Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf

Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf

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David and I are still talking about how good this bacon-wrapped smoked meatloaf turned out. I have to say it is the best meatloaf I have ever put across my lips! 

This tender juicy meatloaf is wrapped in a bacon weave and smoked on a cedar plank with kisses of sweet cherry wood, then slathered with a delicious sticky glaze. A slice of this bacon-wrapped smoked meatloaf has a wonderful aroma of smoke while oozing cheese all over your plate.

cheese oozing from sliced meatloaf

Meatloaf is America’s classic comfort food made of simple ingredients blended together to form a hearty warm dinner. However, when you think about it, meatloaf is far from fancy. A meatloaf is nothing more than a mound of meat with some bread, an egg, a few vegetables, and spices mixed up in it. 

BUT when it is wrapped up in a blanket of woven bacon and licked by the smoke of charcoal it’s a beautiful thing!  

I’ve been after David for a long time to try a smoked meatloaf. The ones I’ve seen in my social media newsfeeds look amazing and some practically had me drooling. I was curious to know how a smoked meatloaf would taste. The recipe I am about to share with you was a mixture that I first tried in the oven. We liked the way it turned out so we decided it would be a great meatloaf mixture to adapt for the grill. 

We’re excited to share this recipe with you. Let’s smoke a meatloaf!

ingredients to make recipe

What Is In This Smoked Meatloaf?

  • Meat: 50/50 mixture of fresh ground beef and ground pork. 
  • Veggies: onion and red bell pepper
  • Seasoning and flavor:  Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Binders: sliced bread and egg
  • Cheese: Danish Fontina Cheese

Why Fontina Cheese?

Any good melting cheese will work for this recipe, but we highly recommend using Danish Fontina Cheese. We chose this type of cheese because of its creaminess and its great melting characteristics. I used fontina in a meatloaf recipe eons ago and I really liked it.

Fontina cheese has a buttery roasted nut flavor that is very rich and creamy with an amazingly sweet and sharp aroma. That’s a nice way of saying this cheese is very stinky! But what cheese isn’t, right? 

Fontina is an ideal gooey melting cheese that basically melts in your mouth. This thick richness allows it to maintain its composure while on the grill without oozing out before you’re ready to slice the meatloaf.

smoke kissing the meatloaf with mountain view

Cherry Wood Smoke & Cedar Wood Plank

This was our first opportunity to use cherry wood to smoke meat. We chose this wood because it has a sweet and mild, fruity flavor that compliments any meat the smoke licks. Since we used both pork and beef, it was a great choice for the smoke. 

In addition to the cherry wood, we used a cedar wood plank. Cedar can sometimes have a robust woodsy flavor so the cherry wood helps to offset some of the cedar characteristics.

The cedar wood plank is soaked in water for an hour prior to smoking. Not only does soaking the plank keep it from burning but it also provides moisture and acts as a barrier between the grilling grate and the meatloaf. The plank keeps the meatloaf from sticking from the grilling grate and makes it easier to transport back to the kitchen when it is done cooking.

uncooked meatloaf with bacon weave and mountain view

No Grill or Smoker? No Problem!

This meatloaf recipe was tested in the oven prior to making meatloaf to smoke on the grill. If you do not have a grill or smoker, you can still enjoy this meatloaf without the smoky flavor. Follow the oven-baking instructions below: 

Oven-Baked Meatloaf

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the meatloaf as instructed below. 
  3. Wrap the meatloaf in the bacon weave or simply wrap with some strips of bacon.
  4. Place the meatloaf onto a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish lined with aluminum foil. 
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. 
  6. After 45 minutes, mix the ingredients for the glaze and brush it on the meatloaf. 
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reads 155 to 160 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer
  8. Remove from the oven. Let it rest for 15-minutes. Slice and serve!

How To Make Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf

Equipment and Supplies:

#1 Soak the Cedar Plank

First, soak the cedar plank in water for at least 30 minutes. Naturally, the plank will try to float, so you may need to use something to weigh it down. We normally use our mortar bowl, which is made of stone. We soaked our plank for approximately 1 hour prior to smoking.

