Pumpkin Meatloaf with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

September 20, 2013


It’s no secret that I love pumpkin, but Matt on the other hand isn’t a pumpkinaholic. So it came as a surprise to me when he proclaimed one afternoon: “Let’s make a pumpkin meatloaf!”

Pumpkin Meatloaf

His idea wasn’t totally random because we had leftover beef from Mazen’s first birthday and a huge can of pumpkin from a pumpkin beer he had brewed. We combined the two together with some spices and chili flavors and the result was fantastic! To top it all off (literally) we spiked some ketchup with pumpkin and cinnamon to make a complementary BBQ sauce.


Meatloaf is such an easy recipe to make – mash everything together and form into a loaf.


We often add fresh bread crumbs to our burgers, so we did the same here for moistness.  You can use fresh or dry, but a little gives the meatloaf more flavor.

Note that we made a huge loaf, mostly because we had a lot of meat to use up, but if we had been making this for any old dinner we probably would have made a half sized loaf, which you can easily do by halving the recipe. The above is a standard size loaf pan, and you can see the loaf crested the top quite well, but you could also make it pressed down for a smaller portion. Note you could also use ground turkey or another type of meat if you like.

Begin by preheating the oven to 400*. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl (give yourself lots of room!) and mash, squeeze, and knead around until mixed thoroughly. Spray your loaf pan and form the loaf inside.  Prepare for it to expand slightly as it bakes. We didn’t need a pan underneath ours to catch drippings, but we almost did…

Consult a temperature doneness chart to determine how you want your loaf cooked. A meat thermometer is very important for thick meat dishes like this. Our loaf baked for about 70 minutes to get it to 160*. Expect to have to bake less time if you’re making a half sized loaf… maybe 40 minutes…but you’ll want to confirm it’s done with a temp. If you’re not reaching your target temp but you feel the loaf is getting too dark, consider wrapping in foil to finish the bake.

You can prepare the pumpkin BBQ sauce while the loaf bakes and reheat just before serving. It’s made with ketchup, pumpkin, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and spices. It’s about as easy as the loaf is with a mix of ingredients heated until ready.

Both the meatloaf and the sauce are made with an average level of pumpkin spice – you could easily double the amounts if you’re a huge pumpkin fan (although I thought they were great as is).

[It’s too bad the sun had set by the time this bad boy was done cooking!}


Loved the loaf and loved the sauce!


Pumpkin Meatloaf with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

by Kath Younger

Keywords: bake entree sauce beef pumpkin Super Bowl Thanksgiving Weeknights fall winter

Ingredients (12 slices)

    For the meatloaf

    • 4 pounds of ground beef
    • 4 ounces bread crumbs (from about 3 slices of bread)
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

    For the BBQ sauce

    • 2 cups ketchup
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 2.5 tbsp water
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)


    For the meatloaf

    Preheat oven to 400*

    Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl (give yourself lots of room!) and mash, squeeze, and knead around until mixed thoroughly.

    Spray your loaf pan and form the loaf inside.

    Bake for about 70 minutes, or until inner temperature reaches 160*

    For the sauce

    Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium until sauce is warm and thick.

    Serve sauce over sliced meatloaf

    Powered by Recipage

    Thanks, pumpkin!


    Thank you guys so much for all your kind words yesterday. Karen’s surgery was a success and she is recovering in the hospital for the next few days. Our family appreciates your thoughts and prayers. 

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    { 72 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Marisa @ Uproot from Oregon September 20, 2013 at 9:40 am

    What a genius idea! Looks delicious!


    2 Kat @ Kat's Health Corner September 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Genius. I can’t wait to try it!


    3 Jackie September 20, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Interesting recipe! Sounds good!


    4 Erin @ An Inside Job September 20, 2013 at 9:56 am

    This looks awesome!

    I must say I have not been a fan of meatloaf whenever it was made when I was little, but I think that this variation may actually be something I could eat :)

    Thanks for the recipe!


