~ These delicious little Meatloaf Muffins capture all that homestyle, old-fashioned meatloaf flavor your family loves, in a quick-baking mini! Prep them ahead for a super-fast, comforting dinner on busy nights! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Make Ahead •
Don’t you just feel so great when you serve your family a comfort food meal that’s full of classic, homey vibes? Always makes me feel so terrific!
It’s like welcoming everyone home with a big, warm (and yummy!) hug. Ahhhhhhh home.
But, like you, I don’t want dinner to just be good … I want it to be good for us, too!
I don’t feel so great about comfort food if it’s also full of fat and calories and empty carbs … and all those things that make most so-called “comfort foods” so naughty.
That’s why I LOVE re-inventing recipes – like classic, old fashioned meatloaf – so they’re healthier, but still brimming with all the homestyle goodness my family adores.
Yep! Old fashioned meatloaf just got a teeny, tiny little (muffin-sized!) health-ification makeover.
But your fam is still gonna go crazy for it. Trust me – I’ve seen the meatloaf love-fest firsthand!
Why You (and Your Family!) Will LOVE These
These adorable mini meatloaf “muffins” have:
• All that classic, beefy, savory homestyle meatloaf flavor. Tender and moist and satisfying. YUM.
• They’re super easy to make.
• And … a bonus of making muffin tin meatloaf (instead of the regular, big ol’ single meatloaf) is that these mini guys bake soooooo much faster. Which, of course, is a total lifesaver on busy nights!
• These mini meatloaf muffins are also really cute and kid-appealing. As I point out in our articles about picky eaters, kiddos find mini-sized foods much more alluring and novel. It’s the same allure that makes our Mini Deep Dish Pizzas recipe and our Mini Quiches so approachable for kiddos. Yay – one less dinner battle!
• Plus, if you’re keeping track of portions and calories, the whole idea of individual meatloaves will help you keep portion sizes in check, too.
So, yeah. These are pretty great for just a whole lotta reasons!
Wanna make ’em? It’ll only take a few minutes! Let me walk you through, step by step …
How to Make Meatloaf Muffins
The basic strategies here are similar to the way I make my Asian-inspired Mini Meatloaves. (Which BTW, are a great flavor twist to help you step outside the typical homestyle flavors, but still keep serve up comfort foods. Make a note: gotta try those, too!)
Here’s what ya do …
You begin by lightly beating an egg, and then adding a bit of milk, some minced onion, seasonings and parmesan cheese.
Ingredient Note: Wondering why most traditional, old fashioned meatloaf recipes call for an egg? As BH&G explains, the egg serves as a binder and helps keep your meatloaf moist.
Next, you lightly mix in some panko breadcrumbs (preferably whole-wheat, if you can find it, just for the nutrition boost).
Now guys, this may seem like a small detail, but the panko really is important. I don’t recommend substituting regular breadcrumbs unless you absolutely can’t find panko.
I know I keep calling this an “old fashioned” meatloaf recipe, but the panko is a more modern addition that will really help you up your meatloaf game! Why? Wellllll …
Ingredient Tip: Panko (aka Japanese breadcrumbs) are lighter, crisper and fluffier than the old-style, sand-like breadcrumbs. Although you can use regular breadcrumbs in a pinch, they can leave your meatloaf seeming mushy, whereas panko will yield a lighter, more tender final texture.
That also explains why I like to hold off on adding the panko until after I’ve mixed most of the other wet ingredients and seasonings together. And why I tell you to stir the panko in just lightly. You want the panko to maintain as much of its fluffy, airy texture as possible, so don’t overwork it or smoosh it around too much.
And speaking of not overworking things, you also don’t want to overwork your ground beef. That can lead to dense, tougher meatloaf.
To keep mixing to a minimum, try to break up the beef and sprinkle it across the other (already-mixed) ingredients. Then, you can gently fold in the bits of ground beef without over-mixing.
Pro Tip: I actually find that the most effective way to gently mix the ground beef in is simply with your hands. You’re going to be digging in to shape the meatloaf with your hands, anyway.
Divide your meatloaf mixture evenly among 12 regular-sized muffin cups that you’ve lightly coated with nonstick spray. You have two options here:
Option 1: To get the best shape, spend a couple extra minutes to gently form each mini meatloaf before you nestle it into the muffin tin.
Option 2: Alternately, though, you can also just press each meatloaf directly into the muffin tin.
Either way, though, try not to press and compact them too much along the way. Again … we’re keeping things light and airy and avoiding dense, tough meatloaf bricks!
Quickly stir up a little ketchup-y glaze, and spread it enticingly across each little meatloaf. Mmmmmmm.
Lickety-split … they’re all ready to pop in the oven!
And they’ll be ready in a fraction of the time it takes a normal “loaf” of meatloaf to bake.
A homestyle, comfort-food dinner will be on the table in a jiffy!
Doesn’t that feel awesome?!? Yay!
And like I said before, you’ll also feel terrific knowing that the comforting dinner your family is mmmmmmm-ing over (and asking you to make again next week please) is also healthier, too.
Win win win!
