This delicious BBQ meatloaf is succulent, tender and juicy. It features a savory meatloaf glaze that’s packed with flavor. This southern meatloaf recipe is better than Paula Deen’s. Prep it in 15 minutes then bake.
📌 PIN BBQ MEATLOAF RECIPE
BBQ meatloaf is a classic American dish filled with nostalgia. Most of us remember our mothers and grandmothers putting together a meatloaf on busy weekdays for family dinners. I still remember the savory flavors of their special loaves and the happiness and comfort from every bite.
With time on my hands and the goal of sharing the BEST southern meatloaf recipe, I baked 3 loaves from famous recipes. With that delicious inspiration, I combined all the best flavors and techniques into one easy recipe. It’s the one I’m sharing today with the amazing BBQ meatloaf glaze.
Serve BBQ meatloaf with sour cream mashed potatoes and broccoli salad with bacon. Or enjoy this southern dish with baked mac and cheese and watermelon arugula salad. Save leftover slices for meatloaf sandwiches.
TIPS FOR THE BEST BBQ MEATLOAF
- Use high-fat ground beef for a juicy tender meatloaf – at least 15% fat. Choose a package labeled 85/15 (85% lean), or 80/20 (80% lean).
- Sauté the onion in butter before adding it to the mixture. This is an optional recipe step, but your loaf will be more delicious.
- Create a parchment-paper sling (handles) for easy loaf removal. Line the loaf pan with an oversized rectangle of parchment paper (or a thick layer of aluminum foil) that sticks out and over 2 sides of the pan.
- Do NOT overmix. The meatloaf mixture should remain loose and light so juices can travel. If it’s compacted, then your BBQ meatloaf will be dense and dry. Also use a light hand when pressing meat into the pan.
- Safely taste-test the meat mixture before baking the loaf. Pinch off a piece and fry it up. Eating a small cooked chunk will let you know if more herbs and spices need to be added to attain the perfect meatloaf.
- Line the bottom of the loaf pan with sandwich bread. The bread slices will soak up excess melted fat so your meatloaf is juicy but not greasy.
- Use a super flavorful meatloaf glaze. Before reaching for the ketchup, take a few minutes to assemble a deeply savory topping. It’s like icing on a cake. A great one can take your recipe to the next level.
- Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This allows time for luscious juices to travel throughout the loaf and get locked in. The loaf will also be easier to slice.
BEST LOAF PAN FOR MEATLOAF
With ingredient prices rising like crazy, it’s important to use what you already have on hand. Cooking meals with items from the pantry is an easy way to spend less on this week’s groceries. Wherever possible, I’ve included easy ingredient substitutions that work well for this BBQ meatloaf recipe.
- Whole Milk: Adds moisture to soften the meatloaf so it’s tender not dry. If you don’t have whole milk on hand, feel free to use 2%. Or to make the loaf without dairy, use canned chicken stock instead.
- Large Eggs: This ingredient helps bind the meatloaf together.
- Cracker Crumbs: Are a binding agent for the meat, and keep juices suspended in the loaf so it’s not dry. I prefer crushed Ritz Crackers, but if you don’t have them on hand use plain Progresso bread crumbs, pretzel crumbs, crushed cornflakes or regular rolled oats.
- Ketchup: Adds moisture that helps make the meatloaf extra juicy. It also adds hints of sweet, sour and umami flavors.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Adds additional moisture while enhancing the savory meaty flavor of the BBQ meatloaf.
- Onion: For this recipe we used a white onion, but you can use a yellow onion or shallots instead.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best. But if you don’t have this ingredient on hand, feel free to substitute with 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic for each garlic clove, or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder in place of each clove.
- Fresh Italian Parsley: This herb adds grassy freshness to BBQ meatloaf, while brightening and balancing the savory flavors.
- Sea Salt: This seasoning enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Dried Oregano: If you don’t have this spice on hand, use Italian seasoning, dried basil, or thyme instead.
- Ground Black Pepper: Has a complex flavor profile that contributes a rustic flavor with a bit of heat.
- Paprika: Adds a sweet, mild smoky flavor.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Adds a mild and delicious kick of heat. If desired you can add a bit more, or leave it out completely.
- Ground Beef: I use 85/15 or 80/20 ground beef so there’s enough fat for moisture, without a bunch of excess fat that will make the loaf greasy.
- BBQ Sauce: This is the primary flavor of our southern BBQ meatloaf glaze. I like mine smoky, savory and lightly sweet with just a hint of heat, so I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet ‘n Spicy, or Sweet Baby Ray’s Kickin’ Bourbon. But you can use whatever you already have on hand.
- Ketchup: This is a classic ingredient for meatloaf glaze. It adds yummy moisture and tanginess to the recipe.
- Light Brown Sugar: Adds a hint of sweetness to the glaze. But dark brown sugar also works well with its deep molasses flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Enhances the savory flavor of the BBQ glaze.
📖 RECIPE STEPS
RECIPE PREP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. If desired, create a parchment paper sling for easy removal of loaf from pan. Grease the parchment paper sling.
- STEP 1: In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.
- STEP 2: Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs to the bowl. Mix to combine.
- STEP 3: Add onion (fresh or sautéed), minced garlic, Italian parsley, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, paprika and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
- STEP 4: Pat the ground beef dry between paper towels to remove drippy excess moisture. Add the ground beef to the bowl.
- STEP 5: With a very light hand, gently fold the ingredients together. Do not overmix. Compacted meat will result in a heavy dry loaf. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan. Gently press it into place. The top of the loaf should be smooth and slightly mounded.
