Mini meatloaf muffins are officially my new favorite dinner recipe. Seriously, they have already become a weekly contender that my husband asks for regularly.
For whatever reason, meatloaf often has a not-so-awesome reputation around the kitchen. Perhaps that’s because many of us had terrible experiences with it as kids?
I mean, it was not a favorite of mine growing up, as I’ve mentioned before. Despite my mom being a killer cook, she wasn’t fantastic with that particular comfort food recipe…
All I knew of this dish was dry meat, with a smear of ketchup on top.
But for my husband, it’s a totally different story. His mom is the queen of making juicy loaves of beef covered in gravy, and he has loved this meal for all of his life.
He grew up on this dish, whereas I had it very rarely, and usually hated it.
But once I had a taste of the good stuff, oh wow was it amazing. And for those of you reading this who had an experience similar to mine, I hope I can make a convert out of you. You really need to try this.
It’s like a fluffy, flavorful burger without a bun. The juicy, tender meat is incredible, with a flavor of pure comfort that reminds me of home. You get the onion and other vegetables in there, with fresh herbs and spices.
Of course, meatloaf tends to take a really long time to make. But not with this recipe. You can have it on the table in less than an hour!
This is such a simple recipe. Instead of forming one big loaf, you get 12 little meatloaf muffins.
It’s one of those staple recipes that you will keep in your back pocket for years to come. Why? Here are my top reasons:
- They cook quickly, and I think we can all agree that is a bonus when it comes to getting dinner on the table on busy nights.
- The smaller size makes them perfect for portion control (and let’s face it – they are more fun to eat).
- You can make them ahead of time, and even freeze them if you want to. Check out details at the end of this article for my advance prep and storage tips.
Sometimes it just comes down to making a few small changes to totally reinvent a classic. You get so much juicy flavor in every single bite of these, and they taste just like the best version of the traditional recipe you remember, in a cute, new-and-improved mini package.
Pro Tip: don’t let the color of the inside of the muffins dictate anything. Some people freak out if they see a little pink, so they end up overcooking the beef and the results are dried out. Always use a thermometer inserted in the middle to check for doneness. It’s okay if the center is a little pink as long as each one registers 160˚F to indicate that it’s fully cooked.
It’s kind of awesome to think that the muffin pan that sits patiently on a shelf in my kitchen can be used for so much more than just making muffins and cupcakes.
After you try this recipe, the only question is, what will you make next in that trusty baking tin? There are so many delicious possibilities.Print
The Easiest Mini Meatloaf Muffins
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 12 muffins 1x
Easy mini meatloaf muffins are an excellent entree option to get dinner on the table in under an hour, and they are so flavorful and juicy.
- Cooking oil spray
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
- 1/2 cup grated carrots (about 2 medium)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup ketchup, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds 80% lean ground beef
- 2 slices bread (regular or gluten free, or 2/3 cup breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking oil spray. Set aside.
- Pulse the bread in a food processor or blender to create coarse crumbs.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and oregano. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and saute for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Combine the onion mixture, 1/2 cup ketchup (store bought or homemade), and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix well until incorporated.
- Spoon meat mixture into prepared muffin tin until each well is almost full. Pack the mixture into each cup, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup, spreading to coat the surface.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160˚F when inserted into the center of a cup without touching the bottom. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Meatloaf
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Beef
Keywords: meatloaf, beef, muffin
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop Onion, Grate Carrot, Make Breadcrumbs, and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Chop enough onion until you have 1 cup total. I used one medium onion.
Peel and then grate enough carrots until you have 1/2 cup total. I used about 2 medium carrots.
To make the breadcrumbs, add two slices of bread to a food processor or blender, and pulse until you have relatively uniform coarse crumbs. Premade breadcrumbs are also okay to use here, if that’s what you have on hand.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. I like to use 80% lean ground beef because it contains enough fat for the recipe to yield a nice and juicy end result.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set it aside.
Step 2 – Cook Vegetables
Add the olive oil to a skillet and place it over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the onion, carrot, and oregano. Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the garlic, and continue to cook for another 30 seconds or so, stirring frequently until fragrant.
Step 3 – Make Meat Mixture
Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl with half of the ketchup, and all of the remaining ingredients.
Use your hands to mix the ingredients together. Everything should be evenly incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cups and pack the mixture into each cup, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.
Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup, spreading to coat the surface.
Step 4 – Bake
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The edges will be browned and a thermometer inserted in the center without touching the tin on the bottom will register 160˚F when they are done.
Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to serve.
Can I Freeze These?
If you don’t want to eat all of them right away, homemade meatloaf muffins can be frozen for about 2 months.
Simply allow them to cool completely, then place them on a baking sheet and place it in the freezer. Once the tops are firm, transfer the muffins to a large resealable bag and freeze.
Pulling out what you need and putting it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw is preferred, but you can serve them straight from frozen if you don’t have time to plan ahead. Just heat the frozen muffins in the microwave on the defrost setting for about 3 to 4 minutes, then microwave on high for about 3 minutes, or until heated through.
Want even more classic beef recipes? Here are some Foodal favorites to try next:
What will you serve with these little rounds of delicious comfort and joy? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe when you try it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 14, 2012. Last updated on January 5, 2012.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.