Two slices of copycat cracker barrel meatloaf on a white plate with a bowl of green beans and more meatloaf in the background
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Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

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Make Cracker Barrel's famous meatloaf at home with this easy copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe! Topped with a sticky glaze you may even say it's better than the original.

Craving that homestyle goodness of Cracker Barrel’s famous meatloaf? You’re in luck! This Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe brings all that mouthwatering flavor straight to your kitchen without having to step foot in a Cracker Barrel. This meatloaf is the perfect blend of juicy, flavorful, and oh-so-moist, with Ritz cracker crumbs adding that extra oomph. And let’s not forget the pièce de résistance – a sticky sweet glaze that’s simply irresistible. You’ll want to put on everything!

Two slices of copycat cracker barrel meatloaf on a white plate with a bowl of green beans in the background

Every once in a while, I will stray away from my golden number of 5 ingredients per recipe, and when it comes to recreating Cracker Barrel’s famous meatloaf, 5 ingredients just won’t cut it. So no, this is not a traditional dinner in 5 recipe, but it is the best copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf with a delicious glaze that’s so good it’s well worth the extra ingredients.

So, whether you’re a meatloaf lover or still on the fence, this delicious Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe is set to change your mind and set a new standard. Juicy ground beef, perfectly blended with diced onions, green peppers, those meatloaf game-changing Ritz crackers, and oodles of cheddar cheese. It’s a mix of flavors that harmoniously come together, creating a meatloaf so good, that your family might just start preferring it over the original Cracker Barrel version. I mean it!

Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Overview

Cuisine Inspiration: American
Number of Ingredients: 11 (excluding salt and pepper)
Total Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: Contains meat, gluten, and dairy
Key Flavor: Meaty, savory with a sweet and tangy glaze
Skill Level: Beginner

Notable mentions

  • Juicy Joyride: Say goodbye to those memories of dry, mystery meatloaf nightmares from the school cafeteria. This meatloaf is all about juicy, full-flavored goodness that’ll make your taste buds dance with every bite!
  • Effortlessly Easy: No fancy techniques or confusing steps here. This meatloaf recipe is as straightforward as it gets, perfect for busy weeknights or when you just don’t feel like fussing in the kitchen.
  • Budget-Friendly: Delicious doesn’t have to mean expensive. Using simple, affordable ingredients, this Cracker Barrell meatloaf recipe proves that great flavors can be achieved without breaking the bank.
  • Comfort Food Classic: Every bite of this meatloaf brings back those cozy, nostalgic memories of family meals at Cracker Barrel. It’s comfort food at its finest, perfect for gathering around the table with loved ones.
  • Perfect for Leftovers: Not only does this meatloaf make a fantastic dinner, but the leftovers (if there are any!) are just as delicious the next day, making for easy and tasty lunches.

Ingredients to make Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

For the Meatloaf

  • Ground Beef: (93% lean recommended) for a rich and meaty base.
  • Onion: Diced, adding a subtle sweetness.
  • Green Pepper: Diced. Contributes a fresh, slightly tangy taste and a bit of crunch.
  • Eggs: Acting as a binder to hold the meatloaf together.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Hand shredded. Melts into the meatloaf, adding a creamy, cheesy flavor that pairs well with the beef.
  • Milk: Helps to keep the meatloaf moist.
  • Ritz Crackers: 2 cups crushed (about 20 crackers) for a unique, buttery texture. These are WAY better than breadcrumbs!
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon, to enhance all the flavors.
  • Ground Black Pepper: 1 teaspoon, for a mild, spicy kick.

For the glaze

  • Ketchup: Serving as the tangy base of the glaze.
  • Brown Sugar: Packed, for a rich, molasses-like sweetness.
  • Yellow Mustard: 1 tablespoon. Adds a sharp, vinegary contrast to the sweetness of the glaze.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a unique, complex, umami flavor.
Overhead shot of ingredients for making copycat cracker barrel meatloaf on the table before mixing

How to make Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

Step 1: Getting Ready

  1. Start by preheating your oven. Then, prep a baking sheet with sides by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spraying a thin layer of cooking spray.

