Jack’d Up Smoked Meatloaf

April 28, 2017

Jack’d Up Smoked Meatloaf gets it’s name from the insane amount of Jack going on inside! This meatloaf is insanely moist because of the Jack Daniels in the meat, ridiculously addictive because of the pepper jack cheese oozing from the middle, and unbelievably bold because of the spicy Jack Daniels sauce smothered on top. Add the subtle hints of wood smoke to the mixture and you’ve got a meatloaf worth eating.

I love taking these old school classic recipes, and giving them a modern twist. I’m not really a traditionalist when it comes to BBQ (I’m from Utah after all, there isn’t much tradition to cling to!) I love using classic BBQ techniques and good old fashioned wood smoke to create new layers of flavor in exciting and updated ways. Meatloaf is about as old school as it gets, but I think the bold flavors I’ve added into the mix create a meatloaf like you’ve never had it before.

For this recipe, I use my homemade steak rub (grab that recipe HERE), but you can substitute for a beef or steak seasoning of your choice if you don’t want to make your own. The little pinch of cayenne in the homemade rub just adds a little kiss of heat inside the meatloaf itself and it is phenomenal!! That homemade touch really adds to the final Jack’d Up Smoked Meatloaf experience.

Jack'd up Smoked Meatloaf

PRO TIP: For smoked meatloaf, you really need a pan that will allow the smoke to penetrate all sides. I smoked mine in a shallow grill basket with holes on the bottom so the smoke could circulate all around the meatloaf. You can also use a cooling or roasting rack!

A slice of Jack'd up smoked meatloaf on a metal spatula with the remaining meatloaf in the background.

Jack'd Up Smoked Meatloaf

4.95 from 39 votes
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 4 hrs
Total Time : 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings : 6 people



  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 medium red onion (grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Jack Daniels whiskey
  • 1 Tablespooon homemade steak rub (recipe linked in post) (or your favorite steak rub)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 oz pepper jack cheese (cut into strips)

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Jack Daniels whiskey
  • 1 Tablespoon homemade steak rub
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes


  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F for indirect smoking. This meatloaf is awesome with hickory or oak wood.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, red onion, garlic, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, Jack Daniels, and milk. Mix gently with your hands until just combined. Don't overwork the meat or your meatloaf will be tough and chewy, just gently mix.
  • Spread half of your meatloaf mixture on the bottom of a grill basket. Layer on the pepper jack cheese, leaving about an inch of meatloaf on all sides. Top with the remaining meatloaf mixture and press the edges together to seal completely. Any exposed holes and the cheese will leak out while cooking.
  • In a small bowl. combine the ingredients for the sauce and then pour over the top of the meatloaf, letting it run down the sides a little bit.
  • Place the meatloaf on the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for 4 hours or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F. Let the meatloaf rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
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216 thoughts on “Jack’d Up Smoked Meatloaf

    1. I cooked this today on my Traeger and followed the directions above. Worked perfectly! Everyone loved it!

          1. Agreed, the recipe doesn’t say to add the 1 tablespoon of rub to the meatloaf. I add it to the meatloaf with the breadcrumbs and then some more with the sauce. I substitute colbyjack cheese sticks instead of straight jack cheese. Also, I save some of the sauce for the final 5 minutes or so of the cook and add at the end. This makes it a bit more “saucy” IMO and we LOVE it.

      1. I would say based on the ingredients list that it goes in with the Worcestershire sauce and other ingredients for the meatloaf. It also seems to be an ingredient in the sauce, but the instructions include mention of it there.

  1. Sorry, time constrained parent here……could you swap the sauce for just the bottled Jack Daniels BBQ sauce or no. Sounds lazy but being a busy mom I’m always needing some kind of shortcuts! PS-I live in Tennessee LOL so maybe that’s shameful to take shortcuts pertaining to BBQ sauces.

    1. A lot of the bottled BBQ sauce include liquid smoke or some other smoky flavor.. it could be lead to it getting too much of that sort of flavor if you smoke it again.

