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Meatloaf is one of the most classic comfort foods in America. Many individuals love the dish, and many families enjoy eating it throughout the year. Unfortunately, cooking a perfect meatloaf is not an easy task.
If you overcook a meatloaf, it will become dry and crumbly. If you undercook it, however, the mixture will not stay together. You will also notice that the meat is pink or red.
You must take it out of the oven as soon as it gets to 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why you must learn to recognize when meatloaf is done.
Table of Contents
- When is Meatloaf Fully Cooked?
- How to Tell if Meatloaf is Done?
- Make Sure Your Meatloaf is Done
When is Meatloaf Fully Cooked?
As mentioned, meatloaf is done when the interior temperature reaches 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can stick a thermometer in the dish and wait for the reading to appear. You should not see any pinkness in your meatloaf either.
Typically, you can expect your meatloaf to finish in about an hour. You will check it after 45 minutes, however, as you will also add the glaze at this time. You may find that the meatloaf cooks faster when in a larger pan that allows for more airflow.
Is It Okay if My Meatloaf is a Little Pink?
Some individuals may find their meatloaves are still a little pink inside even though the temperature reading is correct. The mixture may combine with the myoglobin, for instance, which will cause the dish to be this color. As long as the temperature is where it needs to be, your meatloaf is safe to consume.
Sometimes, the vegetables you incorporate in your meatloaf mixture may cause it to look pink. Root vegetables like garlic, for instance, will bind to the nitrates in the ground beef. This component, found in processed meats, will give off the pink appearance that makes your meal appear uncooked.
How to Tell if Meatloaf is Done?
The easiest way to tell if meatloaf is done is to use a thermometer. Sometimes, however, you may not have one. There are other methods in these circumstances to ensure your meatloaf is ready to eat.
1. Use a Thermometer
The easiest way to tell that your meatloaf is done is to use a meat thermometer. You can buy this kitchen supply from any home goods or grocery store.
There are digital and manual versions, with the former easier to read. They are also available in Celsius and Fahrenheit, depending on which temperature scale you prefer.
To use a meat thermometer on your meatloaf, you will need to insert it in the middle of the dish. You should not remove your meatloaf from the oven, so be sure to use gloves to keep your hands safe. Stick the thermometer in your meatloaf as far as possible, making sure the cut is at least half an inch deep. The surface level of your dish will cook faster, so it will be darker.
2. Check the Color of Your Meatloaf
The second way to check the doneness of your meatloaf is to look at its color. Take it out from the oven before starting to cut into your dish.
After, make a slice in the middle of the meatloaf. You want to see the color in the place that takes the longest to cook.
Remember, in most cases, you do not want to see any pink and should look for brown. If you use any processed meat with nitrates, you will still observe this color. Vegetables such as garlic and onion will attach to the nitrates, leaving behind the pink discoloration. Ultimately, these root vegetables have similar chemical qualities to nitrates.
3. Check the Juices
You will notice the juices that flow out of the meatloaf after cutting into it. These liquids should not still look like blood or be red in appearance. The result should be transparent and translucent in color. Juices do need to be present to ensure your dish is moist. Make sure that you stick the knife towards the middle of the meatloaf to get the best results.
Remember, if you eat an undercooked version of this meal, you could consume harmful bacteria. These organisms could make you sick with food poisoning or other ailments from salmonella, for instance. Though these ailments are not contagious, you would feel miserable for at least several days.
4. Touch the Meatloaf with Your Finger
Another way you can ensure the meatloaf’s doneness is to feel it with your finger. The fatty part of your hand below your thumb will feel the same as raw meat. Touching the tip of your index finger to the fleshy part of the tip of your thumb will have the same consistency as a cooked meatloaf. Ensure that you let your dish cool a bit before touching it.
Take your dish out of the oven to check its texture of it. Press the thickest part of it with your finger or a cooking utensil to check the doneness. Remember, it should have the same bounce as the fleshy part of your thumb. After you press on the meatloaf, it should spring back to its original position.
5. Insert a Fork into the Meatloaf
If you think your meatloaf is done, try inserting a fork into it. Put the utensil in the thickest part of your dish to start. This area should be towards the middle of the meatloaf, meaning you will have to pull out your oven rack some.
If the meatloaf is safe to eat, the fork should go in the dish with ease. After pulling the utensil back out, touch it to test its warmness, indicating a finished dish. If the fork is still cold, your meatloaf requires more cooking time. Place the pan back in the oven for at least three to five minutes at a time.
