My savory and intensely flavorful smoked meatloaf is the best way to shake up your classic meatloaf recipe! It’s topped with a BBQ sauce glaze, making this the most flavorful meatloaf you’ll ever have!
There's amazing flavor packed into each and every bite of this soon-to-be family favorite entree!
Smoky, juicy, and savory – my smoked meatloaf is the best you’ll ever make!
Smoking meatloaf permeates it with delectable, sweet, and smoky flavor, so you’ll never be bored! The smoker not only makes it flavorful, but it stays juicy, tender, and exceptionally delicious.
Instead of the usual ketchup glaze, I’m using sticky BBQ sauce to glaze the top of this meatloaf! The BBQ sauce not only slathers the top of the meatloaf, but I use it in the meatloaf seasoning to add extra moisture and make it extra flavorful!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- It’s Simple! I look for any reason to fire up the smoker – it’s just so easy! Once you mix and shape the meatloaf, you just put it in the smoker for 3 hours. You can relax and let the smoker do the work for you!
- It’s Special! Hear me out: not everyone considers meatloaf to be special, but this recipe really is! The smoker transforms the meatloaf into a mouthwatering main course.
- It’s a Favorite! Seasoned, smoked, and topped with a delicious BBQ glaze – there’s no way this meatloaf won’t become an instant family favorite.
This easy, smoked meatloaf is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser! Make sure to pick a BBQ sauce that you love so this dish is absolutely perfect!
- Lean Ground Beef – You can use regular ground beef, ground chuck, or ground sirloin, but make sure the meat is 85% lean, 15% fat so the meat stays juicy.
- Yellow Onion – I like yellow onion in this for its sweetness, but you can also use white onion too. Make sure the onion is minced or grated so it blends into the beef.
- Eggs – Eggs help to bind the meatloaf and give it structure. You can use whatever type of egg you have on hand!
- Minced Garlic – You can mince fresh garlic, use store-bought minced, or even use dried minced garlic that you re-hydrate in a little water.
- BBQ Sauce – You can use your favorite BBQ sauce for this recipe! (See Tips & Recipe Notes)
- Panko Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs also help to bind the meatloaf. Panko is made from crustless bread, which renders it lighter in flavor and texture than traditional breadcrumbs.
- Cayenne Pepper – The cayenne gives the meatloaf a little bit of delicious heat. You can use more or less depending on your preference, or omit it entirely.
- Chili Powder – Chili powder adds a smoky richness that’s so good in this recipe!
- Salt & Pepper – This is the seasoning base for the meatloaf. You can also add more or less depending on your preference.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Smoking the meatloaf really makes it incredible! Your smoker should be fully preheated before you put in the meatloaf.
- Preheat the smoker. Load the wood chips or pellets (see tips & recipe notes for more on wood chips) in the smoker and preheat it to 275°F (135°C) according to the manufacturer instructions.
- Prep the veggies. Mince or grate enough yellow onion to make ½ cup and, if using fresh, mince enough garlic to make 1 tablespoon. Set aside.
- Mix the meatloaf. In a large bowl, combine 2 lbs. of lean ground beef, ½ cup of minced yellow onion, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 eggs, ½ cup of Panko breadcrumbs, ⅓ cup of BBQ sauce, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, and 1 teaspoon each of salt & pepper. Mix it thoroughly using clean hands.
- Shape the meatloaf. Mold the mixture into a loaf shape, place on a wire rack and then set the rack on a baking sheet or a large cast iron pan.
- Smoke the meatloaf. Place the meatloaf in the smoker, and smoke at 275°F (135°C) for 2 hours. After two hours, generously apply the remaining ⅓ cup of BBQ sauce over the top of the meatloaf. Continue to smoke for another hour or until the meatloaf reaches 160°F (72°C).
- Serve! Remove the meatloaf from the smoker and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the meatloaf warm and enjoy!
