Classic BBQ Meatloaf Cups

These Classic BBQ Meatloaf Cups will surely become a family favorite! With ground beef, onion, garlic and herbs and a balsamic vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar glaze, they’re flavorful, easy to make and really the best meatloaf recipe out there. Give ’em a try for yourself – I promise you’ll love this American classic.

A plate of meatloaf cups with a small bowl of glaze and herbs.

About This Recipe

You know I’m a fan of comfort food, and this recipe is no exception. Not only does my husband love these cups, but our Infant, Sylvie, does too! They can easily be prepared and served to infants and toddlers, teenagers will definitely love them, as well as the adults.

The cups themselves are super tender. They’re loaded with delicious flavor, they’re juicy and the glaze on top really is the icing on the (meatloaf) cake. And I bet you have most of the ingredients in your pantry, fridge and freezer. So, let’s get cooking!


  • Ground beef. I like to use lean ground beef (90/10 ish), and have added a few ingredients that will help keep the cups tender and juicy, even if they’re lean. You can also swap in ground turkey or chicken, if that’s what you’d prefer. The flavors lend themselves well to any ground meat.
  • Panko breadcrumbs and egg. These are known as binders in the meatloaf and meatball world. They will hold everything together. I like Panko because the little crumbs are light and airy, but you can use traditional breadcrumbs if you’d like. If you or a family member has an egg allergy, you can make a flax “egg” by mixing together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 2 tablespoons of water and letting it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes. Or, you could try Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer.
  • Parsley. I love the freshness the parsley brings to the meatloaf cups, but if you don’t have any or aren’t in the mood to chop parsley, go ahead and sub for a few tablespoons of the dried stuff.
  • Ketchup. A little bit goes a long way in this recipe. It’ll help provide depth of flavor to the cups as well as provide moisture. If you’re watching sodium levels, a few brands make low sodium ketchup.
  • Balsamic vinegar. If you don’t already, I highly recommend stocking up on a few different vinegars, balsamic being one of them. The flavor it provides is uncanny, and really goes well with everything else we have going on in this meatloaf recipe. Plus, it makes meatloaf seem a little more upscale, if you will.
  • Minced onion, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. I really like using dried minced onion in meatloaf and meatballs because you avoid having chunks of raw onion, but you still get that glorious flavor. I also like using an all-purpose Italian seasoning because it provides the herby flavor from oregano, basil and thyme, and it really is perfect in so many recipes. And then of course, there is salt and black pepper. Because I originally developed this recipe for infants and toddlers, I suggest to “salt to taste” because infants and toddlers shouldn’t go overboard on salt. Just do what works best for your fam!
  • Glaze. The glaze has ketchup, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. It. is. absolutely. delicious. So much better than any BBQ sauce out there, or just plain ketchup. It’s tart and sweet and perfectly balanced and I just know you’ll love it.


  • An oven. Preheated to 350 degrees F
  • A 12-cup muffin tin
  • A big mixing bowl and a small mixing bowl
  • A whisk
  • A few spoons or a cookie scoop
  • An instant-read thermometer (cook cups to 160 degrees F)
A side shot of a white bowl with meatloaf cups.

Chef’s Tip

You can make this recipe for classic BBQ meatloaf cups into one large meatloaf rather than cups, if you desire. Simply follow the recipe for the base of the meatloaf and transfer the mixture to a greased bread/loaf pan. Spread it around in an even layer and coat with the glaze. Cook in a 350 degree F oven for 45-55 minutes or until the loaf starts to pull away from the sides and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Let slightly cool, slice and enjoy!

For safe beef cooking practices, check out the USDA guidelines!

Check out my Baby’s First Foods blog to learn more about how to prepare and serve family meals like this one to babies and toddlers using the baby-led feeding method.

Other Beef Recipes You’ll Enjoy


Classic BBQ Meatloaf Cups

Classic BBQ meatloaf with beef, onion and garlic and a balsamic vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar glaze. Baked in a muffin tin for perfect portions.

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 10-15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15-17 mins
  • Total Time: 25-32 mins
  • Yield: Makes 12 cups 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Entree
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American




  • 1 ½ pounds lean Ground Beef
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 34 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (lower sugar, lower salt version, if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Coarse salt, to taste (optional)*


  • 3 tablespoons ketchup (lower sugar, lower salt version, if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the ground beef, Panko, egg, onion, parsley, garlic, ketchup, balsamic vinegar, minced onion, Italian seasoning and black pepper until thoroughly combined. *For adults and older children, season the meatloaf with salt, if desired.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and spread into an even layer.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.
  5. Fill each muffin tin well with the meatloaf mixture. Spread the balsamic BBQ sauce on top of each meatloaf cup.
  6. Bake 15-17 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F and each meatloaf cup starts to pull away from the edges of the pan. Let slightly cool, then slice and serve.


For serving babies:

  • Ages 6-9 months or babies using the palmer grasp: slice the meatloaf into pointer finger-sized pieces
  • Ages 9-12+ months or babies using the pincher grasp: cut the meatloaf into bite-sized pieces


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 128
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 81mg
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 12g
  • Cholesterol: 53mg

Keywords: dinner, entree, American, comfort food

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