Step 2: Make the Glaze

  1. Add ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce to a small bowl.
  2. Whisk together until smooth. Put this aside for later.
Collage of steps for making copycat cracker barrel meatloaf including mixing the glaze

Step 3: Mixing, baking and glazing the meatloaf

  1. Add ground beef, onion, green pepper, eggs, cheese, milk, crushed crackers, salt, and pepper to a large bowl.
  2. Mix it up with your hands, ensuring everything’s mixed in there well with no big clumps of ingredients.
  3. Place the meat mixture on the baking sheet and shape it into a loaf, about 10 inches by 4 inches should do.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Take it out of the oven (don’t burn yourself!), and spread the glaze all over the top of the meatloaf.
  6. Put it back in the oven and continue baking. If you’re checking with a thermometer, you’re looking for an internal temp of 160 degrees. Then, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Collage of steps for making copycat cracker barrel meatloaf including mixing the meat with the rest of ingredients, baking the meatloaf, and glazing the meatloaf
  • Turkey Twist: Swap out the ground beef for ground turkey if you’re looking for a leaner option or just prefer the taste of turkey. It’s a great way to lighten up meatloaf while still keeping it hearty and flavorful.
  • Swap the Crackers: Don’t panic if you don’t have Ritz crackers! Try using saltine crackers or even flavored croutons. They’ll still give you that desired crunch and binding quality.
  • BBQ Glaze: Not a fan of ketchup? Swap it out for BBQ sauce in the glaze for a smokier, more robust flavor. It’s a simple change that can make a big difference if you’re a hopeless BBQ lover (guilty!).
  • Cheesy Change-Up: Experiment with different cheeses like mozzarella for a milder flavor or a smoked gouda for a bit of a smoky kick. Each cheese brings its own unique taste to your Cracker Barrel meatloaf. Just make sure it’s not too soft or too hard.

Tips for making the best Copycat cracker barrel meatloaf

  1. Don’t Overmix the Meat: Think of combining your ingredients like you’re mixing a gentle salad, not kneading bread. Overmixing is a no-no if you’re after a meatloaf that’s soft and tender, not tough.
  2. Allow the Meatloaf to Rest: Once out of the oven, let the meatloaf rest on the counter for about 5-10 minutes. This rest time lets all those yummy juices settle back in, ensuring each slice is as moist and flavorful as can be.
  3. Use a Meat Thermometer: Don’t leave doneness to guesswork. Use a meat thermometer to check that the center of the meatloaf reaches 160°F. That’s how you’ll ensure your copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf is perfectly cooked – safe, yet still juicy.
  4. Fat is Flavorful: Always opt for ground beef with a bit of fat – around 7% fat content is ideal. This not only adds flavor but also keeps the meatloaf moist during baking. Leaner meats might result in a drier meatloaf.
Sliced copycat cracker barrel meatloaf on parchment paper on top of a wooden cutting table

How to store & reheat This Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

After the feast, if you’ve got leftovers, just wrap your meatloaf slices or the whole loaf in cling wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the fridge. You can also place them in an airtight container.

To reheat, pop your meatloaf slices into the microwave or oven. If using the oven, cover it with foil and heat at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes. In the microwave, a couple of minutes on medium power should do the trick.

How long will This Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf last in the fridge?

Your meatloaf will stay fresh in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days as long as it’s well stored. If it starts to smell funky or look weird, trust your senses and dump it in the trash.

Can I freeze This delicious cracker barrel meatloaf recipe?

If you have too much meatloaf, you can freeze it! Simply wrap it tightly in cling wrap and then in foil, or put it in a freezer-safe bag or container. It’ll stay good in your freezer for up to 3 months.

What to serve with Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

  • Hashbrown Casserole: I mean, it goes without saying that Meatloaf and Cracker Barrel’s Hashbrown casserole go hand in hand. I am tempted to suggest serving Cracker Barrel’s famous pancakes for dessert as well!
  • Homestyle Mac & Cheese: Go all out on comfort food with a side of gooey, cheesy mac & cheese. It’s the ultimate indulgence and pairs amazingly well with the savory flavors of the meatloaf.
  • Creamy Mashed Potatoes: What’s Cracker Barrel meatloaf without a side of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes? They’re like the Robin to your Batman, the perfect duo. Plus, they’re great for scooping up any leftover glaze!
  • Green Beans: Add a pop of color to your plate with Almondine Green Beans. They’re a simple, healthy side that balances out the richness of the meatloaf. You’re welcome!
  • Warm Cornbread: Serve up some freshly baked cornbread on the side for a sweet and savory treat. It’s also perfect for mopping up every last bit of that delicious glaze!

Meal Prep & Freezer Instructions

Preparing for the Week:

  1. Bake the Meatloaf: Follow the recipe instructions to prepare and bake your meatloaf.
  2. Cool and Slice: Once baked and rested, let the meatloaf cool completely. Then, slice it into your desired portion sizes. This makes it easier to reheat individual servings during the week.
  3. Refrigerate: Store the sliced meatloaf in airtight containers. You can keep them in the fridge if you plan to eat them within a few days.

