Boldy seasoned and outrageously flavorful, this mouthwateringly tender BBQ Meatloaf won't last long on your dinner table.
If the thought of backyard barbeque gets your mouth watering, you will want to give this BBQ meatloaf recipe a try. This fusion of BBQ and a classic meatloaf may be the best meatloaf I've ever tasted and your next family favorite! My easy recipe brings the traditional meatloaf to the next level by combining the fork tenderness of a great meatloaf with the bold flavors of a classic BBQ dry rub seasoning the beef, and, of course, sticky BBQ sauce lacquered on top!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground beef - 80/20 ground beef or 85/15 is recommeneded (ground chuck is perfect). If you use fattier beef it will be greasy, if you use overly lean ground beef (like ground sirloin) it may be too dry.
- Plain bread crumbs - Panko breadcrumbs is a good substitute, but in a pinch there are ways to make meatloaf without breadcrumbs.
- Milk - Other liquids, such as beef broth can be substituted.
- Large Egg
- Worcestershire sauce
- Liquid smoke - This is optional but recommended to give your homemade meatloaf that distinctive smoky flavor.
- Brown sugar
- BBQ Seasonings: Table salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper.
Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Apple cider vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Worchestershire sauce
- Cayenne pepper
Note: Instead of making your own BBQ glaze, you can use 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce from the grocery store.
Making a great barbecue meatloaf starts with using the right meat. Much like making perfectly tender homemade burgers, or the best meatballs, I recommend buying freshly ground beef from the butcher counter at your grocery store when making meatloaf, rather than pre-packaged tubes of meat. Freshly ground beef is typically less compacted, allowing you to still see the individual strands of meat from the meat grinder. This creates a more tender meatloaf.
What to Cook Meatloaf In?
I recommend using a bread pan for meatloaf. It is the perfect shape and size. If you don't own one you can pick up foil ones at the grocery store. However, in a pinch, there is no reason why you can't simply form a loaf and bake it on a baking sheet or shallow baking pan. It is important to specify that you want a rimmed baking sheet so the fat doesn't drain off to the bottom of your oven.
How to Make Meatloaf
You will begin making your BBQ meatloaf the same way as any classic meatloaf recipe - by crumbling the beef into a large mixing bowl. Follow this step by adding all of the remaining meatloaf ingredients to your bowl. Finally, working with clean hands, combine the meat mixture together until well blended.
Optional Tip: For some people, it can be easier to mix the wet ingredients separately in a small bowl and then add everything together. Either way works well as long as everything is well-combined in the end.
Next prepare the BBQ sauce glaze by mixing together the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worchestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl with a whisk.
Ladle ¼ cup of sauce into the bottom of a bread loaf pan to help prevent the meatloaf from sticking. Then add the meatloaf mixture to the pan and press evenly to distribute the meat throughout the pan in an even thickness. The remaining meatloaf glaze then is painted over the top of the loaf. The meatloaf is now ready for the oven.
How to Cook BBQ Meatloaf
Baking BBQ Meatloaf in the oven at 350 degrees for 70 minutes will yield great results. However, if the weather cooperates and you are feeling daring, fire up the grill and cook over indirect heat at a similar temperature. Be careful to monitor the temperature to prevent burning and you should have a meatloaf that is out of this world.
Note: Baking time can vary depending on how thick you form the meatloaf, which is why using an instant-read thermometer is always recommended.
How to reheat leftover meatloaf
Leftover meatloaf should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator and enjoyed within five days. Due to the thickness of meatloaf, it is best to reheat individual slices at a time. This is easy to do in a microwave, otherwise warming them up in a skillet set over medium heat on the stovetop works very well too. The leftovers make phenomenal meatloaf sandwiches.
More Meatloaf Recipes
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- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 dashes liquid smoke (optional)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
BBQ Sauce - Use 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce or use the recipe below
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In large bowl, gently crumble ground beef then add all remaining meatloaf ingredients.
- Using your fingers gently combine all ingredients and meat being careful not to overly squish or press the meat (this makes the meatloaf dense)
- Mix BBQ sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
- Pour ¼ cup of sauce in the bottom of a bread pan, or enough to evenly coat the bottom.
- Add meatloaf to the bread pan and gently press into a solid loaf shape, pressing only hard enough for the meat to hold together.
- Pour remaining BBQ sauce evenly over the top of the meatloaf.
- Place in the oven for 70 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and serve.