This savory BBQ meatloaf recipe is made with a delicate hint of hickory smoke flavor and topped with a thick, tangy sauce. An easy southern meatloaf recipe made with ground beef, bread crumbs, the perfect blend of seasonings - and a secret ingredient!
Why You'll Love This Meatloaf
If you're looking for the best BBQ meatloaf recipe, look no further! This turned out to be the best homemade meatloaf that I've ever made.
It's the BBQ meatloaf glaze - a thick, tomato-based sauce with a tangy zip and just a hint of hickory smoke - that makes it amazing.
Another reason this meatloaf is so special is because of a secret ingredient that I discovered on a whim. Keep reading to find out what it is!
Looking for a different, unique side to serve with this meatloaf? Don't hesitate to make my Savory Squash Pie! It definitely goes with meatloaf!
Why This Recipe Works
I call this southern-style meatloaf because of the incredible barbeque flavors. Adding a homemade barbeque sauce on meatloaf flavors it perfectly. It makes a delicious topping for this moist, tender meatloaf.
BBQ meatloaf just seems to be an amazing comfort food, too. Those delicious smells coming from the kitchen as the meatloaf bakes will make your mouth water and your tummy growl.
Sometimes, you can smell it before you come through the front door. I've had people ask me, "what's that amazing smell?" Just my BBQ meatloaf baking, I'd tell them.
So, what goes into this recipe for BBQ meatloaf? Well, mostly meat (lol) and lots of seasonings. FLAVOR is the main personality of southern cooking! For this recipe, we use 11 ingredients to bring out that southern flair:
fresh ground chuck - to ensure a juicy meatloaf, use a high-fat content such as 80/20
small chopped onion - or mince the onion if you don't like chunks
bread crumbs and eggs - to bind the meatloaf (hold it together)
Allegro Hickory Smoked Marinade - this is my secret ingredient for the BBQ flavor blast!
tomato paste (divided) - for added flavor in the meatloaf and in the glaze
the perfect blend of seasonings - thyme, smoked paprika, pepper, garlic powder
ketchup -main ingredient for the glaze
How to Make It
(1) In a large bowl combine eggs, tomato paste, Allegro marinade, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and smoked paprika. A whisk works well at thoroughly combining these ingredients. If you happen to be out of tomato paste, there are many great substitutes for tomato paste that will work well with this recipe.
(2) Add the ground beef, bread crumbs, and sauteed onions. Mix well but do not over mix. Suggestion: Use your hands in a kneading fashion to blend the beef with the egg mixture.
(3) Shape the mixture into a loaf, and place it into a casserole dish or loaf pan that's been sprayed with non-stick spray. Make the BBQ meatloaf glaze. Mix the ketchup, tomato paste, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and pepper.
(4) Spread the BBQ glaze on top of the meatloaf. Bake uncovered at 325F for about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
You can typically find Allegro Hickory Smoke Marinade in most grocery stores. But if you can't find it, you can use Worcestershire sauce instead.
For extra sauce, make a double batch of the BBQ glaze. Spread half onto the meatloaf before cooking, and spread the other half on top after baking, or serve it on the side.
The best BBQ meatloaf starts out with the freshest hamburger meat - preferably ground chuck.
Now about that secret ingredient... Many of the best meatloaf recipes call for Worcestershire sauce. I was out of Worcestershire sauce the day I wanted to make meatloaf so I used the Allegro instead.
I already knew Allegro was a great marinade for chicken and steak, and I even add it to flavor green beans. So I thought "why not try it?" And now I know it adds a delicious flavor to my southern meatloaf recipe, too! It's my favorite BBQ sauce for meatloaf. This stuff is awesome and I highly recommend it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Bread crumbs and eggs help to bind the meatloaf (hold it together). Bread crumbs are also important to help to lighten the texture; otherwise, your meatloaf would have the consistency of a hamburger patty.
You can this BBQ meatloaf before cooking to prevent it from drying out. You can also freeze it after baking. Let the meatloaf cool completely, then place it into a sealable, freezable container. Write the date on the container so you can remember when you froze it.
Place the frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator to thaw about 24 hours before you want to eat it. Reheat in the microwave or heat in a 350-degree oven, covered, until hot.
Store any BBQ Meatloaf leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I prefer to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids from Bayco, available now on Amazon.
Expert Meatloaf Tips
Be sure to use a good quality, high-fat content, ground beef such as chuck. Don't leave out any of the liquid (wet) ingredients! Saute the onions in olive oil, and add both (onions and olive oil) to the meat mixture.
It's important to "blend" the ground beef with the seasonings and other ingredients with as little action as possible. As stated earlier, I like to use the kneading and folding technique.
Use your best judgment. When you can see that the seasonings are evenly distributed, then stop the mixing process. If you over mix, the result could be a more dense meatloaf that could be tough.
Awesome Side Dishes
I always have extra BBQ glaze on hand for those who like their meatloaf more wet. For a side dish, mashed potatoes seem to be the most popular choice. But if you want a change of pace, try one of these recipes:
What to do with Leftovers
IF you have any of this BBQ meatloaf leftover, there are many ways to serve it the next day. One way is to serve it as a meatloaf sandwich or poboy. Meatloaf is particularly crazy good on a yeast roll (enter Sister Shuberts!). You could also serve it on top of spaghetti or use it as a topping on your favorite pizza crust!
More Ground Beef Dinner Idea
If you tried this recipe, please rate it and leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you!
Tangy BBQ Meatloaf
- 2.25 pounds ground beef, chuck
- 1 cup finely chopped onions (minced)
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons Allegro Hickory Smoke Marinade see recipe note
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
BBQ GLAZE INGREDIENTS
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- dash pepper
- Preheat oven to 325F. Saute chopped onion in small amount of olive oil until soft. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine eggs, 3 oz tomato paste, Allegro, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and smoked paprika. A whisk works well at thoroughly combining these ingredients.
- Add the ground beef, bread crumbs, and sauteed onions. Mix well but do not over mix. Suggestion: Use your hands, in a kneading fashion, to blend the beef with the egg mixture.
- Shape the mixture into a loaf, and place it into a casserole dish or loaf pan that's been sprayed with non-stick spray.
- Mix the topping ingredients then spread on top of the meatloaf (see Note 3 below). Bake uncovered at 325 for about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
This recipe was originally published in 2019 and was updated in 2022.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.