Love it or hate it (we love it!) meatloaf is a classic comfort food. This is a great versatile base recipe that works in the slow cooker or Instant Pot to keep things simple. 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, plus you avoid the chance of any grease overflowing in the oven and causing a major cloud of smoke! (Just me?!)
Healthy Crock Pot Meatloaf
The slow cooker option (or slow cooker function on the Instant Pot) is great because it can cook while you work, go for a walk, 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 meatloaf in a loaf pan and put the whole thing in the slow cooker, but it’s not necessary. (Although it is easier to get out this way.)
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’ve also heard of 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.
Fun and Creative Meatloaf Ideas
Here are some other meatloaf variations we’ve enjoyed over the years:
- Meatloaf “Cupcakes” With Sweet Potato “Frosting” – My kids LOVE this fun spin on meatloaf (and make it themselves thanks to this online cooking class for kids). Don’t forget the chopped chives for sprinkles! Here’s the recipe.
- Greek-Inspired Meatloaf – This one mixes it up a little with ground turkey flavored with chopped mint and fennel and served with a yogurt sauce. Get the recipe here.
- Bacon and Barbecue Meatloaf – Add a little chopped bacon to the mix and top with barbeque sauce. No recipe required!
Bulk Cooking Tip
Meatloaf in all its varieties also freezes really well. Triple or quadruple this recipe (I bake some in the oven if I run out of room in the Instant Pot) and freeze for a later meal.
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.
- Put the lid on 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 10 minutes with the lid off before slicing.
- Avoid dirtying extra dishes by putting in a dish that will fit in your Instant Pot or slow cooker before putting the meat in it -- try a stainless steel pan.
Ever made meatloaf in a Crock Pot? What is your secret to great meatloaf? Share below!