- STEP 6: Bake the southern meatloaf for 30 minutes.
- STEP 7: In the meantime, combine all the BBQ glaze ingredients together in a small mixing bowl: BBQ sauce, ketchup, light brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Set the bowl aside.
- STEP 8: After the meatloaf has baked for 30 minutes, spread the BBQ glaze over the top. Continue baking an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until a kitchen thermometer reads 160°F in the thickest part of the loaf.
👩🏻🍳 RECIPE FAQ
These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the best BBQ meatloaf, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.
After spraying the pan with cooking spray, line the bottom of the pan with slices of sandwich bread. As the meatloaf cooks, the bread will soak up the grease. After baking, remove and discard the bread.
It’s important to add moisture at every step, starting with the use of high-fat meat, at least 15% fat or 20% fat. Or chop up bacon and add it to the mix. For extra insurance on moistness, use milk-soaked (or broth soaked) crustless bread instead of cracker crumbs or dry breadcrumbs.
Instead of baking the meatloaf in a loaf pan, hand-form the loaf and bake it on a sheet pan. Line the tray with foil or parchment paper and place the meatloaf in the center. As the heat of the oven circulates around the loaf, it will caramelize the top and sides.
Most meatloaf spice mixes include 6 or more seasonings: paprika, dried mustard, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano, Italian parsley, Italian seasoning, and thyme.
The best temperature to bake meatloaf is 375°F. Cook it uncovered for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
According to the USDA safe temperature chart, the minimal internal temperature for ground meats / meatloaf is 160°F (71.1°C). Insert a quick-read kitchen thermometer into the thickest part of the loaf.
If your loaf is too dry, add thin slices of butter between the warm slices before serving. It’ll add delicious richness and moisture to the meatloaf.
🍽 more easy GROUND BEEF recipes
If you love quick and easy ground beef recipes, you’ll love these delicious entrees. Add them to your collection. Pin them to Pinterest.
- Homemade Hamburger Helper
- Crunchy Ground Beef Tacos
- Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch
- Healthy Burrito Bowl
- Cheeseburger Sliders
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme
RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Flavor testers rated this the best BBQ meatloaf recipe! It was blind taste tested against meatloaf recipes to include Ina Garten’s and Paula Deen’s.
Ours came out on top for flavor, texture and the best barbecue meatloaf glaze that caramelizes beautifully. I was told: This recipe’s a keeper!
If you agree this is the tastiest southern meatloaf recipe, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with a friend.Print
- Total Time: 65 Minutes
- Yield: 1 Meatloaf / 8 Slices 1x
This succulent BBQ meatloaf is tender, juicy and delicious. It features a thick, tangy BBQ glaze that’s deeply savory. Prep this easy southern meatloaf recipe in 15 minutes then bake.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup crushed Ritz Crackers (or dried breadcrumbs)
- 2/3 cup finely-diced white onion
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (or Italian seasoning)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or a bit more if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 pounds ground beef, 85/15 (or 80/20)
Optional: 2 slices sandwich bread to line the pan.
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
RECIPE PREP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. If desired, line the bottom of the pan with slices of bread to absorb excess grease.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs to the bowl. Mix to combine. Add onion (fresh or sautéed), minced garlic, Italian parsley, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, paprika and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
- Pat the ground beef dry between paper towels to remove drippy excess moisture. Add the ground beef to the bowl. With a very light hand, gently fold the ingredients together. Do not overmix. Compacted meat will result in a heavy dry loaf. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan. Gently press it into place. The top of the loaf should be smooth and slightly mounded.
- Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine all the BBQ glaze ingredients together in a small mixing bowl: BBQ sauce, ketchup, light brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Set the bowl aside.
- After meatloaf has baked for 30 minutes, spread the BBQ glaze over the top. Continue baking an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until a kitchen thermometer reads 160°F in the thickest part of the loaf. Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
How to make meatloaf super savory: Sauté the diced onions in butter (or olive oil) until fragrant before adding them to the meatloaf mixture. If you have the time, this extra step is well worth it.
For easy removal of loaf from pan: Create a parchment-paper sling (handles). Line the loaf pan with an oversized rectangle of parchment paper (or thick aluminum foil) that sticks out and over 2 sides of the pan. If using sliced bread to absorb excess grease, arrange slices on top of the sling.
How to prevent a greasy meatloaf: After spraying the pan with cooking spray, line the bottom of the pan with slices of sandwich bread. As the meatloaf cooks, the bread will soak up the grease. After baking, remove and discard the bread.
How to infuse extra moisture into baked meatloaf: If your loaf is too dry, add thin slices of butter between the warm slices before serving. It’ll add delicious richness and moisture to the meatloaf.
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 50 Minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: BBQ Meatloaf, BBQ Meatloaf Recipe, Meatloaf Glaze, Glazed Meatloaf, Southern Meatloaf Recipe, Meatloaf Glaze Recipe
👉🏻 BBQ Meatloaf > join the conversation
Do you have nostalgic childhood memories of southern meatloaf being served for dinner? What do you think of this BBQ meatloaf recipe? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts below.
2 thoughts on “BBQ Meatloaf”
Hi Denay. I have to agree with you. This recipe is so much better than Paula Deen’s. It’s the best meatloaf recipe I’ve ever made. And the gals at my book club dinner thought the same.
This meatloaf is deeply delicious! I used the 80/20 meat blend just to make sure it would be nice and juicy. My husband said it’s better than his mother’s, which is a huge compliment. This recipe’s a keeper.