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Smoked Meatloaf

Want wood-fired flavor in your ground beef? The best way to do it is by smoking a meatloaf. Read on for the best tips and tricks for making smoked meatloaf.

The Best Ingredients for Smoked Meatloaf

Meat

Ingredients that add flavor

Ingredients that add moisture

Ingredients that help bind the meat with other ingredients

Meat for Smoked Meatloaf

Most meatloaf recipes start with lean ground beef. Ground beef is a hearty, inexpensive meat. It’s somewhat dense, so it holds together well.

However, ground beef does tend to dry out during cooking, so many recipes include some amount of a fattier ground meat like ground veal or pork, or sausage.

Traeger's Glazed Cajun Meatloaf recipe calls for 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2 pound of ground pork, and 1/2 pound of sausage. This ratio is good to use if you decide to invent your own recipe.

But there are other ways to achieve additional fat flavor. For example, our Baked Bacon-Weaved Honey Bourbon-Glazed Meatloaf recipe uses 3 pounds of ground beef, but calls for a weave of bacon to be wrapped around the meatloaf before cooking to add fat and moisture to the final product.

Flavor Components for Smoked Meatloaf

Meat, binders, and additional moisture are the building blocks of meatloaf. But it would taste pretty bland if it only had these three ingredients. The flavor ingredients are the place to make your mark on smoked meatloaf.

Here’s a list of popular flavor ingredients for meatloaf.

  • Diced onion
  • Diced peppers
  • Diced celery
  • Minced garlic
  • Dried herbs or herb mixes (like Italian seasoning)
  • Mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Barbecue rub

Moisture Components for Smoked Meatloaf

To help keep the meat from drying out, most recipes call for the addition of liquid in the form of milk. Milk also contains fat, so it adds richness to the final product. If you don't want to use milk (or can't, for dietary reasons) consider beef broth or some other flavored liquid.

Binding Components for Smoked Meatloaf

The final must-have? Ingredients that help the loaf stay together. The two binding ingredients that nearly all meatloaf recipes call for are eggs and breadcrumbs. Both ingredients contain proteins that bind other ingredients together. Think of them as miniature nets holding the meatloaf in place.

A Few Tips for Preparing Ingredients

Two things to keep in mind: Too many ingredients can make for crumbly or soggy meatloaf, and dicing the solid ingredients as small as you can will help them bind more easily.

If you sense that the addition of "wet" ingredients, like hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce, has made the meatloaf mixture soggy, you can add additional bread crumbs to dry it out a little.

How to Mix, Form and Prepare Smoked Meatloaf

The next step is to get the meatloaf ready for your Traeger. If you have time, take the ground meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before starting to mix -- it will warm up slightly and be easier to prepare.

You can also go ahead and preheat the Traeger to 225 degrees Fahrenheit so it will be ready to smoke once you're done with preparation.

How to Mix Meatloaf

Once you've chosen all your ingredients, find a big bowl to mix them.

Get your hands very clean, put all the ingredients into the bowl, and mix them together until you no longer see any pockets of unmixed ingredients.

(Yes, use your hands! You can try mixing meatloaf with spoons or spatulas, but it just doesn't work as well. Only a human touch can bind the ingredients together well.)

Once you see that the mixture looks relatively uniform, stop mixing. Overmixing can cause the meat to compress and dry out.

How to Form and Prepare Meatloaf

Tear off two baking sheet-sized pieces of aluminum foil. Put one piece directly on the counter where you'll form the meatloaf. Use the other piece of foil to line a baking sheet. Put a wire cooling rack on top of the foil on the baking sheet.

Scoop the meat mixture onto the piece of aluminum foil on the counter. The mixture should come out in one piece. If not, add breadcrumbs and remix to bind together better.

How you form the mixture will affect the cooking time. A longer, skinnier loaf will smoke faster than a square one. Rectangular loaves are best for smoking because the heat can reach the center of the loaf more easily.

Carefully lift the meatloaf from the pan and place it on the wire cooling rack. Smoking the meatloaf on the rack will allow smoke flavor to circulate over the entire surface of the loaf, creating a 360-degree smoke ring.

If you don't have a wire rack, just place the loaf directly on the baking sheet. You'll still get smoke on three sides of the meatloaf.

Place the baking sheet on the grill of your Traeger, and insert the temperature probe in the thickest part of the loaf.

