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Now, you can enjoy meatloaf any day of the week with this fast and Kid-Friendly Easy Meatloaf Muffins recipe that requires half the cooking time of the classic meatloaf recipe! Let’s get to the kitchen.

Why you’ll love this meatloaf muffins recipe!

  • Great for Meal Prep. This make-ahead meal makes perfectly sized individual meat loaves in less baking time than a traditional meatloaf. It’s easier to store in the refrigerator and is an excellent freezer meal!
  • Comfort Food. Enjoy all the cozy flavors of regular meatloaf in small portioned muffin meatloaves using this easy muffin pan method.
  • Family-Friendly Dinner. The whole family will love this recipe, even the little guys!

I rarely make meatloaf for dinner on weeknights because it just takes too long to bake — I’m really not into spending hours prepping and waiting for dinner to be ready after a long day at the office!

And that’s exactly what makes this 30-minute meal perfect for family dinners and even better for meal prep!

ingredients for mini meatloaf muffins on a table.

Ingredient notes

  • Ground beef | I love to use 80/20 ground beef for meatloaf. This fat ratio provides flavor and moisture, ensuring a delicious and juicy meatloaf. The fat content helps prevent the meatloaf from becoming too dry during cooking. However, you can adjust the fat content based on your preference and dietary needs. If you prefer lean ground beef, remember that the meatloaf might be drier.
  • Bread crumbs | You can use regular breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs if you don’t have Italian breadcrumbs. To add flavor, consider mixing in some dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme) and garlic powder. 
  • Cheese | Freshly grated parmesan cheese is best, providing authentic flavor, but a bag of shredded or grated cheese from the store also works. 
  • Milk | Milk soaks into the breadcrumbs and brings moisture to the meatloaf.
  • Ketchup | Tomato sauce or tomato paste diluted with a bit of water can be used as a substitute for ketchup.
  • Onion | Bring texture and flavor with a finely chopped onion– A yellow or white onion will do the trick.
  • Bell pepper — Omit the bell pepper if you don’t prefer its flavor. You can add more finely chopped onion or other vegetables if desired.
  • Garlic powder | Minced fresh garlic can be used as a replacement for garlic powder. Use about 2-3 cloves.
  • Oregano | Feel free to substitute with other dried herbs like basil, thyme, or Italian seasoning. 
  • Salt and pepper | Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Egg | Add an egg to bind the ingredients and create the perfect texture.

Barbecue Topping

  • Ketchup | Real ketchup is best for this BBQ topping, but watered-down tomato paste or tomato sauce also works.
  • Brown sugar | Sweeten the topping with light or dark brown sugar, depending on your preference.
  • Mustard | Bring tangy notes with yellow mustard.
  • Worcestershire sauce | Round out the flavors with Worcestershire sauce.

How to make Muffin Tin Meatloaf Cupcakes

This kid-friendly and delicious muffin pan meatloaf recipe is ready for dinner time in just 30 minutes! 

STEP 1 | Preheat and prep

Get started by preheating the oven to 375 degrees and lightly coating a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with muffin liners.

STEP 2 | Combine the meatloaf ingredients

process steps for making meatloaf mixture to bake in muffin cups.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, milk, 1/4 cup ketchup, chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, and egg. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.

STEP 3 | Press meat mixture into muffin cups

Next, divide the meatloaf mixture evenly among the muffin cups, pressing gently to pack the mix.

STEP 4 | Combine the BBQ sauce ingredients

spooning barbecue sauce on top of meatloaf in muffin cups.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce for the topping.

STEP 5 | Add topping

Then, spoon a small amount of the topping mixture on top of each muffin and spread it over the tops.

STEP 6 | Bake

baked mini meatloaf muffins in a muffin pan.

Finally, bake the recipe in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the meatloaf muffins are cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

STEP 7 | Cool and serve!

Once finished, remove the mini meatloaves from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Then, serve and enjoy!

tips

  • Don’t overmix the ingredients, or the meatloaves will be dense and tough.
  • Leave a little space for the mini meatloaves to plump up.
  • If you want to freeze or refrigerate the meal to enjoy later, allow them to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container.

Try my other meatloaf recipes, like this flavorful Smoked Meatloaf and my healthy Turkey Mini Meat Loaf with Honey Dijon Glaze.

