MEatloaf is one of those dishes that has a reputation to be loved or hated. Many of us grew up with a cafeteria Meatloaf, aka a dry, tasteless piece of meat slapped on a plate with a sweet ketchup glaze. It was usually overcooked and had a weird texture, but worst of all, it was just plain and uninspiring. If this is your experience with meatloaf, we’re going to urge you to try it one more time. This smoky meatloaf recipe is tender and juicy, with a sweet and tangy glaze that adds so much flavor to the meatloaf. To top it off, we use the smoker instead of the oven, adding a whole new dimension of flavor to an otherwise boring dish.
If you have a pellet grill like a Traegeror a propane or electric smoking like a Masterbuilt, it becomes a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Turn on the smoker, add your meatloaf and refrigerate until the meatloaf reaches the correct temperature. You can also do this on a gas or charcoal grill by turning your grill into a smoker. Set the grill for indirect heat and fill a disposable aluminum pan with water, placing it over the embers or burner. Create a wood bundle by wrapping soaked wood chips in foil, poke a few holes in the bundle to let the smoke escape, and place it next to the water pan.
What’s the secret to fluffy meatloaf?
If you want to make the perfect meatloaf, you’ll need to prevent the loaf from drying out during cooking. The secret to a moist meatloaf starts with choosing the right combination of meat. This is not the recipe for using lean beef, which doesn’t have enough fat to stay moist while cooking, so we use 80/20 beef. Then we add pork to the mix for more flavor and extra fat content. You can use ground pork, but we prefer the hot sausage here because it means we don’t need to add as much seasoning to the meatloaf.
Next, it’s important to add plenty of moist ingredients to add moisture to the meatloaf and keep the meat juicy while cooking. Here we use eggs and milk, and we also add a little onion. Grating the onion ensures that it will disappear into the meat as it cooks. Even your pickiest eater won’t know there are onions in the finished dish!
Our last secret is rolled oats. Most meatloaf recipes use bread or breadcrumbs, but there are several benefits to using oats. For starters, it makes this smoky meatloaf recipe gluten-free (if you buy gluten-free oats). We’ve also found that oats don’t absorb as much fat as breadcrumbs, allowing all of those juicy goodness to stay afloat in the middle of the meatloaf.
At what temperature should I smoke meatloaf?
A traditional two-pounder Meatloaf is baked in a 350°F oven for approximately one hour. Since we’re using the smoker, we want to lower the temperature so that the meatloaf gets as much smoke exposure as possible. You can cook meatloaf as low as 200°F, but we’ve found that 225°F is the sweet spot. It cooks the meatloaf in about two hours, which is more than enough to soak up the extra smoke flavor (we even ended up with a little smoke ring on our test batch).
The USDA recommends cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F. The best way to know – not guess – when your meatloaf is ready is to use a thermometer, either a probe thermometer that remains during the whole cooking time or a instant read meat thermometer. You can tell if the meatloaf is done without a thermometer by slicing it to see the color and texture of the meat, but that also releases all the juices. Alternatively, you can press the sides of the meatloaf to see if it bounces back (the raw meat will stick out), but you can’t be sure of the internal temperature without a thermometer.
How to serve smoked meatloaf
Serve smoked meatloaf the same way as any other meatloaf: thickly sliced with a side of mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. It also goes well with your favorite BBQ side dishessalad for a healthy twist or macaroni and cheese for a less than healthy but deliciously decadent option.
This meatloaf recipe serves about six to eight people, so you may end up with leftovers. That’s not a bad thing! Leftover meatloaf makes the best sandwiches, but it can also be made into sauce for spaghetti, tossed with beans to make chili, or chopped up for tacos. That said, if you really don’t want any leftovers, you can cut the recipe in half. We don’t use a loaf pan to bake our smoked meatloaf, so you can make it any size.
Smoked Meatloaf Recipe
- 1-1/2 pound sterling Ground beef 80/20
- 1/2 pound sterling hot sausage
- 1 Chopped off oatmeal
- 1/2 Chopped off whole milk
- 2 big eggs
- 1/2 onion grated
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 Chopped off ketchup
- 2 soup spoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Preheat a smoker to 225°F.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, sausage, rolled oats, milk, egg, grated onion, ground cumin and smoked paprika. Using your hands, massage the wet ingredients into the ground meat and mix until well incorporated.
Wrap the meatloaf tightly and form a loaf on a piece of foil or parchment paper.
Prepare the glaze by combining the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.
Smoke the meatloaf for 1 hour. Add the glaze and continue cooking for 1 to 2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.