How This Mini Meatloaf Recipe is a Bit Healthier
Just like my Hoisin-Glazed Muffin Tin Meatloaf, this recipe is based off of a fan favorite from the long-ago days when I worked at a meal prep service here in my town, called Clever Chef Works.
The Old-Fashioned Meatloaf was a regular menu item there, and customers absolutely adored it – my own family included.
But, that version was a fat-loaded, 2-pound slab of meatloaf (that needed nearly 1½ hours to bake). I wanted to re-imagine it in a way that worked better for my family’s healthy eating goals (and our busy schedule). So, I …
√ Simply swapped the original recipe’s fattier ground beef for the leanest I can find – usually 96% lean (which is actually leaner than many ground turkey mixtures).
√ Oh – and remember I mentioned that the original was literally a 2-pound slab!?!? Yeah … that was marketed as 4 portions. My-oh-my! That’s not even close to being a reasonable portion size! My version is just right for a family of 4. And, of course, if you’re feeding a larger crew, you can always grab a second muffin tin and double the recipe (psssst … leftovers are yummy, too)!
√ Plus, I slashed the amount of brown sugar and also sugar-y ketchup in the glaze. I tested several different amounts and proportions and settled on one that still tastes fantastic and just like the classic, but with a lot less sugar (and, therefore fewer calories, too). A final tip here: be sure to reach for natural or organic ketchup, so you’re sure it isn’t loaded with high-fructose corn syrup.
√ I also always reach for nonfat milk instead of the original recipe’s 2%. A modest savings in fat and calories, but every little bit adds up!
√ And the last tweak? What I serve my meatloaf with …
What to Serve with Your Muffin Tin Meatloaf
Other good bets would be:
- Simple, Oven Roasted Carrots or Roasted Asparagus
- In summer, Grilled Corn and maybe Italian Pasta Salad
- Or maybe Roasted Root Vegetables and a Spinach, Apple and Cheddar Salad for a more cozy, autumn vibe.
Trust me, whatever sides you pick, these meatloaves will be an automatic family favorite!
Can I Use Dried Parsley Instead of Fresh?
I prefer fresh parsley in this recipe, but your little meatloaf muffins will still be yummy if you sub in dried instead. Simply use 1 1/2 TEASPOONS of dried, instead of the 1 1/2 TABLESPOONS of fresh the recipe calls for.
Is It Ok If Meatloaf Is Still Pink in the Middle?
Sometimes even fully cooked ground beef (in burgers, meatloaf, etc.) may still be a bit pink inside. This can happen for a variety of reasons. But, according to the USDA, ground beef is good to go as long as it’s reached 160°F in the middle.
Can I Double or Even Triple the Recipe?
Sure thing! Just scale up all the ingredients and use extra muffin tins!
Can I Make This Meatloaf Recipe Ahead?
You can fully prep the meatloaves even as much as a day ahead. Just store them in their muffin tin in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap. (Remember to remove the plastic before baking, though!) These also reheat nicely, if you need to bake them fully ahead. Rewarm them in the microwave, gently at 50% power, just until they’re warm. Don’t blast them with lengthy, full-power reheating, though, or they’ll be tough.
So simple, so delicious, so “welcome home, family!”
Yep … with a few simple tweaks, it’s really easy to snare all the old fashioned, homestyle flavors of meatloaf … in a healthier recipe you can actually feel great serving to your family.
A comfort-food hug you can be comfortable with!!
Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?
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- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup nonfat milk
- 1/4 cup minced sweet onion
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (salt-free)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs, preferably whole-wheat, see note)
- 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
- 3 tablespoons ketchup (preferably natural or organic)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, beat egg lightly with a fork.
- Add milk, onion, parmesan, parsley, salt, Italian seasoning, and black pepper, and stir thoroughly to combine. Add panko and lightly mix again.
- Break up beef, sprinkling it over top of egg mixture, and then gently mix just until combined, being careful not to over-mix, as this can cause your meatloaves to become overworked and tough.
- Divide the meat mixture evenly among 12 muffin cups that have been sprayed with nonstick spray, pressing lightly to shape. (See note.)
- In a small bowl, combine Glaze ingredients of ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard, and spread evenly across the meatloaves.
- Bake meatloaves for about 18-20 minutes, or until the meatloaves are cooked through but not overcooked and dry.
Panko: Although we prefer to use whole wheat panko for the slight boost in nutrition, regular panko is just fine if you can't find whole wheat. Panko has a much crispier, airier texture than "regular" breadcrumbs and is great for keeping the texture of the meatloaves light, but if you absolutely can't find panko, you can substitute regular breadcrumbs in a pinch.
Shaping meatloaves: These look wonderful if you gently shape each individual meatloaf into a patty before placing them into the muffin cups. If you're in a hurry, you can also just press the meatloaves directly into the muffin pan (being careful not to compact them too tightly so they're not tough once cooked).
Make-ahead tips: You can assemble the meatloaves and spread them with glaze the night before or earlier in the day. Just cover with plastic wrap (to be removed before baking) and refrigerate until you're ready to bake them.
These also reheat well, on a gentle 50% power in your microwave, just until warm (don't overheat or they'll be tough).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 3 mini meatloaves
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 287Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 662mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 38g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.