Meatloaf is a fall family favorite. I like it because I can mix it together quickly and just let it cook. Depending on the kind of day we have planned I can either pop it in the slow cooker early in the day, or toss it in the Instant Pot half an hour before dinner.
We like both better than regular oven-baked meatloaf, and you avoid the chance of the meatloaf grease overflowing in the oven and causing a major cloud of smoke (am I the only one who has done that?).
Crock Pot Meatloaf
The slow cooker option (or slow cooker function on the Instant Pot) is great because it can cook while you work, play with your kids, or cross things off your to-do list. I like that I can get it done early in the day and not have to worry about anything later on.
To cook the meatloaf in the slow cooker I like to just form it into the right shape with my hands and place it in the middle of the slow cooker. Make sure there are no areas touching the edges of the pot or they’ll get dry and crispy.
If you want, you can place the meat loaf in a loaf pan and put the whole thing in the slow cooker, but it’s not necessary. It does make lifting it out a little easier though.
Make Meatloaf Speedier in the Instant Pot
There is definitely a special place in my heart for my Instant Pot. It has saved my sanity many evenings when I’m running short on time.
To make Instant Pot meatloaf, I use the same recipe as for the slow cooker, but put the formed loaf in a baking dish that will fit in the Instant Pot. I add some water and the trivet to the bottom of the pot, put the baking dish on top of the trivet, and set the timer for 25 minutes.
I had a thought the other day about cooking sweet potatoes in the bottom of the instant pot while the meatloaf is cooking up top. This post is handy for gauging the right sized sweet potatoes for the amount of time it takes the meatloaf to cook.
A lot of people like to glaze their meatloaf with a ketchup/honey/mustard mixture and broil it, but for me that just seems like unnecessary work. We like ours just fine with homemade ketchup served on the side.
Fun and Creative Meatloaf Ideas
You know how I mentioned that meatloaf is a family favorite? We like it so well that I’ve come up with a couple variations over the years.
Sometimes we have meatloaf cupcakes with mashed sweet potatoes for frosting and chopped chives for sprinkles. Other times we have a Greek inspired meatloaf made with ground turkey and flavored with mint and fennel and served with a yogurt sauce.
And occasionally I just vary the spices in this recipe to change up the flavor profile (like by adding chili powder and cumin to make it a little more Mexican). Or I just put bacon and homemade barbecue sauce on the top (because bacon makes everything delicious).
Also, meatloaf in all its varieties also freezes really well, so I like to make extra sometimes so I have a freezer meal all ready to go.
Whether you decide to make it in the slow cooker, Instant Pot, into cupcakes, or Greek style, I encourage you to give one of these tasty recipes a try!
Crock Pot Meatloaf Recipe (with Instant Pot option)
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix lightly with hands to combine.
To cook in the Crock Pot
- Shape into a loaf and place it centered in the Crock Pot, making sure the edges of the meat aren't touching the edges of the Crock Pot dish.
- Put the lid on the Crock Pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- When cooked, turn the Crock Pot off and let the meatloaf rest for about 15 minutes with the lid off before slicing.
- Top with homemade ketchup (optional) and serve.
To cook in the Instant Pot
- Put the trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot and pour in 1 cup of water.
- Shape the meat into a loaf and place in a dish that fits into the Instant Pot.
- Put on the lid, set valve to seal, and pressure cook for 25 minutes with a quick pressure release.
- When cooked, turn the Instant Pot off and let the meatloaf rest for about minutes with the lid off before slicing.
- For the Crock Pot option, you can absolutely put your meatloaf in a loaf pan inside the crock pot, I think it's easier to skip that step.
- For the Instant Pot option, avoid dirtying extra dishes by making sure your dish will fit in your Instant Pot before putting the meat in it -- try a stainless steel bowl, a 6" cake pan, or a ceramic baking dish
Random note: my kids actually like meatloaf with applesauce on it, so I add ½ cup applesauce in the last hour of cooking.
Ever made meatloaf in a Crock Pot? What is your secret to great meatloaf? Share below!