Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

5 from 3 votes

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This deliciously seasoned Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe comes out tender and juicy every time. With peppers and onions for sweetness and a mouthwatering brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard glaze, this meatloaf is a perfect copycat of the real thing.

cracker barrel meatloaf plated on mashed potatoes

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

There’s nothing like a good Southern meatloaf recipe. With the perfect blend of savory and just a touch of sweetness, it’s the epitome of Southern comfort. 

Cracker Barrel has perfectly mastered the art of Southern cuisine. So what’s the secret to Cracker Barrel’s meatloaf recipe? 

It’s actually pretty simple: they make their meatloaf with Ritz crackers, not breadcrumbs. Buttery crackers do a fantastic job of absorbing the milk and other juices in this recipe, both binding the meat and keeping it moist. 

I recommend making some Creamy Cheese Grits, Roasted Mashed Potatoes, or Smoked Mac and Cheese along with this Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe. These simple southern flavors come together for a comforting, homestyle meal. 

overhead: homemade meatloaf on plate with green beans and mashed potatoes

INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS 

  • Ground Beef –  I recommend 85/15 ground beef. It is juicy and forms a delicious crust, keeping its shape well to form the loaf.
  • Onion – Onions add both sweetness and moisture. Either red or yellow onions can be used.
  • Bell Pepper – This optional ingredient isn’t in the original Cracker Barrel recipe, but I think it adds great texture and sweetness.
  • Ritz Crackers – These crackers are the Southern alternative to breadcrumbs. Finely ground, they are buttery and delicious.
  • Cheddar Cheese – Sharp and creamy cheese will help to bind as well as add flavor.
  • Milk –  Milk soaks into the Ritz crackers and adds moisture.
  • Eggs – These help the meat bind with all of the other ingredients.
  • Brown Sugar Glaze – The glaze is what makes this dish really shine. This sauce is packed with zesty flavors and is thick enough to coat and bake into the loaf perfectly.
    • Ketchup – Sweet and tangy, this condiment makes up the base of many meat glazes.
    • Brown Sugar – is popular in sauces due to the deep sweetness of the molasses. 
    • Worcestershire – This pungent sauce has a very strong flavor due to its vinegar base.
    • Yellow Mustard – is for the perfect amount of bite and heat!

HOW TO MAKE CRACKER BARREL MEATLOAF RECIPE

  1. Preheat.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the Glaze.  Whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and yellow mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Sweat the Onions and Peppers.  Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Sauté diced onions and peppers until softened. Set aside and allow to cool.
  4. Continue to Combine.  Stir eggs, finely crushed Ritz crackers, cheese, milk, sautéed vegetables, salt, and pepper in a large bowl with a spatula in a large bowl.
  5. Add the Beef.  Gently fold the ground beef into the Ritz mixture.
  6. Form the Loaf.  Form into a loaf and place inside your loaf pan or on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  7. Bake and Glaze.  Bake the loaf in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and spread the glaze over the top of the meat. Return to the oven, and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaf reaches 155° F.
    Note: If cooking at a high altitude, add 15-20 minutes to your baking time.
  8. Let Rest and Serve. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
cracker barrel meatloaf plated on mashed potatoes

How do I make my meatloaf moist and not dry? 

The best way to prevent your meatloaf from being dry is to not overcook it. In addition to that, it’s important to use a proper ratio of dry and wet ingredients. Too many wet ingredients can result in a soggy meatloaf that falls apart. It’s also important not to overmix the beef when creating the loaf and combining ingredients.

How long should I let my meatloaf rest after baking? 

Let it rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing. As it rests, the heat of the pan will continue to cook the meat and allow it to reach a safe internal temperature of 160° F.

How can I check if the meatloaf is done without a cooking thermometer? 

After letting it rest in the pan for 15 minutes, slice into it to see if there is any pink showing. If there is, then cover the pan with aluminum foil, and return it to the oven for another 15 minutes.

How do I cook meatloaf at high altitude? 

If cooking meatloaf at high altitude, add 15-20 minutes to the time shown in the recipe.

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cracker barrel meatloaf plated on mashed potatoes

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

5 from 3 votes
This Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe creates a delicious southern meatloaf with a delicious glaze. Make this copycat recipe easily at home!
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 1 hr
Total: 1 hr 15 mins

Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef 85/15
  • 1/2 cup white onion finely diced or grated
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper finely diced or grated (optional, see Note 1)
  • 48 Ritz crackers crushed (1 1/2 sleeves)
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup milk any variety
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Meatloaf Glaze

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • To a small bowl, add ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and yellow mustard. Use small spoon or whisk to combine; set aside.
  • Add oil to a small skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add diced onions and peppers. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • To a large mixing bowl, add eggs, finely crushed Ritz crackers, cheese, milk, salt, black pepper, and sauteed vegetables. Stir with spatula to combine.
  • Add ground beef and gently combine to incorporate. Do not over mix or meatloaf will be dry.
  • Form into a loaf and place inside a meatloaf pan. Alternatively, shape meatloaf mixture into a large round loaf shape (similar to round loaf of bread) and place on baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and spread meatloaf glaze over the top of meatloaf. Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature in center of loaf reaches 155° F. (See Note 2)
  • Let meatloaf cool in pan for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. (See Note 3)

Notes

  1. Bell pepper is optional; it is not used in Cracker Barrel’s meatloaf recipe.
  2. Let loaf rest for 15 minutes in the pan prior to slicing. As it rests, the loaf will continue to cook (called carryover cooking) and internal temperature should increase to a safe internal temp of 160° F.
  3. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer and there is any pink showing when you slice the meatloaf, cover the pan with aluminum foil and return to oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. If cooking at high altitude, add 15-20 minutes to time shown in this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 876mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 666IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: American, Southern
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image: cracker barrel meatloaf

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I follow you and enjoy your posts. I just made your meatloaf and I will say it is better than mine and I really like mine. Hats Off to you! It is a keeper. Have a nice weekend, Kathy

    1. So happy this passed the test. Appreciate the kind words and you taking the time to come back and let me know Elda. All the best! 🙂