Incredibly moist, tender and flavourful, this Meatloaf in the Air Fryer might claim your new favourite way of cooking meatloaf. This no breadcrumb Air Fryer Meatloaf is gluten free, Keto friendly and makes a hearty meal for the entire family any night of the week!
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ piece of meatloaf? It just has family friendly comfort food written alllll over it…doesn’t it? Especially when served up next to some Garlic Mashed Potatoes or roasted veggies like Broccoli or Cauliflower.
The best part about a classic meatloaf recipe is that it’s totally customizable (can we even go so far as to call it the perfect clean-out-the-fridge meal?!), sooooo easy to make and, when you let the air fryer do the cooking, they’re super hard to mess up. Like super, super hard. Meaning ANYONE aka you (or anyone you want to pawn the meatloaf making task to ;)) can do it!!! This Air Fryer Meatloaf is a fun and easy meal any night of the week that will feed alllll the hungry mouths. The combination of the perfectly spiced ground beef, brushed with a homemade Keto BBQ glaze is simply irresistible. Even for self-proclaimed BBQ sauce haters, like me.
Air Fryers. Is there anything these things can’t do?! *thinks back to the pre-air fryer times and wonders how I got on with my life* From perfectly crispy chicken wings every single time to the best homemade french fries and now this meatloaf in the air fryer, I’m truly convinced this thing can do anything! If you haven’t hopped on the Air Fryer train just yet, just take one look at this moist and tender meatloaf to get an idea of what you’re missing. You need one.
Meatloaf is such a classic comfort food recipe and one my mama used to make a lot growing up. It’s easy to see why this was one of her go-to dinners. It’s simple to make and doesn’t really require very many steps to get it just right. And now with the air fryer involved, a luxury my mama didn’t have, it’s basically fool proof and makes me wonder if I’ll ever turn on the oven to cook up a meatloaf again. And the best part? It’s ready in half the time of regular oven meatloaf! So, WIN. WIN.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS MEATLOAF IN THE AIR FRYER
This air fryer meatloaf recipe might seem pretty basic at first glance but don’t be fooled, it’s packed with flavour! However, if you’re looking to get a little extra crazy with your next meatloaf, try my Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Meatloaf Recipe instead!
- Ground Beef: The hearty base of our meatloaf! The rest of the ingredients perfectly compliment the ground beef making it flavourful and delicious. Although any type of ground beef will work in this recipe, I tend to gravitate towards using full fat rather than lean. If you do use lean, just keep in mind that the meatloaf might turn out a tad drier as there isn’t as much moisture circulating throughout (try cooking it for less time to avoid this). For a different twist, you can try making this meatloaf with other ground meats instead. Pork, turkey, chicken, bison or lamb are all great options.
- Egg: Adds flavour and structure to the meatloaf. Also acts as a binder to hold the meatloaf together in the absence of breadcrumbs.
- Mustard: Adds a light, almost citrusy flavour to the meatloaf and helps to bind the ingredients together. Makes it moist and delicious. I used regular ol’ yellow mustard but any kind would be delicious – dijon, honey (if not Keto), whole or spicy make great options.
- Ketchup: Adds flavour and acts as a binder to keep the meatloaf together. We add it directly to the meatloaf and it’s also an important component of the homemade Keto BBQ sauce glaze. If you’re following a Keto diet, be sure to use the sugar free version.
- Coconut Aminos: Used for the glaze and is not added to the meatloaf itself. Gives the BBQ sauce topping the perfect smokey flavour. If not Keto, feel free to use soy sauce instead.
- Parsley: Adds a fresh herbiness to the meatloaf. I personally love the flavour that fresh parsley adds. However, if all you have on hand is dry parsley, use 1 tbsp instead of the 2 fresh.
- Onion: For flavour, texture and a bit of crunch. I chose not to sautée the onions here because I like their pungent taste and the crunch factor they provide. However, if you want a more subtle onion flavour and no crunch, feel free to sautée them with the minced garlic before adding them in. RECIPE NOTE: I’m not going to lie, some of you might find that there are too many onions in this recipe. As a onion lover, I didn’t reallllly (except for the few that get left outta the mix when I was combining the ingredients). But if you’re not too big on onions, simply use 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup and cut them a little smaller or you might find them a bit overpowering.
- Garlic: Adds flavour and freshness cause as I always say, every good dish has a little bit of garlic! Fresh minced garlic is best for adding directly to the meatloaf while garlic powder is better for adding to the glaze.
- Italian Seasoning: Adds the perfect flavour to the ground beef and is my secret little way of adding maximum flavour with only one spice. Italian seasoning is generally a mixture of spices like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon so you get all of those Mediterranean flavours in just a single spice.
- Smoked Paprika: Adds a nice smoky flavour to the meatloaf and goes incredibly well with the homemade Keto BBQ sauce glaze.
- Parmesan Cheese: Adds a sharp, rich flavour to the meatloaf. Freshly grated is best in this recipe.
- Garlic/Onion Powder: The perfect addition to the BBQ sauce glaze making it extra smoky and flavourful.
- Salt/Pepper: Yeah, yeah, cause every dish needs a little bit of salt and pepper, IMHO. They balance out the ingredients and amplify the rest of the flavours.
