How to Grill Meatloaf

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Heather says:

Earlier this week I asked Home-Ec 101 readers to share their questions about grilling. Sandee asked how should I grill a meatloaf?

There are several methods out there on these wild, wild interwebz. Some of them are rather unsettling.

Foil packets are awesome for vegetables, but what foil packets create is an environment to steam food. Let that roll around in your mind for a moment, got that? Ok, now the most popular method I found while double checking my intended method to grill meatloaf was using a foil packet. No, we here at Home-Ec 101 do not steam our ground beef. No. Just no. I think I might make an exception for certain kinds of Asian dumplings, but I’ve not attempted to make those and that’s a very different taste profile.

The best meatloaves are moist, but have that wonderful caramelized glaze. If you weren’t going for the glaze, why not just have a meatball?

Try to keep the lid closed while grilling your meatloaf, you’re trying to create an environment similar to your oven. If you do not have a rack you can grill in a foil pan or a cast iron skillet, just be sure you are still grilling via the indirect method or you may scorch the bottom of your meatloaf.  Consider using carrots or celery ribs to raise the meatloaf off the bottom of the pan. Perhaps I’m a bit picky, but I find a greasy meatloaf completely unappetizing.

Use a thermometer, every grill is different and a thermometer is much more accurate than a timer. Your grill, with the lid down may approach 400°F, while mine was at 350°F. It’s going to vary a lot from grill to grill, especially if you are just getting used to grilling. Also keep in mind that thermometers do fail, if you can see that the loaf is nearly done, your ground beef was fully thawed when you mixed it, but the thermometer still says 60°F, maybe it’s the thermometer. Take it out and reinsert it in a new place or cut open the meatloaf and take a peek. If the meat is brown, it’s not 60°F. Cooking safely is a balance of using tools and using good judgement when the tools fail,as they do on occasion.

Finally, let’s talk about surface area. To reduce the amount of time on the grill, you’ll want to increase the surface area of the loaf as much as possible. A low, flat rectangle will grill much more quickly than the traditional loaf shape. You’ll also have much more area on which to spread the glaze. U

: Grilled Meatloaf
  1. 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  2. 2/3 cup bread crumbs or rolled oats run through the blender or food processor
  3. 3/4 cup milk
  4. 2 eggs, beaten
  5. 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  6. 1 garlic clove finely minced
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. fresh ground pepper
  9. 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (or sage, basil, oregano, or my favorite Cajun)
  10. Optional Glaze – just mix together

  11. 1/4 cup ketchup
  12. 1 TBSP brown sugar
  13. 1 tsp dry mustard
  1. Gently crumble the meat into a large bowl. The key to a tender meatloaf is to handle the meat as little as possible. To ensure easy mixing, gently seperate the ground bits and make a well (depression) in the center.
  2. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, you can substitute crushed crackers or stuffing mix if desired, evenly over the contents in the bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together the milk, beaten eggs, and seasoning. Mix well.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the well you created in the meat. With clean hands fold the meat toward the center. Do this by grasping the side of the bowl with one hand, to hold it steady. Slide the other under the meat and fold it toward the middle. Rotate the bowl and repeat. Only repeat this step until the meat is just mixed. The less you handle the meat, the better.
  5. On a clean work surface pat the mixture into the desired shape, either several mini-loaves* or a single, flat loaf about 1.5 inches thick.
  6. Transfer the loaves to a baking rack, over a tray to catch drippings to reduce flare ups.
  7. Grill indirectly with the lid closed. Try not to open the grill as this lets the heat escape, increasing the cook time.
  8. Rotate the tray halfway through cooking to ensure the loaf is cooked evenly and glaze the meatloaf when the thermometer reads 120F.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) approximate, mini-loaves will take significantly less time, plan accordingly

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: USA (General)





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11 thoughts on “How to Grill Meatloaf”

  1. I never thought about doing meatloaf on the grill. What a great idea. Thanks for the tips. With the price of hamburger so high these days, the last thing I want to do is cook it wrong or burn it.

  2. I’ve done meatloaf up into patties and grilled those as hamburger (use extra egg!!!) and they come out pretty good. But I’m a weirdo who likes burgers stuffed with goodies. 😉

  3. @KeterMagick That does sound good. I prefer the texture of meatloaf to ground beef if there isn’t a bun.I love a burger, but the bun to meat ratio has to be right or I simply cannot eat it. That sounds so weird, but it’s a texture thing and I’ll force myself to eat it, if I’m a guest. The whole just eat a patty thing ::full body shiver:: One of my kids has some weird texture hang-ups, too. I try to be understanding.

  4. I’m with you and your youngster regarding texture. I’m not as picky about the bun-to-burger ratio, but I cannot stand generic, doughy, sweet hamburger or hotdog buns. Most often, I just use lightly buttered toast (sourdough rules!) for a bun or base for an open-faced burger. @HeatherSolos

  5. I love meatloaf. And I love grilled meatloaf. One of the best things about meatloaf is the meatloaf sandwiches the next day. Yummm…..

    I may need to make meatloaf and real mashed potatoes soon. Hmm.

  6. @carnellm I have to agree about the sandwiches. Tim swiped all the leftovers and took them to work. He says he asked if there were plans for said meatloaf but is it fair if I’m half asleep? (I actually can’t remember when he asked)

  7. Interesting, though my hub would much rather just have the burger. But if you’re just using the grill to bake outdoors, this would be a great project to try in a solar oven.

  8. @awakeatheart You’re right this recipe would translate very well to a solar oven. I don’t have one to mess with and our property isn’t set up to make using one efficient. (I’d have to stand out in the middle of the front yard to get the best sun).

    Oh the things we learn several years after buying a home.

  9. Patty and sausage sit pretty on the grill. But meatloaf doesn’t, in my experience — probably because I use supermarket three-blob pack (beef, pork, veal; or, as I recently learned: beef/veal, pork, beef/feal). The meatloaf laden with ground pork drips much grease onto heat source. Try the loaf in a small pan, but elevate the mixture off the bottom with celery or carrots (or a small inserted grill) to keep meat out of its own fat bath.

    We like Asian flavorings on the grill — soy marinades, cumin, garlic, ginger.

  10. Just “googled” how to grill a meatloaf, and found this recipe. It is almost 70 degrees here in S.E. Michigan in the middle of March. Only thing we changed is we used hot spicy ketchup.


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