No Leftovers Tonight: Kid-Approved Meatloaf "Cupcakes"

4 years ago

Oh, yes!  You read the title correctly.  This is hands down one of the BEST tasting meatloaf recipes I have ever come up with.  Even the "I hate meatloaf" people love it.

BBQ cupcake isolated text

BBQ Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

It starts with bacon--already you are scoring points. After you crisp the bacon, then you sauté the onions in some of the bacon fat.  Double score!!  Add cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, egg and bread crumbs and that's it.  Simple, yet DELICIOUS.

Before I became a vegetarian, my absolutely favorite burger was at a restaurant that topped this mouthwatering burger with bacon, caramelized onion, a generous handful of cheddar cheese and tangy BBQ sauce. YUM!  So I decided to use all those flavors and put them in a meatloaf.  This was such a popular dish at TaylorMade Market that I decided it was worthy of becoming a sandwich.  My version: a thick slice of BBQ bacon cheddar meatloaf on a soft bakery roll, topped with cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce and then toasted on the panini press.  It may sound like a heart attack sandwich. But we made the meatloaf with lean ground turkey.  If you want to cut the fat and calories, I suggest you use the ground turkey.  But we have made this with beef and even venison.  It always turns out great.

As I was writing this post, I Googled "meatloaf sandwich" to find acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio's has one at his 'Wichcraft sandwich chain. You can see his version & recipe HERE.

So now you have two COMPLETELY different takes on a meatloaf sandwich.  While I would have loved to try Tom's version, I won't be making this one at home as it looks way too labor-intensive, especially for a vegetarian who isn't going to reap the rewards, and I guarantee my children won't appreciate the homemade tomato relish or pickled mustard seeds that accompanies this particular version.

So with that said, serve it as a traditional meatloaf or turn it into a BBQ Bacon Cheddar Meatloaf Sandwich.

OR...drumroll, PLEASE.


meatloaf cupcake vertical

Yes, I said cupcakes. Not the dessert kind. More like the April Fool's kind, the creative get-your-kid-to-eat kind.  Ever noticed kids will eat things they normally wouldn't if you change the way it looks? (For example, cutting a sandwich into shapes.) Children eat with their eyes first, just like adults.  Making food kid-friendly is a great way to encourage picky eaters to try new foods.  So it just LOOKS like a cupcake.  BBQ Bacon Cheddar Meatloaf Cupcake with Mashed Potato Frosting.

Remember the "I hate meatloaf" people,  aka my nephew? Well, he was staying at my house all weekend.  The little hunter tracks the smell of bacon like a hound dog on a deer trail.  As soon as it sizzled in the pan he was there.

Nephew: Whatcha making, Aunt Andrea?

Me: Meatloaf.

Nephew: I don't like meatloaf.

Me: You've never had this kind.  It's made with BBQ, bacon, cheddar...

Nephew: I still don't like meatloaf.

At this point, I wanted to say. YES YOU DO! And you are going to eat it!  But the sneaky chef in me just stopped debating and trying to convince him he would like it.  I simply replied "OK" and let him walk away.

BBQ cupcake row

Now, If I served a slice of meatloaf he would hate it before taking the first bite, so I didn't tell my children what I was doing when I was making these.  My daughter walked in the kitchen and saw me putting mashed potatoes into a piping bag.  I could see the curiosity in her eyes, but she didn't say anything--until I starting piping the potatoes onto what looked like a cupcake.  At this point she said, "Why are you putting mashed potatoes on a cupcake? Are you pregnant or something?"  After pulling myself back together from the laughter, because 6 children and 4 dogs is not enough, I explained it was meatloaf SHAPED like a cupcake.  It was actually dinner, not a dessert.

Long story short, dinner was a smashing success. My nephew says he LOVES meatloaf...but only Aunt Andrea's way.  I'll take that.

BBQ Meatloaf cupcake inside

No leftovers tonight!



  • For the Meatloaf
  • 4 slices of bacon (reserve bacon drippings)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • For the Mashed Potato Frosting:
  • 4 cups cubed peeled Yukon Gold potato (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel. Allow to cool. Crumble into pieces.
  3. Add chopped onion to the reserved bacon drippings and sauté 3-4 minutes. Cool.
  4. Add turkey, bread crumbs, cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, eggs, sautéed onions and crumbled bacon to a bowl and mix until combined.
  5. Spoon the meat mixture into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing.
  6. While the meatloaf is cooking, make the mashed potatoes. Place potatoes in a pan; cover with water. Add pinch of salt, Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Put potatoes into a ricer for best results. Return potato to pan. Add heavy whipping cream and remaining ingredients; stir with a spoon to desired consistency. If they are not creamy enough for you, add up to 1/4 cup more cream or milk--although they need to be stiff enough to pipe on top.
  7. Put the potatoes into a pastry bag with a wide star tip and pipe the mashed potatoes on top of the meatloaf.


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