Joined Jun 3, 2016
Hello all....I just joined ChefTalk about 5 minutes ago. Can anyone out there help me. I am just a home cook, I am 65 years old, I have made thousands of Meat Loafs but I have never made one that did not fall apart. I have tried hundreds of recipes, all of which taste fine but all fell apart. I have tried one egg, two eggs, three eggs, breadcrumbs, crackers, oatmeal. I have tried all Beef, Beef and Pork, Beef, Pork and Veal. I have tried in a Loaf Pan, Free Form, I even purchased an $80.00 loaf pan with a lift out center and a bottom drain pan that stated it was specifically made for meat loaf.  It still fell apart. Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong, Should I give up, or seek therapy and move on. Please be honest.

Thank you,

Joined Apr 3, 2008
Therapy can be helpful. Just kidding, it probably won't help in this case.

I've never had this particular problem but when it comes to ground meat I know that the more you work it the stiffer it becomes. They always say don't overwork your meatballs because they'll get tough, so try overworking the mixture. Hope you get a better answer.
Joined Apr 25, 2014
1) Are you getting a good bark on the outside?  Maybe try letting it sit in the fridge so the outside dries before you bake

2) Do you rest your meatloaf?  They will all fall apart if you don't 

3) What are you lifting with?  Use two BIG spatulas

4) Too much binder.   Not enough working the meat.  All ground meat mixtures work the same so I will tell you something from sausage making. In sausage making we have something called the primary bind.   I suspect you didn't work the meat enough.  If you did too much it would be dense, but that doesn't sound like your problem.

"After the meat has been ground, the next step is to mix the sausage and create what is known as the primary bind. Ground meat does not hold together on it’s own, so it has to be kneaded a little. The action of kneading develops the protein in the meat called myosin which, when combined with salt and water, will create a sticky mass of meat. This is the primary bind. Sausage that hasn’t been properly mixed will not have a uniform texture and, when cooked, will be similar to crumbly ground beef thats been stuffed in a sausage casing."

5) Maybe it falls apart slicing?  Use sharper knives or an electric knife.   I have this problem on brisket where the bark is so tough that sawing through that will rip the meat.  Electric knife does it every time no problem.

If none of that helps give up.  You are not meant to make meatloaf in this lifetime.
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
You might just be overcooking it. Is there a lot of liquid and/or fat in the pan or surrounding it? If you melt out all the fat, and squeeze out all the juices, that equals a crumbly texture. 

Try cooking it less.....
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I agree with, let it set up, don't cook at low temp get a nice crust on the top, you s/b able to move the meatloaf from the cutting board to a pan while it still staying intact. You should use a sharp non serrated knife to cut the loaf. Try not to make the girth to big, this would make the outside layer over cook while trying to cook the deep layer inside center. A stem thermo could be your friend. I think most home cooks overcook to make sure things are done. Take the meatloaf out a few degrees lower than the approved level and let sit for 15 minutes so it cooks up to temp. There are 1000's of recipes, I think it maybe over cooking, drying out and crumbling..........don't give up but, don't invite me over until you have it figured out.........Chef Bill


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I've taken to baking meatloaf free form on a rimmed baking sheet on release foil or parchment paper, not in a loaf pan. Excess grease drains away, more bark creation, Easier to get at for carving and service. I do get some fracture sometimes on some slices at service. I don't consider it a problem particularly. 
Joined Feb 8, 2009

Sous Vide Meatloaf:
I used a ziplock bag on this, I used the water displacement method to get the air out of the bag.
This is how it looks when I took it out of the water oven. I cooked it at 140 degrees for 2 hrs.
Browned under the broiler for a few minutes for a nice crust.
ready to eat
No eggs in this meatloaf and as you see it stayed together and was nice and moist.

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Joined May 28, 2015
This is bbq meatloaf cooked right on the grill grates.   If you form it right, you shouldn't have any problems!
What is 'grill grates'? Sorry - its not a term I know in the UK!  Anyway, I haven't ever had a problem with crumbling meatloaf either. Its a bit of a mystery as to why you have, @kenji. I use egg to bind and sometimes breadcrumbs. But I don't 'work' the mixture, just mix it as quickly as possible, shape and turn it onto a baking tray or into a loaf tin. 
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Joined May 28, 2015
A 'grill' in the UK is a griddle in the US. 
In the UK a grill is what is called a broiler in the US (you put the food under it) . A griddle in the UK  is something that you put food on (not under). However, we sometimes refer to grilling food on the BBQ even though the food is on top! It does get confusing sometimes! 
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