Why You Should Cook Meatloaf On A Sheet Pan

If you're like most people, you probably bake your meatloaf in a loaf pan. But did you know that there is a much better way? Not only are loaf pans incredibly difficult to clean thanks to the glaze that inevitably gets burnt to the sides and the remnants of food that get stuck in the corners, but they also limit the surface area of the meatloaf that can actually be glazed — and you know you want to make the most of those glazing possibilities!

Many cooks favor a loaf pan because it helps the meatloaf hold its shape; another reason is probably tradition. Regardless, it turns out that it's not really the best method. If you want to make the best meatloaf possible, a sheet pan is a much better medium. Not only will it be easier to clean, but the meatloaf will hold its shape just fine with the correct ratio of ingredients. Just make sure it's firm enough when it goes into the oven, and it should come out the same way.

A quicker cook-time is possible

Another benefit to making your meatloaf on a sheet pan is the flexibility with its thickness, which will also affect the cooking time. While it's still possible to form a loaf shape, you also have the option of spreading it out.

"Now the magic of this sheet pan meatloaf is that it cooks quickly," Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman, explained. "So when I make my regular meatloaf, it can take an hour and a half, sometimes more, for it to get completely cooked in the middle ... In this case, it's all really thin, so you get a lot of surface area with all this yummy sauce and not such a big, like, hunk of meat."

Having more room to spread your sauce is definitely a big bonus. After all, what's better than a meatloaf with a bit of sweet, tangy glaze in every single bite?

Room for sides

Depending on how far you spread the loaf out, baking your meatloaf this way is also an easy way to prepare simple sheet pan meals for weeknight dinners. By leaving enough room for vegetables, you can cook your entire dinner at once. Not only that, but the vegetables will soak up the juices that cook off the meat, saving on oil and adding a savory flavor to everything on the pan. Carrots, potatoes (sweet or regular), onions, and cherry tomatoes (added toward the end) are all excellent options, but just about any vegetable will work. And don't forget to drizzle some of that glaze over the veggies, too, for an extra pop of flavor.

If you've always made your meatloaf in a loaf pan, it's high time to try the sheet pan method. There's a strong chance you will love it so much that you just might never go back to your regular old loaf pan ways.