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Air Fryer Meatloaf

Air Fryer Meatloaf is a tasty dinner that is made even easier using the Air Fryer. Ready in just 35 minutes, this is a tender, moist meatloaf that is perfect for a busy weeknight!

QUICK, EASY, TASTY MEATLOAF

There is nothing worse than a dry and tasteless meatloaf, right? I worked on this particular meatloaf recipe for several years to get it just right. I first shared the oven version for it about 12 or 13 years ago here on the site and it’s been one of my most popular recipes since. But a lot of folks don’t want to turn on their oven in the summer so the air fryer is a great option. So I modified my original meatloaf recipe to work specifically in an air fryer. You might think it wouldn’t come out moist at all but I promise you, this recipe is a winner!

Looking closely down on a plate of air fryer meatloaf cut into a few slices.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What if I don’t have an air fryer?

Well then you are in good luck because I have about 3 other ways you can make this meatloaf depending on what appliance you might own: oven, instant pot or crock pot. Just click on the links below to take you to the recipe.
Oven Baked Meatloaf
Instant Pot Meatloaf
Crock Pot Meatloaf

Do I have to preheat the Air Fryer?

I didn’t want to preheat the Air Fryer basket since we are shaping the meatloaf in the actual air fryer basket. It would be too easy to burn yourself that way if you’ve already preheated it. So no preheating necessary.

How do I get the meatloaf out of the Air Fryer basket?

I used a large spatula and it was easy to get out. The meatloaf held together nicely while removing it from the basket.

Do I have to use lean ground beef?

Yes, this is what keeps the grease down and helps the loaf stick together. I used 93%, but you could probably get away with 85%. Just keep in mind that if too much grease escapes, it can drip to the bottom of the Air Fryer and cause smoke.

Can I use regular onion instead of onion powder?

Of course, you would use about ¼ cup of finely chopped onions in lieu of onion powder. You could even add finely diced green peppers if you enjoy those.

What if I don’t want BBQ sauce in the glaze?

The glaze on this is totally optional. Some people like just ketchup and some folks like just BBQ sauce and some folks don’t like anything. Go with your preference here. It will all work just fine.

What type of air fryer did you use?

I test all of my air fryer recipes with either a 5 or 7 quart basket air fryer. The basket style air fryer is the most popular style of air fryer sold in America so I use the one that most Americans have I their kitchens. There is just no way for me to test a recipe using every type of air fryer there is out there these days. Some are oven style, some have the air fryer fan at the top, some are dual basket, etc. I cannot tell you how to make this in any other air fryer other than the air fryer basket style. You will need to use your own personal knowledge of your air fryer to make any adjustments needed.

This meatloaf seems really wet.

Yep. It will seem really wet but don’t fret, that is how it should be. You’ll still be able to shape it in the air fryer basket. That “wetness” is basically why this meatloaf comes out so moist and not dry like many meatloaf recipes.

Why is my air fryer smoking?

Typically this happens when grease from the meat hits the bottom of the hot Air Fryer basket. If you are using a lean meat as is called for in the recipe, this shouldn’t happen. But if you do notice it happening, add a couple of tablespoons of water into the bottom of the basket. This will help disperse the grease and stops it from smoking as much.

How to store leftovers?

Storing leftover meatloaf is simple. Put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to four days. Or place it in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to three months. When reheating, make sure that the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure food safety. If you plan on freezing it, be sure to wrap it tightly with foil or freezer paper and if you plan on reheating it, make sure to thaw the meatloaf completely before heating.

An air fryer basket with a loaf of meatloaf.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • lean ground beef – it needs to be lean meat to cut down on how much grease drips into the hot pan below the basket. You could also use chicken or turkey.
  • milk – it may seem like a lot of milk, but trust the process on this one, it works.
  • large egg – an egg works as a binder in meatloaf to help hold it all together.
  • bread – I know you might be wondering why I don’t use crackers or breadcrumbs like most meatloaf recipes. Well this recipe isn’t like most meatloaf recipes, it tastes better! The bread helps retain moisture (unlike crackers and breadcrumbs which absorb moisture and can make the meatloaf dry.
  • onion powder and garlic powder – if you have other seasonings, you prefer, please use what you enjoy – these are just my favorites.
  • Worcestershire sauce – I think this adds a really nice background flavor that keeps this meatloaf from tasting too bland.
  • dry ground mustard – if you don’t have this then you can leave it out. It does not add a strong mustard flavor at all.
Ground beef, bread, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, egg, milk, and dry ground mustard.

HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER MEATLOAF

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatloaf. I just use my clean hands for this. Don’t overwork the meat, just mix until combined. Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil nonstick cooking spray. Shape the meat into a loaf shape (at an angle) in the air fryer basket. You don’t want to make the meatloaf too thick or it won’t cook all the way through. Try to make the loaf shape as even as possible from end to end. Air fry at 350F degrees for 15 minutes. 

a collage of two photos: a mixing bowl of meatloaf mixture and an uncooked meatloaf in an Air Fryer basket.

While the meatloaf is cooking, prepare the glaze by mixing together the ketchup and BBQ sauce in a small bowl. When the meatloaf has cooked for 15 minutes, brush some of the glaze on the loaf. Note: You won’t use all of the glaze. Save the leftovers for serving. Air fry at 350F degrees for another 10 minutes. Meatloaf is done when an internal temperature reaches 160F degrees. 

collage of two photos: a small glass bowl with ketchup and bbq sauce and a brush brushing on the ketchup bbq sauce mixture onto the meatloaf in the air fryer.

Allow the meatloaf to rest for about 5 minutes. Then slice and serve with leftover glaze. 

A plate with sliced up air fryer meatloaf, broccoli, and mashed potatoes.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

I was looking at a meatloaf in an air fryer basket

Air Fryer Meatloaf

Air Fryer Meatloaf is a tasty dinner that is made even easier using the Air Fryer. Ready in just 35 minutes, this is a tender, moist meatloaf that is perfect for a busy weeknight!
5 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the meatloaf:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 slices bread, torn up into really small pieces
  • ½ Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon garlic powder

For the glaze:

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatloaf. I just use my clean hands for this. Don’t overwork the meat, just mix until combined.
  • Spray a 5-7 quart air fryer basket with olive oil nonstick cooking spray. Shape the meat into a loaf shape (at an angle) in the air fryer basket. You don’t want to make the meatloaf too thick or it won’t cook all the way through. Try to make the loaf shape as even as possible from end to end.
  • Air fry at 350F degrees for 15 minutes.
  • While the meatloaf is cooking, prepare the glaze by mixing together the ketchup and BBQ sauce in a small bowl.
  • When the meatloaf has cooked for 15 minutes, brush some of the glaze on the loaf. Note: You won’t use all of the glaze. Save the leftovers for serving.
  • Air fry at 350F degrees for another 10 minutes. Meatloaf is done when an internal temperature reaches 160F degrees.
  • Allow the meatloaf to rest for about 5 minutes. Then slice and serve with leftover glaze.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
  • The only way to know when meat is truly cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Because some air fryers cook differently, it is best to always check the temperature to know when it is fully cooked (don’t just go by time). It should read 160F degree when ready. 
  • You do not need to preheat the air fryer.
  • I prefer olive oil nonstick spray because it won’t gunk up the air fryer basket over time.
  • This meat held together really well. I was able to scoop it out with a large spatula and it held together well.
  • A lean meat is important here to reduce the amount of grease. I used 93% but I think you could even get away with 85%.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 1174mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 17g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious. As you suggested, I adjusted the seasonings to our taste. I increased the pepper and garlic and also added about 1/8 cup of bacon bits (probably will add more next time). The only issue I had was after the 25 minutes it was only 120 degrees. I cooked it for another 15 minutes and it was at 160. I used a Cosori Air Fryer.

  2. 5 stars
    This was easy and very good. I am used to doing meatloaf with veggies (onion/pepper) in it, but this quick, easy and good. I’ll make it again!

  3. I have a 4 in 1 Microwave/Air Fryer combo, will this recipe work with that since I do not have drop in basket? I have a round basket that is elevated inside the unit.

  4. 5 stars
    Who would’ve thought meatloaf in the air fryer?! Not me but I took a chance and I’m glad I did!! Whoa this is so good – thank you for the recipe and all the photos. I wish more websites did that but I know it’s a ton of work so thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Holy macaroni – this was delicious. My husband and I just finished eating your (now my) meatloaf. Ages ago I made meatloaf with ripped up soft bread and cream of mushroom soup. I’m lactose intolerant now, and have tried so many recipes, but the trend has been bread crumbs, and the meatloaf was always okay, but nothing to rave about. I was intrigued by how yours was different. My husband said he liked how it was a little crusty on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. )I liked how I didn’t have to chop up vegetables. Perfect lazy recipe.)

    The catsup and BBQ sauce was a perfect combo. I used Bear’s BBQ (CT company but I bought it on Etsy). Milk was fat free Lactaid.

    I used a Cosori Dual Blaze, which has heating elements on the top and bottom, and the basket is solid – no holes. A crisper tray with holes is inserted if wanted. I used it for better air circulation, and put a little piece of perforated parchment paper just in the center since the crisper has a couple large finger holes. Thanks so much for a perfect recipe. (No affiliation!)