#2 Prep the Meatloaf for Smoking

Place the two slices of bread into a bowl. Pour the milk over the slices; turn the bread to coat with the milk. Allow the bread to sit and absorb the milk for about 5 minutes while chopping the vegetables and slicing the cheese for the meatloaf. 

After chopping, squeeze the excess milk from the slices of bread with your hand like you would a washrag (Glamourous I know). Then break the bread into bite-size bits.

raw meatloaf ready to be wrapped in bacon

In a large mixing bowl, use wet hands (see notes) to knead together the ground beef, ground pork, onion, bell pepper, egg, bread, Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Once the meatloaf mixture is mixed well, dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface. I found that a large sheet of freezer paper works well at keeping the counter clean and it also aids in rolling the meatloaf mixture into a loaf. You could also use parchment or wax paper.

Use wet hands or a rolling pin, press the meatloaf mixture into a ½–inch thick square shape on the clean work surface.

flattened meatloaf with cheese

Place the slices of cheese into the flattened meatloaf mixture. Then roll the flattened meatloaf over, tucking the cheese inside, to form a loaf.

forming the meatloaf with freezer paper

Place one hand on each end of the loaf and gently squeeze to shape the meatloaf mixture to shorten the loaf as needed. This is when the freezer paper comes in handy, to help roll the meatloaf mixture over.

Meatloaf Notes: 

  • Use whatever bread you have already in your pantry, even the end pieces will do.
  • It is easier to mix the meatloaf together with wet hands. The water on your hands will not allow the oils from the meat to adhere, which makes it easier for you to mix up the meatloaf and get your hands clean afterward. You may need to rewet them once or twice. 
  • It’s important not to overmix the meatloaf. Use firm pressure when mixing up the meat but don’t squeeze it to death. Overworking the meat will give the meatloaf a tough dense texture. 
  • Tip: Freezer paper is my new best friend for keeping my countertops clean while doing things like this! You could also use parchment or wax paper.

Wrap the Meatloaf In Bacon:

You have two options for wrapping the bacon: 

  1. Wrap as many single strips of the pound of bacon as you can around the meatloaf
  2. Make a bacon weave.

How To Make A Bacon Weave: 

I found the following method to be the easiest way to make a bacon weave. This is the same weave we used on the Bacon-Wrapped Hickory Smoked Pork Loin.

  1. Start by laying 7 or 8 slices of bacon tight against each other, horizontally in rows on a sheet of parchment paper or butcher’s paper. If the bacon is larger at one end than the other, alternate the direction the bacon slices end to end can compensate for any curve so that the weave will be more square. The width of the bacon slices should match the length of the strips.
  2. Begin to build the weave by folding back every other strip half onto itself. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those folded strips, flush up against the back of the folds. Unfold the folded row of strips back over the perpendicular slice of bacon.
  3. Next, fold back every other strip that wasn’t folded back before. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those strips, tightly up against the back of the folds. Then unfold the folded strips back over the perpendicular strip of bacon.
  4. Repeat the process, continuing to weave the bacon, alternately folding and unfolding the horizontal over the perpendicular strips of bacon. When the weave is complete, there should be the same number of strips going down as there are going across.
  5. Chill the bacon weave until needed.

I made an instructional video to help demonstrate the bacon weave below. You’ll notice in the video, that I screwed the pattern up, but hey, I think it was a great effort for my first time.

Bacon Weave Notes:

  • You may not use all of the bacon. However, some of the leftover bacon may be needed if the weave doesn’t completely wrap the meatloaf.
  • The size of the bacon weave may vary. If your bacon weave was too small to fit all the way around the meatloaf. To compensate for the uncovered portion of the meatloaf line some bacon strips across the naked portion of the loaf. Tie the bacon weave with butcher’s twine to help secure it, if needed.
  • Although we have not tried this method from BarbecueBible.com, I feel that is worth mentioning. To make the bacon weave larger, cover it with plastic wrap and gently roll it with a rolling pin to tighten the weave. The rolling helps to expand the dimensions of the weave slightly.

