Meatloaf can either make the perfect leftover meal or be a dry, tasteless mess.
Lots of the information I found online about reheating meatloaf was rubbish – one website even recommended putting foil in the microwave!
I decided that the best thing to do was to try out a bunch of different ways to reheat meatloaf, so I could see for myself what works and what doesn’t.
If you want tried and tested information, you’re in the right place.
A note on my experiment
One Friday night, I baked a (delicious) meatloaf and made sure to have plenty left over for the tests I had planned.
The next day, I reheated my meatloaf using the following methods:
- The microwave (the winner)
- Steaming (surprisingly good)
- A skillet on the stove (not the results I expected)
- The oven (good for whole meatloaves )
- The air fryer (not recommended)
To perfect the techniques, I tested a few variations of each method (such as foil or no foil in the oven).
I was looking for warm, moist meatloaf, which held its shape and tasted just as good as the day before.
Top tip: allow the meatloaf to reach as close to room temperature as possible before reheating. This will help you to avoid over-cooking the outside layers while the interior comes up to temperature.
Reheating meatloaf in the microwave
Place 2-3 slices of meatloaf on a microwave-safe plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Heat the meatloaf in 30-second intervals until it’s steaming hot, approximately 1 minute for a slice. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 1 minutes before serving.
How to reheat meatloaf in the microwave:
- Slice your meatloaf (a whole meatloaf will heat unevenly).
- Place the slices on a microwave-safe plate.
- Cover the slices with a damp towel (unless they are really soggy, in which case skip this step).
- Put the meatloaf into the microwave and heat in 30-second intervals until the meatloaf is piping hot (usually around 1 minute for a single slice).
- Allow your meatloaf to rest for a minute before serving.
Meatloaf typically gets drier the longer you store it.
The damp paper towel creates steam, which re-moisturizes the meat and keeps it juicy.
An alternative is to drizzle some water or stock over the meatloaf and then cover it with a lid to trap the steam.
Stock can help add some flavor back into the meat.
Microwaving meatloaf is hands-down my favorite way to heat the leftovers.
Microwaving is quick and easy, and as long as you remember to use short intervals, your meatloaf will turn out moist and yummy.
Grandma would be proud!
Reheating meatloaf by steaming
To reheat meatloaf in a steamer, set the steamer up (or build a makeshift one) and bring the water to a gentle simmer. Slice your meatloaf and place the slices in the steamer basket. Cover with a lid and steam for 3-5 minutes.
How to reheat meatloaf by steaming:
- Set your steamer up on the stove.
- Bring the water to a simmer.
- Cut your meatloaf into slices.
- Lay out your slices in the steamer basket.
- Cover the steamer with a lid.
- Steam for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices.
- Remove from the steamer and serve hot.
If you don’t have a steamer, making one is easy.
You have two main options:
- Use a deep pot with a lid and a colander.
- Place some aluminum foil balls in a skillet and then rest a plate on top of the balls. Fill the bottom of the skillet with water, and find a lid.
If your sauce is pretty runny, you may want to consider heating it separately in a pan. Otherwise, it could slide off the meatloaf and into the water.
I was a bit worried that the sauce on my meatloaf would melt off and be ruined.
Luckily, this didn’t happen.
The steamer left my meatloaf moist and soft with that great piquant flavor of the sauce still evident.
It was a bit fiddlier than the microwave, which is why it’s come in second.
Note: if your meatloaf is already pretty wet and soggy, the steamer could make it worse, so I would avoid this method.
Reheating meatloaf in the oven
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the meatloaf on a baking tray and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of water over it. Cover loosely with foil and heat for 7-12 minutes. A whole meatloaf requires 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil for the last few minutes for a crisper finish.
How to reheat meatloaf in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Take the meatloaf out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (this helps with even heating).
- Place the meatloaf on a baking tray and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of water or stock over it (if your meatloaf is soggy, skip this step).
- Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven.
- Heat the meatloaf in the oven for 7-12 minutes for slices (a whole meatloaf will require 20-25 minutes).
- Remove the foil from the meatloaf for the last 2-5 minutes for a crisper finish.
- Remove from the oven and serve hot.
The foil will prevent the meatloaf from drying out and protect the outside layer from burning.
If you have a soggy meatloaf that you want to dry out, don’t use foil.
If you want to produce a crisper finish all-round, use a wire rack instead of a baking tray. Just remember to put a tray underneath the wire rack to catch any drips.
Top tip: for a whole meatloaf, stick a knife into the thickest part and feel how hot the metal is when you pull it out. If it’s warm, the meatloaf is done.
I was happy with the end result – it just took too long.
If you have an entire meatloaf to reheat, the oven is your only real option. But for a slice or two, it’s so much easier to just pop it in the microwave.
Reheating meatloaf in a skillet
Cut your meatloaf into slices and cover the bottom of a skillet with water or stock. Heat the skillet on a medium heat. When the skillet is hot, place your meatloaf slices into the pan and cover it with a lid. Heat for 2 minutes on one side, flip over, and repeat for 1-2 minutes on the other side.
How to reheat meatloaf in a skillet:
- Heat just enough water or beef stock to cover the bottom of a skillet on medium heat.
