Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 Hours
Skill Levelmedium

Growing up, the thought of meatloaf made me cringe. Maybe it was because my Mother always dried it out or maybe the name meatloaf just sounded weird. But boy do I wish I had this smoked meatloaf then! Make this smoked meatloaf with the added BBQ glaze at your next gathering and change everyone’s mind about how meatloaf should taste.

What type of meat is best for smoked meatloaf?

Ground beef is the most commonly used meat for smoked meatloaf. Many meatloaf recipes rely on much higher fat content ground beef to try to keep it moist, which pretty much always results in a really greasy, heavy meatloaf. Instead, it’s much better to use leaner ground beef and rely on a proper cooking process and additions like fresh onions, eggs, and milk to add moisture. Less fat content in the ground beef allows the beef flavor to shine and absorb the smokiness while cooking without adding extra grease. 85% lean or even 90% will give a nice balance of fat and beef. Want to have some fun with it? Try making this smoked meatloaf recipe with bison or other wild ground meat.

What is smoked meatloaf?

Smoked meatloaf is a delicious twist on the classic meatloaf recipe where the meatloaf mixture is cooked on a smoker or grill, imparting a smoky flavor to the dish.

How is smoked meatloaf different from regular meatloaf?

The main difference between smoked meatloaf and regular meatloaf is the cooking method. Smoked meatloaf is cooked on a smoker or grill, while regular meatloaf is typically baked in an oven. The smoking process adds a unique smoky flavor to the meatloaf.

How do I make smoked meatloaf?

To make smoked meatloaf, you'll need to mix ground meat with various ingredients like breadcrumbs, eggs, onions, herbs, and spices. Shape the mixture into a loaf shape and then smoke it on a smoker or grill until it reaches the desired internal temperature.

What kind of wood should I use for smoking meatloaf?

The choice of wood chips for smoking meatloaf depends on your personal preference. Popular options include hickory, mesquite, apple, or cherry wood chips. Each type of wood imparts a different flavor, so you can experiment and find your favorite.

What temperature should I smoke meatloaf at?

It is recommended to smoke meatloaf at a temperature of around 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C). This allows the meatloaf to cook slowly and absorb the smoky flavor.

How long does it take to smoke meatloaf?

The cooking time for smoked meatloaf varies depending on the size and thickness of the meatloaf, as well as the temperature of your smoker or grill. As a general guideline, it can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to smoke a meatloaf.

How can I prevent the meatloaf from drying out while smoking?

To prevent the meatloaf from drying out, you can add ingredients like breadcrumbs, grated vegetables, or even bacon to the meat mixture. These additions help retain moisture during the smoking process. Additionally, you can periodically baste the meatloaf with a sauce or marinade to keep it moist. Smoking the meatloaf at low temperatures also helps to avoid overcooking it.



  • 2 pounds ground beef, 85% or 90% lean
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

BBQ Glaze

  • 3/4 cups ketchup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

BBQ Tools


  1. Preheat the smoker

    Preheat smoker to 225°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside.

  2. Mix meatloaf ingredients

    In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients for the meatloaf. Mix well to combine.

  3. Shape the meatloaf

    Form mixture into a meatloaf shape by hand or use a standard size loaf pan to form it easily by layering a piece of parchment paper inside the pan and then pressing the meat into the pan. If using a pan, remove meat by grabbing the parchment paper and lift out. Discard the parchment paper.

  4. Smoke the meatloaf

    Place meatloaf on the smoker and cook until an internal temperature of 140°F.

  5. Make the BBQ glaze

    Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and spread over the meatloaf. You can do this on the grill with a long brush to avoid getting burned or remove it from the grill, glaze it, and then return it to the grill. Optionally, continue doing so every 15 minutes to build a nice layer of glaze. Continue cooking the meatloaf until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F using an internal meat thermometer.

  6. Let the smoked meatloaf rest

    Transfer the smoked meatloaf to a cutting board, glaze one final time, test loosely with foil, and let rest for 10-20 minutes before serving.


  1. Laura Sparkman
    September 5th, 2023
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    amazing recipe. Thank you!
  2. Scott
    December 30th, 2022
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    Can the meatloaf be made the night before and refrigerated? I would think it would need to set out a bit the next morning before smoking. Please advise. Looking forward to some great meatloaf!
    1. Allan Kiezel
      January 25th, 2023
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      Hey Scott, you can definitely make the smoked meatloaf the night before! And just as you said, I'd let it sit for 30 mins or so to help it cook more evenly.
  3. Regina
    April 27th, 2022
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    This recipe turned my meatloaf hating kids into lovers! Definitely a winner in this house!
  4. Rory
    March 10th, 2022
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    I’ve tried many meatloaf recipes in my time and none of them come close to this one. Happy to have found a keeper!

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