HOW TO MAKE MEATLOAF IN THE AIR FRYER (KEY TIPS)
- Use your hands to combine the ingredients. Go on, get dirty! This is the best possible way to ensure the proper combining of the ingredients without overworking the meat (see next note).
- Don’t overwork the meat. I know this part can be tempting because you really do want to make sure you properly combine all of the ingredients. But if you work it too much, the meat becomes tough and you’ll end up with a dense/drier meatloaf after cooking. Just fold it enough times that the ingredients are just combined but don’t overdo it.
- Use a loaf pan to help get the meatloaf into the perfect shape. I mean, if you don’t have one or you’re feeling up to the task, you can always try and free form it using your hands. I just find that the loaf pan is the easiest way to get the perfect shape and size with the least amount of work. But again, DO NOT press the meatloaf firmly down into the pan. Pack it loosely then use your hands or a spatula to gently fill the cracks and edges. When you turn it out onto the pan, you’ll be able to shape it more and fill in some of the cracks. EXTRA TIP: Line the loaf pan with a piece of siran wrap or parchment paper to ensure nothing sticks. The meatloaf should easily slide right out of the pan when you turn it out onto the baking sheet.
- Air fry the meatloaf on it’s own, first, and then add the glaze and finish air frying. If added too early, the glaze will burn in the air fryer. See the recipe card down below for detailed times and instructions. EXTRA TIP: All air fryers are different so you might need to add more or less time to the cooking. The meatloaf is done when an instant meat thermometer reads 160ºF.
- Allow the meatloaf to rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes before serving/eating. This will allow it to retain it’s juices and lock in all the flavours making it extra moist and delicious. It’s also way easier to cut after it’s rested for a few minutes. If you try and cut into it too soon, you’ll end up with a crumbly mess!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Leftover air fryer meatloaf should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge. It’ll be good for up to one week. To reheat, simply add the pieces back into the air fryer and cook until heated through. Mine has a reheat function but if yours doesn’t, just put set it to 350° for about 10 minutes or until all the pieces are completely warmed through.
Yes, you can definitely freeze meatloaf after preparing and shaping it. For best results, follow the instructions in the recipe card down below up until step number five. Then, place the shaped meatloaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to stiffen/harden up a bit. It’ll be a lot easier to handle this way! Then, simply wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap and foil, then freeze. It’ll be good for up to 6 months. Simply thaw it in the fridge the night before you want to it eat and proceed with the cooking instructions.
AIR FRYER NOTE: If you’re lucky enough to have an air fryer like mine that is able to cook food from frozen, you don’t even need to thaw the meatloaf at all before cooking. Simply adjust the cooking time (starting in 10 minute increments) until it’s fully cooked through.
The best part about meatloaf is that it truly goes great with just about anything. Obviously potatoes (in any way, shape or form!) is like a match made in Heaven. Try it with these oven roasted Greek style potatoes, these creamy spinach mashed potatoes, these air fryer french fries or this no mayo potato salad. Veggies also make a great side dish option for this air fryer meatloaf. Some of my favourites are cheesy cauliflower (aka cauliflower “mac” & cheese), simple sautéed rapini or grilled cabbage steaks. And lastly, you can’t go wrong with a tasty salad on the side of this air fryer meatloaf. These ones are must trys: kale caesar salad, cucumber salad with dill, broccoli salad with bacon and tangy coleslaw with vinegar.
For the Meatloaf
- 2 pounds Ground Beef
- 1 cup Onion, diced*
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Egg
- 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Ketchup (sugar free if Keto)
- 1 tbsp Mustard
- 1.5 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
For the Keto BBQ Glaze
- 1/4 cup (sugar free) Ketchup
- 2 tbsp Coconut Aminos
- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
- If your air fryer requires preheating, do so now to 400°.
- Combine the ingredients for the meatloaf in a large bowl. I find it best to use my hands to do this however, be careful not to overwork the meat.
- Coat the bottom of a 9 x 5 loaf pan with a piece of plastic wrap.
- Loosely transfer the meat mixture into the loaf pan. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to fill the cracks and edges being careful not to pack it in tooooo firm. If you don't have a loaf pan, just shape it using your hands.
- Turn the meatloaf out onto the baking sheet that came with the air fryer lined with parchment paper. If needed, smooth out the sides and edges of the meatloaf with your hands shifting around some of the meat to fill any holes. Don't worry too much about the top, as that part will be covered by the glaze.
- Air fry the meatloaf at 400° for 20 minutes (on the bake setting, if you have one).
- While the meatloaf is cooking, mix the BBQ glaze ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
- Pull the meatloaf out of the air fryer when it beeps. Using a basting brush, brush the BBQ glaze all over the top and sides of the meatloaf.
- Return it to the air fryer and air fry an additional 5 minutes.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a cutting board and cutting into thick slices. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Some of you may find 1 cup of onion too much for this air fryer meatloaf recipe. If you're not an onion lover like I am, considering only using 1/2 cup (and chopping them a little smaller) or you might find them a little overpowering.
You might have some glaze left, depending on how heavy you initially decide to go with it. If I do have some extra, I'll serve it alongside the meatloaf for dipping or save it to reglaze the leftover pieces before reheating them.
Since every air fryer is different, you may need to add more or less time depending. The meatloaf is done when an instant meat thermometer reads 160ºF.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 167mgSodium: 713mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 43g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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