    1. You can definitely do it on a gas or charcoal grill, just use two zone heat. So the burners are turned on on one side and left off on the other side. Place the meatloaf on the side with the unlit burners. Keep the lid closed and monitor the temperature. It will take just about an hour at 350 degrees, be sure to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer for doneness.

    1. Hey Doug! You can cook the meatloaf in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees F. Just check the temperature with an internal meat thermometer to ensure it is cooked thoroughly.

  2. So I am making this for Mother’s Day tomorrow for my wife and mother in law. I have seen other sites where they recommend only two hours. I do worry at 4 it will get dry. I also am planning a bacon wrap around it. Is two hours sufficient?

    1. This is a pretty thick meatloaf, and it is stuffed with cheese. It took me the full 4 hours to get it to the correct internal temperature. You can shoot for two, but you should probably increase the temperature to at least 300 degrees F.

    2. I made this for the first time today using a Weber Bullet with hickory. I followed the recipe and used 85% burger. My temp hovered between 215 and 225. I was expecting 4 hours, per the recipe, but the meat reached 165 degrees in about 3 hours (35 degrees outside / November in MN). Turned out amazing. Will definitely make it again.

    1. Hey Deb! That is a great way to do it! Just leave the burners off under the meatloaf and keep them on under the wood chips in foil. Usually those foil packs burn out within 45 minutes, so just keep one on hand ready to go!

  3. I’m smoking this tonight as I have a night off from baseball with ALL 3 BOYS!! Stars have aligned! hah! Anyways, I’m going to introduce a bit of ground spicy Italian breakfast Sausage into the mix… thoughts?!

  4. Hi, how exactly would we do this, with a charcoal grill with hickory smoke chips.. I’m planning on getting this going within next few minutes! 🙂 we have regular charcoal and I have either a skillet with holes or a roasting rack, it’s smaller and will probably fit better in the grill.. Please advise, thanks!

    1. Hey Michelle- a roasting rack or he skillet would work great! Just plan for two zone heat, the coals on one side with the hickory chips above them and the meat on the other!

  5. Cooking this on an electric grill with Jack Daniels chips. Should I put water in the pan or just straight smoke it?

  6. Made this meatloaf and my gosh was it good. Shared the link on the My Masterbuilt Smoker group on Facebook. Lots of oohs and aahs and people cant wait to try it. Thanks.

  7. I made it and wrapped in it in laced bacon. Hint, put the sauce on then the bacon so it is on the meatloaf and not just the bacon.

  8. Would it taste as good without the jack in the meatloaf? I can use the jack daniels bbq sauce on the outside but can i get away without using it in the meat?

      1. I want to make this tonight !! With the jack in the recipe I’m worried about serving to the kids I’m also baking not sure if that makes a difference

        1. This is great baked as well, I would cook it at 350 for about an hour, you just want the internal temperature to reach 165. I totally understand about cooking for kids with alcohol. You can always substitute for the Jack with milk in the meatloaf and apple juice in the sauce if you want.

          1. We did just the sauce and heated it up on stove for putting over chicken wings and holy strong Jack sauce!!!! I’m not quite sure the alcohol burned off at all or if it did the taste was very overwhelming. We are going to try half the reccomended amount. Also going to try Jack Daniel’s Honey Wiskey.

        2. I also found that when I made the barbecue sauce I actually combined all the ingredients in the saucepan and constantly stirred it and let it simmer for about 15 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Then let it cool. It actually had a very nice flavor to it and the kids enjoyed it as well.

  9. I still have yet to smoke meatloaf. It looks absolutely amazing though. One day…hopefully soon! I saw another recipe recently that after it had smoked for 4 hours, they sliced it, basted it in more sauce, then hit it on a hot grill. Looked mouthwatering. Theirs didn’t have a cheese filling though….which I think I’d prefer. Thanks for the awesome recipe Susie!

