Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves


Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves are studded with melty cheddar cheese and sweet BBQ sauce. An awesome twist on the classic. 

Raise your hand if you were forced to eat meatloaf as a kid! (FYI, my arm is stretched into the air, waving wildly right now!)

Meatloaf is one of my Dad’s favorite meals, so my Mom made it for dinner quite often when I was growing up. Because she’s nice like that. Unfortunately I didn’t feel the same way, and spent many nights planted at the kitchen table long after my brother’s had cleaned their plates, washing down nibble after nibble of cold meatloaf with warm milk and a pinched nose. You’ve been there.

I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime over the past year or so I’ve developed somewhat of a craving for meatloaf. It’s the strangest thing! I knew I could no longer resist when the idea of Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves came to me while working out at the gym the other day, causing me to get so excited that I nearly flew off the end of the treadmill. (Why am I always thinking about food on the treadmill, btw?!)

What if, I gleefully imagined, I combined lean ground beef with sweet BBQ sauce, melted cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions then formed them into petite, personal-sized meatloaves and roasted ’em in a hot oven until golden brown and bubbly? I’ll tell you what happened – it turned into a dish that no kid, nor kid at heart, will be able to resist. Sweet, sweet meatloaf redemption!

Start the Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves by caramelizing 1 large sweet onion. Oh yeah! Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a large pot or skillet over medium heat then add the onion cut into slices, and a dash of salt. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are soft, golden brown, and unbelievably sweet. Set ’em aside to cool while you work on the rest of the meatloaf.

In a large bowl, add 1lb lean ground beef and 1 whisked egg.

Next add 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 2 Tablespoons BBQ sauce. This will give the ground beef a mouthwatering, savory-sweet flavah.

1/4 cup crushed Rice Chex or panko bread crumbs (loaves will not be gluten-free if using panko) ensures the meatloaves will stay together, and a dash of pepper will give ’em a nice kick.

Finally, add the slightly cooled caramelized onions, and 2 ounces cheddar cheese cut into 1/4″ cubes, which will stud the inside of the meatloaves like melted buried treasure.

Mix the ingredients together with your hands then form the mixture into 4 mini loaves. Spread 1 Tablespoon BBQ sauce over each loaf to keep them nice and moist in the oven.

Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Woo-weeee!

Pair the mini meatloaves with a side salad, or roasted broccoli like I did (instructions below!)

Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves

Serves 4


Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves are studded with melty cheddar cheese and sweet BBQ sauce. An awesome twist on the classic. 


  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • salt
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons BBQ sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup crushed Rice Chex or panko bread crumbs (recipe will not be GF if using panko)
  • pepper
  • 2oz low-fat cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4" cubes


  1. Cut onion in half then each half into thin slices. Melt butter in a large skillet or pot over medium heat then add onion and a dash of salt. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Turn heat down if onions start to burn. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl combine ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons BBQ sauce, panko bread crumbs, dash of pepper, cheese cubes, and caramelized onions, then mix until just combined. Divide mixture into 4 equal-sized portions then form into loaves on a foil-lined, non-stick-sprayed baking sheet. Spread 1 Tablespoon BBQ sauce over each loaf then bake for 20 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

The flavors in here remind me of a summer BBQ, and, sorry, but meatloaf that oozes melted cheese when you cut into it?! I am not mad at that!

Now about that roasted broccoli. If you’ve never had broccoli this way, then you have GOT to give it a go. Bonus: it cooks at the same temperature as the mini meatloaves so you can roast them both at the same time.

Simply toss broccoli florets with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle of salt and pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet, then turn all the florets onto their crowns to get them extra crisp on top.

Roast for 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees, or until golden brown and crispy. That’s it!

Better than french fries, I’m tellin’ ya! Salty, crispy, and not to mention, so much healthier. I made a couple sheets of roasted broccoli for a family dinner a couple weeks ago and it was a HIT amongst all in attendance. It just a fun switch from plain ‘ol steamed broccoli, know what I mean?

Now raise your hand if you’re ready to give meatloaf a second chance with Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves!

In other news…

I survived my first cooking demo! It was…crazy. The combo of a giant expo going on around me, the nervousness I feel when addressing a large group of people, and 6 burners going full force, had me practically sprinting off the stage after my hour was up!

Luckily I had the sweetest readers in attendance, who nodded politely as I blathered on about bacon fat (that happened,) and came to say hello afterwards. THANK YOU so much, I cannot tell you how much that meant to me.

