Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf is just as juicy, tender, and flavorful as the original. With that cheesy goodness that we love baked right in and Cracker Barrel’s classic glaze, you’ll never have to head to the restaurant for their meatloaf again.
If you’ve never been to Cracker Barrel, you’re missing out. Everything on their menu is downhome country goodness. We’ve been so many times, and there’s nothing on their menu that isn’t absolutely perfect.
That being said, there’s one thing that at Cracker Barrel that stands out above everything else for my us – their meatloaf. Cracker Barrel’s meatloaf is so juicy and delicious, and it has an added kick of cheese that really makes it pop. When you couple that with the delicious glaze, it’s a meatloaf recipe that can’t be beat.
If you’ve never had their meatloaf, you’re missing out on something truly amazing.
Classic Comfort Food
Cracker Barrel meatloaf is classic comfort food in our family. It makes for a perfect meal and a great sandwich too. There are certain foods that fit into that comfort foot category and this my friends is one of them. It’s perfect hot and cold.
So perfect as a matter of fact that we usually double this recipe. We have one for dinner and the other for sandwiches during the week. And don’t forget that this freezes really well so any leftovers can be frozen for later.
A Brief History of Meatloaf
Meatloaf is a classic dish served all across homes throughout North America and across the world. It’s a dish that almost everyone knows and loves. But where the heck did it come from? That’s actually kind of an interesting story.
There are various theories on where meatloaf began, but the most popular one is that what we know as meatloaf today actually began in medieval Europe. The theory is that it was a Mediterranean dish of finely diced meat scraps combined with fruits, nuts, and seasonings.
True to its origins, meatloaf in all its forms was mostly a kitchen scrap buster, consisting of whatever leftovers remained from previous meals.
Similar in origin to many casseroles and shepherd’s pie, meatloaf became a way to stretch meats as far as they could go and use up leftover vegetables and other food items before they spoiled.
While meatloaf spread across the world in various forms, perhaps no country embraced the idea more than America. What used to be a ragtag heap of leftovers thrown together has now become the iconic American favorite that ranks closely behind burgers and hot dogs in popularity.
Today, meatloaf is no longer the cooked trash heap of the kitchen. Rather, it’s a time-honored dish that is made with varying ingredients and levels of intricacy, ranging from standard meatloaf to high-end varieties that use cuts of meat like veal and lamb.
But today, we’re going with a simple version. Our copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf.
Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
Copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf is a simple recipe. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, and that’s good. It doesn’t need them.
The beauty of most meatloaf recipes lies in their simplicity, in our opinion. There are some meatloaf recipes out there that feature veal, lamb, and even shellfish, but we like our meatloaf simple.
This recipe is one of those delicious comfort food creations that is greater than the sum of its parts. It only takes a few ingredients and a little baking time to create a classic meal that will leave your tastebuds so happy.
We know sometimes people think “oh no meatloaf” but when you have a meatloaf as tasty as this one, you be smiling from ear to ear.
The ingredient list for this recipe is short and simple. It only takes 10 ingredients to make this meatloaf, and if you’ve ever made any meatloaf recipe at all, you’ll find them all familiar.
You’ll almost certainly have every ingredient needed for this meatloaf in your refrigerator or pantry already. In fact, the only thing you might have to buy is ground beef, and you might even have that if you found some on sale that you froze. Here’s what you need:
- Olive Oil
- Small Onion
- Small Bell Pepper
- Ground Beef (we prefer 80% or 85% lean ground beef)
- Ritz Crackers
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Black Pepper
See? There’s not much to this at all. Even the seasoning is simple. It’s just salt and pepper. The real magic happens when you put it all together. And of course, cheese is always a plus in any recipe.
Making the Meatloaf
Making this copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf is really easy. It’s ridiculously easy, in fact. If you’ve ever made meatloaf, you already know what an easy recipe it is to create. If you’ve never made meatloaf before, you’re going to love the simplicity.
Just keep in mind not to over mix the meat loaf when mixing it. Overmixing actually makes the meatloaf tough. Just mix it until it mixed through. Also when your forming the meat loaf itself keep it fairly loose. Think of it as if your making a burger, you want to keep the meat nice and loose and light. It makes for a juicy perfect burger.
The full recipe is below, but the long and short of it is that to make this meatloaf, you cook the onion and peppers until tender, mix it up with everything else and then bake it.
Making the glaze is even easier. Just mix up the ingredients, heat them on the stove until smooth and bubbly and pour the whole thing over the cooked meatloaf.
Serving Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
There is an almost endless variety of possibilities when it comes to serving this meatloaf. If you’re going for the full Cracker Barrel experience, plate it up with a heaping serving of mashed potatoes and some green beans.
If you want to go with something a bit lighter, simply serve it with a variety of vegetables for a tasty meal. Some great vegetable pairings for this meatloaf include:
- Mixed Vegetables
These are just a few options. You can serve this meatloaf with any vegetable you like. The flavors pair well with any of your favorite veggies.
Storing the Meatloaf
You can store this meatloaf in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in a air-tight container.
Freezing the Meatloaf
Meatloaf is one of our favorite freezer meals. You can store the meatloaf in the freezer for a three to four months!
When freezing, be sure to wrap the meatloaf tightly in cling wrap then aluminum foil and then place it in a zip lock freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
I know this may sound like a little much but it prevents freezer burn and your meatloaf will last for three to four months! Be sure to defrost the meatloaf completely in the refrigerator before reheating.
Try This Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
Whether you’re a fan of Cracker Barrel, or you’ve never been, you’re going to love this copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe. It’s so simple and so good, you’ll find yourself making it again and again.
It’s a simple recipe with simple ingredients that combine to create a flavor that no one can say no to. And of course, we can’t forget the cheese! From start to finish, this recipe is an instant classic that your family will ask for again and again.
If you love Cracker Barrel and love their meatloaf this is a recipe you will want to try!
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Copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf is just as juicy, tender, and flavorful as the original. With that cheesy goodness that we love baked right in and Cracker Barrel's classic glaze, you'll never have to head to the restaurant for their meatloaf again.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 small bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 2 pounds ground beef (80%)
- 1 ½ sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan with a sling made of aluminum foil. Spritz with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender.
In a large stand mixer bowl, add the ground beef, crushed crackers, eggs, cheddar cheese, milk, salt, pepper, onions, and bell peppers. Beat just until mixed.
Press into the prepared loaf pan. Cook for 30 minutes in the oven.
Meanwhile, mix together the glaze ingredients.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and cover with the glaze. Return the meatloaf to the oven and continue baking for an additional 35 to 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes in the loaf pan before lifting from the loaf pan and slicing.