    5 Julie September 20, 2013 at 9:56 am

    That’s funny…I planned to make a meatloaf today! I think I need to go pick up some pumpkin!
    Glad that Karen’s surgery went well :)


    6 Emma September 20, 2013 at 10:07 am

    When I read the words “pumpkin meatloaf,” I thought it sounded completely crazy, but after reading the recipe, it totally makes sense!


    7 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs September 20, 2013 at 10:08 am

    What an interesting idea! I’ve never would have thought to put pumpkin in meatloaf!

    Have a great weekend!


    8 Davida @The Healthy Maven September 20, 2013 at 10:16 am

    With the amount of pumpkin I’ve been consuming I could use a can that big! Pinned this to make this weekend :)


    9 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries September 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Looks delicious. I sure wish my husband liked pumpkin AND meatloaf, but no can do. Looks like I’ll have to try this one when he’s out of town or something!


    10 Kris September 20, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Sounds great! But 4 lbs of beef? Is that a typo? Should it be 1 lb?


    11 KathEats September 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

    We had a lot left that needed to be used up, and we froze a lot of the loaf for us and Karen to have. But feel free to halve or quarter the recipe


    12 Pat September 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Sounds delish! But wow, 4 lbs is a lot of meatloaf. I usually use just a ound for the two of us. :)


    13 KathEats September 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

    We had a lot to use up from our party, and we froze a lot of the cooked loaf for leftover. Feel free to halve or quarter!


    14 Connie September 23, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I love meatloaf! Adding pumpkin is a really interesting idea. Four lbs of beef does sound like a lot, but I must admit, I’m more surprised that you only added 1 tsp of salt to such a huge recipe. I generally add at least 1/2 tsp to 1 lb of beef!


    15 Cathy September 20, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Glad to hear Karen’s surgery went well.


    16 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! September 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Pumpkin in BBQ sauce!? That sounds incredible! As does the meatloaf!


    17 Lori September 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I’m glad to hear Karen’s surgery went well. Continued T’s and P’s for you and your family. I think I’ll try the meatloaf this weekend, however I’ll be using 1/2 ground venison and 1/2 ground pork. :)
    Take care!


    18 JK September 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Wonderful news about Karen.
    Thanks for the update.
    Continued good thoughts to her during her recovery and forward.


    19 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh September 20, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Perfect for Fall! Love it!

    Glad to hear Karen is doing well!


    20 Emily September 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Ooh, meatloaf! Thanks for the idea; I just recieved 4 lbs of ground beef with my Safeway order and this will be the perfect Saturday dinner!


    21 Laurie September 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Glad you posted an update on Karen. I have been hoping you would. Good to hear it went well


    22 Angelica September 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing! All the best to Karen.


    23 Angelica September 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Ooh just had a lightbulb moment: make as cocktail meatballs for fall/winter parties!


    24 Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves September 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    This is a fabulous idea! I love meatloaf and I love pumpkin, but I would never think to combine the two. It looks delicious!


    25 Christine September 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Love the incorporation of a veggie like pumpkin into the meatloaf! I always thought of meatloaf as an unhealthy food (my moms was always greasy growing up) but I’m going to try this! AND…I’m craving a pumpkin beer now 😉


    26 Marissa@ohhhsolovely September 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    you two are quite a team in the kitchen! this looks wonderful & i love that huge can of pumpkin!


    27 RunEatRepeat September 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I want a pumpkin sweet loaf.


    28 Elisabeth September 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    So glad to hear Karen is recovering well!


    29 Sammy @ Peace Love and Ice Cream September 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm
    30 Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac September 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Glad to hear good news for Karen!


    31 Beth September 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    wow, what size pan did you have to use for 4 pounds of meat? I live alone, so would only need to use 1/4 to 1/2 this recipe. Not sure how I would divide 2 eggs into 1/4 amount! How do you make bread crumbs out of bread?


    32 Carol September 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Love pumpkin! Love this recipe! Can’t wait to try it.

    Glad to hear your mother-in-law is doing well.


    33 Kamila September 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    OMG. This looks so delish. I will mos def be making this soon!


    34 Lisa @bitesforbabies September 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    What an interesting recipe!! It looks yummy…I’m ALL about pumpkin right now too!