6. Use a Cake Tester
If you do not have a meat thermometer, you may have a cake tester. These products essentially have the same features and will still show you if your meatloaf is 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the cake tester in the middle or thickest part of your dish. Remove the tin foil over the pan first to ensure that you can get the tool in the food.
When placing the cake tester in your dish, you will need to wait a couple of seconds for the reading to finish. Again, if the number shows 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you can take your meatloaf out and let it cool. If you do not let it cool, the moisture will not retain as it should.
7. Follow a Recipe
As mentioned, most of the time, if you have a two to three-pound meatloaf, it will finish cooking in one hour. You will need to follow every instruction in detail to ensure it reaches this standard weight. Remember, you will have to check your dish after 45 minutes and add the glaze, which should give you a general idea of the doneness and cooking times. After completing this step, you will put the meatloaf back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
A recipe helps to ensure that your meatloaf will finish in ample time. You may have to make a few adjustments depending on the abilities of your oven. If you trust your instincts, you will almost always have a finished meatloaf. You have to be confident in your cooking abilities.
8. Use the Feel of Your Nose
You can use the feel of your nose in the same way that you use your fingers and hands. You will need to relax your face to begin. Try not to stress over your recipe, as this emotional response can make your body tense up.
If the meatloaf feels like your cheek, it is still rare. The feeling of the tip of your nose relates to how the meat that is medium-well feels. If you move up to the bridge of your nose and forehead and touch, you will know the touch of finished meatloaf. You will want your meal to be just as firm as this area of your face to achieve the best results.
9. Make a Fist
Another test you can do with your body is to make a fist. You want your fingers to be somewhat loose. Your thumb should be on top of your index finger.
The webbing between the two fingers will feel like an uncooked piece of meatloaf. It will be very soft and will start to crumble with even the slightest touch.
If you tense your fist a bit more, it will start to feel like a medium-well piece of meat. Tighten your hand all the way and touch the webbing to understand the firmness your meatloaf will have when done. Ultimately, you want your dish to have the latter feel. It should be firm but not so solid that you cannot consume it.
Make Sure Your Meatloaf is Done
Meatloaf is a dish that families love throughout America. It is essential, however, that this loved food is always done. You do not want anyone to become sick from undercooked meat.
You can effortlessly check the doneness of meatloaf by using a meat thermometer. You want the reading to be between 155 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you do not have a thermometer, check the color of your meatloaf. You can also stick a metal utensil in the dish, seeing if it turns out warm when removing it. Finally, press on your meatloaf when it is cool to see if it springs back, indicating doneness.
How Do You Know When Meatloaf is Done without Thermometer?
There are several ways to tell when meatloaf is done without using a thermometer. Rely on a cake tester or a fork if you want to use another kitchen tool. You can also try to exactly follow your recipe or look at the coloration of your dish.
Use the available tricks that correlate with the feel of specific parts of your face and hands. Your meatloaf should have the same amount of firmness as the fleshy part of the tip of your thumb or your forehead, for instance. It should also feel the same as the webbing between your index finger and thumb when you make a fist.
How Do You Check the Doneness of Meatloaf?
The best way to check the doneness of meatloaf is to use a meat thermometer. You will need to insert it in the middle of your dish, which should be the thickest part. The reading should be between 155 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you do not have a meat thermometer, you can use a cake tester or fork. Wait to see if the tools are still warm after pulling them out.
You can also wait for your meatloaf to cool some and press it with your finger. You want it to have the same consistency as your forehead. It should bounce back when pressed down.
Is It Okay for Meatloaf to Be a Little Pink?
In most cases, your meatloaf should have a brown color. If it is pink, it is likely not all the way cooked. You could run the risk of contracting bacteria, such as salmonella or E. Coli.
In some instances, however, the pinkness in your meatloaf is normal. If you use processed foods, nitrates in the meat will cause this coloration. You may also find your meatloaf is pink if you used root vegetables such as onions or garlic in your recipe.
How Long Does it Take for Meatloaf to Get Done?
Most typical meatloaves are around two to three pounds in size, though the weight varies from cook to cook. In most cases, these meals will cook in around an hour. You want the internal temperature of the meatloaf to reach 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
You do not want to overcook your meatloaf as the dish will become crumbly and hard in texture. To keep it moist, you can also let the meal sit for a few minutes. If you cut it too early, you could lose the juices that prevent dryness.