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
When looking for wood chips, use wood that imparts a lot of flavor!
- Since we’re only smoking the meatloaf for 3 hours, you want to use a wood that will infuse smoky flavor into the meatloaf quickly.
- I used mesquite wood and cherry wood for this recipe, but you can also use hickory or pecan!
You can use whatever smoker you have or even a grill with a smoking function/addition.
- I like Traeger smokers, but you can also use other pellet smokers, wood, charcoal, or an electric smoker!
Make sure you don’t put the meatloaf directly on the smoker/grill, to ensure it doesn’t stick or break apart.
- It’s important to place the meatloaf on a wire rack covered baking sheet or cast-iron pan before putting it on the smoker, or else you may run the risk of the meatloaf sticking or falling between the grates of the smoker
🥡 Storing & Reheating
My delicious smoked meatloaf refrigerates perfectly. Place the extra meatloaf in an airtight container, storage bag, or wrap tightly in foil. It’ll keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
Did you know you can freeze meatloaf? You can freeze either a whole cooked meatloaf for later or leftover meatloaf portions!
Use plastic cling film to wrap the meatloaf, then place it in an airtight storage container or freezer storage bag and it will keep in the freezer for 3 months. As long as the meatloaf is stored properly it can be kept frozen longer, however, the flavor starts to deteriorate after the 3-month point.
When you’re ready to reheat the meatloaf, be sure to defrost in your fridge the night before!
In my opinion, the oven is the best way to reheat leftover meatloaf to keep it moist and evenly heated. Start by preheating your oven to 250°F (121°C)and place the leftover meatloaf or slices of meatloaf in an oven-safe baking dish and add a splash of broth or water to keep the meatloaf moist.
Then, cover the dish with aluminum foil and reheat until the center reaches at least 165°F (74°C) with a thermometer, about 25 to 30 minutes. *Reheating times will vary depending on the size of the portion being reheated.
😋 Other Meatloaf Recipes You May Like
I absolutely love using leftover meatloaf to make meatloaf sandwiches!
Simply reheat the meatloaf, then while that’s reheating, toast slices of good quality bread. Spread a little mayo on the toasted bread, then apply slices of meatloaf, cheese (if desired), lettuce, sliced tomato, and a slice or two of onion. Top with the other piece of bread, and you’ve got the perfect meatloaf sandwich!
You can use whatever BBQ sauce you prefer for this recipe! My only recommendation is to use a sweet, tomato-based BBQ sauce and not a mustard-based or vinegar-based BBQ sauce (though they’re delicious too!) as that won’t yield the intended result.
Yes! If you prefer, you can use a 50/50 blend of beef and pork, all pork, venison, or turkey for this meatloaf. If you decide to use turkey, keep an eye on the temp of the meatloaf, as it can dry out easily if overcooked.
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- 2 lbs lean ground beef (85% lean ground beef)
- ½ cup yellow onion (minced)
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ⅔ cup BBQ sauce (divided, ⅓ for the mixture + ⅓ for the topping)
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each, salt & pepper
- Load wood chips or pellets in the smoker. I used mesquite and cherry.
- Preheat your smoker to 275°F (135°C).
- In a large bowl combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, eggs, Panko, ⅓ cup of the BBQ sauce and seasonings. Mix it thoroughly using your hands.2 lbs lean ground beef, ½ cup yellow onion, 2 large eggs, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, ⅔ cup BBQ sauce, ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon each, salt & pepper
- Mold the mixture into a loaf shape, place on a wire rack and then set the rack in a baking sheet or a large cast iron pan.
- Place in the smoker, and smoke at 275°F (135°C) for 2 hours. After the 2 hours are up apply the remaining BBQ sauce over the top of the meatloaf. Continue to smoke for another hour or until meatloaf reaches 160°F (72°C).⅔ cup BBQ sauce
- Remove from the smoker and allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes, serve warm, and enjoy!
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Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!