This Bacon Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf is so good! It is tender, juicy, smokey, and is topped with a tangy-sweet glaze.
Meatloaf is America’s classic comfort food. Everyone seems to have their own recipe. It’s easy to make, inexpensive, and perfect for feeding a group.
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Ever since we invested in our Traeger Grill I have been looking for creative ways to cook with it. We love smoking a pork butt for pulled pork sandwiches, pork steaks, and chicken wings but I wanted to try something different.
So I created this smoked bacon-wrapped meatloaf recipe. The meatloaf is a combination of ground sirloin and ground pork. The bacon wrap keeps the meatloaf from drying out while adding its own unique flavor. To make it even better, it is then slathered with a delicious sweet and tangy sticky glaze.
Smoked meatloaf only takes a couple of hours from start to finish. Use a mild wood, like pecan or hickory, for a subtle smokey flavor.
A few years ago we bought a Traeger grill during a Father’s Day sale at our local hardware store. Initially, I was reluctant to spend the money on a second grill but it has been one of the best purchases we have ever made. Not only does it produce amazing results, but it’s also incredibly easy to operate!
I don’t remember the last time we went out for barbeque because we get such great results at home for a fraction of the cost. I know our Traeger grill has already paid for itself with the money we have saved on eating out.
Balance is the key to a good meatloaf.
Just enough fat to add flavor but not too much or your meatloaf will be greasy. Enough liquid to bind the meat together but not too much or your meatloaf will fall apart. Enough additional ingredients to add flavor but not too much that you lose the flavor of the meat.
Ground Meat: A ratio of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat is a great starting ratio for meatloaf, which is what makes the combination of ground sirloin and pork the perfect choice. If you want to substitute leaner meat such as ground turkey or ground chicken you should add some additional liquid to make up for the reduced amount of fat.
Vegetables: Finely chopped vegetables will improve and loosen the texture of the meatloaf. A food processor makes this task a breeze.
Sauteing the vegetables before adding them to the meat mixture caramelizes them bringing out their natural sugars. The vegetables also add some additional moisture to the meatloaf.
Breadcrumbs: Most meatloaf is 15 to 25 percent filler such as breadcrumbs, crackers, or bread. Breadcrumbs absorb and retain the juices so you have a moister meatloaf. They also create a tender looser texture so that your meatloaf doesn’t become tough like a hamburger.
You can use store-bought breadcrumbs or you can make your own using some stale or lightly toasted bread and a food processor.
Gelatin: Gelatin helps the meatloaf retain moisture. Gelatin is added to the liquid ingredients and then heated until it has dissolved.
According to J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats gelatin was first added to meatloaf in a recipe created by David Pazmiño for the January 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.
Glaze: To finish the meatloaf, a sweet and tangy glaze of ketchup and balsamic vinegar is brushed on and caramelizes as the meatloaf finishes cooking.
Food Processor: This is the Ninja Blender set I currently use. I don’t know about you but I am not a fan a big chunks of vegetables in my meatloaf. Using a food processor makes it easy to finely chop all of the vegetables.
Mixing Bowls: These are some of my favorite mixing bowls. They come in a huge range of sizes, nest together for easy storage, and are easy to clean.
Smoker: While this meatloaf could be smoked on any smoker the instructions are written specifically for a grill from Trager because it is what we own.
Thermometer: If your smoker doesn’t come with a built in probe thermometer, you will need a separate thermometer. The Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks is my favorite. It is durable, fast, and easy to use and clean.
Pastry Brush: I am partial to silicone pastry brushes because they are heat resistant and dishwasher safe. I like them over bristled brushes because I don’t have to worry about them leaving stray bristles behind.
Add the beef stock to a liquid measuring cup and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top.
Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the food processor and pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped.
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable mixture and saute for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the beef stock and simmer until it has reduced by half. (about 10 minutes)
Add the vegetable mixture to the breadcrumbs and allow them to cool for 10 minutes.
Add the ground pork, ground sirloin, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, dried sage, dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and salt to the bowl.
Using your hands or a large spoon, mix gently until all of the ingredients are evenly combined.
To test the seasoning, microwave a 1 teaspoon-sized portion on a microwave-safe plate on high power for about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
Lay a long sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the counter. Form the meat mixture into the shape of a log on top of the foil. Try to keep the size of the log consistent so that the meatloaf cooks evenly.
Create a bacon weave. For more information on how to weave bacon watch the video below. Place the bacon weave on top of the meatloaf and tuck the ends underneath.
Wrap the meatloaf tightly in the aluminum foil with the seam on top. Poke 10 holes in the underside with a knife or metal skewer to allow the grease to drain out.
Set the Traeger grill to Smoke, leave the lid open for 4-5 minutes until the fire is established. Set the temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.
Smoke the meatloaf for 45 minutes.
While the meatloaf is smoking combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, whisking until the brown sugar has melted. Remove from the heat.
Open the foil and fold the sides back creating a shallow pan. Use a spoon to distribute the glaze across the meatloaf and then use a silicone brush to smooth the glaze out. Being careful to not contaminate the glaze with the undercooked meat.
