For a fun play on the classic meat loaf, try our mini barbecue meat loaves. The robust flavor in these stands up well to small, individual portions, with every bite offering a sweet barbecue tang. And for another layer of flavor, each mini barbecue meat loaf is smothered in cheese (and you can’t go wrong with cozy cheddar cheese recipes!).
Both adults and children love meat loaf recipes, and these cute loaves are especially kid friendly. The little ones can even help fill the muffin tin with the ground beef filling!
Ingredients for Mini Barbecue Meat Loaf
- Stuffing mix: Many meat loaf recipes use bread crumbs to keep the loaf moist. Here, we use stuffing mix for a bit more texture and flavor.
- Barbecue sauce: You can’t have barbecue meat loaf without the barbecue sauce! Use a homemade barbecue sauce recipe, or pick your favorite store-bought barbecue brand.
- Ground beef: For moist, tender meat loaves, avoid leaner ground beef, and opt for an 80/20 ratio instead. This will keep your mini loaves nice and juicy.
Step 1: Combine the loaf ingredients
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine the stuffing mix, water and barbecue sauce. Crumble the beef into the bowl, and mix all ingredients together lightly but thoroughly.
Editor’s Tip: Overmixing can lead to tough meat, so don’t overdo it here!
Step 2: Fill the muffin tin
Using your hands or a measuring cup, press 1/3 cup meat mixture into each of 12 ungreased muffin cups in a muffin tin.
Editor’s Tip: Use food-safe gloves for an easier (and cleaner!) way of scooping and shaping the meat with your hands.
Step 3: Cook the meat loaf
Bake, uncovered, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of each loaf reads 160°, 18 to 22 minutes. Sprinkle the mini loaves with cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted, two to four minutes. Serve with additional barbecue sauce if you’d like.
Barbecue Meat Loaf Variations
- Use breadcrumbs: If you don’t want to use prepackaged stuffing mix, make your own breadcrumbs to use in this recipe instead.
- Swap bacon for cheese: If you enjoy a bacon-wrapped meat loaf recipe, try wrapping these mini loaves with bacon strips instead of cheese.
- Stuff the loaves: Stuffed meat loaf recipes are always fun to make, and these mini loaves are no exception! Just be sure not to stuff them too much. Mozzarella pearls, a tablespoon of spinach, or a tablespoon of mashed potatoes would pair well with the barbecue sauce.
How to Store Mini Barbecue Meat Loaf
Meat loaf stores well for leftovers, and it also freezes well for future dinners! Let your baked loaves cool, then store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three or four days.
How to Freeze Mini Barbecue Meat Loaf
To freeze the cooked loaves, let them completely cool. Securely wrap the loaves in aluminum foil, and store in the freezer up to three months. To use, partially thaw the loaves in the refrigerator overnight. Place the loaves on a greased shallow baking pan, and bake in a preheated 350° oven until heated to 165°. Top with cheese, and melt as directed above.
Mini Barbecue Meat Loaf Tips
How can you make sure your mini meat loaves are juicy?
There are a couple ways to guarantee a juicy barbecue meat loaf. Make sure not to overmix the meat when combining the ingredients, for starters. Then, be sure not to overcook the meat loaves. The longer the loaves cook, the tougher the meat can become.