After I bought a smoker several years ago, I quickly made my way through the typical recipes (ribs, wings, etc.) and started experimenting with everything else I could get my hands on. My wife makes a meatloaf a few times a month, so this naturally became my next target.
After much trial and error, testing various meats, seasonings and sauces, I finally nailed down the recipe for the perfect smoked meatloaf. The final result was smoky, juicy, and flavorful with the perfect sweet tomato crust.
Needless to say, this recipe was a home run in our house. The kids cleaned their plates and my wife told me that she expects me to be out, snow or shine, making this at least once per week throughout the winter. Of course, that is just fine with me.
How To Make Smoked Meatloaf
In summary, smoking meatloaf starts with mixing ground pork and beef. The ingredients added with the ground meat is a combination of breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix all the ingredients and form the meat into a loaf. Cook in the smoker for 2 hours at 225F.
For bonus tips and exact ingredients measurements, scroll down to the recipe section below!It might sound crazy, but I have to say that now I’ve tried this method, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to an oven-baked meatloaf again.
Here is everything I’ve learned in my quest to create the ultimate smoked meatloaf and the final recipe that my kids have dubbed “the best dinner EVER”.
Answering the Big Questions
I’ve shared this idea with a few friends that also have smokers. A few common questions about the recipe have come up in each of the conversations, so I want to address them here as well.
Why Use Breadcrumbs?
I’ve learned over the years that every good meatloaf needs breadcrumbs. These soak up any juices that seep out of the meat as it cooks, locking in moisture and flavor. Without breadcrumbs, your meatloaf will be dry and compact. However, if you add too much, the loaf will fall apart.
I prefer panko-style breadcrumbs in this recipe. Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is larger than other types. This results in better absorption of juices and a more tender meatloaf than you would get with traditional breadcrumbs.
Should I Use the Same Temperature as I Would in the Oven?
In the oven, my wife cooks her meatloaf at 350°F but, for the smoked meatloaf, I wanted to go with a ‘low and slow’ method. After some trial and error, I found that cooking it at 225°F for 2 hours yielded the best results. Not only did this give enough time for the smoke to penetrate the meat, but the loaf was more tender and evenly cooked.
What Should I Serve With Smoked Meatloaf?
There are several routes you can take when serving up your smoked meatloaf. Typically, we serve meatloaf with green beans and mashed potatoes, which works perfectly well. For our meal, I wanted to really highlight the smoky flavors with some barbeque style sides.
We went with coleslaw and cornbread. Creamy coleslaw was the ideal partner to the smoked meat and the cornbread worked well to mop up any remaining flavor from our plates. (We were all in the clean plate club that night!)
What Makes A Good Meatloaf Recipe
There are certain components to the ‘perfect meatloaf’, regardless of how you cook it. Based on trial and error, these are the four things I recommend (other than breadcrumbs which are covered in the prior section).
The Meat Blend
I used a blend of 50% beef and 50% pork for my meatloaf. Regardless of how you cook your meatloaf, combining the two types of meat together means that you are able to get the flavors of both in one dish. The pork also adds more tenderness to the overall product.
Adding eggs to the meatloaf mixture helps bind all of the ingredients together. This helps prevent crumbling and creates a more uniform texture in the final dish.
This is an ingredient I just recently started using. I find that small diced onions help keep the meatloaf soft and add just a tiny bit of sweetness. They also add extra moisture to the mix, making the meatloaf more tender.
I like to add Worcestershire sauce because it has a complex flavor. This one ingredient adds a little acidity, due to its vinegar content, as well as savory, salty and sweet notes. Worcestershire sauce pairs especially well with the smoked flavor of this dish but also adds a great flavor to oven-baked meatloaves.
Adding a sauce to the top of your meatloaf is a must. This ketchup and sugar glaze gives the meatloaf a nice crust and an added kick of flavor.
Smoked Meatloaf Recipe
Delicious Smoked Meatloaf Recipe
- 1/2 cup Ketchup
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 lbs Ground Beef
- 1 lbs Ground Pork
- 1 piece Onion chopped
- 2 piece Eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup Panko Breading
- 1/3 cup Milk
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tbsp Garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
Pre-heat your smoker to 225°F using oak wood chips.
To begin the meatloaf, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf in the large bowl and mix by hand until all seasonings are evenly distributed. Lightly press the meatloaf mixture into the loaf pan.
Place the meatloaf in the smoker and set your timer for 1 hr 30 min.
While the meatloaf cooks, combine all ingredients for the sauce in the small bowl and stir until smooth.
After the meatloaf has smoked for the initial 1 hr 30 min, apply the glaze, spreading evenly with a spoon. Continue smoking for an additional 30 minutes or until the meatloaf hits an internal temperature of 165F and the sauce has formed a firm crust.
As you would with a steak, let your meatloaf rest for 10 minutes after removing it from the smoker. Lightly cover it with tin foil during this period, making sure the foil does not directly touch the meatloaf. This allows all of those juices to settle back into the mixture.