Cynthia is a social butterfly who enjoys entertaining family and friends with dinner parties and barbecues.
Meatloaf is one of the easiest recipes to make, and everyone seems to have a different spin on their recipes. I like to make meatloaf minis in the air fryer—it's simple, fast, and healthy. And with just five ingredients (or six, if you count the optional Worcestershire sauce), what more could you ask for?
These meatloaf minis make an excellent freeze-ahead food, too. Sometimes with the hustle and bustle of day to day life, at least one of my family members misses dinner. Never fear, meatloaf minis are here! These can be frozen ahead, or reheated fast for anyone who missed supper at the table.
Preparing this recipe is really quick with an air fryer. From start to finish, you can be done in around 25 minutes. Traditional oven-baked meatloaf recipes would generally take well over an hour. Plus, when you use an air fryer you have the added bonus of not having a meatloaf swimming in fat and grease.
Some people use tomato paste in their meatloaf, but I prefer to add Worcestershire sauce, instead. If you have a nice blend of spices, though, you can skip both. (I'm not able to have tomato products due to their acidity, so I need to come up with my own alternatives.)
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- 2 pounds ground beef (or use any ground meat of choice)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup panko (or crushed crackers or oats)
- 2 tablespoons Badia Complete Seasoning (or garlic, onion, salt and pepper)
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 6-8 slices bacon
- In a large bowl, mix the spices, egg, and ground beef.
- Patty out into large ovals or rounds. Make these fatter than you would if just making burgers. You want them plump.
- Wrap 1 strip of bacon around each mini meatloaf. Overlap any excess you may have; no need to trim.
- Place in the air fryer at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (adjust the temperature if needed).
- If you want to caramelize any sauces as a topping, add it on towards the end. If you add it too soon, they will likely burn. Or you may choose to add the sauce after they have finished cooking.
1. Combine the Ingredients
In a large bowl, mix spices, egg, and ground beef. This is easy measure and dump all ingredients into a large bowl. Mixing is easiest by hand, some people may choose to try and mix with a spoon. I find mixing my hand allows for better incorporation of ingredients. This ensures that you have thoroughly mixed all ingredients together.
2. Shape the Meatloaf Minis
Shaping meatloaf minis is easy, go for round or oval shapes. These need to be fatter than a hamburger patty. Otherwise, it will be hard to wrap later. Shoot for a similar size for each, I often make smaller ones for my son. Making these all the same size means they will cook at the same temperature and time. Without having to remove some sooner than others.
3. Wrap With Bacon
When you are ready to wrap with bacon, preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees. Holding one mini meatloaf in one hand and your strip of bacon in the other, wrap all the way around. Overlapping is to be expected! Don't worry about trimming just wrap around until the entire strip of bacon is used.
Wrap tightly, this aids in holding the meatloaf together. Along with the binding ingredients this makes for a perfect meatloaf that does not fall apart.
4. Place in Air Fryer
Now that you have wrapped these with bacon set them in the air fryer tray. Remember if you have a "drip" tray, that it should be placed in as well.
Place in air fryer at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes. Or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Checking temperatures are the best way to determine when your food is safely cooked. Allow these to rest for 5 minutes, you are using an air fryer and it cooks out excess grease. If you cut into these too early it can result in a dry meatloaf.
5. Add Optional Sauces
If you want to caramelize any sauces as a topping, many people enjoy adding ketchup or other sauces. If you are adding a sauce, add it on towards the end. Adding too soon will likely burn it. Or add after they have finished if you choose. Sauces are tricky as a topping in air fryers, I have gotten a few too dark myself. When in doubt, only add when your meatloaf is near done.
Adding a sauce on top of meatloaf is common. I do not always do it personally it depends on whom I am cooking for. Some of my family members enjoy these without a sauce on top, and use them for meatloaf sandwiches.
Simple Zesty Meatloaf Topping Sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Stir all ingredients together and put on your medallions. There are many topping options. Gravies and other sauces make great topping choices, too.
Final Thoughts and Freezing Ahead
Bacon-wrapped meatloaf minis are an excellent freeze ahead dish. I will often make double batches and freeze a batch to cook later. When cooking from frozen set the air fryer to 375-400 degrees and expect them to take around 35 minutes or longer from frozen. When freezing ahead, do not top with sauces as they will burn before the meatloaf is fully cooked.
I always check temperature to give me peace of mind that my meat is thoroughly cooked. By testing the internal temperature with a digital thermometer. For ground beef, you want 160 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended minimum internal temperature.
I use a ThermoPro TP-16 digital thermometer. I have been using it for a long time, and if I even need to replace this once the warranty expires, I will purchase the same one. It serves its purpose in the kitchen, and I can use it outside while we are smoking meats or grilling too.
This digital thermometer has built-in meat temperature presets. Taking out the guesswork or looking up recommended temperatures while cooking. It has a long probe and extra-long cable rated to extremely high temperatures. It also doubles as a kitchen timer, too. Whatever you use, make sure to check temperatures of meat for food safety.
Do you have favorite sauces or sauce combinations that you put on top?
© 2020 Cynthia Hoover
elizabeth O on May 15, 2020:
I don't eat meat but I can appreciate a good and tasty recipe. I bet kids of all ages would love a dish like this one.
Pooja-Sharma on May 15, 2020:
Wow!! great recipe. would love to try it out
Louise on May 13, 2020:
Ooh, this sound SO good! I think my youngest would love to try something like this :)
Krizzia Scollon on May 12, 2020:
Anything with bacon is delicious! I'm drooling! :P
Veronika on May 12, 2020:
I've never actually tried cooking in an airfryer before! My friend has one, I wanna try using it after quarantine
Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on May 12, 2020:
I love my air fryer! It has been a great investment, and I have lost over 30 lbs since I started using it. I love being able to cook foods my family enjoys while not having to use excess fast and oils to prepare them.
aisasami on May 12, 2020:
Man, these look delicious! Now you make wish I had an air fryer!
Jody on May 12, 2020:
I really need an air fryer!
Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on May 12, 2020:
Yes cooking with an air fryer is faster than conventional cooking methods.
Ramil Hinolan on May 12, 2020:
I've heard that using air fryer cooks the dish faster.
CA on May 12, 2020:
This is something that I'd like to try. You had me at bacon!
Life Mag Health on May 11, 2020:
This is such a fantastic recipe! Definitely gonna try this on the weekend. I've also been looking for ideas on what to do with air fryer, and this is a great one!
Kathy Kenny Ngo on May 11, 2020:
I'm pretty sure that my husband would love this. It looks so appetizing.
Kev S on May 11, 2020:
These look delicious and must taste as good as they look. Thanks
Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on May 11, 2020:
Allie I too love when recipes can be frozen ahead. As a busy Mom and writer, freeze ahead foods make dinner a snap!
Allie on May 11, 2020:
Love that these can be frozen ahead. Saving to my recipes.