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Smoked BBQ Meatloaf Recipe

Sliced smoked meatloaf ready to serve at dinner

It’s about that time of year again, and by that time I mean comfort food time.

Comfort food is my jam so while I don’t love the cold in the winter, the comfort food kind of makes up for it. There’s just something to be said for curling up by the fire and having a nice bowl of beef stew or a hearty bbq meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. It brings back memories of my childhood.

Unlike an ordinary meatloaf, this smoked BBQ Meatloaf isn’t just a great weeknight meal, it’s special enough to serve at a dinner party. I know, I know—the idea of serving meatloaf at a fancy dinner party seems a bit off, but trust me on this one. This meatloaf is an absolute show stopper.

I grew up eating meatloaf from the oven and have adapted and modified this age-old classic for the grill. What I love about smoking meatloaf is how well the porous ground meat takes the smoke—better than just about any other proteins I’ve smoked.

What to do with leftover meatloaf?

It doesn’t get much better than a meatloaf sandwich, most people would agree. I’ll give you a little tip that will make your BBQ meatloaf sandwich next level: Try placing a nice thick slice of meatloaf directly on your grill over high heat. Grill both sides for 2-3 minutes and glaze with your favorite sauce before slapping it between two pieces of bread and topping with some homemade mac ‘n’ cheese. The crunch and texture are absolute perfection.

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Smoked BBQ Meatloaf Recipe

Serves: 4-5 | Prep time: 30 mins. | Cook time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients
1.5 lbs ground beef (80/20)
1 lb ground Italian sausage or ground pork
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 medium jalapeño seeded and veined, finely chopped (optional)
1 medium Vidalia onion chopped
1 package dried onion soup mix
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 thick slices of fresh Italian bread
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce, divided equally

Step-by-Step Instructions for Cooking Smoked Meatloaf

Step 1: Light your grill or smoker and set it up for two-zone heat getting the temp up to 235 degrees. When smoking meatloaf I like to use either oak or mesquite wood chunks but use what you prefer.

TIP: If you can’t get wood chunks, wood chips will work as well but they will need to be soaked in water for at least 15 minutes or they’ll burn up and not really smoke.

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

Onions, peppers, jalapeños, peppers and celery sauteing for the smoked meatloaf

Step 3: Tear the Italian bread into small chunks and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Torn Italian bread for smoked meatloaf

Step 4: Add buttermilk to bread chunks and soak until the buttermilk is absorbed. You can also use heavy cream if you prefer. The buttermilk will serve to keep your meatloaf moist as it cooks.

Buttermilk and torn Italian bread for smoked meatloaf

Step 5: In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, sausage, 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce, cooled onion, celery, and pepper mixture, Worcestershire sauce, soaked bread chunks, eggs, and soup mix.

Vegetables, meat and egg ready to combine for smoked meatloaf

Step 6: Mix ingredients thoroughly together.

Meatloaf mixture ready to be formed into a loaf

Step 7: On a sheet of parchment paper or tinfoil, form the mixture into a loaf and transfer it to a cooling rack for smoking. I usually shoot for about 2” thick in a 4” x 6” loaf.

Meatloaf on a wire rack, ready for the grill

Step 8: Place the cooling rack, with loaf on it, on the smoker and insert a reliable leave-in thermometer (we recommend the Thermoworks Signals or the ThermoWorks Smoke X4 RF).

Smoked Meatloaf with a leave in thermometer, cooking on the grill

Smoked meatloaf cooking on the grill

TIP: As I’ve stressed in other recipes, a reliable leave-in thermometer may be the single most useful tool in your toolbox. Cooking to time as opposed to cooking to internal temperature is a recipe for disaster.

Step 9: Add wood chunks to your grill and place loaf inside over indirect heat, close the lid and let the charcoal and wood do its job. If you’re using a gas grill, just use a smoke tube and follow the same instructions spelled out here.

Step 10: When the internal temperature of your loaf gets to 150 degrees, it’s time to glaze it with remaining BBQ sauce and crank the heat up in the cooker to 350 degrees.

Glazing smoked meatloaf

Step 11: Cooking at a higher temperature during the last 10 degrees of cooking (your goal is 160 degrees) allows the sauce to set up and get that beautiful color.

Glazed smoked meatloaf on the grill

Step 12: When the internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees is reached, it’s time to pull it off the cooker and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Finished smoked meatloaf, sliced and ready to serve

Cook a Smoked BBQ Meatloaf Recipe:

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Sliced smoked meatloaf ready to serve at dinner
Smoked BBQ Meatloaf Recipe
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
3 hrs
 

A new take on the dinner classic — grilled meatloaf.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage or ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 medium jalapeño seeded and veined finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion chopped
  • 1 package dried onion soup mix
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices fresh Italian bread
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups barbecue sauce divided equally
Instructions
  1. Light your grill or smoker and set it up for two zone heat, getting the temperature up to 235 degrees.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over the stove and sauté the onions, celery, peppers and optional jalapeños.

  3. Tear the Italian bread into small chunks and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

  4. Add buttermilk to bread chunks and soak till milk is absorbed.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, sausage, 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce, cooled onion, celery and pepper mixture, Worcestershire sauce, soaked bread chunks, eggs and soup mix.

  6. Mix ingredients thoroughly together.

  7. On a sheet of parchment paper or tinfoil, form the mixture into a loaf and transfer it to a cooling rack for smoking.

  8. Place the cooling rack, with loaf on it, on the smoker and insert a reliable leave-in thermometer.

  9. Add wood chunks to your grill and place loaf inside over indirect heat, close the lid and let the charcoal and wood do its job.

  10. When the internal temperature of your loaf gets to 150 degrees, it’s time to glaze it with remaining BBQ sauce and crank the heat up in the cooker to 350 degrees.

  11. Cooking at a higher temperature during the last 10 degrees of cooking allows the sauce to set up and get that beautiful color.

  12. When internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees is reached it’s time to pull it off the cooker and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.