Place the meatloaf onto the bacon weave, and roll it around. Lay the meatloaf directly in the center of the soaked cedar plank, seam side down.

bacon-wrapped smoked meatloaf on grill

#3 Prep the Grill For Smoking

For this meatloaf, David used his Weber Performer and set up the grill for the two-zone indirect heat technique with an empty drip pan directly underneath the plank of meatloaf. The drip pan will help keep the inside of your grill clean from all the grease that drains from the meatloaf.

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

David holding meatloaf on cedar plank

#3 Smoking the Meatloaf

When the coals are ready and the smoker is at 250 degrees, place the meatloaf into the grill directly over the drip pan. Then insert the thermometer probe (if using a probe thermometer) into the center of the meat.

Add a few cherry wood chunks on top of the hot coals. Close the lid and cook.

Bring the temperature back up to 250 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature.

Knowing the temperature inside your smoker or grill is crucial. Even if your smoker or grill has a temperature gauge, we still highly recommend that you purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as Smoke™ from Thermoworks. Thermoworks thermometers are some of the most accurate thermometers money can buy. This particular model was designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs. It has a two-channel alarm that uses probes to accurately read the temperature of the meat and the pit.

Smoke comes with a digital receiver that beeps and vibrates at alarm, taking all the guesswork out of smoking meat. The receiver displays temperatures and alarm settings on a large LCD screen, which comes in handy when it is cold outside. You won’t have to keep letting cold air come in the house running in and out to check the smoker so often.

#4 Low and Slow

Smoke the meatloaf until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 155 to 160 degrees F. This should take about 2 ½ to 3 hours. 

Monitor the grill temperature and keep it as close to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or wood chunks to maintain temperature and smoke. 

Thankfully this is a shorter smoke, with wood chunks, so there isn’t much need to add more wood. There also isn’t much need for peeking or guessing the temperature when using a probe thermometer.

#5 Never mind the Stall

The surface evaporation of the meatloaf causes the meatloaf’s internal temperature to plateau. Pit Masters refer to this as “the stall.” Don’t panic. That fatty bacon will start to melt. Just maintain your grill temperature and wait out the stall.

brushing meatloaf with glaze

#6 Prepare and Glaze The Smoked Meatloaf

After about two hours of smoking, the meatloaf temperature should be edging close to the ideal done temperature of 155 to 160 degrees F. At this point, you want to make the glaze.

Whisk the ketchup, brown sugar and Worchestire sauce in a small pot over medium-low heat, Whisking the sugar has melted and the ingredients are well blended. Remove the glaze from the heat and take it to the grill.

Remove the lid from the grill and brush the glaze over the hot meatloaf. Close the lid and continue to cook the meatloaf. 

checking temperature of meatloaf with instant-read thermometer

#7 Check for Doneness

Continue glazing the meatloaf every 15 minutes or so, checking for doneness each time you open the grill with an instant-read thermometer. While a probe thermometer is great, it helps to check other areas of the meatloaf to ensure even cooking. 

Continue to cook the meatloaf until and apply as much glaze as you want until the meatloaf has reached an internal temperature 155 degrees F. Keep in mind there will more than likely be some carry-over heat, so removing the meatloaf as soon as it reaches 155 degrees F is recommended.

cheese oozing from meatloaf

#7 Remove the Smoked Meatloaf, Rest & Serve

When the meatloaf is done carefully remove the meatloaf with cedar plank underneath to a cutting board or platter large enough to sit the hot cedar plank onto. 

Allow the meatloaf to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Meatloaf on fork with plate and mountain view

Smoked meatloaf puts a fun twist on this traditional comfort food taking it to a whole new level. So fire up your grill or smoker and try this recipe. It’s going to blow your mind!

Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf on grill
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Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf

Learn how to make smoked meatloaf! A slice of this bacon-wrapped smoked meatloaf has a wonderful aroma of smoke while oozing cheese all over your plate.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, BBQ
Keyword bacon wrapped, Meatloaf, smoked
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 637kcal

Useful Equipment:

Ingredients

The Meatloaf Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread (see notes)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ cup white onion diced
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon basil dried
  • 1 teaspoon oregano dried
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Danish Fontina Cheese sliced into ⅛ to ¼ inch slices (or favorite cheese)
  • 1 pound bacon raw

The Glaze Ingredients:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

#1 Soak the Cedar Plank

  • First, soak the cedar plank in water for at least 30 minutes. Naturally, the plank will try to float, so you may need to use something to weigh it down. We normally use our mortar bowl, which is made of stone. We soaked our plank for approximately 1 hour prior to smoking.

#2 Prep the Meatloaf for Smoking

  • Place the two slices of bread into a bowl. Pour the milk over the slices; turn the bread to coat with the milk. Allow the bread to sit and absorb the milk for about 5 minutes while chopping the vegetables and slicing the cheese for the meatloaf.
  • After chopping, squeeze the excess milk from the slices of bread with your hand like you would a washrag (Glamourous I know). Then break the bread into bite-size bits.
  • In a large mixing bowl, use wet hands (see notes) to knead together the ground beef, ground pork, onion, bell pepper, egg, bread, Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Once the meatloaf mixture is mixed well, dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface. I found that a large sheet of freezer paper works well at keeping the counter clean and it also aids in rolling the meatloaf mixture into a loaf. You could also use parchment or wax paper.
  • Use wet hands or a rolling pin, press the meatloaf mixture into a ½–inch thick square shape on the clean work surface.
  • Place the slices of cheese into the flattened meatloaf mixture. Then roll the flattened meatloaf over, tucking the cheese inside, to form a loaf.
  • Place one hand on each end of the loaf and gently squeeze to shape the meatloaf mixture to shorten the loaf as needed. This is when the freezer paper comes in handy, to help roll the meatloaf mixture over.
  • #3 Make A Bacon Weave (see video below):
  • Start by laying 7 or 8 slices of bacon tight against each other, horizontally in rows on a sheet of parchment paper or butcher’s paper. If the bacon is larger at one end than the other, alternate the direction the bacon slices end to end can compensate for any curve so that the weave will be more square. The width of the bacon slices should match the length of the strips.
  • Begin to build the weave by folding back every other strip half onto itself. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those folded strips, flush up against the back of the folds. Unfold the folded row of strips back over the perpendicular slice of bacon.
  • Next, fold back every other strip that wasn’t folded back before. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those strips, tightly up against the back of the folds. Then unfold the folded strips back over the perpendicular strip of bacon.
  • Repeat the process, continuing to weave the bacon, alternately folding and unfolding the horizontal over the perpendicular strips of bacon. When the weave is complete, there should be the same number of strips going down as there are going across.
  • Chill the bacon weave until needed.
  • Place the meatloaf onto the bacon weave, and roll it around. Lay the meatloaf directly in the center of the soaked cedar plank, seam side down.

#4 Prep the Grill For Smoking

  • For this meatloaf, David used his Weber Performer and set up the grill for the two-zone indirect heat technique with an empty drip pan directly underneath the plank of meatloaf. The drip pan will help keep the inside of your grill clean from all the grease that drains from the meatloaf.
  • Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

