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Do You Cover Meatloaf When Baking? (Explained)

Meatloaf is the classic American comfort meal. It’s the simple meal that many Americans were all raised eating for dinner and then again for lunch in their sandwiches.

It has gained popularity worldwide throughout the years and now almost the entire world craves a well-cooked meatloaf. 

For those unfamiliar, the meal consists of ground beef combined with spices such as herbs, onions, or ketchup, bonded together with eggs or breadcrumbs, shaped into a loaf shape, and baked.

Although it is often prepared with ground beef, it may also be made with lamb, turkey, pig, chicken, or veal. Now let’s get into the details of baking a meatloaf. Do you cover meatloaf when baking? Let’s find out.

Do you cover meatloaf when baking?

During baking, cover a single big meatloaf with a sheet of aluminum foil to maintain moisture but you will have to uncover it for the final 15 minutes. By covering the meatloaf in the initial stage and finally uncovering it, will get the best result. But first, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

You can bake a meatloaf covered or uncovered depending on your recipe. You will find multiple recipes that highlight one method is better than the other but it all comes down to your style of cooking. When you bake a meatloaf, a common issue is it gets dry.

To tackle this issue the easiest option is to cover the meatloaf with aluminum foil. Before putting the meatloaf right in the oven you will have to preheat the oven to 350 °F. Once the oven is preheated you can put the meatloaf in the oven.

In the latter stage of your baking, uncover the meatloaf and then bake it for another 15 minutes to get that appetizing look of the meatloaf.

If you cook the meatloaf uncovered then you will have to bake it for forty minutes in the oven at a temperature of roughly 400 degrees F. After that you will need to bake for an additional 15 minutes to get the texture.

Can you cover meatloaf when cooking?

You can cover your meatloaf when cooking as it will retain the moisture of the bread and the meatloaf won’t get dry even if you overcook it a little bit. A lot of professional chefs prefer using aluminum foil to get the best results while cooking the meatloaf.  

To assist you with remembering, here is a simple rule – When baking items with a golden exterior, bake them uncovered. This technique somewhat dries the food, which is sometimes beneficial.

If you wouldn’t want the food to brown but want it to retain moisture and softness, cover it. When baking food in a convection oven, you have the option of baking it covered or uncovered.

Convection ovens are ideal for roasting meats, and baking meatloaf, cookies, bread, and cakes in their whole.

Should you cover meatloaf with foil when baking?

Whether you should or shouldn’t cover meatloaf with foil when baking depends on the way you’re going to bake the meatloaf. But in an ideal situation, foil-covered meatloaf results in tastier food compared to any other type of coverings.

Aluminum foil is used in the household to store food, cover baking surfaces, and wrap items such as meats to keep them from losing moisture while heating.

Aluminum foil may also be used to cover and protect more delicate items, such as vegetables while grilling. Finally, it may be used to line grill trays to keep them clean and to scrape stubborn stains and debris off pans or grill grates.

Is it better to cook meatloaf covered or uncovered?

Most recipes advise cooking the meatloaf uncovered. But when you want a golden crust and soft inside it’s better to cook your meatloaf covered in aluminum foil.

At the last stage of the process by taking off the foil and baking it for a few more minutes, you will have a meatloaf that everyone desires.

In a preheated oven, cook uncovered for forty minutes. Bake for a further 15 minutes at 400°F or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Stale bread is a necessary component in meatloaf, as it acts as a binder for the meat. However, mixing in dry bread will dehydrate the meat. Take the following advice: To make the meatloaf moister, soak the bread in milk until it gets thick and mushy before mixing the mixture.

5 reasons why a meatloaf should be covered while baking:

Baking meatloaf covered has many advantages. It’s time to take a look at the top 5 reasons why a meatloaf should be covered while baking.


When you cover meatloaf with foil the moisture of the bread stays intact. The heat from the oven transfers to the foil and the foil’s heat then cooks the meatloaf. If you cook it covered, the bread will remain moist and soft.


Moisture or the number of water molecules is very important for meatloaf. A lot of the time, when you try to get that golden crust by cooking uncovered, the bread gets dry. By wrapping the meatloaf in foil you will be able to keep the moisture intact.

Prevents burning:

When you cook uncovered, the top layer gets golden quite early and the inside part of the meatloaf remains undercooked. So by wrapping it up, what you’re doing is cooking the inside part of the meatloaf first.

No risk of undercooking:

Baking a covered meatloaf prevents the meatloaf from cooking properly. As the outside crust cooks first (when cooked uncovered) it may appear that the entire meatloaf is thoroughly cooked but in reality, some parts remain undercooked.

But baking a foil-covered meatloaf lowers the risk to a great extent.

Combining methods:

One of the best advantages of baking a covered meatloaf is that once the interior is cooked throughout, you can then take the foil off and cook it uncovered. This gives the meatloaf a golden crust.

This combination of both methods is arguably the best way to cook the meatloaf.

How to cook a meatloaf in the oven?

Cooking meatloaf in the oven is quite an easy task if you know how to do it. If you can get the batter right, the oven will complete the rest of the job for you,

Preheat the oven:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Try to get the exact temperature on the oven but a few degrees fluctuation won’t be a major issue.

Heat the oil:

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until onion is soft.

Take the pan off the heat:

Take the pan off the heat and let it cool slightly. In a mixing basin, combine the onion, 3 tablespoons ketchup, and other ingredients; gently whisk just until incorporated.

Spread meat mixture:

Spread meat mixture onto a sprayed baking sheet and form into an 8 x 4-inch loaf. Brush the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup over the top of the loaf. Then wrap the meatloaf in aluminum foil and set it in the oven.

Cook the meatloaf:

Cook the meatloaf for 35 minutes at 350° or until a thermometer reads 160°. You can take it out after 25 minutes and then unwrap the meatloaf and cook it for another 15 minutes uncovered.

10 minutes of rest:

Allow 10 minutes of rest before slicing into 8 pieces. You can decorate the meatloaf according to your preference. By adding herbs or sprinkling a bit of parsley on top would look quite eye-pleasing.

How long to cook meatloaf at 375 covered or uncovered?

When cooking a 1 pound meatloaf at 375°F, it will take approximately 25 to 30 mins for the meatloaf to reach 160°F. It will take roughly 30 to 45 minutes for a 2-pound meatloaf to achieve a temperature of 160°F.

It will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes for a 3-pound meatloaf to achieve a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do you keep the meatloaf moist?

Additional moisture is required to keep even the finest meatloaf recipe moist. Soak the breadcrumbs or increase the liquid in a normal meatloaf recipe. One option is to soak your crumbs for 15 minutes in milk before incorporating them into your mixture.

Why is my meatloaf falling apart? 

One of the most frequent reasons for your meatloaf to fall apart is because it does not contain enough binding agents, such as eggs or breadcrumbs.

What temp should meatloaf be cooked at?

When pushed into the middle of the meatloaf, the internal temperature should reach 160°F. You can cook the meatloaf at 375°F. Cooking at 350°F is also okay as long as the internal temperature is 160°F

Final Thoughts:

You need to cover a single large meatloaf while baking. Use aluminum foil to keep it moist. But uncover the meatloaf for the last 15 minutes of baking. You’ll get the greatest results if you bake the meatloaf covered for the first half of the baking process and then uncover it for the latter half.