Meatloaf is an ultimate favorite for family dinner. It is hearty and scrumptious. Although it looks simple, preparing meatloaf is time-consuming. So, what about doubling the recipe and freeze it?
In many households, meatloaf is not something that can be finished in one serving. Unfortunately, leftover meatloaf only stays fresh for a few days in the fridge.
Either way, freezing meatloaf sounds like a great idea. You’re right!
Keep on reading if you’re curious about the practical details of freezing, thawing, and reheating meatloaf—both cooked and uncooked.
The Best Ways To Freeze Meatloaf
Cooked meatloaf only stays fresh for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. So, freezing is an ultimate way if you need more time to finish off this delicious dish.
Whether it is a homemade or store-bought meatloaf (maybe from Costco or Trader’s Joe), you can always freeze meatloaf.
Perhaps, you prefer to prepare and assemble the ingredients in advance, but bake it later when you’re ready to serve. That’s also an option.
Let’s go through the steps of how to freeze meatloaf!
Freezing Cooked Meatloaf
Here are the steps to freeze cooked meatloaf:
- Let meatloaf cool completely before freezing.
- Cut meatloaf into meal portion size. It is possible to freeze a whole meatloaf. Still, the result might be disappointing since the meat becomes dry after long thawing and reheating.
- Wrap each slice in an aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
- Transfer the wrapped slices into a freezer bag.
- Squeeze as much air as possible and seal the bag tightly.
- Label the bag with a freezing date.
- Place the bag in the freezer.
Freezing Uncooked Meatloaf
- Prepare and assemble meatloaf according to your favorite recipe.
- Portion and shape the meat mixture to your preference, such as mold it into muffin-size balls. If you want to bake it on the next day, you can keep it refrigerated in a sealed airtight container.
- Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and place the meatloaf on the pan. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Freeze for a few hours to one day until firm.
- Wrap individual loaf in aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag.
- Squeeze as much air as possible from the bag and seal tightly.
- Label the container with a freezing date.
- Place the bag in the freezer.
How To Defrost Frozen Meatloaf
There are some methods to defrost meatloaf safely. You can thaw frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.
- Thawing in the refrigerator
Refrigerator thawing is the safest method but an overnight process. You should plan in advance as the thawing process takes hours to a day, depending on the quantity.
Simply place meatloaf before you go to bed if you want to have it for tomorrow’s dinner.
- In cold water
If you forgot to move the frozen meatloaf to the fridge the night before, you could try this method. It takes less time than thawing in the refrigerator.
Place the frozen meatloaf in a sealed plastic bag. Make sure the bag doesn’t leak. Immerse it in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the meatloaf completely defrosts.
- In the microwave
Microwave thawing is the fastest compared to previous methods. You can also warm it until the internal part reaches 165 ºF. (*)
To reheat slices of cooked meatloaf, you can do it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 °F or in a skillet. Make sure the inner part reaches 165 °F.
For uncooked meatloaf, unwrap and bake it in the oven for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours at 350 °F or following your recipe. Make sure the center of the meatloaf reaches 165 °F. Use a thermometer to read the temperature accurately (if necessary).
How Long Can You Freeze Meatloaf?
Both leftover and uncooked meatloaf freeze well up to 2 to 3 months frozen. (*)
Once defrosted, it is best to serve as soon as possible or within 3 to 4 days.
|Uncooked meatloaf||1 to 2 days||2 to 3 months|
|Cooked meatloaf||3 to 4 days||2 to 3 months|
Can You Refreeze Leftover Meatloaf?
Unless thawed in the fridge, you need to reheat the meatloaf until the internal part reaches a safe temperature of 165 °F.
If you are not sure how well you handled it, just play safe and bake it before refreezing.
Yes. Follow the steps in the previous section.
To freeze meatloaf properly, you need to wrap and place it in a sealed heavy-duty freezer-safe container instead of a metal pan.
If you want to freeze uncooked meatloaf, it is better to save the sauce later when you’re ready to bake it.
Meatloaf is an all-time family favorite. Whether you have leftover or cook it in a big batch to eat throughout the week, you can freeze both cooked and uncooked meatloaf.
When it comes to thawing frozen meatloaf, the safest option is refrigerator thawing. Alternatively, you can also defrost it in a cold water bath or in a microwave.
After thawing, meatloaf is best to enjoy immediately. Keep any unused portions refrigerated up to 3 to 4 days. When thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze any leftovers. If you’re doubting, reheat it before refreezing.
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