- Cut your meatloaf into slices.
- When the skillet is hot, place your slices into the pan.
- Cover the pan with a lid to allow steam to build up without escaping.
- Heat for 2 minutes on one side, then flip the meatloaf over and heat for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Remove and serve hot.
If you want a crisper result, you can use oil instead of water.
Keeping the heat level on medium means you avoid burning your meat before it’s warmed all the way through.
Go easy on the liquid in the pan because you don’t want to end up with a soggy mess.
You can always add a little more water if you need to stop the skillet from drying out completely.
This was one of my least favorite methods to reheat meatloaf.
The meatloaf ended up being a little wet, as it’s resting in liquid all the time.
I used water in this experiment, but I think using stock is the better option if you decide to use your skillet.
The added flavor from the stock will enhance the taste, which was missing with water.
I also tried using oil instead of water, and the slices were slightly crispier, but the whole thing was a little too greasy for my taste.
Reheating meatloaf in an air fryer
Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (180°C) and cut your meatloaf into slices. Arrange the slices of meatloaf on the metal basket. Put the basket into the air fryer and heat for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness. Ensure that your meat reaches at least 165°F before removing and serving hot.
How to reheat meatloaf in an air fryer:
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (175°C).
- Cut your meatloaf into slices.
- Arrange the slices of meatloaf on the metal basket.
- Put the basket into the air fryer and heat for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness.
- Remove the meatloaf from the air fryer and serve hot.
If your slices are thicker than average, I recommend reducing the temperature to 325°F (160°C).
Otherwise, the outside of the meatloaf will burn before the middle has heated up.
I like to place a piece of parchment paper inside my air fryer basket with the side folded up to make removing the meatloaf easier and safer.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the air fryer.
The meatloaf developed a kind of dry ‘skin’ on the outside, which I didn’t find pleasant to eat.
The meat inside was noticeably dryer too. However, a thick slathering of sauce would sort this out.
If you have an overly soggy meatloaf, you might find the air fryer works wonders on it.
How to store meatloaf
Leftover cooked meatloaf should be allowed to cool to room temperature and then stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Uncooked meatloaf can be wrapped in foil, plastic wrap, or a freezer bag and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also keep it in a covered baking dish.
Leaving the cooked meatloaf to cool to room temperature before you store it prevents any condensation build up in the container, which could lead to a mushy meatloaf.
You can also wrap cooked meatloaf in foil etc, but I avoid doing this because I don’t like messing up the sauce.
For raw meatloaf, keep any sauce separate from the meat until you want to cook it.
Never leave cooked or raw meatloaf out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Can you freeze meatloaf?
You can freeze both raw and cooked meatloaf. I prefer freezing cooked meatloaf because it makes for a quick and easy meal later on. Meatloaf will last for up to 3 months at best quality in the freezer, but will remain safe to eat long after this.
You want to freeze any meat as quickly as possible to preserve its texture.
The rear center spot is the coldest area of a freezer, and therefore, the best spot for freezing your meatloaf.
How to freeze leftover meatloaf:
- Slice the meatloaf for easier portioning.
- Wait for the meatloaf to reach room temperature.
- Place meatloaf slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Freeze the slices for 2-3 hours until they’re solid.
- Pop the slices into a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.
- Label with the date of freezing.
- Use within 3 months from the date of freezing (for best quality).
Slicing the meatloaf before freezing makes portion control later on really easy.
The meat will also thaw much faster.
Flash freezing the slices stops them from sticking together in the freezer bag. And removing the air helps to prevent freezer burn.
To remove the air, I like to suck it out with a straw.
But you can also dunk the freezer bag in some water to force the air out.
Freezing a whole meatloaf
If you want to freeze the meatloaf whole, pop it uncovered in the freezer to harden the sauce, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil.
The advantage of freezing a whole meatloaf is that it will last longer and be less susceptible to freezer burn because there’s less surface area.
Freezing raw meatloaf
To freeze raw meatloaf, prepare the meatloaf in a freezer-safe baking dish and then cover the dish with plastic wrap and foil.
If you’re not using a baking dish, simply wrap the meatloaf in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze.
How to thaw and reheat frozen meatloaf
The best way to thaw meatloaf is in the refrigerator. Slow thawing preserves the texture and keeps it moist. Keep the meatloaf wrapped and on a tray to prevent any juices from leaking out. Once the meatloaf has thawed, you can reheat it in the oven, microwave, or even a steamer (see above).
If you’re in a real hurry, you can thaw meatloaf in the microwave.
But this can lead to overcooked meat. If you feel the meatloaf getting warm while you’re thawing it, stop and wait for it to cool before resuming.
Another thawing option is to hold the frozen meatloaf under room temperature running water. This is a middle ground between the microwave and the fridge.
The BEST Way To Reheat Meatloaf
Slice your meatloaf (a whole meatloaf will heat unevenly).
Place the slices on a microwave-safe plate.
Cover the slices with a damp towel (unless they are really soggy, in which case skip this step).
Put the meatloaf into the microwave and heat in 30-second intervals until the meatloaf is piping hot (usually around 1 minute for a single slice).
Allow your meatloaf to rest for a minute before serving.
Serving: 100gCalories: 149kcal