How Long to Smoke Meatloaf

A 2-pound meatloaf smoked at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, will take approximately 3 hours to reach the appropriate internal temperature of 160 degrees.

However, the smoking time can vary. The best way to keep track -- and avoid overcooking -- is to place your Traeger probe thermometer in the thickest part of the loaf. Remove the loaf when it reaches 160 degrees.

More Smoked Meatloaf Questions

Here are some more details to help you craft the perfect meatloaf.

How Do You Make a Meatloaf Glaze?

A meatloaf glaze is an optional step that adds a burst of flavor and color to meatloaf.

Glazes are usually added toward the end of cooking. They must be somewhat saucy and sticky so they adhere to the meat.

Most glazes are sweet or spicy -- or both. Ketchup, hot sauce, and vinegar are common glaze ingredients. You can also use bottled barbecue sauce as a glaze. Our Chipotle Meatloaf recipe has an example of a glaze.

What Is the Best Wood for Smoking Meatloaf?

We recommend oak, hickory, or mesquite wood for smoking meatloaf. Bold-flavored hardwoods are excellent pairings with the robust flavor of ground beef.

Can You Freeze Meatloaf?

You can freeze meatloaf before or after smoking it. Some cooks like to form an extra meatloaf to freeze and smoke later. If you end up with leftovers, you can freeze the remaining loaf, or cut it in portion-sized slices, and freeze.

What Do You Serve With Smoked Meatloaf?

Hearty meatloaf goes well with starchy sides like mashed potatoes or rice. You can also serve meatloaf in sandwiches.

Smoked Meatloaf Recipes

Cook time: 2 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients

MEATLOAF

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 pounds ground beef

1/4 pound of ground sausage

GLAZE

1 cup Traeger 'Que BBQ Sauce

1/2 cup apple juice

Tuscan Meatloaf

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves: 6

Ingredients

6 eggs

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup milk

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon Italian herbs, dried

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1/2 pound of Italian pork sausage, regular or spicy

1½ cups marinara sauce, for serving

Sweet Mandarin Meatloaf

Cook time: 2 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients

2 pounds lean ground beef

12 slices peppered bacon

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons Traeger Beef Rub

2/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

1/3 cup mandarin orange sauce

Glazed Cajun Meatloaf

Cook time: 2 hours

Serves: 4

Ingredients

MEATLOAF

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup finely diced red or green bell pepper

3 medium green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup beef broth or milk

1/2 cup ketchup

1½ tablespoons of your favorite Louisiana-style rub

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Crystal, Frank's RedHot, or other Louisiana-style hot sauce

1 tablespoon Creole-style mustard, brown mustard, or yellow mustard

1 teaspoon black pepper

1½ pounds ground beef

1/2 pound of ground pork

1/2 pound of andouille or other spicy sausage, removed from casing

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

GLAZE

1 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce, or more to taste

1 tablespoon white vinegar, or more to taste

2 teaspoons Creole-style mustard, brown mustard, or yellow mustard

Chipotle Meatloaf

Cook time: 2 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup onion, finely diced

1/2 cup celery, finely diced

1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, finely diced

3 whole green onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 whole jalapeños, seeded and diced

1/2 cup Traeger BBQ Sauce

1/2 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon Traeger Sweet Rub

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 whole (7-ounce size) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon black pepper

1½ pounds ground beef

1/2 pound of ground pork

1/2 pound of spicy sausage, removed from casing

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup crumbled plain potato chips

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1 teaspoon white vinegar

Baked Venison Meatloaf with Potato Puree

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves: 8

Ingredients

2 pounds ground venison

1 pound ground pork

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons onion, diced small

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

3 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon thyme, minced

1/2 tablespoon parsley, minced

1/2 tablespoon chives, chopped

1½ pounds parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons kosher salt

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup butter

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Baked Bacon-Weaved Honey Bourbon-Glazed Meatloaf

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 whole carrot, peeled and diced or grated

1 stalk celery, finely diced

4 ounces mushrooms, finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

Olive oil

3 pounds ground beef, 80% lean

2 cloves garlic, grated or diced

4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

1 egg, beaten

6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1½ teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup condensed tomato soup

1 pound of thin bacon

Traeger Sweet & Heat BBQ Sauce