Grilled Meat Loaf 18

I had been trying to come up with a great grilled meatloaf recipe for a looooong time.  I’ve made a few, but every time I did, I thought there were too many improvements to be made to put it on the site.  They say content is king when it comes to blogging, but a lot of mediocre content is not good enough for me. I wasn’t going to put a meat loaf recipe on the site until I nailed it. Till I stuck the landing, hit the pool after a two flips and a twist with the slightest of splashes, went five hole with a wrister, took it to the house on an outlet pass… Enough with the sports analogies. Sorry.

The reason I kept fighting a losing battle was I knew the porous ground meat really took in the smoke flavor and thus should make it an ideal candidate for the grill.  When the folks from Feast called and asked me to do a winter grilling article and provide some comfort food recipes, I decided to give it another shot, knowing that if I couldn’t perfect it, that I would have to scramble to come up with another recipe.  I don’t know that it’s perfect, but it’s close… In this recipe you will see us make two meatloaves, but the ingredients that I list will only be for one.  Double up the recipe for two.

Grilled Meatloaf Ingredients:

1 lb ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork
1 cup panko bread crumbs (you can substitute regular bread crumbs if necessary)
1 egg
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz barbecue sauce (Ketchup is for meat loaf done in the oven)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about four mini carrots)
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese, loosely packed
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Grilled Meat Loaf 5
Some of the Ingredients

This was Dad’s idea.  He thought it would be the perfect winter recipe on a cold Sunday while we watched the Rams play for a spot in the 2010 playoffs, which sadly they lost.  The meatloaf turned out much better than the game. Dad started slicing the garlic and asked if I wanted to help make the meatloaf since it was an original recipe by me.  I agreed, and then it turned into quite the family affair.

Grilled Meat Loaf 1
Dad mincing garlic

When I got into the kitchen, I pointed out that I didn’t have the grilled meat loaf recipe committed to memory and would have to look up my notes.  Dad had a better idea.  Why not use the magazine?

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The Recipe and the Meat
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Is it cheating to use a recipe from a magazine if you wrote the recipe?

And my son, Finnegan, came to help out making it three generations of Grillin’ Fools working on this recipe:

Grilled Meat Loaf 2
Finnegan is enamored with the process

Dad and I got to chopping, dicing and grating.  Finnegan helped too:

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Three Generations of Grillin’ Fools
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That’s about as excited as we got as Rams fans that day!

Finnegan was enthralled with the process as we filled the large plastic bowl with two times the ingredients listed above:

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That’s my boy

But what he was most excited about was Feast magazine:

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A real renaissance toddler

After all the ingredients were put in the bowl, it was time to do the dirty work.  I hate this part:

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I have the knead for meat

Remember, when mixing the ingredients for a meat loaf, you don’t want to mash the meat together to tight.  You want air pockets and crevices.  If it’s too tight it will be dense and can easily dry out.

Put the meatloaf in disposable aluminum bread pans:

Grilled Meat Loaf 13
Ready for the Grill

The disposable bread pans accomplish two goals.  First, it makes the meat loaf into perfect sized slices for leftover meat loaf sandwiches.  And second, it’s much easier to get the whole grilled meatloaf out of a pan that you can use scissors to cut down the corners and bend the sides down.  I’ll show you that in a minute.

Now time to get the grill ready.  It was a cold, windy day, so we took our own advice from the winter grilling article and used the garage as a windbreak for the Char-Broil 940X:

Grilled Meat Loaf 14
Garage Grillin’ – We’re professionals. Don’t try this at home

We also added extra coals as we were having a hard time getting the temp up to 300 despite the wind break:

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Dad kickin’ up the heat

We went with the flank method of indirect grilling/smoking by putting coals on either side and leaving a spot in the middle with no coals.  On smaller grills, simply put coals to one side and the meatloaf on the other. We used a combination of apple and cherry wood.