  10. Just made the meatloaf for today’s dinner. Sorry to say, but this was nothing more than a two pound hamburger. We smoked on the grill and it took a little more than 4 hours. I’m not a fan of Jack Daniels and the flavor permeated everything. There are way too many red pepper flakes between the sauce and steak seasoning for my taste. This would have been much better with a little more bread and milk in the mix.

    1. Hey Jim- this is definitely a Jack Daniels infused meatloaf, so it makes sense that the flavor was there. There is also a strong pepper presence between the flakes and the pepper jack cheese. You could adapt the recipe with less of those ingredients to suit your tastes. I’m sorry you weren’t a fan!

  11. Many of my weekend inspirations come from your site! Been wanting to try this one for a couple of months now. I’m a Kentucky bourbon guy so we switched up with some Makers Mark. Also swapped the ground beef for ground pork, which I do in a lot of recipes. Very tender, no fat, perfect balance of heat and sweet for our family. Everyone loved it and asked me to keep this recipe. Keep up the good work and wish I had time to try more of your creations!

  12. Tried this tonight. Oh, my, goodness — it was so good. Make it with Beam Black, all I had. My wife said, ” I never thought I could love meat loaf” and she shoveled more onto her plate. Also added to a note on the Masterbuilt FB group. Really, really good. Thanks for posting.

  13. My kids got me my first official smoker for Christmas. yesterday I seasoned the grill and today I made your Jack’d up smoked meatloaf for my first smoked meal. .Outstanding!! I am in love with my smoker and in love with your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. Loved it! Made it yesterday for friends over for The Daytona 500 and they all loved it as well. I was reluctant to the amount of JD in the sauce, but it works so well without being boozy. I did do two changes, where used 1 1/2 lbs ground beef and 1 lbs sweet Italian sausage and I used Heinz Chili Sauce rather than ketchup. So delicious and looking forward to doing it again. Thanks for sharing and the amazing pictures!

  15. Hi! Is it possible to make this in the oven? I don’t own a smoker and I’d really love to make this.

  16. making it now, just 1/2 as much. Oh and no JD here so I used Jim Beam Honey Bourbon. Will update when done.

  17. Just tried this. My fiancee hasn’t stopped raving about it for the past hour. Lol. My charcoal grill, I wore out, so had to use gas on lowest setting and wood chips for the smoke. I had to use a cooling rack to cook on, so I placed a pan underneath to catch the dripping. I added a little extra bourbon so my sauce was runny. No biggie, I poured the sauce into a pan and smoke it too so it thickened in the pan. Some of my cheese seeped out into the catch pan, so I just added it to the top of the meatloaf then topped it with the thickened sauce. Then I used the drippings to make gravy, added a little beef flavoring, salt and cracked black pepper. Hug hit to serve with garlic mashed potatoes. My son and fiancee fell in love with this recipe and the gravy. I was told if I make meatloaf any other way, I’m fired. Lol

  18. Where in the world can you find that grill pan. Found something close but too much room for it to flatten.

  19. I did this up for the family one Saturday in my little Masterbuilt smoker, and there was nothing left of it on Sunday. We all enjoyed it and we will be doing it again. We started with a frozed block of pepperjack cheese, cut into 3/8 X 3/8 strips. Cook time and temp was perfect without a water pan. Meat was moist and cheese was gooey.

  20. So you are saying it can be done in the oven at 350 for an hour but my question is can you use a different cheese besides the pepper jack cheese. Also could you use the jack Daniels BBQ sauce in the meat instead of using the straight Jack Daniels liquor. Just asking if that would be no that is fine I will try it with the liquor if you think it wouldn’t work with the jack Daniels BBQ sauce. I love your recipes

  21. If you use the Jack Daniels BBQ sauce do you still need to use the 2 tblsp that you have in the ingredients?

    Also in the rub recipe not sure if the coriander is 1 tablespoon or teaspoon

  22. I’m going to smoke a smoker full of baby backs tomorrow… but I have room for a couple of these meat loafs. Can I smoke them together? The baby backs usually take a little longer, but I can leave them in after taking the meat loafs out. I usually smoke a bunch at the same time, then freeze it in dinner sized portions.

