This is my mom’s recipe for the most flavorful juicy air fryer meatloaf. It only takes about 40 minutes to make, from start to finish. Here, diced pickles, egg, and barbeque sauce all lend moisture and flavor, while parmesan, garlic, paprika, and oregano add to the seasoning. This recipe is very adaptable: you can swap in or add any seasonings you love and the barbeque sauce is totally optional. You can easily make this dairy and gluten-free by omitting parmesan and using almond flour in place of bread crumbs. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can absolutely bake this in the oven (see the notes at the end of the recipe).

Juicy air fryer meatloaf by the modern nonna air fryer juicy meatloaf

Juicy Air Fryer Meatloaf

My mother's recipe for the juiciest meatloaf ever, made in under 40 minutes.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4


  • Air Fryer


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • ¼ bell pepper, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 pickle, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound (500 grams) ground meat, such as pork or beef
  • 1 small egg, whisked
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons bread crumbs or almond flour
  • your favorite barbeque sauce, for glaze (optional)


  • Warm the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and bell pepper, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent. Add the pickle, if using, and the salt, paprika, and oregano and stir to combine. Take the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool a bit.
  • Add the ground meat to a large bowl with the slightly cooled seasoned vegetable mixture. Add the egg, parmesan, if using, and bread crumbs. Using clean hands or a spoon, mix really well.
  • Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and place the meat mixture in the center. Wrap the plastic around the mixture and shape it into a loaf that will fit in the basket of your air fryer.
  • Remove the meatloaf from the plastic wrap, place in the air fryer basket, and brush with barbeque sauce, if using.
  • Cook at 380F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, open the air fryer and brush with more barbecue sauce, if using. Bake for another 8 minutes, checking the loaf twice to make sure it's not getting burnt.
  • Let the meat loaf cool a bit and enjoy.


If you don’t have an air fryer, you can absolutely bake this in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet, in a 375F oven, for 30 to 40 minutes. 
I enjoy this meat loaf with ground pork or beef, but any ground meat will work: turkey, chicken, etc. 
Bread crumbs act as a binder in this recipe. If you don’t have bread crumbs or you are gluten-free, then add almond flour instead
If you prefer a firmer meat loaf, after shaping the mixture in plastic wrap, leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. 
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