even-better-smoked-meatloaf2

My meat loaf recipe is to die for and I am going to share it with you here.

Several years ago I decided to try a meat loaf on the smoker and several people including close relatives thought I’d lost all sense of reality.

I asked my wife to mix up the meat loaf recipe like she normally would then formed it into a rectangular shape about 2 inches thick onto a square cookie sheet.

It was the best thing we’d ever eaten and everyone else agreed.

I have since perfected the process and it’s only gotten better and better over the years. Here’s how I do it nowadays:

Helpful Information
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 3-4 hours
  • Smoker temperature: 240°F
  • Meat Finish temperature: 160°F
  • Recommended wood: Hickory
What You’ll Need
  • 1 lb ground chuck (80/20)
  • 1 lb ground breakfast sausage, hot or regular
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (yellow, green, red mixed), diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small onion)
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 slices of loaf bread or a hamburger bun top and bottom
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Jeff’s barbecue sauce recipe (purchase recipes here)
  • Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)

Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce


recipe-ad-rubIn this smoked meat loaf recipe, we are using Jeff’s rub to season the mixture, Jeff’s barbecue sauce to give it that wonderful tangy flavor and then we are brushing on more of Jeff’s barbecue sauce as a glaze at the end.

Just when you thought smoked meatloaf couldn’t get any better!

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Step 1: Soak the Bread

Take two slices of loaf bread or the top and bottom half of a bun and tear it into small pieces. (About 1 cup of bread)

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With the bread in a small bowl, pour ½ cup of buttermilk over the bread.

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The bread will soak up the buttermilk and this will be part of what makes the meatloaf so moist.

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Once the milk is soaked in, crack a couple of large eggs onto the bread mixture. Stir gently to combine.

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Set aside

Step 2: Saute Vegetables

Cooked vegetables release more moisture, are more tender and tend to be sweeter. Thus we will sauté them before use.

Dice bell peppers, onion and celery so that you end up with about ½ cup of each.

If you have extra, place them in a zip top bag and place them in the freezer for later.

Pour 2-3 TBS of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat.

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Once the pan is hot enough, pour in the onions, peppers and celery and stir to mix with the oil.

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Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly soft.

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Once the veggies are finished cooking, remove them from the pan and into a plate or bowl to cool.

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Add 1/4 cup of Jeff’s barbecue sauce and 3 TBS of Jeff’s rub (purchase recipes here) to the sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.

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Step 3: Mix the Meatloaf

Place the 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground sausage into a large mixing bowl.

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Add the bread, buttermilk and egg mixture to the top of the meat.

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Add the vegetable, sauce and rub mixture to the top of the meat as well.

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Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of the mixture and gently combine the ingredients together.

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Do not overmix. Do just enough to combine and then stop. Overworking the meatloaf mixture will make it tough.

Step 4: Form Into a Loaf

Pour or scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet, food grade butcher paper, etc. and form into a loaf with your hands.

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You can also place the mixture into a loaf pan to form it and then dump it out onto the pan, rack or tray that you will use to cook it.

You will notice that this mixture may be a little wetter than what you are used to using but that’s ok. It will form and hold together just fine.

I recommend about 2 inches thick in the shape of a rectangle but you can get creative with this if you like.

If using a Bradley rack, I recommend placing a piece of parchment paper under the meat so it will be easier to remove once done. (I forgot to do this)

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I kept the Bradley rack over a pan until I got out to the smoker to make sure I did not drop anything. I used the same method for bringing it in once it was finished.

Step 5: Smoke the Meatloaf

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F using indirect heat with hickory smoke or whatever smoking wood you have available.

If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend that you use it.

Once your smoker is maintaining the proper temperature, the cooking can commence.

Place the meatloaf in the smoker.

Keep a light smoke going for at least 2 hours.

Let the loaf cook for 3-4 hours or until it reaches about 155°F.

Note: total time will depend on thickness of loaf, temperature of smoker and how often the door/lid is opened.

Step 6: Top with Sauce

At about 155°F, brush the top and sides of the meatloaf with plenty of Jeff’s barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here). Give it about 25-30 minutes to caramelize then remove from the smoker.

Finish temperature for ground beef is actually 160°F but knowing that it will continue to cook and rise in temperature even after being removed from the smoker, it is ok to remove it a few degrees early.

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Step 7: Rest and Serve

Once the meat is brought into the house, tent some foil over the top and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting period gives the juices in the meat time to redistribute throughout the meat.

After resting, slice and serve. I moved mine to a nice platter and sliced at the table.

