Air Fryer Meatloaf — Learn how to make AMAZING meatloaf in your air fryer! It cooks in half the time that it does in the oven, has perfectly crisped edges, and the interior stays juicy and moist! I use ground turkey or ground chicken to keep it HEALTHIER but ground pork, ground sausage, or ground beef can be used! Oven baking instructions also provided.
Easy Air Fryer Meatloaf Recipe
Did you get an air fryer for Christmas and you’re wondering what to make with it? Or you’ve had one but it’s been collecting dust?
This easy air fryer meatloaf recipe is here to remind you to stay strong with those cleaner eating goals you had going into the new year.
Although the great secret is that this meatloaf made in an air fryer is a breeze and tastes every bit as amazing as traditional meatloaf!
And I love that meatloaf in an air fryer cooks in about half the time that it takes in an oven, going from about 60 to 30 minutes, which makes this a great recipe for busy weeknights.
Since an air fryer is really just a mini convection oven, it circulates the air in such a way that allows for food to get a bit crispy on the outside without drying out on the inside.
And this healthier meatloaf is anything but dry! And guess what – I even make it with ground turkey or ground chicken, and it’s still moist, tender, and juicy!
You can also use ground beef, ground pork, or ground sausage, or a combo of any of the various proteins.
However, I designed the recipe to work perfectly with either ground turkey or chicken which are ultra lean and yet there’s no sacrifice made in terms of flavor and texture.
I love a nice thick glaze on top of meatloaf and this easy meatloaf recipe is topped with a delectable meatloaf glaze that’ll have everyone asking for seconds.
Ingredients in Healthy Air Fryer Meatloaf
For this easy and healthier meatloaf recipe that’s made in an air fryer, you’ll need to have on hand the following easy-to-find and very common fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:
- Ground turkey (or ground chicken, ground pork, ground beef, or a combo)
- White or yellow onion
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Light brown sugar
- White vinegar
- Garlic powder
- Liquid smoke, optional
Tip: Scroll to the recipe card section for a more complete list of ingredients with amounts and directions included.
How to Make Meatloaf in an Air Fryer
To make meatloaf recipe in your air fryer, follow these straightforward steps:
Step 1: Mix together all the ingredients.
Tip: If you like more of a “well done” flavor with the onions, mushrooms, and garlic, feel free to saute them in a bit of olive oil in a medium skillet on your stove before adding them to the meatloaf mixture.
Step 2: Divide the meatloaf mixture between two mini loaf pans that are lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray.
Step 3: Cover the pans with foil and air fry for 30 minutes at 400F or until a digital thermometer reads 160F.
Step 4: Mix together the glaze ingredients while the meatloaf is air frying and simmer it in a small saucepan for 2 minutes over medium-high heat.
Step 5: Peel back the foil, spread some of the glaze over the top of each loaf, and air fry uncovered for 2 minutes.
Step 6: Rest for 15 minutes before serving noting the internal temp will rise to 165F before serving.
How Long to Cook Meatloaf in an Air Fryer
I have the older generation of the air fryer you see in the photos which is now this Cosori XL 7-Quart Combo Air Fryer.
All air fryers vary and therefore so will the exact cooking times needed to properly air fry meatloaf.
You may need to experiment a bit and play around with things in your personal brand of air fryer.
Give or take, about 30 to 35 minutes if you’re using about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of ground protein is a good rule of thumb.
No Mini Loaf Pans?
I never bake meatloaf without a loaf pan because that’s just me and I have mini loaf pans so it’s no sweat. However, you can simply places the two small meatloaves directly into the air fryer.
Make sure to spray the tops of the meatloaf lightly with cooking spray.
And then spray the grates of your air fryer basket very well if you try this easy meatloaf recipe without a pan.
Any grease from the meat will drip down as the meat cooks so this method will provide an even leaner final slice of meatloaf.
Can This Recipe Be Made in an Oven?
If you don’t have an air fryer, or simply just want to make meatloaf the old fashioned way by baking it in the oven, you can do so by following these easy steps:
Step 1: Mix together al the ingredients.
Step 3: Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.
Step 4: Mix together the glaze ingredients while the meatloaf is baking.
Tip: You don’t have to simmer it first on the stovetop like you do in the air fryer version. It has 30 minutes or so to thicken up as the meatloaf bakes whereas in the air fryer it’s only two minutes from spreading the glaze to pulling the loaves out.
Step 5: Peel back the foil, spread the glaze over the top, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until a a digital thermometer reads 160F.
Step 6: Rest for 15 minutes before serving noting the internal temp will rise to 165F before serving.
What’s The Difference Between Air Frying and Baking Meatloaf?
There is not a clear cut “right” or “wrong” way to cook meatloaf but here are a few notable differences that I’ve found:
- With air frying, the meatloaf cooks in half the time, about 30 to 35 minutes versus 60 minutes
- The grease or fat from the meatloaf tends to seep out more with an air fryer compared to an oven
- You’ll get slightly crispier edges with air fried meatloaf compared to baked
What Kind of Protein is Best for Meatloaf?
This ground turkey air fryer meatloaf benefits from the egg yolk to act as a binder and hold the finished meatloaves together.