Now for the Shepherd’s Pie part.  While the meat loaf is cooking, make mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potato Ingredients:

3 red potatoes, chopped to equal sized pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese, loosely packed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until fork tender and then put in a mixer with the rest of the ingredients (or hit with a masher) until they are to the desired creaminess. Now back to the grilling recipe. Normally this grilled meatloaf recipe calls for one hour of smoke at 300, put the mash potatoes on, and then 30 more minutes of smoke.  Well, the grill stayed at 275 the entire time, so we added 10 more minutes on the original smoke time and went 70 minutes.  At that point the grilled meatloaf looked like this:

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Lookin’ mighty fine

Then apply the mash potatoes and spread evenly over the top about 1/2 inch to an inch thick to make it into something of a shepherd’s pie:

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Give it a mash tater hat
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Or is it more like a blanket?
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Better yet, topped with a cloud of smooth taters

We added more charcoal, some more smoke wood and closed the lid for 30 minutes.  When we opened it, here’s what we saw – grilled meatloaf shepherd’s pie:

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The mash potatoes brown nicely and pick up the smoke flavor too.

Take the grilled meat loaf off the heat and back inside to let them rest.  While on the counter, use a turkey baster to suck up the grease that has accumulated at each end.  Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of this step.  Then after a good 8-10 minute rest, take shears and slice down on each corner of the pans:

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Remove from the pans

Lay the sides of the pan down which makes it much easier to transfer the meat loaf to a cutting board:

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Ready to Slice

And here it is sliced:

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Ready to Eat

Plated with some green beans, more mash potatoes and a roll:

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The meatloaf is warm, filling and savory with a little sweetness from the brown sugar, carrots and barbecue sauce, complemented by the smokiness of both the meat and the mash potatoes.  We made this the day of the photo shoot along with prime rib, pot roast, pear tart and acorn squash and this was the star of the day, not the prime rib.  Talk about a homerun.  Wow…  You can see this as me stroking my ego, or you can try it yourself and find out that I haven’t over exaggerated at all…

If you have any questions or comments about grilled meat loaf shepherd’s pie, feel free leave them below or shoot me an email.

If you are interested in other beef recipes, click here.

Also, you can follow us on our Grillin Fools Facebook Page where you can post your own grilling pictures, share grilling recipes, and join the general grilling conversation.  Or you can follow us on Twitter @GrillinFool.

Thanks for reading…

Grilled Meatloaf
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
The best meatloaf I've ever had. Sorry mom, but it's even better than yours!
Mashed Potato Ingredients
  • 3 red potatoes, chopped to equal sized pieces
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup grated asiago cheese, loosely packed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Meatloaf Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (you can substitute regular bread crumbs if necessary)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz barbecue sauce (Ketchup is for meat loaf done in the oven)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (or four mini carrots)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ cup grated asiago cheese, loosely packed
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Mashed Potato Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender and place in a blender with the rest of the ingredients
  2. Blend until they are as lumpy and smooth as you like
  3. Set aside and work on the meatloaf
Meatloaf Instructions
  1. Combine all the meatloaf ingredients in a bowl and kneed together, but don't kneed too much. Meatloaf is not supposed to mashed too firm. It should have pockets and crevices
  2. Place the loaf in a disposable aluminum bread pan
  3. Set up the grill for two zone grilling: coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
  4. Target internal grill temp is 275-300
  5. Place the meatloaf on the side of the grill with no coals
  6. After the meatloaf has been on the grill for an hour, spoon the mash potatoes on top and close the lid
  7. After another 30 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the grill
  8. Suck the grease out of the pan with a turkey baster and discard or poke a hole in the bottom and drain
  9. Cut down the corners of the aluminum pan and transfer the loaf to a cutting board
  10. Slice and serve

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool - #GrillPorn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
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It was the best recipe of those featured in my humble opinion. It was very tasty and it might be time to do it again–maybe with thin sliced ham and provel cheese inside?


I made this Friday night and thought it was awesome! Question – the aluminum pans you used, are they the smaller bread pans or the larger ones, my store had both. I took a guess and used two smaller ones. Have you tried using just one large pan? I think I’m going to try it with peas next time…


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