This Air Fryer Meatloaf is a quicker version of a classic comfort food! It’s ultra juicy, so flavorful, and slathered in a sweet and tangy three-ingredient sauce!
I never thought the phrase “I’m craving meatloaf” would ever come out of my mouth, but this air fryer meatloaf makes me actually crave meatloaf! The slightly crispy top with insanely juicy interior and tangy, sweet sauce is enough to make anyone say “I’m craving meatloaf”!
There are two parts to today’s recipe: a sauce and the meatloaf!
- Dark Brown Sugar – adds a rich, molasses flavored sweetness to cut the acidity of the ketchup.
- Ketchup – the tomato base for the meatloaf sauce. I use a no sugar added variety to keep the sugar content down, but use whatever you have on hand!
- Yellow Mustard – adds a bit of tang to cut the sweetness from the ketchup and brown sugar.
- Butter – used to cook the onion and garlic.
- Yellow Onion – gives the meatloaf a bit of texture and a sweet, caramel-y flavor.
- Garlic – adds a subtle nuttiness.
- Salt and Pepper – enhances flavors and adds a touch of spice.
- Breadcrumbs – give the meatloaf structure and helps bind everything together.
- Parmesan – adds a rich, salty cheese flavor! Adding cheese to the meatloaf really takes this recipe to another level.
- Buttermilk – soaks into the breadcrumbs to add moisture to the meatloaf. The acidity in buttermilk also helps break down the meat slightly so it’s extra tender and soaks in more flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce – adds a slightly salty and sweet tanginess.
- Ground Beef – I use lean ground beef (80/20) so the meatloaf is still perfectly tender but not overly fatty/oily.
- Egg – helps bind all of the ingredients together so the meatloaf can hold its shape.
How to make
Make the sauce, set aside until you’re ready to use, then whip up the meatloaf mixture with just a few minutes of prep and 40 minutes of cook time!
- Whisk together brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard in a medium sized bowl then microwave to warm.
- In a large skillet, melt butter then add in onion, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is tender.
- Move the mixture to a mixing bowl then add in breadcrumbs, parmesan, buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, ground beef, egg, and additional salt and pepper. Use your hands to fully combine the mixture.
- Transfer to a greased air fryer safe baking pan then cook in your air fryer preheated to 400ºF for 25-30 minutes.
- Let sit for 15 minutes, drain the excess grease, then turn out onto a cutting board and top with sauce before slicing and serving!
What meat to use for meatloaf
Use 80/20 lean ground beef for meatloaf. It contains enough fat to be ultra tender, but not too fatty so it’s overly greasy.
How long to air fry meatloaf?
This air fryer meatloaf cooks in 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees F! This is much faster compared to oven-baked meatloaf which cooks for 90 minutes.
The much shorter cook time makes this air fryer meatloaf absolutely perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner!
Do you need to let meatloaf rest?
Yes! Letting the meatloaf sit for 15 minutes in the air fryer basket gives the juices and flavors time to redistribute throughout the loaf. If you slice into it too soon the moisture will seep out and the meatloaf will be too dry.
Do you have to use buttermilk?
No, if you don’t have buttermilk, feel free to use whatever milk you have on hand. However, I DO recommend using buttermilk if you have it. The acidity in buttermilk helps break down the meat resulting in an ultra juicy and tender meatloaf.
What to serve with meatloaf
Meatloaf is the perfect entree to pair with any of your favorite side dishes! Here are a few of mine!
- Instant Pot Broccoli
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Vegetables
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Air Fryer French Fries
How to store
Leftover meatloaf will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave, bake, or air fry until warmed through.
Air Fryer Meatloaf
Equipment for this recipe
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound ground beef I used 80/20
- 1 large egg whisked
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 3/4 cups ketchup
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- Grease a 2 quart air fryer safe non-stick square baking pan (6.5L x 6.5W x 2.75H inch) with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat then add in onion, garlic, and a touch of salt and pepper.
- Cook until tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- Move mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- Add in breadcrumbs, parmesan, buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, ground beef, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Use your hands to mix the mixture until combined.
- Transfer mixture to the prepared baking pan and preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F.
- Air fry for 25-30 minutes or until the meat is fully cooked (160ºF internal temperature).
- Let sit for 15 minutes (I removed the whole basket from the air fryer and let it sit, because it was too hot to remove the baking pan from the basket).
- Carefully drain excess grease (there’s quite a bit) then turn out onto a cutting board.
- Top with desired amount of sauce (directions listed below), slice, then serve with the remaining sauce as dipping sauce.
- Whisk brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard in a medium sized bowl.
- Warm in the microwave before topping the meatloaf.
- Serve the rest alongside the meatloaf!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.