Smoked Meatloaf

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Smoked Meatloaf is a delicious and easy recipe loaded with zesty barbecue flavor! With only 7 ingredients, it's ready to pop in the smoker in minutes, or it can be baked in the oven!

slices of smoked meatloaf with barbecue sauce on the side.
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Why You'll Love It

  • easy recipe with simple ingredients
  • family favorite comfort food
  • versatile dish that can be made several ways
  • perfect for weeknights or a special occasion
  • best meatloaf recipe ever!

Can Meatloaf be Smoked?

Yes, it can! Since meat loaf is one of the most popular comfort foods ever invented, why not try smoking it? The smoke adds an extra layer of flavor!

The whole family will love this barbecue meatloaf which is a nice change of pace from a classic recipe. It turns out moist, tender and delicious when smoked!

You can use any type of smoker to make this smoked meatloaf recipe, or you can optionally bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour (without the smoke).

sliced smoked meat loaf with fork and knife.

Recipe Spotlight

There's traditional meatloaf, and then there's the best meat loaf recipe you've ever tasted made on a pellet grill. One bite of this Traeger meatloaf and you'll never go back to making it the same way again!

Don't have a smoker? Cook this recipe on a gas grill and use a smoker box (ad) with wood chips. It won't have the same deep smoke flavor you get from an electric smoker, but it's a good option.

But, for the best flavor, plan on using an electric smoker that will add natural hardwood flavor through indirect heat. I cook on a Traeger Pro Series 22 wood pellet grill which delivers consistent results and makes smoking a meatloaf so easy anyone can do it!

Equipment Needed

  • large bowl
  • instant-read thermometer or wireless model
  • butcher paper
  • non-stick loaf pan
  • stainless steel spatula
  • wood pellet grill with hardwood pellets (mesquite or hickory work great)
ingredients needed to make smoked meatloaf.

Ingredients

The secret to making moist and juicy meatloaf is to use 80/20 percent ground beef. Any other percentage or combination might not yield the same results.

  1. 80/20 percent ground beef
  2. bread crumbs
  3. hamburger seasoning
  4. diced sweet peppers
  5. diced onion
  6. barbecue sauce
  7. large eggs

How to Smoke a Meatloaf

Ground beef must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160º F.

1 - Start by mixing 2 pounds of ground beef with bread crumbs, seasoning, sweet peppers, onion and ¼ cup barbecue sauce.

all ingredients placed in a large glass bowl.

2 - Mix with clean hands until ingredients are well distributed. Add eggs and mix well.

meat mixture after being combined.

3 - Transfer meat mixture to a loaf pan that has been greased with baking spray. Press it down in the pan until it forms a loaf.

meatloaf in a blue loaf pan.

4 - Invert pan onto butcher paper and tap on the bottom. Meatloaf should release onto the paper easily if the pan has been sprayed.

5 - Preheat the smoker to 225º F.

6 - Place the loaf on the grill grate of the smoker with the butcher paper underneath. The paper is porous, so it will allow some of the smoke flavor to come through.

loaf on butcher paper.

7 - Smoke until beef's internal temperature reaches 160º F. Open lid of smoker and brush BBQ sauce glaze on top of loaf. Close lid for a few minutes and smoke until the glaze is heated (about 3 minutes).

8 - Remove loaf with a spatula and place on a serving platter. Allow beef to rest on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

loaf after it's been smoked in the smoker.

To bake meatloaf in the oven, do so for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached 160ºF before serving.

Tips and Tricks

  • This is a great recipe for beginners if it's your first time using a smoker.
  • If you don't have smoker, purchase a smoker box (ad) with wood chips and use it in your gas grill. It's an inexpensive way to add a little smoky flavor. Adding liquid smoke won't produce the same results.
  • A meat thermometer is necessary because it's best to cook to temperature instead of time. The goal is to reach 160º F to ensure the meat is fully cooked.
  • There's no need to add milk or extra liquid to this loaf. Doing so can make it soggy which could make it fall apart in the smoker. It will be moist and juicy if cooked properly.

Recipe FAQS

How long to smoke a meatloaf at 225 degrees?

It takes about 2 hours from start to finish to smoke a meat loaf at 225ºF. However, some smokers may take longer. It's always best to cook to temperature instead of time. Use an instant read meat thermometer for best results.

When is smoked meatloaf done?

Smoked meat loaf is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 160º F. Stick a meat thermometer into the middle of the loaf to check the temp.

Is it OK if meatloaf is a little pink?

The smoking process sometimes causes a pink hue, especially if it creates a smoke ring around the outside of the beef. This is perfectly normal, but it's not okay if the inside of the meat is raw. Cook ground beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 160º and it will be safe to eat even if it's slightly pink.

What is burger seasoning?

Burger seasoning has the perfect flavor for this recipe. It contains dried garlic, salt, black pepper, onion, paprika and natural smoke flavors. It's fine to use a substitute or a BBQ rub if preferred, but the taste may be much different.