  23. Hi… As we live in Spain can you please tell me what pepperjack cheese is or the English equivalent that we can use, going to try this out at the weekend i’m sure it will be a success

  24. I want to try this in the near future but I would have to bake it in the oven. I see the temp and time in some of your other answers but should I cover the pan with an aluminum foil tent to avoid burning the top?

  25. Iade this tonight for me and Hubbys Friday Night Home Date… We both loved it. Oh- made it in the oven at 350 for an hour. Perfection!

  26. Just made the meatloaf got it on the smoker and boy can’t wait to taste it, it smells delicious I used a mesh grill basket

  27. Made this tonight and it’s delicious, followed recipe with on exception I used Crown Royal Mesquite instead of Jack Daniel’s and the flavor was superb

  28. I have a Cameron stovetop smoker. When I do pulled pork I smoke it for about an hour. How long would you recommend for your meatloaf? Will this decrease the baking time? I will use a meat thermometer but am just wondering when to start checking. Your recipe sounds great. Can’t wait to try! Thanks!!!

  29. I seen where someone put raw rice in theirs is that a good idea an if so do u mix it in with the meat or jus lay it around in the pan

  30. I made this recipe for a BBQ this past weekend and all I can say about it is, WOW! Everyone loved it, and it also has a nice zip from the pepper flakes but without being too spicy. One slight issue: it kind of split apart and didn’t hold together very well. Any thoughts? I’m thinking of maybe increasing the amount of Panko breadcrumbs a little.

  31. Omg all I can say was wow! This meatloaf was the bomb! I already had to share the recipe to 2 ppl . Defiantly will be making this again . Thank you for all your recipes

  32. Step 2. Doesn’t say to add the steak rub.
    Hope it comes out ok, with using bbq sauce instead of ketchup, and in the oven.

  33. I just made it and my hubby and I love love love it. Will definitely make again. I cooked it on my grill with very little direct heat. so yummy with garlic ranch mashed potatoes and grilled corn.

  34. Step 2 doesn’t mention mixing in the steak rub. How much steak rub should I add in?

    Also, the steak rub recipe still says 1 teaspoon of coriander, yet in the comments, you say it is a typo, and it should be one tablespoon. Can you clarify? Thanks!

    1. I have corrected the steak rub recipe to read one tablespoon of coriander, sorry about the confusion. The recipe above says you will add one tablespoon of Steak Rub to the meat in the ingredients list.

  35. I’m new to smoking things, but love the sound of this recipe. I’m making mine a little larger 3 1/2 lbs ground beef, adjusting other ingredients as needed. Lots of hungry mouths to feed. Would you still recommend 4 hours? And is it o.k if the thermometer probe is in the cheese mixture?
    Thank you

    1. I think 4 hours will still be enough time to cook this through. It is fine if the probe is in the center, you want the meatloaf to heat all the way through and get that cheese all melted.

  36. We absolutely loved this recipe! I don’t think my husband will allow me to make meatloaf the old fashioned way ever again after making this one. He talked about it for days and keeps asking me when I am going to make it again. Would you happen to know the nutrition information on this recipe? I am starting the Keto diet and I really think this recipe would fit into my diet. I may have to find a substitute for the panko bread crumbs, but I don’t think that would be a factor.

  37. I assume you could do this with ground turkey. Has anyone tried it and if so, any time/temp/recipe adjustments?

    1. You can substitute the ground beef for ground turkey in this recipe and follow the same time and temperature instructions as the written recipe, still bringing it to an internal temperature of 165ºF.

  38. I think that this turned out really good, the only thing that I did different was that I put a layer of meat down then a layer of pepper Jack with a drizzle of sauce then a layer of meat then another layer of pepper Jack with a drizzle of sauce then the rest of the meat and remaining sauce on top.
    Is there anyway to thicken the sauce because I think it would be killer on pork ribs.