#5 Smoking the Meatloaf

  • When the coals are ready and the smoker is at 250 degrees, place the meatloaf into the grill directly over the drip pan. Then insert the thermometer probe (if using a probe thermometer) into the center of the meat.
  • Add a few cherry wood chunks on top of the hot coals. Close the lid and cook.
  • Bring the temperature back up to 250 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature.
  • #6 Low and Slow
  • Smoke the meatloaf until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 155 to 160 degrees F. This should take about 2 ½ to 3 hours.
  • Monitor the grill temperature and keep it as close to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or wood chunks to maintain temperature and smoke.
  • #7 Never mind the Stall
  • The surface evaporation of the meatloaf causes the meatloaf’s internal temperature to plateau. Pit Masters refer to this as “the stall.” Don’t panic. That fatty bacon will start to melt. Just maintain your grill temperature and wait out the stall.
  • #8 Prepare and Glaze The Smoked Meatloaf
  • After about two hours of smoking, the meatloaf temperature should be edging close to the ideal done temperature of 155 to 160 degrees F. At this point, you want to make the glaze.
  • Whisk the ketchup, brown sugar and Worchestire sauce in a small pot over medium-low heat, Whisking the sugar has melted and the ingredients are well blended. Remove the glaze from the heat and take it to the grill.
  • Remove the lid from the grill and brush the glaze over the hot meatloaf. Close the lid and continue to cook the meatloaf.
  • #9 Check for Doneness
  • Continue glazing the meatloaf every 15 minutes or so, checking for doneness each time you open the grill with an instant-read thermometer. While a probe thermometer is great, it helps to check other areas of the meatloaf to ensure even cooking.
  • Continue to cook the meatloaf until and apply as much glaze as you want until the meatloaf has reached an internal temperature 155 degrees F. Keep in mind there will more than likely be some carry-over heat, so removing the meatloaf as soon as it reaches 155 degrees F is recommended.
  • #10 Remove the Smoked Meatloaf, Rest & Serve
  • When the meatloaf is done carefully remove the meatloaf with cedar plank underneath to a cutting board or platter large enough to sit the hot cedar plank onto.
  • Allow the meatloaf to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Oven-Baked Meatloaf

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare the meatloaf as instructed below. Wrap the meatloaf in the bacon weave or simply wrap with some strips of bacon.
  • Place the meatloaf onto a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish lined with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. 
  • After 45 minutes, mix the ingredients for the glaze and brush it on the meatloaf. 
  • Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reads 155 to 160 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.
  •  Remove from the oven. Let it rest for 15-minutes. Slice and serve!

Notes

Meatloaf Notes:
  • You may not use all of the bacon. However, some of the leftover bacon may be needed if the weave doesn’t completely wrap the meatloaf.
  • The size of the bacon weave may vary. If your bacon weave was too small to fit all the way around the meatloaf. To compensate for the uncovered portion of the meatloaf line some bacon strips across the naked portion of the loaf. Tie the bacon weave with butcher’s twine to help secure it, if needed.
  • Although we have not tried this method from BarbecueBible.com, I feel that is worth mentioning. To make the bacon weave larger, cover it with plastic wrap and gently roll it with a rolling pin to tighten the weave. The rolling helps to expand the dimensions of the weave slightly.
Tip: Freezer paper is my new best friend for keeping my countertops clean while doing things like this! You could also use parchment or wax paper.
Bacon Weave Notes:
You may not use all of the bacon. However, some of the leftover bacon may be needed if the weave doesn’t completely wrap the meatloaf.
The size of the bacon weave may vary. If your bacon weave was too small to fit all the way around the meatloaf. To compensate for the uncovered portion of the meatloaf line some bacon strips across the naked portion of the loaf. Tie the bacon weave with butcher’s twine to help secure it, if needed.
Although we have not tried this method from BarbecueBible.com, I feel that is worth mentioning. To make the bacon weave larger, cover it with plastic wrap and gently roll it with a rolling pin to tighten the weave. The rolling helps to expand the dimensions of the weave slightly.
Thermoworks Thermometers:
Knowing the temperature inside your smoker or grill is crucial. Even if your smoker or grill has a temperature gauge, we still highly recommend that you purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as Smoke™ from Thermoworks. Thermoworks thermometers are some of the most accurate thermometers money can buy. This particular model was designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs. It has a two-channel alarm that uses probes to accurately read the temperature of the meat and the pit.
Smoke comes with a digital receiver that beeps and vibrates at alarm, taking all the guesswork out of smoking meat. The receiver displays temperatures and alarm settings on a large LCD screen, which comes in handy when it is cold outside. You won’t have to keep letting cold air come in the house running in and out to check the smoker so often.

Nutrition

Calories: 637kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 764mg | Potassium: 596mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 411IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 3mg
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