This pumpkin barbecue meatloaf recipe with mashed sweet potatoes is the finale to my week of pumpkin-themed dishes. The pumpkin spiced topping has no added sugar and can be made sweet or savory to fit your taste preferences. If you have a weight loss goal, don’t miss my tips to lighten up this dish. Get cozy this autumn with some seasonal comfort food!
I’ve made a pumpkin barbecue meatloaf recipe for dinner every autumn for the past few years. It’s become a bit of a yearly tradition for us, along with picking apples and constructing Halloween costumes.
My original recipe for pumpkin meatloaf came from a fellow dietitian. While I love the recipe, I’ve always found it a bit too sweet for my taste buds.
Today I am going to offer you my reinvented version of the pumpkin barbecue meatloaf recipe. It has no added sugar and can be made sweet or savory by adding or subtracting pureed dates.
I know that it is somewhat strange to include dates in a meatloaf. However, they help to provide that touch of sweetness that is expected from BBQ sauce.
Additionally, the dates help to give the sauce a lovely brown color. Without them, the meatloaf appears to have been brushed with pumpkin puree straight from the can, even after broiling. An example of the cooked pumpkin topping without the dates can be seen below.
This recipe feeds a crowd, and if you have company over, I’d recommend adding the dates for aesthetic appeal. If you are on a low-carb diet or looking to lighten the meal, we felt it was fine to leave them out. The meatloaf will still taste great.
It’s not hard to lighten up this recipe if you have a weight loss goal
There are some easy ways to bring the numbers down on this meal. One straightforward approach that many healthcare practitioners would recommend is to have smaller portions of the meat and potatoes. Using a mini loaf pan to make the loaves is a strategy that may help with portion control.
However, there are other strategies to enjoy these comfort foods that might bring you greater satiety. If you have a weight loss goal, it’s wise to think about the approach that may work best for you. Here are the ways I would have modified this recipe if I was still trying to lose weight:
- Remove the hyper-palatable fat and carb combinations in the meal. One way to do this is skip adding the date puree to the pumpkin topping, as discussed above.
- This one may be a bit controversial, but I’d ditch the sweet potato side as well. The meatloaf and salad by themselves will make a delicious and satiating meal that is lower in calories. This tip is also the way to go if you follow a low-carb way of eating.
- Substitute the pound of ground pork in this recipe for another pound of 96/4 ground beef. This move will cut significant calories and fat from the dish. A word of warning though, your finished meatloaf will be a bit drier.
One final suggestion!
This recipe makes six generous servings. Unless you have a large family, I recommend packing leftovers into individual serving containers right away.
Having the leftovers packed up as individual meals makes it far less likely I’ll mindlessly snack on them later. I have a collection of glass food containers that I use; they last longer than plastic and are better for reheating. It’s a great way to prevent food waste and have a delicious lunch or dinner all set for later in the week!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let’s get cooking!
Pumpkin Barbecue Meatloaf with Mashed Sweet Potatoes
For the pumpkin barbecue topping:
- 1 T olive oil
- ½ c grated onion
- 80 grams pitted fresh dates
- ⅓ c red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 t salt
- ¾ t cinnamon
- 1 t chili powder
- ½ t paprika
- ½ t black pepper
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin
For the meatloaf:
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 lb. ground beef, extra lean (96/4)
- ½ c rolled oatmeal, dry
- 1 egg
- ½ t cinnamon
- ½ t garlic powder
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- ½ c canned pumpkin
- ½ c onion, chopped
- 2 T fresh thyme
- 10 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 t dried rosemary
- cooking oil spray of choice
For the sweet potatoes:
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, chopped into 1.5" cubes (no need to peel them)
- ¼ c milk, 2%
- 4 T butter
- 1 T fresh thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- mixed greens and dressing of your choice (1.5 c greens and 1-2 T dressing per person)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
To make the pumpkin barbecue sauce:
- Sauté the grated onion in the olive oil.
- Put the dates and red wine vinegar in a food processor. Blend into a smooth puree.
- Add the sautéed onion and all of the rest of the pumpkin sauce ingredients to the food processor with the dates. Blend until smooth.
- Put the pumpkin sauce in a medium-sized pan and heat, stirring, for 20 minutes on medium-low. It will become as thick as ketchup. Set sauce aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
To make the meatloaf:
- Sauté the mushrooms in a pan, using the cooking spray if needed. This will take about 10 minutes. You can add a little water if the mushrooms get too dry.
- Use clean hands to thoroughly combine all of the meatloaf ingredients (including the mushrooms) in a large mixing bowl.
- Spray a rimmed baking pan with the cooking spray. Shape the meatloaf mixture into a loaf on the pan.
- Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Spread *half* of the pumpkin barbecue sauce over the loaf and bake an additional 10 minutes. (Freeze the leftover pumpkin barbecue sauce for future use.)
- After baking, broil the loaf on low for an additional 3 minutes. Let the loaf rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
To make the mashed sweet potatoes:
- While the meatloaf bakes, put the sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with 1-2" of water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium, and simmer 20-30 minutes until soft.
- Drain the sweet potatoes well. Using a potato masher, mash all of the sweet potato ingredients together until well-combined.
- Divide the pumpkin barbecue meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, and salad greens with dressing among the dinner plates (plus additional containers for leftovers, if needed). Enjoy this taste of autumn while it lasts!
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). The calorie count here includes a serving of the pumpkin barbecue meatloaf and sweet potatoes only. The salad and dressing are not included. If you need to bump this one down to level 1, don’t miss the tips I gave above. (I’ve been known to scroll quickly past posts to get to a recipe, so no judgment if you do the same.)
What are some of your favorite autumn comfort foods? Tell me in the comments, and be sure to leave a rating if you try this pumpkin barbecue meatloaf recipe with sweet potatoes!