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 managed the dietary department in a skilled nursing facility. This classic comfort food was a regular on our weekly menu and not surprisingly, was 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. You can mimic this method by lining a loaf pan with foil and placing it on top of a baking sheet.
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 panade instead of dried breadcrumbs for a better binding yet lighter texture. Make it by soaking bread in milk or broth and mashing with hands into a soft paste.
- Grate the onions! Preparing the onions very finely helps the meatloaf hold together better as well as adds moisture. Plus, there are no big chunks of onions to bite into!
- If adding bell peppers or carrots, saute them first and cool before adding to the meat mixture. Pre-cooking the vegetables brings out their natural sugars, thus increasing the depth of the flavor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 large onion, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 2 pounds ground beef, 80/20 fat ratio
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- In a bowl, combine bread slices and milk. Soak for a few minutes until soft and tear with hands into a smooth paste (panade).
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, panade, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until well incorporated but not overmixed.
- Transfer meat mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet and form into a loaf shape.
- Smooth top of the meatloaf by rubbing a little bit of cold water (to prevent cracking).
- Brush top and sides of the loaf with barbecue sauce.
- Place meatloaf in a 350 F oven. Place a pan of water on the oven rack underneath the meatloaf.
- Bake 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.