Barbecue-glazed Meatloaf is super moist, flavorful, and glazed with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. It’s amazing paired with your favorite sides yet equally delicious in a sandwich.
Meatloaf is one dish I learned to make and love when I worked at a skilled nursing facility’s dietary department. This classic comfort food was a regular on our weekly menu and was, not surprisingly, very popular with our patients. I’ve watched our chefs prepare meatloaf in many delicious ways but the barbecue-glazed meatloaf version easily became my favorite. Super moist, flavorful and crowned with an irresistible sweet and tangy glaze, it’s a sure crowd pleaser!
As you can see from the photo above I snapped at work, the meatloaves are baked in the oven free form on an inverted foil-lined baking pan (which is then set on a wider pan to catch drips) to allow the rendered fat to drip down the sides of the pan instead of pooling around the meat. This method creates a deliciously caramelized all-around crust on the outside while the inside is moist and juicy!
A successful meatloaf, in my opinion, is one that’s tender enough to easily break apart with a fork yet sturdy enough for slices to hold shape. This barbecue-glazed meatloaf is that! It’s perfectly moist on the plate with your favorite sides but is just as awesome sandwiched between your favorite bread!
I’ve scaled down the meatloaf recipe we use at work (it feeds 150-plus!) to a more family dinner-friendly 4 to 6 servings. I do, however, follow the procedures I’ve learned from our cooks to a T.
Here are a few tips on how the moistest, tastiest Barbecue-Glazed Meatloaf:
- Choose ground beef with a good ratio of fat as this not only brings extra tenderness but flavor as well. I like 80/20 ground chuck which is also relatively inexpensive for a double win!
- Use fresh breadcrumbs instead of dried breadcrumbs for better binding yet lighter texture. Make a panade by soaking the breadcrumbs in milk or broth before adding to the meat mixture.
- Grate the onions and saute! Preparing the onions very finely helps the meatloaf hold together better and pre-cooking the onions (or vegetables if you’re using) brings out their natural sugars (thus increasing the depth of the flavor), as well as adds extra moisture to the meatloaf.
- To prevent cracking, smooth the top of the meatloaf with a little cold water. Also, place a pan of water on the rack underneath your meatloaf to allow gentler and moister heat.
- Don’t overwork the mixture as this will toughen the meat and make the meatloaf denser. Combine the ingredients lightly until well incorporated but do not overmix.
- Cook the meatloaf free-form. Use a metal loaf pan roughly the size of the meatloaf, invert and line the bottom with foil. This way, the rendered fat drips down the side of the pan instead of pooling around the meat. Set the inverted loaf pan on a baking sheet to catch drips.
- Use a thermometer to accurately gauge doneness. The meatloaf should be ready when a thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 F.
- Let the meatloaf rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute.
- 4 slices white bread
- 1/2 cup milk or beef broth
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 2 pounds ground beef, 80/20 fat ratio
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- In a food processor, pulse bread slices until resembling crumbs. In a bowl, combine fresh breadcrumbs and milk (or broth). Stir until breadcrumbs are wet and soak for about 10 minutes.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, soaked breadcrumbs, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until well incorporated but not overmixed.
- Line the back part of a baking pan or sheet and place over a larger baking sheet (to catch drips) with foil. Transfer meat mixture onto foil-lined pan and form into a loaf shape. Smooth top of the loaf by rubbing a little bit of cold water (to prevent cracking). Brush top and sides of meatloaf with barbecue sauce.
- Place baking sheet in a 350 F oven. Place a pan of water on the oven rack underneath the meatloaf. Bake the meatloaf for about 50 to 60 minutes or until the exterior is nicely browned and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 F.
- Remove meatloaf from heat and allow to stand for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.