My partner, Ginger Johnson, was also incredible. Super charismatic and great at keeping the audience engaged and entertained while I tried not to burn the building down. I could have never done it without her.

Like anything else in life, you never know what you’re capable of until you try. Well, I tried, and while it might be awhile before I try again, it was a really cool experience nevertheless. ‘Til next year?!


Workout of the Day: 35 Minute, 3.9 Mile Treadmill Workout

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


1 2 3
  1. Chelsea 11.12.2012

    Yum, I am so excited to make these! They look fantastic! :)

  2. Amy M 11.12.2012

    This meatloaf has all my favorite things! They look so good. I know my husband would not approve though — he is very anti-meatloaf, but I have a feeling it’s just a lingering childhood bias. Maybe I’ll make these in the shape of a patty and tell him they’re bun-less cheeseburgers?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.12.2012

      Love it – go for it! ;)

    • My husband is the same way but it makes no sense. He loves any kind of meat, including burgers! It’s not *that* different! My theory is the same as yours. Silly husbands!

  3. Alli 11.12.2012

    These look fantastic!! Pinned!

    BTW, have you ever tossed your roasted broccoli with a little bit of sugar along with the oil, salt, and pepper? It helps it get a little more caramelized while it roasts. One of the few episodes of Americas Test Kitchen that I’ve managed to watch… :)

  4. So I was reading the title on the picture and I thought it said something about “microwave meatloaf” and I was thinking – oh my heart, he’s microwaving beef! I may have to stop reading her blog! LOL I’m so glad that they are mini and not nuked… PHEW. I didn’t think I could really give your blog up but it sure scared me.

  5. Ed 11.12.2012

    That meatloaf looks excellent…i bet it is super hardy too!

  6. Courtney F 11.12.2012

    Congrats on the demo!!!!

  7. I used to be the exact same way with meatloaf! I would pretend I was sick and would hide in the bathroom until dinner was over hahah now I love it!

  8. Delia 11.12.2012

    Where did you get that very adorable top?

  9. SWR 11.12.2012

    I’m the anti-meatloaf one in our household. But, I’m willing to give this a try. The meatloaf I remember as a kid was super oat-filled and I do believe was my family’s recipe from the Depression days.

    Plus…the name…kinda like kidney beans or wax beans or ladyfinger potatoes :)

  10. Katie Cummings 11.12.2012

    I also am not a meatloaf eater, thankfully my mom allowed the pickiness. However, should i go to the dark side your recipe is the first i will try!

  11. Jamie 11.12.2012

    I think you read my mind – I was just searching for new, interesting and tasty recipes for ground beef and this looks awesome. Thank you!!

  12. Lauren 11.12.2012

    I have never been a fan of meatloaf but you make it look so so good! And congrats on the demo! I knew you would kill it. You’re such a natural. :)

  13. Brandy 11.12.2012

    The meatloaf looks delicious and you are hilarious!

    I follow your blog everyday from Boulder, CO. I have totally renovated my “same-ol’ same-ol'” recipe routines (hubby thanks you!) and really enjoyed the food and your commentary.

    Thanks IGE!

  14. Kari 11.12.2012

    I make meatloaf in cupcake tins and tricked my kids into eating meat cupcakes! Will try this recipe soon!

  15. Krystal 11.12.2012

    Ok now I have a predicament! I was making the orchard and apple turkey burgers tonight but now I feel like I MUST make these!!! I’ll just use the ground turkey I was going to use for the burgers for this!

    You’re recipes are battling each other for a spot at my dinner table!

  16. Lauren 11.12.2012

    Me: We are so making these soon.
    Tim: (reads recipe) YES!!

    Tim: But do we have to make them mini?


    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.13.2012

      Hahaha, well, tell him if you make them mini he can have two instead of one! :)

  17. Kristen 11.12.2012

    Roasted broccoli is my fav way to eat that veggie! Tried it last year for the first time and love when it arrives in our CSA box!

  18. Sonya 11.12.2012

    What kind of BBQ sauce did you use for this recipe?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.13.2012

      That was Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, which is made locally here where I live!

      • Sonya 11.13.2012

        Sweet! I’m from Iowa (NW Iowa, that is) but get to Des Moines often. Thanks :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.13.2012

      Whoops! I have been corrected by the husband – it’s actually Big Daddy’s BBQ sauce that I used (I always get it mixed up with SBR, which is actually made in Chicago!)

  19. Jenny 11.12.2012

    Any tips for making them gluten free? I have heard using ground nuts instead of bread crumbs. Way to go on your cooking demo I lived in Des Moines a long time ago wish i still did to come watch all your amazing appearances.

