How Long to Cook 3 lb Meatloaf – Meatloaf Help

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Meatloaf is a delicious recipe that can be incredibly easy to make and quite cost-effective too! It is mostly a homely dish. You will not find it in many fancy restaurants but if you have a homemade meatloaf at someone’s house, it will be warm and delicious, and quite hearty too. Cooking a meatloaf is not too difficult but getting the timing right can be difficult depending on the size of your meatloaf. How long does it take to cook a 3-pound meatloaf? Keep reading for an answer, and for a quick 3 lb meatloaf recipe.

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How Long To Cook 3 Lb Meatloaf – Meatloaf Help

Table of Contents

Cooking a 3lb Meatloaf

Cooking a meatloaf is really easy and requires no special skills in the kitchen.

The most important thing is making sure you cook it for the perfect amount of time. Unlike other dishes where the timing is easy to assume, this recipe is not as friendly.

When people are making meatloaf, it can be really fun to improvise the ingredients and truly make it your own. This leads to people making meatloaves in varying sizes. The bigger your meatloaf is, the longer it will need to be cooked.

This explains why it can be quite difficult to know the perfect timings. While a certain meatloaf can be cooked in an hour, your meatloaf might take more or less time to cook based on if it is bigger or smaller.

How Long To Cook 3 Lb Meatloaf – Meatloaf Help

Cooking Times for Meatloaf

While meatloaf can be unpredictable in terms of cooking times, there is quite an easy rule of thumb to learn that will help you estimate the cooking time.

Per lb of weight the meatloaf has, it should be cooked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If your meatloaf is 3 pounds, it should take roughly an hour and a half until it is done.

A better way to cook a meatloaf is by using a meat thermometer and watching the temperature rise. When the temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit internally, your meatloaf is perfectly cooked.

It can be quite helpful to place a loose layer of tin foil over the meatloaf for the first half of the cooking process. This lets the meatloaf be steamed as well as cooked, cooking it faster and more evenly. When you enter the second half of the cooking time, take the tin foil off so that the top of the loaf can brown and crisp up.

Another way to help the top of the meatloaf is to brush it with an egg wash or BBQ sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking. This will flavor it slightly and improve the looks of the meatloaf dramatically.

Ingredients/Flavorings for Meatloaf

When making a meatloaf, it is generally up to you to decide what sort of flavor you want it to have. Beef is a very easy ingredient to flavor as it pairs well with almost anything. This gives you the opportunity to flavor the dish however you truly want to.

The main ingredients for meatloaf are;

  • Ground beef (or fresh beef if you have a meat grinder, marinated ground beef if you have it)
  • Onions (chopped)
  • Bell peppers (any color, chopped)
  • Minced garlic
  • Lightly beaten egg(s)
  • Ketchup
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Milk
  • Bread crumbs

I have purposely left out the quantity needed for each ingredient, as making meatloaf is mostly trial and error. You’ll learn what you like putting in it.

While it may sound unorthodox, there is no fun in copying an exact recipe for meatloaf. If you love garlic, put more in the recipe. If you are not a big fan of Worcestershire sauce, add less. It is your recipe to mess around with and customize.

Additionally, you can also change the ingredients to completely other ones. If you are not a big fan of beef, you can change that to make a lamb meatloaf instead. With a lamb meatloaf comes a lot of other options for ingredients such as mint. Lamb and mint pair wonderfully and that can be done in a meatloaf if you choose to.

(We also wrote about switching out beef in Philly cheesesteak to lamb, so check it out!)

Rest the Meatloaf before you Serve

Meatloaf, no matter what meat you make it with, should be rested after you have baked it.

When being cooked, the juices inside of meat will start moving to the outside of the food. This is why there is a sizzling noise when cooking a lot of meats.

Once finally cooked, your meatloaf will have had a lot of its moisture drawn to the outer layers of the dish and the middle part will be relatively dry. This is completely natural and is quite difficult to prevent.

However, to counter this you can rest your meatloaf to let the muscle fibers in the meat redistribute the moisture.

While you might be craving a freshly cooked, piping hot slice of meatloaf, you really want to wait for 10 minutes. The meatloaf can rest and the moisture can settle.

In these 10 minutes, the temperature will not change too much but the moisture of the loaf will dramatically change and be so much better. It is almost essential.

cooked meatloaf

Extra Tips for Meatloaf Cooking

Anyone who is wanting to try to cook their own meatloaf will be in need of some tips. Not everyone gets it right first try and that is completely natural. There is nothing wrong with following some tips on the internet to help you get better and better with each try.

Here’s a summary of tips, and some others!

  • Make sure you preheat your oven. Placing a meatloaf in the oven while it is heating up will lead to uneven cooking and the cooking time will also be increased.
  • While it is not entirely accurate, the general rule of thumb is that 30 minutes of cooking time is needed per pound the meatloaf weighs. A quick way to easily bypass this is to use a meat thermometer. When the meatloaf has an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, it is perfectly cooked.
  • It is borderline essential to rest your meatloaf after it has been cooked. It only needs to rest for 10 minutes and this will ensure that it is consistently moist all over. Having a meatloaf that is bone dry in the middle is very annoying.
  • Use tin foil to steam your meatloaf for the first half of the cooking time. Then take it off to let the top brown during the last half of the cooking time.
  • Have fun with the ingredients. Trial and error are fine, customize it to your wants and needs. Use whatever ingredients you can, and maybe even change the type of meat used.

How long to cook 3 lb meatloaf? – FAQs

What is meatloaf?

A meatloaf is quite an easy dish to both describe and understand. The name is quite literal as the dish can be broken down as a loaf made out of meat. This may not sound appealing to everyone yet it is delicious food that can be enjoyed all year round.
Meatloaf is typically made using ground beef as the main ingredient, although other types of meat can be used instead such as lamb or pork. There are other additives in the recipe that help flavor the dish, as just meat would be quite boring. These additives can sometimes be different herbs and spices or yogurts/sauces that are poured on top of the loaf.

What temperature do you cook a 3lb meatloaf on?

Meatloaf is best cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature can be changed yet this will directly affect the cooking time. 350 degrees is a good temperature as it is not too hot that the meat burns or goes dry, yet it also is not so low that it takes forever to cook fully.

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By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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