Variations and substitutions

  • Turkey Meatloaf Muffins. Swap the ground beef for ground turkey for a slightly healthier alternative and a different flavor profile.
  • Meatloaf Cupcakes. For an adorable presentation, top the meatloaf muffins with freshly made creamy mashed potatoes by placing them in a plastic bag and cutting a corner, as you’d do with icing. After piping on the mashed potatoes, drizzle with gravy and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
  • Garnish the mini loaves with fresh parsley. 
  • This is a great recipe to customize and adjust to your liking. Add more veggies or switch up the sauce for something different.

Storage and reheating tips

  • Meatloaf Muffins should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • For longer storage, individually wrap each muffin in plastic wrap or foil, then place in a freezer-safe container or bag. They can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
  • When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator (if frozen) and reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through. Keep in mind that reheated meatloaf muffins may have a slightly different texture but will still be flavorful and satisfying.
three meatloaf muffins on a plate with mashed potatoes and peas on a table.

Frequently asked questions

How do you make mini meatloaves ahead of time?

You have a few options for meal prepping with this recipe. First, you can assemble and prepare the recipe just until you slip it into the oven. Then, cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge to bake later. You can also flash freeze the covered meatloaf pan, then carefully remove the frozen meatloaves, placing them in freezer bags or containers.

Additionally, you can freeze or refrigerate baked meatloaves, but reheating them before serving may produce a drier texture than desired.

Can you make meatloaf gluten-free?

Sure! Make these mini muffin meatloaves gluten-free by using panko breadcrumbs or another GF alternative and checking the packaging of all the spices and herbs for the gluten-free certified label.

What veggies are good in meatloaf?

The sky is the limit! Some of the popular picks include carrots and zucchini. Squash, onion, celery, peppers, and corn. All the vegetables should be finely chopped to mix well with the meatloaf texture.

Hints for Kid-Friendlier Versions

We all know little ones can be picky eaters. And even though these mini meatloaf bites are adorable and kid-sized, they may still shy away from them without even trying a bite. Here are some suggestions.

First, be sure to chop up any of the veggies tiny, tiny. You can even soften the onion and pepper by sauteing them a bit.

Second, Allow them to participate in the plating process. Give the kids a spoon and ramekins of their favorite condiments. Let them make their little burger meatloaves their way. Even better, you can give them a Hawaiian Roll, and the kids can make a slider of sorts!

a fork cutting into a meatloaf muffin on a dinner plate.

Looking for more Quick and Easy Recipes for Dinner?

More family favorites perfect for weeknights are these saucy Sloppy Joe Sandwiches made in just 30 minutes and these Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Street Tacos that are easily personalized with a spread of everyone’s favorite taco toppings to choose from!

Serving suggestions

Mashed potatoes are one of the most common side dishes for this Meatloaf muffin recipe, but these mashed sweet potatoes are an excellent way to try something a little different with the same comfort.

Add some greens with my simple Instant Pot Green Beans Recipe, or combine the carbs and veggies with my delicious Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole, also perfect for meal prep!

a meatloaf muffin cut in half on a plate.

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mini meatloaf muffins on a dinner plate on a table.

Kid-Friendly Easy Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Enjoy these Kid-Friendly easy mini meatloaf muffins with BBQ topping in 30 minutes, perfect for weeknights and meal prep.
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 165 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg

Barbecue Topping

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with muffin liners.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, milk, 1/4 cup ketchup, chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, and egg. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Divide the meat mixture evenly among the muffin cups, pressing gently to pack the mixture.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce for the topping.
  • Spoon a small amount of the topping mixture onto each meatloaf muffin.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the meatloaf muffins are cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  • Remove the mini meatloaves from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Don’t overmix the ingredients, or the meatloaves will be dense and tough.
  • Leave a little space for the mini meatloaves to plump up.
  • If you want to freeze or refrigerate the meal to enjoy later, allow them to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container.
  • Meatloaf Muffins should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator (if frozen) and reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through. Keep in mind that reheated meatloaf muffins may have a slightly different texture but will still be flavorful and satisfying.
  • For longer storage, individually wrap each muffin in plastic wrap or foil, then place in a freezer-safe container or bag. They can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 165kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 9gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 370mgPotassium: 191mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 236IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 1mg

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword family dinner, ground beef, kid-friendly, meatloaf
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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