Insert the probe of a thermometer into the center of the meatloaf. Increase the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the meatloaf from the heat, tent with foil, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before slicing. While it rests the meatloaf will continue to cook eventually reaching an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice with a serrated knife and top slices with the remaining glaze before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Eggs are an emulsifier and help bind all of the ingredients in a meatloaf together. The egg yolks also add flavor, richness, and moisture.
The correct amount of seasoning will vary based upon an individual’s tastes. The easiest way to check a meatloaf’s seasoning is to microwave a 1 teaspoon-sized portion on a microwave-safe plate on high power for about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more salt if necessary.
The more you mix a meatloaf the better it will hold together. But mix it too much and it will be tough. A good rule of thumb is to mix your meatloaf until it is just combined and all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Once mixed, shape the meat mixture into a long log shape. When shaping your loaf, looser is better. Don’t compress the meat too much or it will need to cook longer. Try to keep the size of the log consistent so that the meatloaf cooks evenly.
Yep! Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients together in a large bowl.Cover tightly with a lid, saran wrap, or foil. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to smoke it. Proceed with the shaping and smoking directions.
The meatloaf mixture may not have been mixed well enough or compressed tightly enough when you shaped it into a loaf.
Overmixing is one of the main reasons a meatloaf becomes tough. Remember, the meatloaf mixture will be mixed even more as it’s shaped before baking.
Meatloaf is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Traeger grills come with built-in probe thermometers to easily monitor your foods progress. If you don’t have a built-in probe thermometer this one from Thermoworks is my favorite.
While a thermometer is the most accurate way to check your meatloaf for doneness, there is another method you can try.
Insert a metal skewer or metal cake tester into the center of the meatloaf. Leave it there for a few seconds and then remove it and hold it against the inside of your wrist. If it is hot enough that you remove it quickly, the meatloaf is done. If not, continue cooking it for a little bit longer.
A bacon weave is strips of bacon that are woven into a lattice that is flattened and perfect for wrapping other foods like burgers, or roasts before cooking.
Don’t be intimidated by the bacon weave. It might look difficult, but it isn’t. Just watch this video below.
How to make a bacon weave
Making a bacon weave is easy and very similar to creating a lattice top crust for a pie. If you have never made one before watch the video below from Traeger.
Bacon weave tips:
- Use thin cut bacon not thick. It is easier to weave together, will mold across the meatloaf better, and will be fully cooked by the time the meatloaf is ready.
- Create your bacon weave on a cutting board. The cutting board makes it easier to quickly flip the bacon weave onto the meatloaf.
- The size of the bacon weave will vary depending upon the length of your bacon.
- If your bacon weave is too small, use leftover bacon to cover any gaps. If needed, tie with butcher’s twine to keep the bacon in place.
- You might not use the entire pound of bacon for the weave.
- If your bacon strips are wider on one end and narrower on the other end, alternate the direction you lay out each strip of bacon to keep the width of the bacon weave consistent.
- Choose a coarse grind when selecting your ground meat. This will give the meatloaf more texture and prevent it from becoming mushy.
- Swap the meat: You can easily make this dish with any kind of ground meat. Try substituting some ground pork, ground turkey or ground chicken in place of ground beef. Try to keep the ratio of meat to fat around 80:20.
- Don’t over mix the meatloaf or it will become tough and dry. Mix just enough until the mixture becomes uniform.
- You can substitute turkey bacon for pork bacon.
- Make it gluten-free: For a gluten-free meatloaf, use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- To simplify the recipe, you can use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce.
- When brushing the glaze on the meatloaf, be careful to not contaminate the glaze. I use a spoon to distribute glaze across the meatloaf and then use a silicone brush to smooth the glaze out.
- After cooking, allow the meatloaf to rest for 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
How to store leftovers
Leftovers should be refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3-4 days.
To freeze the leftovers, wrap them tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and place them in a zip-top bag labeled with the date and contents. Meatloaf can be frozen for 3-4 months.
To reheat frozen meatloaf thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat in the oven or microwave.
Make ahead instructions
Once you have shaped your meatloaf and wrapped it with bacon, wrap it tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and place it in a zip-top bag labeled with the date and contents. Meatloaf can be frozen for 3-4 months.
To cook: Thaw in the refrigerator and proceed with the smoking instructions.
No Grill Or Smoker?
No Problem! This meatloaf can also be baked in the oven.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare and shape the meatloaf as instructed.
- Place the unwrapped meatloaf on a rimmed sheet pan that has been lined with foil to make clean up easier.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Use a spoon to distribute the glaze across the meatloaf and then use a silicone brush to smooth the glaze out. Being careful to not contaminate the glaze with the undercooked meat. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Insert the probe of a thermometer into the center of the meatloaf and continue baking until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reads 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil, and allow the meatloaf to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
- Slice with a serrated knife and top slices with the remaining glaze before serving.
More dinner recipes you will love
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- Slow Roasted Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Four Cheese Lasagna
- Chicken Apple Meatballs
Thanks for Reading!
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