Meatloaf is one of the best things you can smoke on a pellet grill. Smoked meatloaf is easy to make, cooks fast and tastes delicious!
In this post I am going to share my recipe for how I smoke meatloaf on my pellet grill and walk you through some options to fine tune the recipe and technique for your family.
Let’s get started!
My Recipe for Smoked Meatloaf
There are a lot of different recipes for meatloaf and many techniques for cooking them on a smoker. The information in the Recipe Card is what I do. Keep reading after the Recipe Card for explanations, suggestions and adaptations so you can adjust my recipe for your family’s taste as well as your cooking style.
Smoked Meatloaf on a Pellet Grill
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup diced Vidalia onion
- 1/3 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce - Divided into two 1/4 cup portions
- 2 Tbls Beef Rub or 1:1 salt pepper
- Combine everything EXCEPT 1/4 cup of bbq sauce and the beef rub in a large bowl and mix well.
- Roll the mixture onto a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper and form into log/loaf.
- Wrap the loaf in the foil/parchment and refrigerate for one hour to help the loaf set.
- Set your pellet smoker to 225F and use hickory pellets for smoke.
- Remove the wrapped meatloaf from the refrigerator and season the top and sides with the beef rub.
- Use the foil to transport the meatloaf to the smoker and then use the foil to roll the loaf so that the seasoned side is DOWN.
- Season the TOP of the meatloaf with the remaining rub.
- Smoke the meatloaf for one hour at 225F.
- Open the smoker and glaze the top of the meatloaf with the bbq sauce.
- Raise the temperature of the pellet grill to 325F.
- Smoke for another 30-45 minutes until an internal temperature of 160F.
- Carefully remove the smoked meatloaf from the grill and allow to cool for 30 minutes for easier slicing.
This a a great quick smoker recipe that can be used for an easy weeknight dinner.
Ingredient Adaptations and Suggestions
Let’s talk about some changes you could make to the meat, vegetables, breadcrumbs and glaze that might your family might enjoy.
Choice of Meat
I use equal portions of ground sirloin and ground pork for my meatloaf. There is enough fat in the ground pork to make up for the leanness of the sirloin. I prefer getting my fat from the pork instead of the beef because it melts into the meat better and, in my opinion, just tastes better.
If you are not into pork then you could certainly do an all beef meatloaf as long as you are using Ground Chuck. You are looking for a meat to fat ratio of about 80:20.
You could also jazz this thing up a little by replacing the plain ground pork with a pound of spicy Italian sausage.
Choice of Vegetables
The vegetables provide moisture, texture and flavor to the meatloaf. I am in Louisiana so we always use the “Cajun Trinity” of celery, onions and bell peppers.
If your eaters are picky about texture then you can take your diced veggies and sweat them in some olive oil with a dash of salt for about 20 minutes to get them more tender.
You could also swap out some of the veggies and replace them with diced and sautéed mushrooms.
Choice of Breadcrumbs
I like using Panko breadcrumbs but using Panko style crumbs is by no means essential. I will use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs if I am out of Pankos and do not notice any real difference.
I have heard of some folks using crushed Ritz crackers and I saw that Alton Brown uses crushed garlic croutons in his meatloaf.
Choice of Glaze and Dry Rub
You can go as simple as salt and pepper to season the outside of the meatloaf or go full blown flavor with something like our Award Wining Beef Rub.
Some great commercial beef rubs to consider are “Steer Season” by Meat Mitch and Plowboy’s Bovine Bold.
I went with Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce as the glaze because i wanted a sweet flavor profile. Beef works amazingly well with spicy flavor profile so don’t be afraid to use something that has some serious bite.
Of course, you can always go with a classic ketchup based glaze if that is your jam.
Adaptations for Smoking Methods
While the basic recipe and technique for smoking a meatloaf is simple in principle there are a few variations that people utilize.
The biggest issue is, how do you smoke two pounds of meatloaf without it falling apart? You can see in the picture below that while the meatloaf is holding together it did form a crack toward the bottom/middle while it was smoking.
If you want a more sure-fire wire of having a successful loaf then here are some ideas.
Smoke In a Foil Pan
You can form the meatloaf into a disposable aluminum foil loaf pan and smoke it in the pan.
If you use the foil pan method then make sure you poke LOTS of holes into the sides and bottom of the pan. At the first of the cook the holes will let a little more smoke reach the meat. Later in the cook the holes will help rendered fat drip out and will keep the loaf from being greasy.
Another adaptation to consider when using a foil pan is to change the time and temperature of the first part of the cook for increased smoke exposure.
Since the foil will block a lot of the meat from absorbing smoke you can drop the temperature in the first step down to 200F and cook it for 90 minutes before glazing and raising the temperature.
Make Smaller Loaves
While a large meatloaf looks impressive, cooking two small meatloaves is a lot easier!
After the meat is mixed just split it into two roughly equal portions and make two 1 lbs loaves. The smaller loaves will be less likely to fall apart and are easier to handle.
If you do make smaller loaves then start checking for doneness after 15 minutes at 325F as the smaller loaves will cook faster.