Knowing when your meat is properly cooked – and therefore safe to consume! — is super important. Steak cuts of meat taste delicious when cooked to the correct temperature, and chicken is rendered safe to eat.
But what about meatloaf?
Meatloaf is usually made of ground beef but can include other ground meats like pork and veal. This means that the ideal internal temperature of meatloaf will depend on what ingredients you have used.
You may also find that the internal temperature you are aiming for changes based on how you cook it.
Keep reading for the ultimate meatloaf temperature and cooking guide!
First, here is a basic minimum temperature for the two most commonly used types of meat in meatloaf.
Ground beef is safe to eat once it has all reached a minimum temperature of 160 °F (70 °C). For ground poultry – including ground turkey and chicken – you need to reach a minimum temperature of 165 °F (75 °C) for it to be 100% safe to eat.
Because you need to know the internal temperature of meatloaf to be completely sure that it is cooked, you do need to invest in an accurate meat thermometer.
Having this essential bit of kit in your utensil pot will take all the guesswork out of cooking meatloaf, giving you peace of mind that all of your meats are cooked to perfection.
There are also lots of temperature probes available that are oven safe. This means that you can insert the thermometer into your meatloaf, shove the meatloaf into the oven, set a temperature alarm, and go about your day.
Your thermometer will send you a notification once your meatloaf has hit your specified temperature.
This is a great system for someone who doesn’t like fussing. There is no need to take the meatloaf out, check the temperature, put it back in for a few more minutes if it is underdone, and repeat the process.
That said, keep in mind that you can’t go too far wrong with a more traditional thermometer.
Meatloaf Minimum Temperatures
Here is the definitive list of all meatloaf cooking temperatures.
A typical, 3lb beef-only meatloaf should be cooked in a preheated oven set to 375 °F (190 °C). We recommend that you bake it on a baking sheet that is at the center of the oven. This will help make sure that the meatloaf gets an even temperature.
Do your first temperature check after 50 minutes. Take it out of the oven when the internal temperature is 150 °F (65 °C).
The residual heat of the meatloaf will raise the temperature those last few degrees to 160 °F (70 °C) in around 15 to 20 minutes. This is why it is important to let your meat rest before serving!
If you are cooking a more traditional meatloaf recipe, you need to bake it in a preheated oven that is set to 350 °F (175 °C). Bake in the center of the oven and do your first temperature check after one hour.
A classic meatloaf needs to be heated a bit more than a beef-only meatloaf. This is because pork is safe to eat at a higher temperature than beef.
With this in mind, keep cooking your classic meatloaf until the internal temperature is at least 160 °F (70 °C).
A 3lb turkey meatloaf will take a bit longer to cook than a beef-only or even a classic meatloaf.
As such, it is best to cook in a 350 °F (175 °C) oven and do your first temperature check after an hour and fifteen minutes. You are looking for an internal temperature of 160 °F (70 °C).
Like the beef-only meatloaf, you need to let a turkey meatloaf rest for around 20 minutes before you carve or serve it.
During the resting period, the internal temperature will increase to 165 °F (75 °C). This extra time allows the residual heat of the meatloaf to raise the temperature a bit more, guaranteeing that all the poultry is 100% safe to eat.
Why Using The Internal Temperature Is Important
You may be wondering why the internal temperature of the meatloaf is so important for knowing if meat is safe to eat. The answer is quite simple.
When you cook in an oven, the heat penetrates the meatloaf from the outside in. This means that the outside will cook a bit more than the inside, hence why baked foods can develop a crust.
Because the heat penetrates to the middle, once the middle is at a specific temperature, you know that the rest of the meatloaf will be hotter. The internal temperature at the center of the meatloaf will always be the coldest part.
It can be difficult to ascertain how cooked or how safe to eat meatloaf is without knowing the internal temperature. This is why we recommend that you invest in a meat thermometer!
Because there are so many recipes for meatloaf, you do need to be aware of the different cooking temperatures of different ground meats.
Understanding different internal temperatures are essential if you want to make sure that your meal is safe to eat!
That said, no one wants to eat an overcooked and dry meatloaf. To avoid overcooking, we recommend that you invest in a meat thermometer.
A temperature probe will give you an accurate reading, so you know how hot your meatloaf is without guessing.
Meatloaf recipes will have different minimum temperatures.
However, as a ballpark, you need to aim for a minimum temperature of 160 °F (70 °C) for meatloaf with no poultry, and a temperature of 165 °F (75 °C) for one that does.
At these temperatures, all harmful bacteria have been killed, and you won’t get ill.