Signature Smoked Meatloaf
Who doesn't love a good signature smoked meatloaf? Nobody, that's who (everybody loves meatloaf). We're not just talking about your clever Great Depression housewive's dinner choice; this is America. Meatloaf is a true classic, the American version tracing all the way back to the 1800s and the invention of the meat grinder.
Frugal housewives of the Great Depression only increased the popularity of this heavenly dish, and it has since developed into a meal worthy of both a classy dinner party and a backyard barbecue. If you’re a history buff, I’ve got you covered. While preparing for cooking this awesome meatloaf, check out some more history facts in our “History of barbecue – the Four Types of Barbecue Found in the USA” article.
I had a special occasion last week, and it was my turn to cook dinner. I couldn't resist the urge to whip up a quality loaf, so I went on a mission to find the best of the best meatloaf recipes. After a long time of digging, I came out with the recipe that will slay all other recipes. I have found the Jedi Knight meatloaf. History has paved the path of the meatloaf, and now it's your turn.
What You Will Need For This Meatloaf Recipe
1. First, you're going to need six pounds of ground beef, 80/20. This means that the beef has a breakdown of 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This ideal breakdown allows the meat to hold its shape better during cooking, while still keeping in all the great flavor added in from the fat. The meat is the key ingredient in a good meatloaf, so make sure you pick up a quality product.
- 6 pounds of ground beef, 80/20
- four eggs
2. Next up in the ingredients list is four eggs. These eggs are going to be the primary source of prime moistness in your loaf, so don't underestimate their power. Moistness is typically the largest difficulty people experience when tackling meatloaf.
- 2 cups of Progresso Panko breadcrumbs
3. Third, you'll need two cups of Progresso Panko breadcrumbs. A lot of individuals think that the inclusion of breadcrumbs is meant to help hold the loaf together, but that actually isn't the case (that honor goes to the eggs). Breadcrumbs in meatloaf were made famous during the Great Depression as a way to stretch out a recipe. We all want more bang for our buck, and that's what breadcrumbs will do for you.
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup of Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cups of parmesan cheese
- 1 chopped red onion
- 1 chopped green bell pepper
- 6 chopped cloves of garlic
- 4 ounces of chopped mushrooms
- 5 ounces of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of Thyme
- 1 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of dry mustard
4. Finally, we've got everything you need to add in some stellar flavor. For wet ingredients, we've got one cup of no-salt Heinz ketchup and one cup of Worcestershire sauce. These two stars of the show will take the flavor home for your meatloaf and add that signature flavor everybody loves and expects.
The dry ingredients include three cups of parmesan cheese, one chopped red onion, one chopped green bell pepper, six chopped cloves of garlic, four ounces of chopped mushrooms, five ounces of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, one teaspoon of Rosemary, one teaspoon of Thyme, one teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper, and two teaspoons of dry mustard. Feel free to include or replace these with any other seasonings you may want
Step #1: Prepare Your Smoker
Are you ready for one of the most savory and moist meatloaf recipes to date? If you are, get out there and prepare your charcoal grill or smoker and preheat your pit to 245 degrees! I used Hickory wood pellets for this one, which is what I'd recommend you use, as well, for that great smoky effect. To learn more about different kinds of wood check out “5 Things You Must Know To Use Wood Chips For Smoking”! You can use an electric smoker, too, just make sure to follow the instructions.
Step #2: Get the Meatloaf Ready
We've made it to the meat. To get started, put all six pounds of your 80/20 ground meat into a large bowl. Then, in a separate, medium mixing bowl, beat together the four eggs, Worcestershire, Rosemary, Thyme, coarse ground black pepper, and a cup ketchup.
When you've got that meat mixture thoroughly combined, pour it over your meat in the large bowl. After you've got it all in the bowl, add the chopped red onion, green bell pepper, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Now it's time to get down and dirty with the meatloaf mixture. I really enjoy this part.