    35 Cait's Plate September 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Yum!! I love this idea! Also, I love that Mazen has thrown his own artistic flare into the background of some of the shots 😉


    36 Mary September 21, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Mix meatloaf gently…. If you over mix and press it down it becomes tough. Sometimes I like it that way for a meatloaf sandwich, so if I know there will be leftovers for lunches, I make it tight. If it is for a dinner party, mix gently for moister meatloaf. You can use oatmeal to bind instead of breadcrumbs if you have some on hand.

    Continued best wishes and healing for Karen.


    37 Taylor September 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

    YAY FOR PUMPKIN SEASON! AH I’m totally making that meatloaf. Thanks for sharing!


    38 Sarah N. September 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I love your shirt! May I ask where it’s from? Thanks!


    39 KathEats September 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I bought it at Loehmann’s. Thanks!


    40 Nicole September 21, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I’ve never been a meatloaf lover but I am definitely making this recipe! And I am so glad to hear that Karen is healing up well! We will continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers.


    41 Emily T. September 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    This post made me realize that it has been way too long since I’ve made meatloaf. Ever since having to go gluten-free and switching to a more Paleo lifestyle, it has just fallen off of my radar. Any thoughts about whether or not almond meal would work in place of the bread crumbs?


    42 KathEats September 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I think it would work


    43 Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl September 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I am loving this recipe, definitely adding to my Fall list! Thanks!


    44 Sara September 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Kath,
    I was wondering how you were able to blur the background in your pictures like a magazine does? I have been trying for so long on my simple camera to figure it out. The weird thing is that sometimes it works and I am not sure what is different from any other time. How did you do it?


    45 KathEats September 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    The blur comes from a low aperture setting on your camera. Do you have a manual setting or an AV setting (aperture priority?). You can adjust the blur amount there. Ashley has a great beginner post on it to get all the basics.


    46 Ashley September 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I definitely like the idea of trying this with turkey! Is the temp the same for turkey? BTW I’ve got to ask- HOW does this fit into one loaf pan? Or did you make some other loaves and freeze them? When I make meatloaf I use 1 pound and it tends to fill the pan. Maybe yours makes a GH-Sized loaf?


    47 KathEats September 22, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I’m puzzled by the loaf too! We used what I think is a standard loaf pan. You can see how it mounded up a bit. Matt did the weight…let me double check with him since so many of you have commented on the difference.


    48 Angelica September 29, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Any update on the amount of meat used? I want to try this tonight with 1 lb and want to get my proportions right. Thanks!


    49 KathEats September 29, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Confirmed it was 4 lbs. We have an extra large loaf pan which is why it looks like less. Quartering the recipe should work.


    50 Emily - It Comes Naturally Blog September 22, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Glad to hear the operation was a success. Love to you and your family.

    This looks fab, great idea to add pumpkin to ketchup to make a pumpkin bbq sauce.


    51 Whitney September 22, 2013 at 7:13 am

    This looks incredible- I’m making it for dinner this week! I was just thinking that I’d never made meatloaf before, and I’m always looking for something fun for fall. Thanks for sharing!


    52 Brieanna @ Going Brienanas September 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

    This is a phenomenal idea, I have never heard of pumpkin meatloaf but am glad I did!!


    53 Lucia September 22, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Fabulous idea! I just opened a can of pumpkin this morning for pancakes and was trying to decide on what to do with the rest.

    Keeping Karen in my thoughts, glad she came out of surgery ok!!


    54 Mer September 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Great meal idea for the fall!


    55 Alex @ Kenzie Life September 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I’m so glad that Karen’s surgery was a success! Sending lots of love to you all! Also, I’m sure I would’ve loved that meatloaf back when I ate meat! My grandma used to make meatloaf and green beans for me when I visited her and as a kid it was one of my favorite meals! But I think the pumpkin bbq sauce would be great on tofu!


    56 Emily @ Life on Food September 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I am so intrigued by this recipe. I definitely want to try it. I will probably be telling my husband it is just meatloaf until he takes his first bite.