    • Jane 11.12.2012

      You could probably use any unsweetened gluten free cereal-corn chex maybe? You are just needing something to hold it together. Just crush some of it up and use it, it should do the same thing as the panko crumbs. I use a cereal in mine, but it’s not gluten free, I use grape nuts cereal! Good luck!! :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.13.2012

      I was actually thinking about adding cooked quinoa into the loves. It would help hold them together, and give the loaves more protein! Not that they necessarily need it, but it’s on option!

  20. Mindy 11.12.2012

    We just had the roasted broccoli for supper. It was AMAZING! Addictive – kind of like guilt free chips or something. Thank you so much! We’ll be making that over & over again.
    Still don’t know if I can get over the school lunch trauma of meatloaf enough to try the meatloaf. I still have bad memories of the school’s meatloaf (and lima beans – won’t eat them to this day!). Back in our day, there was only one choice for lunch so you either ate it or went hungry.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.13.2012

      omg I won’t eat lima beans either – my Dad loved them, so my Mom made succotash all the time too. BLARG!

  21. Maria 11.12.2012

    Oh man!! I am a lifelong meatloaf hater….I even tried those meatloaf cupcakes from Pinterest…thinking the cuteness would confuse me…no luck. Cheddar studded meatloaf could be the ticket.

    Also, props on roasting veggies…it’s the only way to get them down sometimes!

  22. Kristin, I’ve been silently stalking your blog. But I saw this post and I had to tell you how beautiful your pictures are… I mean, I wish I could grab one of those mini meatloafs and eat it right now. Great post!!

  23. Jill S 11.12.2012

    I was already planning to make meatloaf for dinner tonight when I saw your post! I made your recipe instead of my standard (some might say boring) one, and it was delicious. Thanks!

  24. Dream Mom 11.12.2012

    Oh, those look good and so cute! I love minis! I’ll definitely try the roasted broccoli; I have a meatloaf recipe that I use already but I love the idea of the minis. The cheese looks awfully good though:) Congrats on the demo!

  25. Maria W. 11.12.2012

    I am eager to try this recipe. I like the idea of making mini meat loaf especially now that I’m cooking for two and not four people for dinnertime. I’ve never had broccoli cooked this way before and I can’t wait to try it. I really like your blog!!

  26. Sara 11.12.2012

    These make incredible burgers! Just shred the cheddar instead of cube it, and top with caramelized onions on a whole wheat bun! Super yummy!! Whenever I serve these, they get rave reviews!!

  27. Karla 11.13.2012

    ohh this looks yummo! I like the brocolli idea also. I linked back to your lovely quinoa cups today after sharing them on my blog
    They were delish!!

  28. Clare 11.13.2012

    I am home sick, and my husband asked me what I wanted for dinner whilst reading your post. He made me these, with hard goat cheese instead of cheddar and they were amazing! And he is impressed with himself!

    Thank you

  29. Elain 11.13.2012

    What? No bacon? I think a little bacon in these would add to the already fantastic loaves.

  30. This is GENIUUUS. Love that you can make the whole meal at the same time in the oven. MMMness.

  31. Marie B. 11.13.2012

    Making these for dinner tonight!! Thanks! I told my daughter what is for dinner as she was getting ready for work and added ” Compliments of Iowa Girl Eats”! She gave me that ‘Yes!’ look! We love most of your recipes!

  32. We had meatloaf rarely when I was growing up, now mini-meatloaf is something The Boy and I prepare on the regular. It’s so yummy!

  33. Trisha 11.13.2012

    Whoa. If I didn’t have green chile pork in the slow cooker right now, I would running to the store for ingredients to make these mini loaves. Yummy!
    Congrats on the successful demo. I don’t think any of your readers had a doubt that you would kill it. :)

  34. Rachel S. 11.13.2012

    Those look good. While I work out I watch the food network. Kind of counter productive.

  35. Will def try the roasted broccoli? Is it better than roasted brussel sprouts? I’m addicted to that!

    Btw, where did you get your jeans? I love the color/fade?

  36. This recipe is going on my must make list and by the way, I’m always thinking about food on the treadmill too! ;)

  37. Just Hungry Girl 11.13.2012

    I’ve been making mini-meatloaves for years… how else do you cook meatloaf in 30 minutes or less for only two people? I don’t even bother shaping them into loaves. Just drop them into a giant muffin tin, or make smaller versions in normal cupcake tins. They cook faster and you don’t even have to cut the slices. They store easier for freezing and leftovers. I had a friend tell me once that he didn’t like meatloaf because it’s dry and I’m like, ‘WHA????’ My meatloaf is NEVER dry because I use 80/20 – never go fat free. You need some flavor from the fat. And, I always add extra salsa or BBQ sauce to the meat mixture. How can you not like that? Especially for Fall/Winter. Thanks for sharing your version, IGE!

