Smoked Meatloaf – Easy & Delicious Recipe Recipe
If you are looking for classic comfort dish to serve a group of friends or family, then meat loaf may be a great option. It is often served with a sweet barbecue sauce, a heaping pile of creamy mashed potatoes, and sautéed green beans. What could be an easier and more complete meal?
Have you ever considered smoking a meatloaf? I want to tell that it is a game changer and you definitely should try it.
There are different ground meats that you can use to make meatloaf. And of course, you can combine the different proteins. The easy recipe here is for beef meatloaf. I have made this recipe with a combination of beef and pork. You could also try ground veal, ground dark meat turkey, ground lamb, and even ground chicken livers.
What you put in and on your meatloaf can vary as well. A smoked meatloaf with cheese is delicious. I like adding fairly solid cubes of cheddar or small chunks of blue cheese into the mix. Smoked meatloaf wrapped in bacon is a moist and tasty treat. Smoking bacon wrapped meatloaf is great because the fat drips away and the loaf does not end up swimming in a pool of bacon grease as it might when baked in a pan in the oven.
Pro tip #1: Place bacon wrapped meatloaf on the rack beneath vegetables and sides to avoid cross-contamination. Place a foil lined sheet pan beneath the meatloaf to catch the bacon grease.
This recipe also works to make smoked meatballs. The cook time will be less than smoking a whole meatloaf. So, adjust accordingly.
The beauty of cooking meatloaf low and slow in a smoker is that there is no need for a pan. You can place the meatloaf directly on the smoker rack and allow the excess fat to release. The steaming bowl of liquid below adds moisture back into the loaf. The wood chips impart an extreme amount of flavor that makes everyone smile.
The step-by-step recipe here is a throwback to the 50s when home cooks would bake beef meatloaf with a ketchup based glaze on top. There was always extra glaze that would be served in a gravy boat on the side to make the dish fancier. 1 meatloaf could feed a family and 2 slices were always set aside for dad’s lunch – meatloaf and sauce on 2 slices of white bread.
Pro tip #2: Make 2 meatloaves. Serve one. Freeze the extra one. Just defrost and reheat in a 350°F oven for another meal.
So, let’s get to the recipe.
Easy Smoked Beef Meatloaf with Sweet and Sour Glaze: A Step-by-Step Guide
Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list. This recipe takes only 15 to 20 minutes to prepare. Cooking time is approximately 3 hours. This should feed 6 people. Double the recipe for a crowd or for leftovers.
- Large bowl
- Sheet pan lined with foil (optional)
- Small saucepot
- Metal whisk
- Digital or probe meat thermometer
- Wood chips or pellets
- Pastry brush or large spoon
- Cutting board
- Loose foil
- Platter for serving
- 2 pounds ground chuck, 80/20 lean to fat ratio
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken broth or whole milk
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup Panko or plain bread crumbs
- 2 medium yellow onions, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 cup good ketchup
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
Step 1: In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the ground beef, olive oil, broth or milk, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, bread crumbs, onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Mix everything together with your hands and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare your smoker by filling the tray with hickory or mesquite wood chips. Fill the water bowl 1/2 way with plain water. Preheat the smoker to 250˚F with the top vent cracked open. If using a pellet smoker, fill the hopper with pellets, ignite, and preheat.
Step 3: Shape the meat mixture into a large rectangular or oval loaf about 4 inches tall. Place this inside your preheated smoker directly on the rack. If a probe thermometer is attached to the smoker, insert it into the center of the loaf. If you are smoking side dishes to go with your loaf, place the meat on the rack beneath your other dishes. A foil lined sheet pan can be placed on the rack beneath the loaf for easier cleanup.
Step 4: Smoke the meatloaf for 2 hours. Replenish the wood chips and water approximately every 60 minutes. Check the pellets and replenish those as well as needed.
Step 5: In a small saucepot over medium heat, whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Simmer until slightly thickened and set aside.
Pro tip #3: Taste your glaze and decide if you want to add more mustard or more sugar for your preference of sweetness to acid ratio. Rely on your taste buds and adjust as needed.
Step 6: At 2 hours, brush just enough glaze over the meatloaf to cover it. Save some sauce for serving. Return the glazed loaf to the smoker and continue to cook for approximately 1 more hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F.
Step 7: Remove the meatloaf from the smoker to a clean cutting board and tent with foil. Allow the meat to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, warm up the remaining sauce.
Step 8: Slice the meatloaf into 1/2” portions. Serve with mashed potatoes, greens, and the extra sauce.
Now you have the basics for an easy smoked meatloaf. Remember that you can mix up different proteins. You can also choose to add cheese, different or more vegetables, and other seasonings. Wrap the meatloaf in bacon slices for even more of a smoky flavor.
While the meatloaf is cooking, make your side dishes. You could also smoke your sides above the meatloaf. Some ideas are smoked whole potatoes, smoked macaroni and cheese, and smoked Brussels sprouts.
If you haven’t tried smoking a meatloaf, start with this recipe. We are pretty sure you will love it and will add this as a go-to entrée for a family gathering or dinner party.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you cook meatloaf at 250 degrees?
Smoked meatloaf takes longer than regular meatloaf because the temperature is decreased to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You’re looking to cook the meatloaf until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, the USDA’s recommendation for safe cooking of ground meats. This should take anywhere from two to three hours, depending on how large the meatloaf is.
Can you smoke a meatloaf?
The answer to this question is: Absolutely! Smoked meatloaf is just as easy to make as regular meatloaf, but the flavors are extremely enhanced. The flavor from the wood chips or pellets will infused every bite of your meatloaf with smoky flavor, and the glaze will caramelize perfectly under the low-and-slow cooking temperatures. Once you smoke a meatloaf, you may never go back to the regular kind again!
What internal temperature should meatloaf be?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cooking any ground meat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This applies to any type of ground meat, whether you’re using 100 percent beef, pork, chicken, elk, or venison or mixing any one of these options together.
Why does my meatloaf always fall apart?
Meatloaf requires binder ingredients to stay together. The most common ingredient to help the meat stick together is eggs, but you can also use starchy ingredients like bread, breadcrumbs, or crackers. If you followed our recipe above and are still having problems keeping the meatloaf together, it’s possible it overcooked. If you take it above 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat can dry out and fall apart.
Do you cover meatloaf when smoking?
You don’t need to cover the meatloaf on the smoker; just fire up the smoker, add the meatloaf, and place the cover on the grill. Wrapping the meatloaf in aluminum foil or covering it with some kind of lid would prevent the smoke from flavoring the meat. It won’t help the meatloaf cook any faster, so you can go ahead and skip covering your meatloaf!