For a comforting family meal with a hint of nostalgia, you can’t beat BBQ Meatloaf! This classic recipe takes simple ingredients and transforms them into a juicy meatloaf topped with a smoky BBQ glaze. This easy recipe is one to keep!
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Comfort Food in 1 Hour
I frequently serve up my homemade meatloaf with a sweet and tangy meatloaf sauce to my family. I like that it’s quick to prepare and the cooking time is hands-off. Meatloaf is also a great option for stretching meat, so it goes just a little bit further.
This BBQ meatloaf recipe is similar to the classic homemade meatloaf but with the addition of a smoky flavor. I add liquid smoke to the BBQ sauce to get this flavor, which is an easy way to get that real woodsmoke taste without fussing around with a smoker. You can usually find liquid smoke near the BBQ sauces in the grocery store.
To serve my meatloaf, I like to go traditional with a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes and a side of green beans. For the more adventurous, you might enjoy serving it up with twice-baked potatoes or baked macaroni and cheese. And don’t forget the dinner rolls!
Why You’ll Love This BBQ Meatloaf Recipe
- Favorite comfort food. This family favorite meal is so delicious! If you are a fan of traditional meatloaf, you will love this!
- Easy to make. Only a few minutes prep and then it’s hands off time in the oven.
- Make ahead. Meal prep this ahead of time for a busy night!
- Leftovers. Store and reheats well! Eat leftovers as is or use them to make the best meatloaf sandwiches.
Simple ingredients come together to make this tasty meatloaf with BBQ sauce.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Meat: Use 80% – 90% lean ground beef, ground turkey, or 1 pound ground pork and 1 pound ground beef.
- Binder: I use panko breadcrumbs, broth or milk, and eggs to hold the meat together. Panko breadcrumbs are dryer than regular bread crumbs which can sometimes cause meatloaf to be mushy.
- Seasoning: I use onion and garlic powders because it’s easy, but you can use fresh if you prefer.
- Liquid smoke: You don’t have to add liquid smoke, but it adds a smoky flavor that goes perfectly with the meat.
- BBQ glaze: I add some brown sugar and a splash of liquid smoke to BBQ sauce for the perfect smoky glaze.
Substitutions and Additions
This is a pretty simple and easy BBQ meatloaf recipe which you can tweak in a few places depending on your tastes!
- You can swap fresh onion and garlic (1/2 cup chopped onion and 4 minced garlic cloves) for the onion powder and garlic powder. Make sure to sauté them first with a little bit of olive oil before adding them to the meat mixture.
- If you prefer a little heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the meat or a few dashes of chili sauce or sriracha to the meatloaf sauce.
- Use crushed crackers or Rice Chex cereal in place of panko breadcrumbs.
- Add some taco seasoning to the meat mixture to add some warm and spicy flavor.
How to Make BBQ Meatloaf
You can make this BBQ meatloaf in a 9×5-inch loaf pan lined with foil or shape it into a loaf on a regular baking sheet lined with foil. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray to help prevent it from sticking to it once it has cooked.
- Assemble ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, mix the beef, breadcrumbs, broth, eggs, parsley, Worcestershire, ketchup, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper until just combined. Add the liquid smoke if you’re using it and mix lightly. Don’t overmix the ingredients at this stage or you could end up with a dense loaf.
- Shape the loaf. If you’re using a loaf pan, gently press the meat mixture into the foil-lined pan. If you’re using a baking sheet, gently form a loaf shape in the middle of the sheet.
- Make the glaze. Mix the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and liquid smoke in a small bowl and carefully pour it over the top of the meatloaf.
- Bake. Bake BBQ meatloaf at 375°F/190°C for 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reaches 160°F/71°C. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into slices.
You can easily prep this recipe ahead of time. Simply combine the meat mixture in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. You can also mix the glaze in advance too. Then store both in the refrigerator until using. Right before baking, shape the meatloaf and add the glaze.
- Do not overmix. Overmixing the meat mixture can result in a dense BBQ meatloaf.
- Line your pan. If you’re using a loaf pan, line the pan with foil or parchment, leaving some overhang over the edges. You’ll be able to easily remove the meatloaf from the pan once it has rested.
- Do not overcook. Keep an eye on your meatloaf as it cooks and start checking the internal temperature ahead of the full cooking time. Overcooking can make your meatloaf dry and crumbly.
- Rest is important. Your BBQ meatloaf will need to rest for 10 minutes or so after it comes out of the oven before slicing it. The juices will have time to redistribute throughout the loaf and it will be easier to slice.
I like to use beef for its fat content, but pork and lamb (or a combination) would also work well. Just make sure that it is not super lean meat or you’ll end up with dry and crumbly BBQ meatloaf.
I recommend using 80/20, which means 80% meat and 20% fat or 90/10. This ratio ensures the meatloaf is juicy without being too greasy.
The best way to check for doneness is to use an instant-read kitchen thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to take your reading. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 160°F/71°C.
Binding agents are the key to preventing your meatloaf from falling apart. I use breadcrumbs, eggs, and broth or milk to ensure the meat sticks together. It’s also important to let the BBQ meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. This resting time lets the juices settle back into the loaf.
To serve my meatloaf, I often garnish it with fresh parsley or green onion and pair it with classics like creamy mashed potatoes and green beans.
What to Do with Leftover Meatloaf
You can’t beat a sandwich made from leftover meatloaf, but did you know there are a lot more ways you can use it? Here are a few ideas you can try:
- Tacos. Replace regular ground beef with crumbled leftover BBQ meatloaf in your favorite taco recipe.
- Shepherd’s pie: Chop up leftover meatloaf, add some peas, carrots, and gravy, then top with mashed potatoes and you’ve got yourself an easy pie for dinner!
- Pizza. Crumble leftover loaf on top of homemade or frozen pizza.
- Nachos. Crumble it over nachos and cheese.
- Spaghetti. Add chunks of BBQ meatloaf to tomato sauce to make a quick and easy spaghetti dish.
Storing and Reheating
In the refrigerator: BBQ glazed meatloaf is one of those meals that tastes amazing as leftovers! Wrap the meatloaf in aluminum foil or keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat: Place slices of BBQ meatloaf on a microwavable plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Heat for 30-second intervals until the meatloaf is heating throughout. It usually takes about one minute.
You can also use the oven to reheat your meatloaf. Place slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of water or beef broth. Transfer the sheet to an oven heated to 350°F/180°C, cover the meatloaf loosely with foil, and heat for 8 – 10 minutes. Put the meatloaf on a baking tray and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of water over it.
In the freezer: I recommend freezing the BBQ meatloaf before cooking. Press the meat in a loaf pan and cover tightly with saran wrap. Alternatively, you can form it into a loaf shape and wrap it tightly with saran wrap.
Store in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight. Bake at 375°F/190°C for 45 minutes.
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- 2 pounds 80%-90% lean ground beef , or ground turkey, or 1 pound ground pork and 1 pound ground beef
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup beef broth , or milk
- 2 large eggs , whisked
- 2-3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke , optional
- ⅔ cup BBQ sauce
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke , optional
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet or 9×5-inch loaf pan with foil. Lightly spray with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, mix the beef, breadcrumbs, broth, eggs, parsley, Worcestershire, ketchup, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper until just combined. Add the liquid smoke, if using. Don't overmix or the meat won't be as tender.
- Press into the loaf pan or form the mixture into a loaf shape on the pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and liquid smoke, if desired. Pour over the top of the meatloaf. Add pepper on top, if desired.
- Bake 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reaches 160°F. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into slices.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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