The Best Cheesy Meatloaf with BBQ Sauce creates a comforting twist on a classic dish that will soon become a family favorite!
The combination of tender, flavorful ground beef blended with pepper jack cheese, oats, a variety of spices, crispy bacon, and onion, all topped with the zesty punch of BBQ sauce, creates a delicious and satisfying dish.
This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you decide to purchase through my link, I may earn a very small commission at no additional cost to you.
Growing up, my grandmother made the absolute best old-fashioned meatloaf. She didn't have a recipe written down, so in my twenties, she often had to walk me through making the recipe over the phone.
Although this recipe is a different type of meatloaf, it still brings back memories of the time I spent with someone I loved so very much.
Why you'll love this easy recipe
Flavorful Meatloaf: This cheesy meatloaf with BBQ sauce offers a blend of savory meat, pepper jack cheese, and the smoky, tangy kick of barbecue sauce, creating a rich and unforgettable taste.
Comfort Food: It takes the classic comfort of meatloaf and elevates it with a cheesy twist and a barbecue sauce finish, providing a comforting dinner option.
Texture: The combination of the juicy meatloaf and the melted cheese delivers a delightful contrast in textures, while the BBQ sauce adds a satisfyingly sticky and saucy element.
Easy meatloaf recipe: This recipe is super easy to throw together. You'll need one bowl and a loaf pan.
You can find a complete list of ingredients in the recipe card below.
- Ground Beef - 80/20 is recommended for the perfect balance of flavor.
- Oats - You can substitute bread crumbs for the oats, but I love the texture of oatmeal.
- Onion - If you have picky eaters, grate the onion, and they won't even know it's there. You could also substitute 1 teaspoon of onion powder to get the onion flavor.
- Red Bell Pepper - Dice the red bell pepper up small.
- Egg - The egg will help bind the meatloaf so it doesn't fall apart when you cut it.
- Bacon - Use crispy cooked bacon.
- Pepper Jack Cheese - Cheddar cheese is a good substitution.
- Milk - Helps to create a delicious texture and adds moisture to the meatloaf.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- BBQ Sauce - I used Sweet Baby Ray sauce from the grocery store, but you could try this homemade BBQ sauce if you have the ingredients on hand.
- Spices - Including salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
How to make the best meatloaf recipe
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix oats, finely diced or grated onion, diced red bell pepper, egg, cooked chopped bacon, shredded pepper jack cheese, milk, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper to a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Add ground beef to the wet mixture and slowly mix until just incorporated. For best results, do not over mix the ground beef mixture.
Step 3: Press the meat mixture into a loaf pan or press into a log and place on a baking sheet.
Step 4: Combine BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard while the meatloaf cooks.
Step 5: Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and add BBQ sauce glaze to the top of the meatloaf.
Step 6: Continue baking for an additional 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 160 degrees.
What to serve with meatloaf
With the BBQ vibe this meatloaf has, Stuffed Cheesy Garlic Toast is a great bread option.
Make ahead meatloaf
You can make this recipe up to 3 days before you bake it. Get everything into the loaf pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator.
When ready to bake, follow the cooking instructions on the recipe card.
I like making two, freezing one, and having one for the dinner table that night.
Fridge: Store leftover meatloaf in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Freeze: You can freeze this meatloaf before baking by placing it in a zip-top bag or wrapping it in plastic wrap and storing it in an airtight container. I recommended double bagging and dating the bag. Wait to make the sauce until you are ready to bake.
The frozen raw meatloaf will be good in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.
Tips for making meatloaf
- You can use a rimmed baking sheet if you do not have a loaf pan. Line the sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape.
- Omitting the cheese will reduce the calorie count.
- To ensure the meatloaf is cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer. The meatloaf is done when it reaches 160 degrees.
- Use the leftover meatloaf for sandwiches the next day. This is one of my favorite ways to reheat meatloaf. So yummy!
There are so many ways to change up meatloaf. Here, I've made a barbecue variety, but you could also try a taco meatloaf by adding cilantro, trading out the oats for tortilla chips, and adding salsa, as I did in this meatball recipe.
Change up the sauce by swapping out the barbecue sauce for ketchup for a sweet tomato glaze like I use in this air fryer meatloaf recipe.
Create an Italian Meatloaf by adding Parmesan cheese, Italian bread crumbs, and topping with marinara sauce.
The secret to juicy meatloaf is the fat content in your ground beef. It's recommended to use 80/20. Adding milk also adds moisture to the meatloaf, which helps the meatloaf to be juicy.
There are two reasons why your meatloaf turned out tough. Either it was cooked too long, causing it to dry out, or the meat mixture was over mixed. Over mixing can ruin the texture of the meatloaf.
Meatloaf can be baked uncovered.
More comfort food recipes
Air Fryer Meatloaf Recipe - This recipe takes a classic, staple comfort food to new levels of ease
Corn Chowder - This simple chowder is made in one pot with Italian sausage, fresh or frozen corn, onions, potatoes, and cream cheese.
Sausage Gravy - The definition of comfort food!
Meatloaf with BBQ Sauce Glaze
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix oats, finely diced or grated onion, diced red bell pepper, egg, cooked chopped bacon, pepper jack cheese, milk, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper to a large mixing bowl.½ cup Oats, ½ cup Onion, ¼ cup Diced Red Bell Pepper, 1 Egg, ½ cup Bacon, 1 cup Pepper Jack Cheese, ½ cup Milk, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tsp Garlic Powder, 1 tsp Chili Powder, ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper, ½ tsp Salt, ½ teaspoon Pepper
- Add ground beef to the wet mixture and slowly mix until just incorporated. For best results, do not over mix the ground beef mixture. Press the meat mixture into a loaf pan or press into a log and place on a baking sheet.1.5 pounds Ground Beef
- Combine BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard while the meatloaf cooks.⅔ cup BBQ Sauce, 2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard, 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
- Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and add BBQ sauce glaze to the top of the meatloaf. Continue baking for an additional 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 160 degrees.
- If you do not have a loaf pan, you can use a rimmed . Line the pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape.
- To ensure the meatloaf is cooked through use a meat thermometer. The meatloaf will be done when it reaches 160 degrees.