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Tips for a better smoked meat loaf recipe:
  1. Soaking the bread in milk before adding it to the meatloaf does a great job of helping the meat to be moist. I chose buttermilk for a richer flavor.
  2. Sautéing the vegetables makes them a little softer at the front end and helps the meatloaf to end up more moist.
  3. Making sure to remove the meatloaf at or just slightly before 160°F will ensure that it safe to eat but not dried out at all.
  4. Do not overmix the meat. It is easy to overwork the meat trying to get a perfect balance of ingredients throughout the loaf but it is best to just mix as little as possible. Mixing the non-meat ingredients first then adding them to the meat helps to minimize the mixing process.
  5. Cook the meatloaf sitting on a sheet pan, bradley rack or even a wooden plank instead of leaving it in a loaf pan. Letting it sit in juices, grease, etc. does not bring great results.
  6. If you are worried about it being salty enough or overly salty/seasoned, fry a teaspoon of the mixture in a skillet and taste it before proceeding to form the loaf. This takes mere minutes and you will know exactly how well the meat is seasoned and/or if it needs a little extra salt.
  7. Let the meat rest before slicing into it. We do this for many meats that we cook to allow the juices to settle back into the meat before cutting it open to minimize moisture loss.
  8. If you are using a cookie sheet, I recommend an old one with holes drilled in the bottom to allow the juices to escape. Setting a foil pan with water below the meatloaf will give the drippings a place to safely fall and keep your smoker clean.

Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce


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***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!

If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.

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Love the sauce and rub
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Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! ~Peter S.
I tried the rub on a beef
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
Love the original rib rub
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 Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.


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24 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Greg Washington October 24, 2016 at 1:24 am - Reply

    CAN’T wait to try this with your instruction I know everything will work out just fine thanks for the recipe

  2. Bob K March 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    The meat load went together nicely. However, in my Green Egg it was done and above temperature is 2 hours. I formed the loaf to be 2 inches high. The temp at that time was 180 deg so I never had a chance to put on the final layer of BBQ sauce. Cooking temperature was 240 deg as specified and I used indirect heating in the Egg.

    I must say though that even with the final temperature of the meat being at 180 deg the taste was outstanding. Very flavorful and juicy. The hint of hickory flavoring was wonderful. Not sure if I would want to add the BBQ sauce or not as it was very good the way I it turned out. Highly recommend this recipe.

  3. Don K January 1, 2016 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I am new at smoking and really wanted to do meatloaf. I came across your recipe and followed most of it. The only difference is my meatloaf in grilling pan with holes and a drip pan. I was so impressed that it turned out so well. My anti smoke kids even liked it.
    Thanks so much

  4. mike September 2, 2015 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Put a meatloaf on my weber gas grill, set up just like we do in the oven set up on broiler pan. Turned out excellent. Why wouldn’t you use a broiler pan on the smoker also instead of cobbling together some muffin pans to keep the meat loaf out of the grease/drippings.

  5. Ronald Jeffery June 20, 2015 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I have a great smoke meatloaf that comes from my family past down and I believe the it will compete with any one in the world

  6. Susie April 3, 2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I ate a smoked meatloaf, last fall, back in my hometown while visiting. It was the most ordered of their menu items, and was wonderful! My husband has a large barrel type smoker which he uses frequently during the summer. I couldn’t wait for he to bring it out this year so I could try the meatloaf while he smokes a Boston Butt. Tomorrow is the day! Your recipe is VERY similar to my own recipe, so I’ll make it like usual. Instead of ketchup on top, I’ll try a ketchup/BBQ sauce blend. Or make my own. Jack Daniels original #7 has a nice Smokey taste. He also smokes big chucks of bologna, and sausages when the smoker is out. They also get slathered with sauce. If you haven’t tried smoked bbq bologna, you have to try it! Even those who don’t like bologna love it this way. Can’t wait to see How the meatloaf turns out! Another recipe I want to throw on the smoker is: using the meatloaf mixture to stuff onions. Cut partially through an onion and peel off layers. Stuff the layers, individually with the meatloaf mixture and wrap each in foil. Thanks for posting info and tips on how to do it. I’ll try to remember to posting pics and results.

  7. Chuck March 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Jeff. Tried this recipe on Antelope sausage I had made from the butcher. Using this recipe makes the Antelope sausage taste great.

    As most hunters know you can get a sage taste from wild game. Your recipe takes the sage taste away. Everyone that tries it loves it. Your web site is a hunters dream.
    Thanks

  8. randy March 6, 2015 at 1:40 am - Reply

    Cook the meatloaf on a cookie cooling rack over a cookie sheet! it should stay pretty and still collect juices

  9. kemper morris February 17, 2015 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Made your meatloaf & it turned out great. I may try punching a few holes in bottom of pan next time

  10. Cinci January 20, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Awesome. I used damp mesquite chips in my propane BBQ. I substituted my friend Bernadette’s home made put up herbal tomato sauce for ketchup, used garlic, and 3 squirts of Sweet Baby Rays spicey BBQ sauce mixed with the herbal sauce at the end like it said. Pretty awesome.

