Once you realize just how good and easy smoked meatloaf is to create, you will want to make this all the time.
While traditional meatloaf is cooked in an oven, people are starting to realize how much better meatloaf is cooked on the smoker. The added incredible flavor profile, the smokiness just make this comfort food such a treat to eat with the family.
And if you’ve been put off by dry meatloaf in the past don’t worry, in this delicious smoked meatloaf recipe, I share a great tip on keeping it moist throughout the cook.
For something a little different also check out our Poblano and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf.
What kind of meat to use for meatloaf?
The type of ground meat you use makes a huge difference in how good your final meatloaf will taste. With a lot of butchers and supermarkets selling more and more lean ground beef, you really need to make sure you are purchasing the good old standard higher fat ground beef that we have used for years.
I have also tried a mixture of 30% pork to 70% beef and had some amazing results with this. As the pork tends to have a higher fat content than beef, I would suggest adding no more than a third of ground pork to the mix.
It has a higher ratio of fat in it that not only helps the meatloaf stay moist, it also helps it all stick together and fat is flavor.
Should you cover the meatloaf while cooking it?
You are trying to get some smoky flavor into the meatloaf and therefore if you were to cover it in foil, that would limit the amount of smoke flavor we can get into the meatloaf.
Then there is the fact you will be basting it every 30 minutes throughout the last couple of hours and if you were to cover it with foil, you would lose an excessive amount of the basting glaze as it would stick to the foil.
So no, I do not recommend covering a meatloaf when you are smoking it.
Equipment you will need
- Smoker, I was using a Z Grills 700 Pellet Smoker
- Basting brush
- Chopping board
- Brisket knife
How to smoke meatloaf step by step
1. Making your meatloaf mix
I like to dice up and fry my bacon before it is needed. I then dice up and fry the onion off in the bacon grease. It adds so much more incredible flavor to the dish. This can also be done the day before and just store both of these in the fridge until needed.
You’ll likely find that most meatloaf recipes require you to use bread crumbs, milk and/or eggs.
In this smoked meatloaf recipe, I want you to combine these ingredients around 5 minutes before making your meatloaf. This allows the bread crumbs to absorb all of the liquid from the milk and eggs and they will help to keep the meatloaf so much more moist and tender during the cooking process.
While the bread crumbs are soaking, you can make a start on mixing the rest of the meatloaf ingredients.
Do not over mix the meatloaf ingredients, work fast, make sure that everything is dispersed properly but if you start overworking the meatloaf, it will become a very heavy and dense product once cooked.
Once it is all mixed, you can transfer it to a chopping board to shape. You are wanting a uniform shape from one end to the other. This will mean you get an even cook. You want to aim for about 5” wide and 3” high when shaping your meatloaf.
It is ready to be placed onto the smoker rack now.
2. Getting the smoker ready
I decided to make this recipe on my pellet smoker so setting up the smoker was as easy as setting the temperature and waiting for it to warm up.
On this model, I make sure I have filed the hopper with enough wood pellets for the cook and then set the heat dial to smoke, within minutes a plume of smoke starts coming out of the door of the smoker and as soon as it started, the smoke settles and you can hear the roar of the fire.
It is now we can close the lid and set our smoker to our required temp of 250°F. Some pellet grills can startup with the lid closed so be sure to follow the instructions for your model.
All up it takes around 8 minutes to be ready to smoke.
3. Making the sauce and glazing the meatloaf
While the meatloaf is smoking away, we have a couple of hours to get our sweet BBQ glaze ready.
It is as easy as adding ketchup, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar into a saucepan over low heat and stirring for around 5 minutes. This is enough time for the sugars to dissolve and the BBQ sauce to thicken up.
At the 2 hour mark, you can start glazing the meatloaf and every 30 minutes until either the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or you run out of glaze.
Cook meatloaf until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. The exact cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your meatloaf and the type of smoker.
Serving your meatloaf
At the end of the cook, after a quick rest, you can start to slice into the meatloaf.
I love to serve this flavorful meatloaf with buttery mashed potatoes and steamed garden fresh vegetables.
It is a favorite meal in my home and I hope it becomes one in yours after trying it as well.
Smoked Meatloaf With Homemade BBQ Glaze
- ½ cup panko crumbs
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2.2 lbs ground beef fatty
- 6 slices bacon diced and fried
- 1 brown onion diced and sauteed
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp BBQ rub I used my Ultimate Dry Rub for Ribs
- 1 cup ketchup
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- Get the smoker set up and ready at 250°F.
- Mix up the bread crumbs, milk and eggs in a large bowl and put aside for 5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the bread crumb mixture with the remaining meatloaf ingredients, except the BBQ rub.
- Do not overwork the mixture, just make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and then place on a chopping board and shape.
- Once you have your meatloaf shaped, place it on a wire rack and season with BBQ rub.
- Place it into a smoker and leave it alone for 2 hours.
- Prep the glaze by adding all of the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan over a low heat, stir and allow the sugars to dissolve and the sauce to thicken, this should take 5 minutes.
- After two hours of smoking, start glazing the meatloaf. This is why I have mine on a wire rack, it helps remove it in and out of the smoker to get the glaze all over it.
- Keep glazing every 30 minutes until the meatloaf reaches its internal temperature of 165°F or you run out of glaze.
- Once the meatloaf is at temp, remove it from the smoker and place on a chopping board to rest for 10 minutes.
- Once rested, slice up and enjoy the best smoked meatloaf.
- Buttery mashed potatoes and freshly steamed garden fresh vegetables.
- Roasted potatoes and gravy.
- In a bread roll with cheese.