You can use any of the following proteins, and mix-and-match them, as you see fit:
- Ground turkey – This recipe was developed with ground turkey in mind. Ground turkey is so lean but nevertheless the meatloaf stays moist.
- Ground chicken – It’s so similar to ground turkey in terms of how lean it is, and the overall nutrition profile, and so this easy meatloaf recipe also works well with ground chicken.
- Ground pork – Since pork is fattier, your meatloaf will have a bit more moisture and perhaps flavor. If you want the meatloaf to still be quite lean, using mostly ground turkey or ground chicken, with a bit of ground pork, is a great way to go.
- Ground sausage – If you’re trying to add more flavor pizazz and not have your meatloaf be as flavor-natural as it would be with ground chicken or ground turkey, ground Italian sausage (no casings) is great. Try hot Italian sausage for a spicier kick.
- Ground beef – My Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf is made with 100% ground beef. I use 80/20 ground beef and the extra fat makes it a deliciously decadent tasting meatloaf. You can use a leaner cut of ground beef such as 90% lean, and/or add ground turkey or ground chicken to still keep the overall profile of the meatloaf lighter.
Bottom Line – You really can use almost any type of ground protein option to make amazing air fryer meatloaf!
Do I Have to Use Mushrooms in the Meatloaf Recipe?
There’s always a mushroom hater in every group!
But the short answer is yes, you need to add the mushrooms because not only do they add flavor, they also provide moisture to ensure your air fryer meatloaf recipe is tender and juicy.
This is especially true if you’re using ground turkey or ground chicken.
It’s only 1/4-cup in the entire recipe. You’ll hardly notice them but they’re silent workhorses because of that natural moisture they lend.
I recommend either using baby Portobello mushrooms or white button mushrooms.
Tip: The mushrooms are diced very small and finely, coupled with the air frying process, that they practically become “invisible” in both color and taste so many picky eaters won’t even detect them.
What to Serve with Air Fried Meatloaf
After your air fryer turkey meatloaf has rested for 15 minutes, feel free to slice and serve it.
You can serve it with the following easy side dishes:
- Classic Mashed Potatoes
- Loaded Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- Parmesan Balsamic Roasted Broccoli
- Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- BLT Side Salad
How to Store Leftover Meatloaf
Leftover meatloaf will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Reheat it gently in the microwave.
Tips for the Best Air Fryer Meatloaf
Panko Bread Crumbs – These are Japanese style bread crumbs and help not only bind the meatloaf mixture together, but also add a tiny bit of texture to the air fryer meatloaf. Don’t substitute traditional bread crumbs for Panko.
Don’t Overmix: When it comes to the meatloaf mixture, I urge you not to overwork the mixture because your meatloaf will be tougher.
Loaf Pans: For the air fryer version, I used two ceramic mini loaf pans that are 5x3x2-inches. This is a very standard size mini loaf pan. You can also use metal pans, noting that the meatloaf will cook a bit faster in a metal pan compared to a ceramic pan.
Make two mini meatloaves in your air fryer rather than one big loaf for best results.
As I mentioned, you can air fry without loaf pans by placing the meatloaf “patties” directly into the air fryer basket.
For the oven baked meatloaf, I used a ceramic 8×4-inch pan. However, you can also use a 9×5-inch pan noting that your meatloaf will not be as tall and may cook a few minutes faster.
Don’t forget to air fry the meatloaf covered with foil for the first 30 minutes. And/or bake it covered too for the first 30 minutes.
Don’t Pack It: If you want crispier edges, my suggestion is to leave a bit of air space around the meatloaf and the perimeter of the pan so that your loaf is about a centimeter from touching the pan on all sides.
Even if you don’t leave any air space, don’t pack the ground chicken or ground turkey mixture into the loaf pans. Light hands all the way!
Baking Temps and Times in an Air Fryer vs. Oven:
- Air Fryer – The meatloaf cooks at 400F covered for 30 minutes in 2 loaf pans before adding the meatloaf glaze, and air frying uncovered for just 2 minutes more.
- Oven – The meatloaf cooks at 350F covered for 30 minutes in 1 larger loaf pan before adding the glaze, and then continuing to bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
If you’re looking for a winner on speed, the air fryer gets the win.
Do Not Overcook: Whether it’s an air fryer or the oven, take care not to overcook your meatloaf or it will be dry. And this is one recipe that no one likes on the dry side!
Use a Thermometer: The best, easiest, and most accurate way of knowing if your meatloaf is done or not, is by using a meat thermometer such as a digital read thermometer.
Pull the meatloaf out when the internal temperature is 160F and during the 15 minute resting period the temp will continue to rise to 165F, which is the safe temperature at which to enjoy ground turkey, chicken, pork, sausage, or beef.
