Should You Cook the Onions Before Putting Them in a Meatloaf?

Cook the onions before adding to the meatloaf to enhance flavor and moisture, ensuring they are fully cooked. Sautéing onions until soft and translucent is recommended for optimal taste and texture in the meatloaf.

I like variety in my cooking.  Just because you find a good recipe doesn’t mean there are not others as well. 

For instance, meatloaf. I have a great meatloaf recipe but I do get tired of the same thing all the time.

I found this recipe for cheeseburger meatloaf. I usually don’t have cheese on my hamburger but my husband does.

So I wanted to give it a try and see what he thought. But a big question is, “Should you cook the onions before putting them in a meatloaf”?

cook the onions before putting in a meatloaf

Should You Cook the Onions Before Putting in a Meatloaf?

Yes, you should cook the onions before putting them in a meatloaf. As well as any other vegetables that you are adding such as green peppers. 

Why? Because sauteeing the onions and any other vegetables will not only add to the flavor and moisture of your meatloaf but will also make certain that they are fully cooked.

Raw onion does not belong in meatloaf.

How to Saute Onions

You only want to saute or cook your onions until they are soft and translucent. Add some butter to your frying pan. 

You could use oil but butter gives them a better taste. Have your heat at medium to medium-high. 

Add your onions and cook stirring frequently until they are done to your satisfaction. Keep a close eye on them, you don’t want to burn them.

This only takes about 10 minutes at the most. Watch the video below for more. 

Do I Need to Add Onions to My Meatloaf?

No, not at all. But the onion adds flavor and moisture to the meatloaf. 

My daughter’s family does not like onions. She gets around this by using onion powder. 

They are not opposed to the onion flavor just the onions themselves. I prefer the onion and not the powder. 

I believe you get more flavor especially when you cook them first before adding them to the meatloaf. But of course, if I am making meatloaf for the family I do omit the onion and use the powder.

If they see a hint of onion they will not eat it and I have wasted my time. 

Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and eggs

How to Keep Meatloaf Moist If Not Using Onions

Don’t skip adding eggs, ketchup, or whatever wet seasonings you are using. They not only add flavor and texture to your meatloaf but help to make the meat super juicy.  

Boxes of crackers

Why Do You Put Crackers in Meatloaf?

The crackers and wet ingredients such as eggs, ketchup, and milk, actually serve two purposes. They bind the meat together and add moisture making your meatloaf tender and juicy when it comes out of the oven.  

Should You Rest Your Meatloaf Before Slicing?

Yes. You should rest your meatloaf for at least 10 minutes after removing it from the oven.

It will hold together much better when slicing it. It also helps the meatloaf set up and lock in the juices. 

Giving it time to regroup and settle. When you remove it from the oven just tent it with foil to keep it warm.

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture when I took the meatloaf out of the oven. When I did remember, we had already eaten half of it.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf Recipe

So I made this meatloaf for my weekly Sunday dinner. And the outcome was great. 

Not only did my husband like it but my grandson did as well. That in itself is an achievement as he is a picky eater.

He did wonder at the “green things” in it. I told him to “just try it”. 

But he did end up picking out the green peppers. Oh well!

To be honest, I didn’t care for the sauce. But then I don’t have cheese on my hamburger. 

My daughter didn’t even try it and went straight for the ketchup to add on top of her slice. I believe the next time I make it I will omit to make the sauce.   

You never know when or if you like something until you at least try it. So when you make this meatloaf, go ahead and make the sauce. 

You may love it or not! You may also like this meatloaf recipe.



  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Lawrey’s seasoned salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 slices of white bread


  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 soup can of milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 ounces)


  • Saute onion and green pepper and set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
  • In a large bowl combine the beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and seasoned salt.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, cheddar cheese, ritz crackers, sour cream, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well using your hands. 
  • Shape into a loaf about 8 by 3 inches.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with the bread slices and place the loaf on top.
  • Bake until well browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
  • Remove from oven and discard bread slices.
  • While the meatloaf is resting make the sauce.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the soup and milk over medium heat. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Slice the meatloaf and serve topped with the sauce or on the side. 
Meatloaf ready to cook

The bread slices soak up the grease while the meatloaf is cooking. This alleviates the need to drain the meatloaf during cooking and immediately after it is done.

Nobody likes a meatloaf that is swimming in grease.

My Final Thoughts

  • Cooking onions before adding them to meatloaf enhances flavor and ensures they are fully cooked.
  • Onions add moisture and flavor to meatloaf, but onion powder can be used as an alternative for those who dislike the texture.
  • Wet ingredients like eggs and ketchup are crucial for a moist meatloaf.
  • Crackers or similar ingredients help bind the meatloaf and retain moisture.
  • Resting the meatloaf before slicing helps it hold together and maintains juiciness.

Sauteing or cooking the onions before putting them in meatloaf not only adds flavor but moisture as well. Of course, it is an added step in making meatloaf but the results are more than worth it.  

Don’t skip on the wet ingredients as this will keep your meatloaf moist and juicy. If you or your family don’t like onions, then, by all means, use onion powder. 

After all, it is your meatloaf. Recipes are only guides.

Adding crackers is the binder that helps keep your meatloaf together. And remember to let your meatloaf rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. 

Not only will it hold together when slicing but also allows the meatloaf to set up and lock in those juices. Do you have a favorite meatloaf recipe? 

Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts.  I love hearing from you.

And as always, have a wonderful day!

FAQ: Should You Cook the Onions Before Putting Them in a Meatloaf?

1. Why should onions be cooked before adding them to meatloaf?

  • Cooking onions before adding them to meatloaf helps to soften their texture and enhance their sweetness, which can improve the overall flavor and texture of the meatloaf.
  • Pre-cooking onions also prevents the release of excess moisture into the meatloaf as it cooks, helping maintain a firmer, more consistent texture.

2. What happens if you don’t cook the onions before adding them to meatloaf?

  • If onions are added raw, they may not cook completely by the time the meatloaf is done, resulting in a crunchier texture that may be undesirable for some palates.
  • Raw onions can release moisture as they cook within the meatloaf, potentially making the mixture too wet and affecting the final texture of the meatloaf.

3. Are there any specific cooking methods recommended for onions used in meatloaf?

  • Sautéing the onions is a common method, as it softens them and brings out their natural sweetness, which complements the savory flavors of the meatloaf.
  • It’s important to let the onions cool before mixing them into your meatloaf to prevent precooking the meat with residual heat from the onions.

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