    57 Violet September 23, 2013 at 11:03 am

    So at 8-10 servings per 4-pound loaf, 1 serving is possibly a half a pound of beef? That is a huge serving! However, it looks delish and perfect for fall!!!


    58 KathEats September 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Hmmm…good call. I’ll change the serving size to 12. Because we froze half it was hard to estimate. Anyone who made it would just get some bonus servings : )


    59 Anna @ Fitness à la Anna September 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Hmmm I have a natural aversion to anything ‘meatloaf’, but you have made it seem so appetizing…I might just have to try it out!! Thanks for sharing :)


    60 GiGi Eats Celebrities September 23, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I adore this idea!!! It’s kind of AMAZING how you can just add pumpkin to EVERYTHING! :)


    61 Erika September 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I made this the other night and it was delicious!! We had it with roasted Kabocha squash and it was such a great fall meal. I might never make meatloaf without pumpkin again. thanks!


    62 Katie @ A Full Plate September 26, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Oh wow, this looks amazing! Who would have thought, pumpkin and meatloaf? Sounds like the perfect fall dinner and I can’t wait to try it.

    Also, glad to hear Karen’s surgery was successful!


    63 Melissa Moore Johnson October 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Kath, greetings from Los Angeles! I’ve been following you for a couple months and I just want to say THANK YOU for bringing such wonderful food into my home. I love your Tribute to Oatmeal, and my husband and I (and baby) absolutely loved this meatloaf. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love anything associated with it… especially cooking with pumpkin! It was a great way to kick off the fall season. Thank you, again.


    64 Emily S October 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Kath, I made this tonight and it was spectacular! The recipe was easily quartered. The pumpkin bbq sauce was just the right amount of sweetness. Adding this to our rotation of fall meals!


    65 mary October 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I wish you would have included the nutritional information, as I would like to know how many calories, fat, fiber, protein, carbs ect… are in it….it sounds delicious.


    66 Jessica Jones October 23, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Sounds very good..I want to try it as I love pumpkin, but we don’t get canned pumpkin here in South Africa. Can I use steamed pumpkin in place of canned?


    67 KathEats October 23, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Yes. Give it a puree first!


    68 Christine October 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Had tons of ground beef and pumpkin puree left so I typed “pumpkin meatloaf” in Google search. Found this recipe and I am making it tonight! Looks SO delicious. Thank you for the great idea!! (And that BBQ sauce… OMG. Can’t wait to try!)


    69 Shannon November 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Hi! Thank you for this wonderful recipe! We’ve got heaps of kale coming out of the garden right now, so I added some to this recipe. As well, I added raisins to half of the loaf. It’s starting to brown now and will be ready shortly! Can’t wait to dig in!


    70 Dena March 18, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Tried the meatloaf and the sauce. My kids and I were leary of the out come, but pleasantly pleased. I must say the sauce really tops it off. This recipe will be fun to share during the holidays. Thanks! And glad to hear you are okay!


    71 Courtney October 19, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Fantastic unique way to use pumpkin.
    I did a little customizing and it turned out great, although next time I’m going to try using the BBQ sauce in the meatloaf rather than just pumpkin and the spices. The BBQ sauce is to die for by the way, even the kids loved it!! I plan on making a bunch and canning it.
    Here are the changes I made:
    – Halved the recipe except kept 1cup pumpkin and 2 eggs
    – used pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon
    – left out chilli
    – added onion

    BBQ Sauce:
    – halved recipe except kept 1 cup pumpkin
    – used pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon
    – left out chilli
    – added a dash of liquid smoke


    72 Lisa November 9, 2015 at 12:15 am

    This recipe turned out delicious. We were looking for a recipe for some pumpkin butter we had and so we used that in place of the canned pumpkin but oh man….it was good!! The sauce was equally as great as the meat. The four pounds was a little big for our loaf pan but two pounds didn’t allow for leftovers because my family loved this so much, it just got hammered through the first night. We are going to go for three pounds next time, should be perfect. Thank you for this…..we have a new favorite in the family!!!


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