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Smoked Meat Loaf

smoked meatloaf with bbq glaze sliced on cutting board
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When I was growing up, meat loaf was in the regular rotation at my house. My mom was able to work wonders with just about any ground meat she could get her hands on and, growing up in Michigan, that usually meant venison. Needless to say, I have a long history with oven baked meat loaf and I’ve eaten a ton of it over the years. About 3 or 4 years ago I decided to try smoking a meat loaf, mostly because I figured it would be a little healthier given the meat wouldn’t be sitting in a pan of grease as it cooked. I know, I know – you’re thinking, “Look at your Instagram page, dude. Clearly health food isn’t your swim lane.” I get it, but I also just love the flavor that smoke adds to meat. It took a few runs to get this right but now the recipe below is my go-to for meat loaf.

Step-by-step with photos | Download recipe (PDF – 1MB)

Smoked Meat Loaf

Serves: 4-5 | Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 medium jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
4 slices white bread, torn into small chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk
1.5 lbs 80/20 ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 package dried onion soup mix
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce (Original or Hot & Spicy)

Equipment

Charcoal Grill or Smoker
Lump charcoal, like Fogo Premium Hardwood
Charcoal lighter, such as Looftlighter
Wood chunks, cherry or pecan
Meat thermometer with probe, like Thermoworks Smoke*

Directions

  1. Light the charcoal, set up your grill or smoker for two-zone heat, and heat the cooker to 235 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan on the stove and sauté the onions, celery, bell peppers, and jalapeño until the onions are translucent and the peppers have softened slightly. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the chunks of white bread and the buttermilk in a medium bowl and allow to soak while you prepare the meat mixture.
  4. Place the ground beef, sausage, and onion soup mix in a large bowl and, using your hands, mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the Worcestershire sauce, eggs, cooled onions and peppers, milk-soaked bread pieces, and ¾ cup of the Head Country Bar-B-Q sauce to the meat mixture. Fold gently to combine.
  6. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil and place the meat mixture on the foil, shaping into a large loaf about 2” thick. Place the loaf on a metal cooling rack.
  7. Add your wood chunks to the grill or smoker and set the rack with your loaf inside. Insert the temperature probe from the thermometer into the loaf and close the lid of the cooker.
  8. When the internal temperature of the meat loaf reaches 150 degrees, glaze with the remaining Bar-B-Q sauce and increase the heat of your cooker to 350 degrees.
  9. Once the loaf hits 160 degrees, remove from the cooker and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve!

Step-by-Step

Step 1: Light your grill or smoker and set it up for two-zone heat getting the temp up to 235 degrees.

Step 2: Heat the olive oil in a pan over the stove and sauté the onions, celery, and peppers. You just want the onion to get translucent here and for the peppers to soften somewhat. Remove the veggies from the heat and let them cool as you proceed.

Step 3: Place the pieces of white bread in a medium bowl with the buttermilk and allow to soak while you make the meat mixture. I like the tangy flavor of the buttermilk but you can also use heavy cream if you like.

raw mixture for smoked meatloaf

Step 4: In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, sausage, and soup mix until thoroughly incorporated. I find gloved hands are the best tools for the job since you need to break up the ground meats and create an even mixture – and there really isn’t a utensil that can do that as well as your hands.

Step 5: Add the Worcestershire sauce, eggs, cooled onions and peppers, milk-soaked bread pieces, and ¾ cup of the Head Country Bar-B-Q sauce to the meat mixture. Fold gently to combine, try not to overmix or knead, you really just want to be sure the ingredients are evenly dispersed.

smoked meatloaf on grill rack with thermometer probe

Step 6: Lay down a large sheet of foil and place the meat mixture on it, shaping into a large loaf. I like it to be about 2” thick so it stays nice and moist during the cook and this usually yields a loaf that is about 4” wide and 6” long. Place the loaf on a metal cooling rack.

smoked meatloaf on grill with thermometer readout

Step 7: Add wood chunks to the smoker and place rack with your meat loaf inside. Insert the temperature probe from your meat thermometer* then close the lid and let the charcoal and wood go to work.

smoked meatloaf brushed with bbq sauce

Step 8: When the internal temp of your loaf gets to 150 degrees, it’s time to glaze it with your Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce and crank the heat up in the cooker to 350 degrees. I like to use the Hot & Spicy sauce but if you prefer something milder, you can use The Original flavor. We’re shooting for an internal temp of 160 degrees and cooking at a higher temperature the last 10 degrees of cooking allows the sauce set up and get that beautiful color.

meatloaf on smoker with bbq glaze and thermometer probe

Step 9: When your timer goes off at 160 degrees internal temp it’s time to pull it off the cooker and let it rest for 10 minutes.

smoked meatloaf on cutting board with head country bar-b-q sauce

Step 10: Slice and serve!

Printable Recipe

Download this recipe as a PDF

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