Use latex, food-grade gloves and mix up the meat with your hands. Don't be afraid to really get in there. After all, you want to make sure the spices and flavors get deep into the meat. Marry them together in holy matrimony so they can end up as one, beautifully delicious loaf. If only real marriage ended in meatloaf.
Step #3: Let it Sit
This is probably the hardest part. I know you're going to be dying to get this in the smoker as soon as possible, but you need to put the mix in the fridge and let it sit for an hour. Watch a good TV show or something; that'll take up enough time.
After about an hour, take the mix out of the fridge and mold the meat into two loaves of approximately equal size. The similar sizes will help them cook evenly inside the smoker, so try to get them as close as possible. When the loaves have been formed, rub some extra ketchup all over them on all sides. I know this is going to kill you, but, once you're done, let the meatloaf rest for another thirty minutes. The cooking time will get a bit longer, but it's absolutely worth it.
Step #4: Smoke the Meatloaf
At last, we're finally here! When the agonizing thirty minutes has passed, go ahead and place the meat in the center of your smoker. If you don’t have a smoker at your disposal and this is the only thing stopping you from trying out this awesome recipe, I have just the right video for you. Check out how you can create a smoker here:
At this point, the smoker should be preheated to 245 degrees, as started in preparation. Get them in there and cook the loaves until they reach 145 degrees.
When they test right for the temperature, apply a good amount of ketchup or bbq sauce again to all sides of both loaves. When you feel like they've been properly smothered, continue to cook them until their internal temperatures reach 165 degrees. You can right down the cook time to have a reference for the next time you decide to make this awesome bbq meatloaf.
Step #5: Let Sit and Serve the Meatloaf!
When both loaves have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, take them out of the smoker and let them sit for fifteen minutes. This is going to be tough, guys, but it's necessary. Not letting the loaf sit is one of the biggest mistakes impatient people make when cooking meatloaf. If you don't let it sit long enough, you'll end up with a dry loaf when you cut into it.
After you've let the loaves sit, it's time to slice it and serve. Make sure only to slice up what you plan to eat in one sitting, however. This will allow the leftovers that get refrigerated to stay moist in their form.
Now that we've reached the end, you've got yourself a strong signature smoked meatloaf. Did you enjoy this tutorial? I know I sure did, especially after seeing the happy faces of my family as they enjoyed my efforts and this delicious meal.
Meatloaf is one of the best classics you can choose for a nice, personal, family-shared meal. It's great for a Christmas - add mashed potatoes or any other side dish, and you have a whole dinner. With the barbecue sauce the meat will taste amazing, and the smoke flavor make it unique. There's nothing anybody wants more than that. Share with us in the comments what you thought of this recipe, and don't hesitate to share this with your friends if you liked it!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Make a Moist Meatloaf?
The key to moist meatloaf is using 80/20 ground beef. This beef has enough fat content to keep good flavor in the meatloaf. It is also important not to overmix the meatloaf, which can compact the meat and cause a tough loaf. Finally, allowing your meatloaf to rest for 15 minutes makes it extra juicy, when the juices to redistribute within the meat.
What Temperature Should You Cook Meatloaf?
You should cook store-bought, pre-ground beef products to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If you are grinding the meat yourself, it may be safe to cook it at lower temperatures.
Can You Make Meatloaf Without Breadcrumbs?
Traditionally, meatloaf is made with stale bread or breadcrumbs. You can make your meatloaf without breadcrumbs by swapping in gluten-free cracker crumbs or certified gluten-free oatmeal instead of the bread.
What Can You Put in a Meatloaf?
Meatloaf is a very versatile dish and can made with a variety of ingredients. It is popular to put onions and garlic in your meatloaf, but you can also add carrots, peas, and other vegetables. Any number of herbs can be added to the meatloaf to spice it up.
What is the Best Wood for Smoking Meatloaf?
Hickory, pecan, maple, and mesquite woods are popular for smoking meat. Check out our comprehensive guide, 5 Things You Must Know to Use Wood Chips for Smoking, for additional tips and tricks.