaf shape, 9 inches long and 5 inches wide.
- Using the foil as a sling, grasp the two ends and lower the meatloaf into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, or until an internal temperature of 160 is reached for red meats, 165 for poultry.
- Use the foil sling to remove the cooked meatloaf from the crock, allowing any liquid to drain back into the crock before placing the meatloaf on a platter to slice and serve.
Can you freeze slow cooker meatloaf?
Meatloaf makes for a super convenient freezer meal. Once you complete step three, wrap the uncooked meatloaf in the foil. Place within a ziptop freezer bag and store in the freezer.
The day before serving, remove the bag from the freezer and thaw on a tray in the refrigerator. Once thawed, proceed with the cooking directions.
How do you get meatloaf in and out of the slow cooker without it falling apart?
Many recipes for slow cooker meatloaf call for packing the meat mixture directly into the crock. This requires one to spoon out the cooked meat and kinda eliminates the whole loaf part of the recipe.
Using a foil sling to move the meatloaf in and out of the slow cooker allows for easy transport and prevents the meatloaf from falling apart.
Should you drain meatloaf while cooking?
You don’t need to drain the meatloaf while it’s cooking. Once cooked, you can remove the meatloaf from the slow cooker, leaving the juices behind in the crock.
How do you tell when meatloaf is done?
Meatloaf is made of ground meat and eggs, both of which need to reach a certain internal temperature to be safe to consume. Use an instant read thermometer to verify that it’s hit a safe minimum cooking temp.
- Ground beef and pork as well as eggs are safe at 160 degrees F.
- Ground turkey and chicken are safe at 165 degrees F.
If you’re using a combination of poultry and red meat in your meatloaf, go with the higher internal temperature.
Do you need special equipment to make slow cooker meatloaf?
Here’s the kitchen equipment I find most useful when cooking a meatloaf in the slow cooker:
- a 7-quart oval slow cooker
- heavy duty aluminum foil – for creating the foil sling
- instant read thermometer
- plastic cutting boards
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife
What do you serve with meatloaf?
Meatloaf is pretty versatile. As a main dish protein, it can go with any number of side dishes, including, but not limited to:
- macaroni and cheese
- sautéed veggies, such as green beans
- steamed veggies, such as broccoli or cauliflower
- green salad
- Seasoned Rice Pilaf
- mashed potatoes and gravy
- buttered noodles
- Slow Cooker Potatoes
Slow Cooker Meatloaf
- slow cooker
- instant read thermometer
- 2 lb ground beef can also use any combination of ground meat, including pork, chicken, beef, and turkey
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 batch Homemade Dry Onion Soup Mix
- 2 tbsp BBQ sauce can also use ketchup or tomato paste
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat, bread crumbs, eggs, onion soup mix, and BBQ sauce. Mix well.
- Grease a large piece of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place the meat mixture in the center of the foil sheet and form it into a 9x5-inch loaf.
- Grabbing each end of the foil, use the foil as a sling to move the meatloaf into the slow cooker.
- Cover the crock and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, or until an internal temperature of 160 (for red meat) or 165 (for poultry) is reached.
- Holding the ends of the foil, lift the meatloaf out of the slow cooker and transfer it to a cutting baord. Slice and serve.