When speaking about American comfort food, meatloaf is the one that first comes to my mind. Maybe it is because meatloaf is one of my personal favorites, or maybe it is because it is such a simple and delicious dish. Who knows.
Also, one of the main reasons why I love it so much is because I regularly eat it on those busy weeknights and I can always choose my favorite meatloaf recipe since there are so many I can choose from.
Meatloaf is also a type of dish that can be handled quite successfully and that is a well-known fact. However, some people still tend to ask questions about meatloaf storage and one of them is “Can you freeze meatloaf?”.
Well yes, you can definitely freeze meatloaf. In fact, it is one of the most freezer-friendly types of dishes out there.
However, that is not the reason to just put that meatloaf in the freezer however you like. You have to know which ways you can freeze your meatloaf and how to freeze it properly.
So, if you are new to freezer cooking and you want to know how to freeze meatloaf, I suggest you continue reading.
Can You Freeze Meatloaf?
Freezing is one of the best ways to extend the shelf life of almost all types of food. But, can meatloaf be frozen? As I already said in the introduction, meatloaf can be frozen and it freezes quite well no matter what type of meatloaf you are dealing with.
You can successfully freeze meatloaf regardless of whether it’s made of cooked ground beef or ground turkey. So, you don’t have to worry about that.
However, there are differences in the freezing process between uncooked or unbaked meatloaf and meatloaf that has been cooked already or baked meatloaf.
So, in this article, you will be able to find all the important information related to freezing these two types of meatloaf, as well as defrosting and reheating.
How To Freeze Uncooked Meatloaf?
I will start with freezing uncooked meatloaf. So, to freeze uncooked meatloaf and preserve it for future use, I suggest you just follow these rules below and your meatloaf will be good to go.
STEP 1: Logically, the first thing that you must do is mix the ingredients according to your meatloaf recipe, without cooking or baking the mixture of course. In order to do that, simply mix all the ingredients and assemble them in the loaf pan.
STEP 2: Then, you will portion that meatloaf according to your preferences. I would suggest you make little meatloaf balls in order to handle them more easily once you decide to use them.
STEP 3: When you portion the meatloaf correctly, it is time to cover it properly. In order to do that, you will cover it with plastic wrap or some kind of foil.
STEP 4: Flash-freeze your little meatloaf balls next. Place the loaf pan covered with plastic wrap or foil in the freezer and let it freeze for up to 1 day.
STEP 5: After that time frame, pull the pan with meatloaf out of the freezer, uncover it, take the meatloaf balls out, and wrap them in aluminum foil in order to protect them better.
STEP 6: After you wrap meatloaf balls in foil, transfer them into a freezer-friendly plastic bag or freezer bag. Pull out all the excess air from the bag in order to avoid freezer burn.
STEP 7: Finally, you can label the bag with the exact storage date and freeze your meatloaf for up to 3 months. In general, raw meat, and especially raw ground meat can not be left in the freezer for longer than that time frame because there is a high risk of spoilage.
How To Cook Frozen Meatloaf?
Although some say that you can cook meatloaf frozen, I would still recommend thawing it because that is the safer solution than cooking frozen meatloaf.
To do that, you will need to transfer the exact amount of meatloaf from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to cook it.
In order to do that correctly, you will need to put it on a baking sheet and make sure that your meatloaf is tightly wrapped in order to avoid cross-contamination. After that, the meatloaf is ready for the cooking process.
One important thing to remember is that you should never leave your meatloaf at room temperature to defrost because of the high risk of harmful bacteria growth.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then, transfer your meatloaf into the pan and put the pan into the preheated oven. Let it stay there for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
If you are not sure that the meatloaf is done, check its internal temperature. An internal temperature of 160 degrees F is a sign of doneness.
I also have to emphasize that the alternative way to defrost your meatloaf is to put the frozen meatloaf in the oven and cook it for about 1 and a half hours at 350 degrees F.
How To Freeze Cooked Meatloaf?
After you have learned how to freeze uncooked meatloaf, it is time to learn more about freezing cooked meatloaf. Just like with uncooked meatloaf, I listed and explained the key steps that you need to follow in order to freeze cooked meatloaf successfully.
STEP 1: If you have leftover meatloaf, you can start the freezing process immediately. However, if you just made some meatloaf, you first need to let it cool down completely in order to protect it from potential freezer burn.
STEP 2: Whether you are dealing with leftover meatloaf or just cooked meatloaf that has been successfully cooled, you have to slice it so that every slice represents a single serving. It is important to do this because individual slices reheat better than an entire meatloaf.
