Air Fryer Meatloaf is simple, quick, and delicious! The air fryer lets you cut the time it takes to bake a meatloaf in the oven nearly in half! And you still get a moist, super delicious perfectly cooked meatloaf. Make it with this barbecue cheddar recipe or use your favorite traditional meatloaf recipe.
Cooking a meatloaf in the oven takes me nearly 1 hour, but when making meatloaf in the air fryer, it takes just 30 minutes! That's half the time.
And if you're like me and always looking for ways to make dinner easier and quicker, the air fryer is one of the best kitchen gadgets to get. And start using. Fast. I love using my dual Instant Pot/Air Fryer and use it multiple times a day!
When making meatloaf in the air fryer, you can use any recipe you'd like and the time will remain consistent. I've included a recipe for barbecue cheddar meatloaf below. You can use the classic meatloaf recipe I use to make mini meatloaf muffins too, or pick your family's favorite.
Follow the cook time and tips below for any meatloaf recipe.
1 lb loaf: 25-27 minutes
2 lb loaf: 40-47 minutes
Meatloaf should cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer to periodically check on it, especially toward the end.
What's the Difference Between Meatloaf in the Air Fryer and in the Oven?
The key difference between making meatloaf in the air fryer versus the oven is the time it takes. An oven-baked meatloaf takes 45-90 minutes depending on the size of the loaf. Whereas an air-fried meatloaf takes between 25 and 50 minutes, about half the time.
Air fryer meatloaves tend to get a browned, "crispier" top than those cooked in the oven, because the air circulates evenly around the meatloaf. Using a glaze is important, as it reduces this.
Air fryers are also smaller than ovens so you generally need to make a small loaf, either 1 or 1.5 pounds. This is ideal for smaller families, couples, and those who don't want leftovers.
The above ingredients are needed for my barbecue cheddar meatloaf recipe, otherwise use your own meatloaf recipe.
What Type of Meat Can I Use?
Use any ground meat to make meatloaf, including ground turkey, beef, chicken, venison or lamb. You can also use a plant-based meat substitute, like that from Beyond Meat.
It's incredibly simple to make meatloaf in the air fryer. It's done in 4 steps:
Step 1. Mix together the ingredients, reserving some cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce for the topping.
Step 2. Spray or brush the air fryer basket or tray with olive oil. Alternatively, line with a piece of parchment paper. Put the mixture into the basket or on the tray and shape into a loaf.
Step 3. Set to 370 degrees F for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes, brush with the glaze and top with cheese.
Step 4: Set the timer for 5 more minutes. The cheese should be melted and beginning to brown and the internal temperature should be 165 degrees when done. If needed, cook longer in 2 minute increments. *A 2 lb meatloaf will need to cook for 40-45 minutes.
Let rest for 5-10 minutes before removing.
Then enjoy! Serve with your favorite side dishes. I recommend making these crispy air fryer rosemary baby potatoes. They are incredibly addicting and a perfect side for meatloaf!
Tips for Cooking Meatloaf in the Air Fryer
- It's easiest to shape the meatloaf directly in the air fryer basket or on the grill tray.
- You can place the meatloaf directly on the air fryer basket, parchment paper, or on a grill tray for toaster type air fryers. When using the grill tray or basket, the fat will drip down and away from the meatloaf, and in my opinion, this is the best way to cook it. Parchment paper causes the fat to build up around the meatloaf.
- If not concerned about the fat buildup, use parchment paper to make removal easy. This is particularly true for basket-style air fryers.
- It may be tricky to remove meatloaf from an air fryer basket, especially if you're using an Instant Pot air fryer lid. To make it easy, slide a spatula under the meatloaf to loosen it. Then use 2 spatulas placed under both short ends to remove it.
- Always spray the basket or tray or brush with oil to make the meatloaf easier to remove.
- Cook at a lower temperature to avoid quick browning of the top.
- Glaze the meatloaf with 5-10 minutes remaining to prevent the top from becoming too browned or crispy. The biggest concern some people have with air frying meatloaf is that the top becomes crispy.
- Check on the meatloaf every 5 or so minutes, especially if it's your first time making it in the air fryer. If the top does start to brown sooner or more than you'd like before the meatloaf is fully cooked, cover it with aluminium foil until it's time to glaze.
- Let the meatloaf cool in the air fryer for about 10 minutes after it's done cooking with the lid off or the door open. This will let it set and reduce the chance of it breaking as you remove it.
- A 1 pound meatloaf fits in most air fryers better than a 2 pound loaf.
This recipe makes a 1 pound meatloaf and will serve 3-4 people depending on portion size. Increase the ingredients proportionally for a larger loaf and increase the cooking time as mentioned earlier.
Serve it with your favorite comforting side dishes. Some recommendations are:
- Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes
- Twice Baked Potatoes with Cheddar and Chives
- Easy Mashed Cauliflower
- Broccoli Garlic Pasta Shells with Olive Oil and Parmesan
- Fried Asparagus Sticks
FAQs for this Recipe
Meatloaf needs a binding agent to keep its shape prior to cooking and to prevent it from crumbling once cooked. Bread crumbs and eggs work together as a binder for meatloaf. Some recipes also call for milk, which adds moisture and helps to hold ingredients together.
Parchment paper can be used in an air fryer. However, like with all appliances, check your manual to ensure you can use it with your brand and model.
You only need to put aluminum foil over your meatloaf if you want to keep the entire loaf moist instead of having the top a little crisp. If you do cover it with foil, remove it for the last 5 minutes.
Using too many eggs in your meatloaf will cause a runny mix that will be hard to shape and get to stick together prior to cooking. Furthermore, too many eggs whites may cause a rubbery texture after cooking.
Air Fryer Meatloaf
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ ranch seasoning packet
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
- Mix the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, ranch seasoning, salt, pepper, ½ cup cheddar cheese and ¼ cup barbecue sauce.
- Spray or brush the air fryer basket with olive oil. Put the meatloaf mixture into the basket and shape into a loaf. Set the temperature to 370° and the timer to 20 minutes.
- At the end of the 20 minutes, brush with the remaining barbecue sauce and top with the remaining cheddar cheese. Set the timer for 5 more minutes. The cheese should be melted and beginning to brown and the internal temperature should be 165 degrees F when done. If needed, cook longer in 2-minute increments until temperature has been reached. *A 2 lb meatloaf will need to cook for 40-45 minutes.
- Let rest for 5-10 minutes before removing.
- You can place the meatloaf directly on the basket, on parchment paper, or on a grill tray.
- Always spray the basket or brush with oil to make the meatloaf easier to remove.
- Check on the meatloaf every 5 or so minutes, especially if it's your first time making it in the air fryer. If the top does start to brown sooner or more than you'd like before the meatloaf is fully cooked, cover it with foil until it's time to glaze.
- A 1 pound meatloaf fits in most air fryers better than a 2 pound loaf. Increase the ingredients proportionally to make a bigger loaf.
I hope you've enjoyed this recipe and will let me know what you thought in the comments below. Happy air frying!