Freezer Instructions After Baking:

  1. Freeze in Portions: For longer storage, wrap each meatloaf slice in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. This way, you can thaw only as many portions as you need at a time.
  2. Label and Date: Don’t forget to label your container with the date. The meatloaf will typically last up to 3 months in the freezer.
  3. Reheating: When ready to eat, you can thaw the meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven until heated through. If reheating from frozen, extend the reheating time and ensure it’s heated thoroughly.

Freezing Meatloaf Before Baking:

If you prefer to prepare your meatloaf in advance and freeze it before cooking, here’s how you can do it:

  1. Prepare the Meatloaf Mixture: Follow the recipe to mix all the meatloaf ingredients together, just as if you were going to bake it immediately.
  2. Shape the Loaf: On a tray or in a loaf pan that fits in your freezer, shape the meat mixture into a loaf. You can line the pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap for easier removal after freezing.
  3. Wrap for Freezing: Once shaped, wrap the entire loaf tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. This double layer helps prevent freezer burn.
  4. Label and Freeze: Label the wrapped meatloaf with the date and any cooking instructions you might need later. Freeze it. The raw meatloaf can typically be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  5. Thawing and Baking: When you’re ready to cook the meatloaf, thaw it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Once fully thawed, bake as per the original recipe instructions, adjusting the baking time if necessary, as the cold meatloaf might take longer to cook.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any vegetarian or vegan alternatives for this recipe?

Yes! You can create a vegetarian or vegan alternative using plant-based ground meat or textured vegetable protein (TVP) instead of beef and pork. Also, use vegan substitutes for ingredients like eggs and dairy.

Does Cracker Barrel Meatloaf have pork in it?

No, the traditional Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe doesn’t contain pork. However, if you enjoy the flavor of pork, you can experiment by adding ground pork alongside the ground beef.

Why is my meatloaf falling apart after baking?

Meatloaf can fall apart after baking if it lacks proper binding agents like eggs and Ritz Crackers or if it’s overmixed, causing the meat to lose its structure. To prevent this, be gentle when mixing, use enough binding ingredients, and allow the meatloaf to rest briefly after baking before slicing.

Overhead shot of sliced copycat cracker barrel meatloaf on a wooden board, next to a bowl of green beans and a plate with two slices of meatloaf and mashed potatoes

You’re in for a real treat with this Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf! It’s packed with all the homestyle goodness that makes you think of cozy, country dining, and TBH, it isn’t just tasty. It’s the kind of dish that brings everyone to the table, eagerly waiting for a slice.

More Dinner recipes:

I want to hear from you! If you try this easy Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe or any other of my 5 ingredient or less recipes on Dinner in 5, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I read all the comments and respond!

Close up of copycat cracker barrel meatloaf sliced on parchment paper
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Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

Make Cracker Barrel's famous meatloaf at home with this easy copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe! Topped with a sticky glaze you may even say it's better than the original.
No ratings yet
Author Jackie
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 696
Prep Time 15 minutes
Rest Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients
  

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 lbs ground beef 93% lean recommended
  • ½ cup onion diced
  • ¼ cup green pepper diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cups crushed Ritz Crackers roughly 20 crackers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Glaze:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet with sides by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil and applying a thin layer of cooking spray.
  • For the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Put this aside for later.
  • In a larger mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the ground beef, chopped onion, green bell pepper, eggs, shredded cheese, milk, crushed crackers, salt, and black pepper. It’s best to mix with your hands to ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Carefully transfer the beef mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, shaping it into a loaf about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide. Bake the loaf in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • After the initial bake, remove the loaf and brush it generously with the prepared glaze. Continue baking the glazed loaf for another 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F when checked with a meat thermometer in the center.
  • Once baked, take the meatloaf out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This is a great time to finish making your sides. To serve, slice the meatloaf, plate it up, and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Don’t Overmix the Meat: Think of combining your ingredients like you’re mixing a gentle salad, not kneading bread. Overmixing is a no-no if you’re after a meatloaf that’s soft and tender, not tough.
  2. Allow the Meatloaf to Rest: Once out of the oven, let the meatloaf rest on the counter for about 5-10 minutes. This rest time lets all those yummy juices settle back in, ensuring each slice is as moist and flavorful as can be.
  3. Use a Meat Thermometer: Don’t leave doneness to guesswork. Use a meat thermometer to check that the center of the meatloaf reaches 160°F. That’s how you’ll ensure your copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf is perfectly cooked – safe, yet still juicy.
  4. Fat is Flavorful: Always opt for ground beef with a bit of fat – around 7% fat content is ideal. This not only adds flavor but also keeps the meatloaf moist during baking. Leaner meats might result in a drier meatloaf.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.33lb, Calories: 696kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 209mg, Sodium: 1051mg, Potassium: 619mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 25g, Vitamin A: 454IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 242mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American

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