Meatloaf has been a classic for about as long as people have been sharing recipes, with it achieving even more popularity here in the U.S. when frugal home chefs discovered how far it could stretch meat and leftovers. Today, we may not need it to make our ground beef last longer, but we DO crave it for its comfort-food qualities and its unpretentious, down-home taste. Still, loving the classic doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it every once and a while, right?! And what could be more fun – or more all-American – than stuffing it with cheese, wrapping it in bacon, and covering it with barbecue sauce? That’s what we’re doing today, and you HAVE to give it a try. You’ll never think of meatloaf the same way again.

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Serves 8 to 10

You’ll Need
– 2 pounds ground beef
– ⅔ cup breadcrumbs
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
– ½ cup diced onion
– 2 eggs
– 9 ounces thin-cut bacon
– 4 ounces stick mozzarella cheese
– ½ cup barbecue sauce, divided

How To

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with enough plastic wrap to drape over the sides.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Stir in the onions and eggs, followed by the ground beef. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. Pat ⅓ of the meat mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Lay the mozzarella in the middle of the pan and press into the meat. Layer the remaining meat mixture over the cheese and pat down to fill in any gaps. Wrap the excess plastic over the meatloaf and refrigerate for one hour until firm.
  4. Place a wire rack on a half sheet pan. (You can also use a broiler pan if you have one.) Line up the bacon slices widthwise on the rack so that they touch each other. Reserve three slices for the top of the meatloaf.
  5. Take the meatloaf from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap and release it from the loaf pan. Place the meatloaf on the wire rack in the center of the bacon slices. Fold the bacon ends up over the meatloaf, and cover the top with the three reserved bacon slices.
  6. Put 2 tablespoons of the barbeque sauce in a small bowl, and brush it over the top and sides of the bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Reserve the rest of the sauce to brush on the meatloaf once it is cooked, using a clean brush to prevent cross-contamination.
  7. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat (not the cheese center) reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) and the bacon is brown and crispy.
  8. Brush with the reserved barbeque sauce, using a clean brush to prevent cross-contamination.
  9. Let the meatloaf rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting, so that all of the juices don’t run out along with the cheese.

Now that’s a meatloaf! Have you ever had anything similar before? How do you like to dress up and serve your classic meatloaf?

Recipe adapted from Savory Nothings