Tag Archives: meatloaf

Labor Day grilling: how to smoke a meatloaf

 Smoked Meatloaf Hash

What do you do when you cook up a meatloaf that’s delicious, but falls apart when you slice it? Make meatloaf hash! Just chop up the meatloaf with a spoon and add some healthy mix-ins like rice or vegetables or just a bit of ketchup, like I did above.

That’s what I’m making until I’ve perfected my Smoked Meatloaf recipe. It’s almost there but needs a little more work. I want a meatloaf that slices up perfectly when it’s hot out of the oven – or in my case the smoker. I’ve made it twice – and it’s good enough to share – but maybe you can give me some help on perfecting it by commenting your suggestions below.

How to smoke a meatloaf

Well, you find a big pipe and…

Seriously though, I first heard about smoked meatloaf when my husband came home raving about the taste after sampling it at a local restaurant. I did a search and found My Smoked Meat Loaf Recipe from Smoking-Meat.com. (If you own a smoker, you must sign up for Jeff’s Smoking Meat enewsletter.) I liked his recipe but wanted to combine it with my recipe for Boulder Firefighters Meatloaf.

Also, I wasn’t crazy about how Jeff set up his uncooked loaves. The first time I made smoked meatloaf, I didn’t use a loaf pan. I ended up with a flat, squishy meatloaf that was delicious – thus the Smoked Meatloaf Hash.

The next time I made it, I knew I would have to smoke it in a loaf pan. But how?

Preparing your loaf pans

There’s two problems using a loaf pan:

  1. The meatloaf won’t get exposed to the smoke.
  2. It will cook in it's juices and stay mushy.

After discussing it with Paul, he came up with an idea of taking a metal loaf pan and drilling holes in it. He drilled two holes on the ends, three on the sides, and seven on the bottom. Then he sanded off the burs.

You could also do this with a disposable aluminum loaf pan. However, since metal loaf pans were only $6 at WalMart, he went out a bought a couple just to make smoked meatloaf in. (He obviously wants me to make this all the time.) You can pick up few loaf pans for a  buck or two at thrift stores or garage sales, too.

Smoking your meatloaf

Now that the pans will drain, I needed something to catch the juices. I decided the easiest method would be to place the meatloaf pans on the bottom rack of the smoker so it would drain directly into the water dish at the bottom. Easy!

This worked pretty well until we realized that as the ground meat cooked, it would expand and block the holes. About half way into the cooking process, I had to tip to the pans and empty out some of the juices from the top and sides. Maybe we need more drill more holes in the pans. Or maybe just emptying the juices a few times will do the trick.

The other issue was cooking time. If I put all the meat (2 pounds) into one loaf pan, it would take three to four hours to cook. Since I didn’t have time, I opted to divide the recipe in half to cut back the cooking time to about 90 minutes. Smoking food is all about planning, so next time I’ll make sure I have enough time to cook just a two pound meatloaf in one pan. I’ve a feeling a bigger loaf will be more solid and sliceable.

smoked meatloaf hash

Smoked Meatloaf Hash

Smoked Meat Loaf

Nutritional information based on using ground venison.


  • 2 pounds ground venison, lean beef or turkey ((The leaner the beef, themore likely the meatloaf will fall apart. But the lower the calories and fat grams!)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pieces whole wheat or gluten free bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or barbeque sauce


  1. Set smoker for 250 degrees.
  2. Soak the bread in warm water in a small bowl – enough to moisten the bread but not too much so it turns into mush
  3. Place the ground meat in a large bowl.
  4. Add softened bread, onion, carrots, garlic, egg, egg whites, and ketchup. Mix with your hands until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Put meat mixture into a specially prepared loaf pan (see above).
  6. Place loaf pan on lower rack, just above the water pan.
  7. Add mesquite wood chips and smoke for 3 to 4 hours until the center registered 160 degrees.
  8. If necessary, pour off extra juice that gathers on top of the loaf pan every hour.
  9. You can finish the top with ketchup or barbeque sauce about 30 minutes before the meatloaf is finished smoking. Some people like to use bacon instead.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 3 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: 8 slices
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 190
  • Calories from Fat: 18
  • Total Fat: 2.0g
  • Saturated fat: 0.1g
  • Unsaturated fat: 1.9g
  • Sodium: 393mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 12.7g
  • Sugar: 8.2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 28.2g
  • Cholesterol: 23mg

Boulder Firefighters Meatloaf

My mom called this morning to ask me about the Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder, Colorado. Even though I live 30 miles away from the heart of the fire, it has affected us a bit.

My children’s school is in Boulder County, so they’ve been kept indoors due to the poor air quality for the past couple of days. Also, my friend works for Boulder County’s Office of Emergency Management, so I’ve been taking care of her kids after school while she works a 12+ hour shift. (Yay, two more kids to yell at about getting their homework done. Sigh.)

Last night, in honor of all the people working on the fire, I created this eggless meatloaf recipe. It was such a hit with all four kids that they asked for thirds. Needless to say, there were no leftovers.

Boulder Firefighters Meatloaf

Based on A Firefighter’s Meatloaf at Allrecipes.com

Serves 6


  • 2 slices whole wheat bread from Rudi’s Organic Bakery in Boulder, Colorado
  • 2 pounds ground venison
  • 1 small onion, choppped
  • 1 cup medium hot, chipotle salsa
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoon barbeque sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Soak the bread in warm water in a small bowl.
  3. Place the ground venison meat in a large bowl.
  4. Drain bread and add to beef along with green onion, onion, salsa, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. Mix by hand until well blended.
  5. Form into a loaf and place in a greased cookie sheet or hotel pan.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven.
  7. Blot excess fat off the pan with paper towels.
  8. Glaze the meatloaf with barbeque sauce.
  9. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. 

Nutritional information

  • Calories 354
  • Calories from Fat 125
  • Total Fat 13.9g
  • Saturated Fat 6.2g
  • Trans Fat 0.1g
  • Cholesterol 148mg
  • Sodium 521mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 12.5g
  • Dietary Fiber 2.1g
  • Sugars 4.8g
  • Protein 43.0g
  • Iron 33%

This Mama’s tips

  • You can also use ground buffalo, turkey or lean ground beef.
  • If you don’t like the smoky taste of chipotle, use any kind of medium hot salsa.
  • If you use loaf pans, you can split the recipe to fill two pans about 3/4 of the way. Freeze the second loaf or use it for sandwiches the next day.
  • Sneak in some grated zucchini for added fiber and greens.

Nutrition Grade B+ from CalorieCount

Weight Watchers POINTS = 8

How you can help Boulder Fourmile Canyon Fire disaster relief

  • The Red Cross cannot accept small individual donations of items such as clothing. Instead, they ask that you make a monetary donation to the Red Cross’s Mile High Chapter for Disaster Relief.
  • If you’re in Colorado, you can call 211 to identify an appropriate location to take items you’d like to donate.