Also, it is much easier to reheat the exact amount of meatloaf that you need than to reheat the entire one and then refreeze the rest of it. Also, refreezing is not recommendable when it comes to meatloaf.
STEP 3: After you made your preferred portions of meatloaf, it is time to wrap them the right way. In order to do that, you will need to wrap them in one layer of plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or cling film.
Then, you will put those wrapped meatloaf slices in a freezer-safe plastic bag and suck out as much air as possible. When doing that, it is best to use a vacuum sealer although you can do that with your hands as well.
STEP 4: Finally, you can label the bag with the exact storage date and put it somewhere deep in the freezer. Use your frozen meatloaf within 3 months because it is not good to keep cooked meat more than that time frame in the freezer.
The USDA says that frozen leftovers are safe indefinitely but they can lose moisture and flavor when stored for longer times in the freezer.
Enjoy your delicious meatloaf.
How To Defrost And Reheat Frozen Meatloaf?
There are actually two ways to defrost and reheat frozen meatloaf if it has been previously cooked. Below, I will briefly explain them.
Defrosting Frozen Meatloaf That Has Been Previously Cooked
You can defrost frozen meatloaf in the fridge as well as in a cold water bath.
1. Defrosting Frozen Meatloaf In The Fridge: If you have time and you want to preserve the quality of your meatloaf, it is best to defrost it in the fridge. Just transfer your meatloaf from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to reheat it and let it thaw overnight.
2. Defrosting Frozen Meatloaf in A Cold Water Bath: If you don’t have time or you just forgot to put your meatloaf in the fridge the night before, you can thaw it in a cold water bath.
Just put the tightly sealed bag with meatloaf in a bowl of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes until it is completely thawed, as recommended by the USDA. This process takes approximately 1 hour.
Reheating Thawed Meatloaf
You can reheat meatloaf in the oven or in the microwave. Here is how to do that.
1. Reheating Meatloaf In The Oven: An oven is the best place to reheat meatloaf. First, you have to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Then, wrap each portion of meatloaf in order to keep the juices in and put them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until it’s done. The exact time depends on how big the portion of meatloaf is.
According to the USDA, “foods should be reheated thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming.”
2. Reheating Meatloaf In The Microwave: The less-preferable way to reheat your meatloaf is to use the microwave. I wouldn’t recommend it because there is a risk that your meatloaf won’t cook evenly in the microwave.
However, it is a quicker way and some people prefer it because of that. In order to do that, cover your meatloaf with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out and put it on the microwave-safe plate. Microwave the meatloaf at a low temperature at 2-minute intervals until it’s done.
If your microwave has a defrost setting, you should use it.
How Long Is Meatloaf Good In The Fridge?
If you are dealing with a cooked meatloaf that has been properly stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil, it should be good for up to 3-4 days in the fridge, as stated by the USDA.
On the other hand, uncooked meatloaf (fresh or thawed) should be good for up to 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
Is It Better To Freeze Meatloaf Cooked Or Uncooked?
It is always better to freeze meatloaf before the cooking process. Some recipes even recommend this. On the other hand, freezing already-cooked meatloaf can make meatloaf dry out when reheated.
How Long Does Frozen Meatloaf Last In The Freezer?
Whether it is cooked or not, it is not recommended to keep meatloaf in the freezer for longer than 3 months.
Although some people say that you can keep it frozen a little bit longer than that if you want to be 100% sure and if you want to preserve its quality, it is best to stick to that time frame.
How Long To Cook Frozen Meatloaf?
If you previously thawed your frozen meatloaf, the cooking time lasted about 1 hour at 350 degrees F. On the other hand, if you cook meatloaf directly from frozen, you will need about 1 hour and 30 minutes to bake it at 350 degrees F.
If you are not sure that it is done, you can always check its internal temperature by using a food thermometer. An internal temperature of 160 degrees F is a sign of doneness.
Freezing Meatloaf The Right Way
Meatloaf is certainly a great addition to your meal plan on those busy weeknights. It is also one of the favorite types of dish for those family dinners.
There are many recipes for meatloaf, but the basis of every delicious meatloaf is high-quality ground meat alongside a bunch of seasonings like Italian seasoning or accent seasoning.
But, how to handle meatloaf and can you freeze meatloaf? Yes, you certainly can freeze meatloaf, both cooked and uncooked.
This is one of the main advantages of meatloaf, which is why you can always prepare it in advance, store it in the freezer, and use it within 3 months.
You just have to follow the steps explained in detail in this article and your frozen meatloaf will be perfect.