Perhaps you've heard that you shouldn't refrigerate meatloaf containing raw eggs because of the potential for salmonella or other foodborne illnesses. It's true that eggs sometimes contain bacteria that can cause disease, but, in most cases, if you take precautions, it's perfectly safe to refrigerate a meatloaf overnight. Just remember to refrigerate the meatloaf immediately in a cold refrigerator after assembling it and cook it to the right temperature the next day.
You can safely make meatloaf with raw eggs the day before if you follow a few precautions. First, thaw ground meat in the refrigerator, not the countertop. Thawing meat at room temperature provides an environment where bacteria can grow rapidly. Wash your hands before and after you make the meatloaf and ensure the cutting board and all utensils are clean. Use only eggs that are fresh and free of cracks. Once you've assembled the meatloaf, store it in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Bake the meatloaf the next day at 350 F until a meat thermometer inserted in it registers 160 F. By following these directions, you'll minimize bacteria growth and ensure that foodborne bacteria are killed through proper heating.
For most people, heating a meatloaf containing raw eggs poses no health risk. If someone in your home has a compromised immune system, however, consider using pasteurized eggs instead. These commercially prepared eggs have been heated to kill any bacteria, reducing the risk of illness further. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and patients with immune-destroying diseases are primarily at risk of foodborne illness.
Meatloaf recipes abound, but most rely on a combination of about one part ground beef, pork or turkey to one part dry bread crumbs, crackers or oatmeal. Add milk or eggs, along with seasoning ingredients, such as sauteed onion, pepper, bacon, salt, pepper, rosemary or thyme. Don't forget the classic topping of ketchup, mustard and brown sugar, if desired.
For the best flavor and safest product, always choose high-quality ingredients for your meatloaf. The ground meat forms the foundation for the meatloaf and gives it a savory flavor. The bread crumbs or crackers provide structure and stretch the meat further, making meatloaf a classic budget dish. The protein in eggs binds the meat with the starch and provides moisture, while the seasonings add flavor. Making a meatloaf ahead of time not only cuts your prep time in the kitchen, but also allows the flavors to blend so the meatloaf tastes even better.