Think you don't have enough time to satisfy your meatloaf cravings? Think again! These mini meatloaf muffins are easy to make, full of flavor, and surprisingly nutritious. (Your family will never know there are veggies in every bite.)
If you're a meat eater, classic meatloaf is probably on your list of favorite comfort foods. The only problem is that on busy weeknights, when you need comfort food the most, there's no way you can prep and measure all the ingredients, preheat the oven, bake a full-size meatloaf, and make salads or some other thing to serve with it . . . unless you don't plan to eat until after 8 p.m. Enter: mini muffin tin meatloaves.
Tips for making mini meatloaf muffins
1. Make sure you shred that carrot.
Since the meatloaf muffins only bake for 25 minutes, you want any hidden vegetables to be in small enough pieces that they'll be nice and tender (and inconspicuous) when the meatloaves are done. I like to shred the carrot and finely dice the onion, but you could just finely chop both in a food processor to save time.
2. Know when to stop mixing.
I know it's frustrating when a recipe tells you not to overmix. But with meatloaf (and with most other recipes that warn against overmixing), it's an important thing to keep in mind. If you mix the meat for too long, it will result in meatloaves that are too dense and take longer to cook. Mix with your hands, using scooping and folding motions, NOT squeezing the meat through your fingers, just until the other ingredients are incorporated. Stop mixing as soon as the mixture looks pretty much uniform in color and texture.
3. Spoon the meatloaf mixture into the muffin cups, then flatten the tops.
Basically, don't handle the meat any more than you have to. If you compress the mixture when you transfer it to the muffin pan, the meatloaves will take longer to cook and will be too dense. Just spoon the mixture into the cups (each portion will be mounded over the rim), then use the back of the spoon to flatten the tops.
What to serve with mini meatloaves
If you're in a rush or want a super-quick dinner complete the plate with a big salad of baby spinach and raw vegetables. Otherwise, cook up one or two of these sides while the mini meatloaf muffins are baking:
- Mashed potatoes
- Microwave "baked" potatoes
- Steamed green vegetables (green beans, asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
- Egg noodles or pasta tossed with a little butter or oil and fresh herbs or greens
- Wilted spinach or other cooking greens
Mini Meatloaf Muffins
- Box grater
- Large bowl
- Standard size 12-cup muffin tin
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¾ cup finely chopped or grated yellow onion
- ½ cup finely shredded carrot (1 medium carrot)
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1.5 pounds 95% or 96% lean ground beef
- 1 cup ketchup, divided
- 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard (or whatever mustard you have in the fridge)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Spray a standard-size 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, oregano, and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then remove the skillet from the heat. Let the vegetable mixture cool slightly.
- Place the ground beef, ½ cup of the ketchup, the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, eggs, and cooked vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Mix gently with your hands or a silicone or rubber spatula until everything is just combined. (Stop mixing as soon as it looks like everything is incorporated; if you mix the meat for too long, the meatloaves will be too dense.)
- Divide the meat mixture evenly among the prepared muffin tin cups; flatten the tops. Top each portion with about 2 teaspoons of the remaining ketchup.
- Transfer the muffin tin to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until they register 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove the mini meatloaves from the oven. Let them cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Store any leftover mini meatloaves in an airtight container; refrigerate for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months.