Pin This Recipe
Air Fryer Meatloaf
- 1 ½ pounds ground turkey, or ground chicken, ground pork, ground beef, or a combo
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup white or yellow onion, diced small
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs, do not use regular bread crumbs
- ¼ cup baby portobello or white button mushrooms, diced small
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Liquid smoke, optional and to taste
- Preheat your air fryer to 400F.* (See Notes below for Oven Baking Instructions)
- Air Fryer Meatloaf - While the air fryer is preheating, add all the meatloaf ingredients to a large bowl, and gently use a large wooden spoon or clean hands to mix them all together. Tips - I cannot stress the importance of not over-mixing or over-working the mixture so easy does it, and so mix lightly, until just combined. Secondly, of you like more of a "well done" flavor with the onions, mushrooms, and garlic, feel free to saute them in a bit of olive oil in a medium skillet on your stove over medium-high heat before adding them to the meatloaf mixture.
- Line two ceramic mini loaf pans that are 5x3x2-inches with foil (or parchment) and spray well with cooking spray. You can also use metal pans, noting that the meatloaf will cook a bit faster in a metal pan compared to a ceramic pan. Note - If you want to cook the meatloaf without loaf pans and directly on the basket of the air fryer, that's fine. Spray the basket well with cooking spray before you place them on the basket. Any fat in the meat will drip down as the meatloaves air fry. It'll be tricky to cover the tops with foil without a loaf pan so you can omit it. Therefore, you may want to air fry at 350F to 375F range rather than 400F so the tops/outsides don't get too dark.
- Evenly divide the meatloaf mixture between the two pans. Press it in, but don't hard pack it. Tip - For crispier edges, leave a bit of air space around the perimeter of the pans where the meatloaf mixture doesn't touch. Allowing some space for air to circulate will lead to crispier edges of the meatloaf.
- Glaze - While the meatloaf is air frying, add all the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan, and simmer for 2 minutes on the stove over medium heat; whisk nearly constantly. Set aside briefly.
- After 30 minutes (or the temp is 160F), peel back the foil on both loaves, and carefully spread or brush glaze over the top of each loaf. Tip - You may not use all the glaze and that's fine. Save the rest for serving with the meatloaf.
- Allow the glazed loaves to air fry uncovered for about 2 minutes, or until glaze sets and thickens a bit.
- Remove the meatloaves from the air fryer, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving (with any extra reserved glaze if desired). Tips - It's important to let the meatloaves rest so they don't fall apart upon slicing and so the final internal temperature has a chance to rise to 165F which is the safe temperature to consume poultry so do not skip the resting! All air fryers, ingredients, and climate vary so you may need to experiment with the exact amount of air frying time necessary to properly cook your meatloaf.
- Leftover meatloaf will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat gently in your microwave as desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
©averiecooks.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
More Easy Air Fryer Recipes:
Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf — This copycat recipe is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.
Air Fryer Twisted Bacon – Every bite of this twisted bacon is lightly crisped on the outside while being tender, juicy, and delicious on the inside! Learn how to make this TikTok trend-inspired bacon in your air fryer. FAST, EASY, and so crave-worthy! Oven baking instructions also provided.
Air Fryer Pork Chops — Coated in Parmesan cheese and a rich spice rub, these air fried pork chops are perfectly crispy on the outside while staying tender and moist on the inside! They’re EASY, ready in 15 minutes, perfect for busy weeknights, and a healthier way to enjoy “fried” food. Oven-baking and grilling instructions also provided.
Air Fryer Breaded Chicken Breasts — Learn how to make perfectly “fried” chicken in your air fryer! Deliciously crispy on the outside while staying juicy, tender, and moist on the interior. This is the BEST guiltless fried chicken! EASY, ready in 15 minutes, and perfect for busy weeknights when you need to get dinner on the table FAST!
Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets — These EASY air fryer nuggets are coated in a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, which makes them EXTRA flavorful and SO CRISPY!! Dip them in this 30-second homemade honey mustard sauce for a guaranteed family FAVORITE!!
Air Fryer Parmesan Chicken – Coated in a mixture of panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, this “fried” chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy, tender, and moist inside! It’s EASY, ready in 15 minutes, perfect for busy weeknights, and a healthier way to indulge in fried chicken! Oven-baking instructions also provided.
Air Fryer Chicken Taquitos — All the flavor of the chicken taquitos in your favorite Mexican restaurant, but healthier because these are air fried! Crispy and crunchy on the outside with a perfectly spicy chicken, cheese, and cream cheese filling mixture that just melts in your mouth! EASY, ready in 20 minutes, and the whole family will want seconds! Oven baking instructions are also provided.
Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings with Buffalo Sauce — You don’t have to fry chicken wings to get them extra crispy, juicy, and finger-licking good thanks to the tangy buffalo sauce! FAST, EASY, and everyone LOVES these air fried crispy chicken wings! Oven baking instructions also provided.
Firecracker Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs — Lightly crisped on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, these homemade meatballs are air fried and then coated in a sweet-with-tangy-heat firecracker sauce with the perfect amount of heat! Serve these as an appetizer or as the main course. They’re perfect for parties and events, too! Oven baking instructions provided as well as for how to make them using frozen meatballs.
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts with Sweet and Spicy Glaze — The air fryer makes these Brussels sprouts perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and the mildly spicy honey butter glaze makes them IRRESISTIBLE! An EASY side dish for busy weeknights, family dinners, or Thanksgiving that’s ready FAST! Oven baking instructions also provided.