Variations

  • Stuff meat loaf with mozzarella, gouda or cheddar cheese for a nice surprise!
  • Baste beef with tomato sauce or ketchup instead of barbecue sauce.
  • Use garlic powder, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce as an optional seasoning.
  • Substitute lean ground turkey, sausage or a meat mixture.
  • Add a glaze to the top of the loaf made from brown sugar and tomato sauce.
  • Create a Mexican flavored meatloaf with chili powder or cayenne pepper.
  • Make this recipe with dry Lipton onion soup mix instead of hamburger seasoning.
  • Wrap meatloaf mixture in thick slices of bacon and smoke over indirect heat.
  • Enjoy it as a meal, or make sandwiches the next day!
meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green peas on a white plate.

What to Serve with Smoked Meatloaf

There are so many sides that taste great with pellet grill meatloaf. The whole family will gobble up these southern side dishes when they cozy up to the dinner table!

Storage and Freezing

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap the loaf tightly in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw out in the refrigerator overnight.

The best way to reheat meatloaf is by wrapping it in aluminum foil and baking in a 350 degree oven until it reaches 160º F. You can also place it back on the smoker at 225 degrees, but it will take much longer to reheat than an oven.

The best way to freeze meat loaf is by doing so before it is cooked. Store it in a loaf pan and wrap tightly. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator and cook as directed.

More Beef Recipes

If you like meatloaf as much as we do at our house, you'll love these other beef dishes...

Need More Smoked Recipes?

If you're crazy about using a wood pellet grill, check out these other smoked recipes...

Recipe Card

sliced smoked meatloaf with bbq glaze on the side.

Smoked Meatloaf

Smoked Meatloaf is a delicious and easy recipe loaded with zesty barbecue flavor! With only 7 ingredients, it's ready to pop in a smoker in just minutes.
4.50 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: BBQ, Smoked Meat, Smoker
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 404kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

Ingredients

Smoked Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds ground beef (80/20 percent)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons burger seasoning (or bbq dry rub)
  • ½ cup sweet peppers (diced)
  • 1 cup onion (diced)
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)

Barbecue Glaze

  • ½ cup barbecue sauce (any flavor)

Instructions

  • Add hardwood pellets to smoker. (Mesquite or hickory work well.) Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together with clean hands until well blended.
  • Transfer meat mixture to a loaf pan that has been greased with baking spray. Press it down in the pan until it forms a loaf, or form a loaf with your hands.
  • Invert pan onto butcher paper and tap on the bottom. Meatloaf should release onto the paper easily if the pan has been sprayed.
  • Place the loaf on the grill grate of the smoker with the butcher paper underneath. The paper is porous, so it will allow some of the smoke flavor to come through.
  • Smoke until beef's internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Open lid of smoker and brush BBQ sauce glaze on top of loaf. Close lid for a few minutes and smoke until the glaze is heated (about 3 minutes).
  • Remove loaf with a spatula and place on a serving platter. Allow beef to rest on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

SEE NOTES BELOW TO BAKE IN THE OVEN OR COOK ON A GAS GRILL

    Notes

    • SMOKER INSTRUCTIONS: A meat thermometer is necessary because it's best to cook to temperature instead of time when smoking meat. The goal is to reach 160 degrees F to ensure the meat is fully cooked.
    • LEFTOVERS: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap the loaf tightly in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw out in the refrigerator overnight.
    • REHEATING: The best way to reheat meatloaf is by wrapping it in aluminum foil and baking in a 350 degree oven until it reaches 160 degrees F. You can also place it back on the smoker at 225 degrees, but it will take much longer to reheat than an oven.
    • FREEZING: The best way to freeze smoked meat loaf is by doing so before it is cooked. Store it in a loaf pan and wrap tightly. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before smoking meat.
    • GAS GRILL INSTRUCTIONS: If you don't have smoker, purchase a smoker box (ad) with wood chips and use it in your gas grill. It's an inexpensive way to add smoky flavor. Do not use butcher paper in a gas grill or it will ignite. 
    • OVEN INSTRUCTIONS: To bake in the oven, OMIT the butcher paper steps and bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour, then check to make sure the temp reaches 160ºF. The seasonings and sauce will add a nice smoky flavor without infusing  actual smoke. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 404kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 477mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 5mg

    Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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    3 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      This recipe looks amazing. I love the burger seasoning since it has smoke flavor in it, I can still bake this meatloaf in the oven if I want.

    2. 4 stars
      My personal opinion, I didn't like the smoked meatloaf. I found the smoke on the meatloaf a little off-putting. I wish I had cooked it in the oven. Sorry, but this was a thumbs down for me.

      1. I'm sorry you didn't like the smoke flavor. It is definitely a different taste. My family absolutely loves smoked meats and this meatloaf is one of their favorite meals. I hope you'll try baking it next time and see what you think.

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