    1. I love how you layered it, I’m sure that made it delicious!! If you would like to thicken the sauce, I would put it in a sauce pan and allow it to simmer until it is to a thickness you want.

  39. This has been a family favorite for us! I hated meatloaf because growing up I had to eat it a couple times a month. There’s never any leftovers when I make this! I’m getting ready to whip this up for dinner tonight but I don’t have any ground beef. Think ground pork would be a reasonable substitute?

  40. If you do not try this you are making a HUGE mistake, this is by far the BEST Meatloaf I’ve ever had, and my family, I’ve never heard so many mmmmm’s and oh my’s while there chewing, OUTSTANDING, my youngest son already want to know when i’m making it again and we’re not even done eating!

  41. I have my meaty concoction in the smoker now on oak smoke. The only modification I made was I used smoked pepper jack cheese in mine. 😀

    Cant wait to try it out when its done!

  42. Dang, that’s good! I forgot to add the sauce, I’m used to saucing then caramelizing under the broiler at the end. The top had a gorgeous smoke ring, not sure it would have it with sauce from the beginning.

    I used up the last of the hamburger from “our cow”, which is pretty lean. I added some ground pork shoulder and some ground bacon to up the fat content.

  43. Oh My Lanta! Put this on your must make list !This is fabulous meatloaf. My husband was trying to guess the ingredients while devouring it. More left over for him to take on the road. Poor man, must be awful to have a wife with a smoking addiction. Lol

    I can’t wait for another meatloaf recipe for Susie.

  44. Any chance this could be made with a different cheese like aged cheddar? My kids just don’t tolerate any heat in their food but I’d still like to make it as close to recipe as possible.

  45. WOW!!!
    Last night we had friends and family over for some BBQ… I should say Pellet Grill smoker.
    I alway wanted to try you Meatloaf and thought the Mac and Cheese would go perfect with it. Oh, and the rub was also your recipe! The only thing I changed was I used Jack Daniels Honey instead.

    I have NEVER had Meatloaf like this!
    Fantastic! From the cheese in the center to the glaze on the top. And the Mac and Cheese was over the top.

    I bragged about your website last night!
    You just make things so simple to follow.

    You are now my new Grill Master!!

  46. I have one on the smoker now. Not much of a Jack guy. I switched it out with some makers mark. Hopefully it turns out well.

  47. Hello! I enjoyed cruising around your website/blog. Your recipe for Jacked Up Smoked Meatloaf caught my eye. I had all the ingredients except the Jack Daniels. Our friendly grocery store just down the block fixed me right up. I also didn’t have a smoker, so baked it in the oven. It turned out very yummy!! Thanks for sharing.

  48. Recently made this meatloaf. It was delicious. You can taste the Whiskey. The sauce you put on the top is a must. It really needs to bake on the meatloaf. Uncooked sauce by itself is harsh. Some of my cheese oozed out the top, nexted time will take time to seal the top too.

  49. Since seeing this recipe over a year-and-a-half ago on a video, I have made this meatloaf at least once a month, every month since (usually two of them). will probably never make another kind of Meatloaf other than this. The only thing I do different is I add a pound of rolled sausage and use some Captain’s Private Stock rum instead of Jack Daniels(not much of a bourbon fan). Is definitely one of my top two or three favorite things to cook on my smoker. I have fed it to everyone I know and we all would love to thank you for introducing it to us.

  50. Oh my goodness. This recipe is awesome. Only made 2 changes.
    1. Roasted poblano peppers laid out in the middle of the mixture
    2. Pepper jack cheese inside the peppers.
    This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  51. Making this tonight for the second time! Using goat cheese with hot peppers as I can’t have regular cheese. Put bacon on top only the last time, need to cook it a little first this time as it didn’t get done all the way. Husband likes green pepper on his side stuffed in. Can’t wait to try this again!