  11. Justin Hofstetter January 19, 2015 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I just made this (for the second time) and wrapped one of the loaves in bacon, then topped them both with some rub from a local BBQ place (Squeal Like A Pig, aka SLAPs). One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

  12. Joel Cram September 12, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

    When you kept it in the oven to keep it warm, was the oven on? If so what temp?

    Thanks

  13. Don September 7, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Hey Jeff! Have you ever heard of anyone allergic to beef? Well, I am! So I tried your recipe; however, I used ground turkey on the first loaf and ground chicken on the second loaf. I also used a poltry sauce instead of milk (it is beef too) in my mixtures. I then finished it with a light dusting of poltry rub. I put it on the smoker for 2 hours and OMG!

  14. Joe July 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Try setting the loaf on a couple pieces of bread and fill the voids in the pan with a few slices. The will soak up a lot of the grease.

  15. Nick July 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Great receipe. Just another suggestion for the grease dilemma. I use Quaker quick oats instead of bread crumbs or crackers. The oats soak up the grease, form nice loaf for presentation and taste awesome. Cheers.

  16. Kevin April 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Nice recipe I have an answer to the drippings you can cut holes in the bottom of a foil load pan and place a drippings bowl under it. No need to ever worry about a greasy meat loaf again.

  17. Craig Knowles November 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Just came across this page and will take away some of the ideas presented for my next smoked loaf.  Meatloaf was my first smoke as I figured the worst that could happen was I'd lose a couple pounds of burger.  Using my usual never-quite-the-same recipe, it came out great!

  18. George October 5, 2013 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Jeff – I came across your article a while back and meant to leave this comment for you then but have just now gotten around to it. I’ve been smoking meatloaf longer than I can remember and I wanted to share my technique with you. Not that there is anything wrong with your recipe or method, they work great. I do however seek beauty in my finished product and the way I make the most asthetically pleasing and delicious tasting smoked meatloaf follows.

     

    Simply mix your meatloaf like normal, but instead of forming in to a large loaf I use 2 aluminum pound cake pans, they are like $1.50 a pair in the baking isle at your local grocer. Stuff both pans and flatten out the top. Let them cook with the bottom of the pan on the grill for about an hour. THis is long enough to solidify the meat some and let the fat melt out in to the bottom and around the sides of the pan. After about an hour or so, flip the pans. The meatloaf will slide right out as it has now reduced in size and is well lubed all around. Make sure you are using a drip pan below the area as there will be quite a bit of run off. Now out of the pan, the entire loaf will take on a nice brown all the way around, and is structurally sound enough you can even flip it if you are after grill marks. I also use a brown sugar based rub all around the exterior and then “paint” the entire loaf with WIlliams Brothers Steak Sauce. We usually destroy the first loaf at the table, then slice the second for sandwiches. The pound cake pans make the perfect size loaf for slicing this way.

  19. Marlon Elmore April 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I will be trying smoked ground meatloaf real soon. Have you tried ground chuck or ground sirloin, instead of the ground beef. I love the taste of the chuck & sirloin in burgers, over traditional ground beef. I'm just not sure it has enough fat for most people. Thx

  20. Tom Schaffer March 4, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Jeff – I saw this meatloaf recipe a while ago and just tried it this weekend…Really great flavor!! I did 250 for about 2 hrs to 170. I did a variation on the recipe…I added a tablespoon of worchestshire an 1/8 cup of your rub, and I did 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground pork. I also made a tomato past/ketchup sauce and smoked in with the meatloaf, then spread it over the meatloaf and kept in warm in the oven at 150 until dinner, garnished with parmesaen and serve..ALl I heard was OMG!

     

    Thanks

    • Jeff Phillips March 6, 2013 at 11:32 am - Reply

      I hear that alot about meat loaf.. I think it suprises folks when they realize how good it is in the smoker. I am glad to hear that it was a huge success!!

  21. MATT February 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I have smoked a couple diffrent meatleafs this way and I tell u that it turns out great each time. I add cheese in the middle of my meatloaf. Thank you for having this website.

    • Jeff Phillips February 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      You are welcome! If you like stuffed meatloaf, you should check out the article where I made small meat loaves and placed a cream cheese filled jalapeno in each one. It was really good. You can see it HERE.

  22. Bob Sharpe February 15, 2013 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Jeff,

    Ref: Smoked Meat Loaf

    First I just found your site yesterday and "you da man".

    Second I have only had my smoker for 2 days and this is only the second recipe I have done on it.

    Followed your recipe with the exception of no milk and I divided it into  2 equal size loafs.
    Cooked at around the 250 mark for 2.5 hours with just hickory chips in my gas smoker.
    And it was GREAT.
    My wife, who does not like meat, LOVED IT.  She loved it so much she posted on Facebook about it and I had several requests for the recipe.

    Never again will I cook meat loaf in a traditional oven.

    Thanks much,
    Bob Sharpe

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