  38. Jen 11.13.2012

    Thanks for the great recipe! I made this tonight for dinner and even my children loved it. We had it with the broccoli too. Easy to make, easy to clean up. Love that!

  39. chris 11.13.2012

    I make a similar meatloaf that we really like.
    Sometimes I make individual servings in cupcake tins & then “frost” them with mashed potatoes & decorate with shredded cheese sprinkles.

    I will try the broccoli. We really like roasted cauliflower with pepper & Parmesan, and roasted carrots with rosemary & garlic.

    I enjoy your blog. thanks for sharing.

  40. Karla 11.13.2012

    These look great, Kristin! I never had meatloaf as a kid because it was one of the first dishes my Mom made my Dad after they were first married, and it turned out like a brick. I think that scared her away! Anyway, your version looks great!

    Congrats on the cooking demo—I know you were a pro. I’ll be there with bells on (as they say) at your next one! :)

  41. Emily 11.13.2012

    My husband and I have a major meatloaf dilemma. He LOVES meatloaf, but my fondness is much less favorable. We have tried numerous recipes in an attempt to bring me over to Team Meatloaf—unfortunately all attempts have been unsuccessful thus far.

    We tried these BBQ meatloaves for dinner this evening and I think we found a recipe that we can both enjoy. My husband really appreciates the thought of meatloaf making it into the dinner rotation. Thank you!!

  42. Christi 11.14.2012

    I made these last night with venison!!!! Thank you for an awesome recipe. I was a superstar last night!!!

  43. Erin 11.14.2012

    okay, i have to ask how you get your meatloaf to stay together so well?! every time i make mine, even in the pan, it falls apart until it’s been refrigerated for a night…it does not feel good to fail at meatloaf.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.14.2012

      The combo of egg and bread crumbs in here holds it together really nicely. :)

  44. I’m lovin’ that cheese just oozing out! I never minded meatloaf, but it never got me excited either! Yours would get a kid excited…

  45. Teresa K. 11.14.2012

    u make me hungry!

    What did you make at your first ever cooking class? I was cheering when I saw that! What did you use to cook with? I saw the little burners – was that those special ones that only heat up against metal?

    Cool Beans!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.14.2012

      I made Butternut Squash Gnocchi with 2 difference sauces – probably should have stuck with one, as it was pretty stressful! It was a weird stove top – I did not love the layout of the burners!

  46. Jaime 11.14.2012

    OK, who made these last night? This girl did! :)

    From first glance at the pictures yesterday i wanted to make them immediately. They turned out amazing. My BF was super happy with them and demanded that the recipe get filed immediately for future use. Thanks so much for a quick and easy dinner idea :0

  47. Jen 11.14.2012

    Can’t wait to make these this weekend! My hiubby and 3 boys will devour! We love broccoli too, but we usually bbq or roast the broccoli with olive oil minced garlic, S & P and lots of Sirachi! it is amazing and so addicting! My little ones won’t do the spicy broccoli but I just roast without the sirachi for them. LOVE your blog and am slowly working off a very big list of MUST trys. Your green Monster Smoothie is an everyday treat for me and loved your post about your trip to Napa and your fun visit to Peju. I work there in the events dept. Loved reading about your trip. Was just in Napa with 9 girlfriends this past weekend. Cheers!

  48. […] most creative meal happened last night, when I made Kristin’s Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves, aka the definition of delicious (I may have eaten like 1/2 pound of ground beef for dinner…I’m […]

  49. Kristin B. 11.15.2012

    I made these last night and they were AMAZING! Followed your recipe to a “t” and they were perfect. I needed some comfort food and this did the trick. (And so easy too!) Adding to the rotation – thanks for another great one! (my husband always asks “where did you find this recipe” and i have to give props to IGE!)

  50. Sara 11.15.2012

    We made these last night as well – they were delicious! Both my hubby and I could not get enough. This recipe will definitely make it’s way into our dinner rotation :) Also, we’re making your crockpot egg casserole this weekend – my brother is getting married Saturday, so this easy breakfast can be cooking as we’re all running around and getting ready. Can’t wait to try it!

1 2 3

Leave a Comment