  52. Mixed it all up and put it in a meatloaf pan. I freeze the meatloaf in the pan for about 1 1/2 hours and then take it out of the pan and put it right on the grates. It does not fall apart!!!

  53. Ok,
    I usually do my smoked meat loaf in pound cake tins and allow the meat to gel after 1 hour and cut back the corners to expose the meat loaf to additonal smoke. The recipe looks very different. I will try it.

  54. Made this for the fourth time today. Wow, it’s great! I take a couple shortcuts using the bbq rub and sauce from Killer Hogs. And I add a 1/2 tsp cayenne for some extra heat. So good! Thanks for the recipe!

  55. I followed this recipe to a tee! We put it on our Kamado Joe and smoked it and it was done in about an hour and 1/2. We checked the temperature all over to make sure it was 165, I’m guessing that is fine? The sauce is unbelievable. Your recipes are spot on!!

  56. I’ve seen some recipes that say you should smoke meatloaf on a cedar plank. Could you do that with this recipe?

  57. Made this today along with your smoked baked beans recipe and they both were the best we’ve ever had. The drippings from the meatloaf smoking on the top shelf dropped into the baked beans on the lower shelf making them taste off the charts.

  58. Made this last Sunday. Had to substitute a three cheese taco blend and Clyde Mays Alabama Style Whiskey and it was awesome!! I do like using your recipes!!

  59. Made this the other night but substituted some of the ingredients for a keto version. Added 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup pork rinds, used sugar free ketchup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar in place of whiskey (didn’t have any) and lakanto brown sugar for the sauce. Used 1/2 a white onion cooked it on the stove in 1 tablespoon of butter for a few minutes before mixing all together.

    Made the meatloaf longer then taller just to help with cooking and smoking, cheese didn’t spill out I ripped slices into pieces and made it happy medium to where it hopefully wouldn’t. Judgement worked well there.

    Took about 2 hours on the smoker had it on 275 only due to the day running away from us. Definitely gunna do this again but slower, longer smoke. Came out amazing! Thanks for the great recipe!

  60. This is my favorite meat loaf ever, tender, tangy and moist. When served, there is never a leftover. Kids, adults and picky eaters alike love this. My go to when I don’t have all day to smoke!

  61. For any Keto or sugar free smokers, I have made this using ground pork rinds in place of bread crumbs, swapped the brown sugar for golden Monkfruit, and used sugar free ketchup (G. Hughes). The texture is slightly different, but still delicious. I also use the brown sugar substitute in the Hey Grill Hey rub recipes… haven’t been disappointed yet!

  62. Wow! Simply WOW!!!! full of flavor and easy to cook. If you can follow instructions you got it made….

  63. I’d give it 10 stars if i could. I made 2 changes out of necessity. Oatmeal instead of panko and bourbon instead of whiskey. The flavor and heat was amazing.
    Thank you

  64. I make about 20 1.5 pounder`s every fall, then freeze them and have them thru out the winter, I also use this same recipe and make about 5 ice cream scoop sized meatballs and freeze them for spaghetti nights in the winter.

    1. I haven’t! I would worry about the moisture levels in the raw mix. When freezing, the liquid expands and then as it melts would likely exit the meatloaf. If you are going to freeze, I would follow the whole recipe as written, smoke to cook through, cool completely, then wrap and freeze. That should help it all hold together.

  65. I have used this recipe many times. It is fabulous
    This time I made 2 adjustments because we fallow dirty keto, so I substituted bread crumbs with pork rind crumbs and used Swerve brown sugar. My friends are none the wiser. Great recipe and other than those changes I follow it as written.

  66. We did this last night the flavor was great but had trouble with cheese not really melting inside. Is there a way to fix that?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! You could try smaller strips of cheese or even shredding the cheese may help!

      1. Hi Susie, where can I find the grilling pan you used in this video? I’ve been searching but can’t find it.
        Thank you

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