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Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

A meatloaf you’ll keep coming back to again and again.

Cracker Barrel does a lot of things right (Crockpot Cracker Barrel Carrots or Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Biscuits, anyone?) but their meatloaf is something to keep coming back for, over and over and over again. See, it’s not just any meatloaf, it’s meatloaf with a few tricks up its sleeve so that it’s far more juicy and flavorful than regular ol’ meatloaf tends to be. And we know just how to make it! This copycat recipe lets you make an identical meatloaf right in your own home. It’s sure to be a family favorite you’ll make again and again and you don’t even need to get in your car to get it.

What might you expect goes into a meatloaf? Ground beef? Correct, this one has that. Breadcrumbs or oats? Not so much. This particular one uses crushed Ritz crackers as a binder and let me tell you, it’s pretty much genius. They hold everything together, sure, but they also bring flavor to the party with their buttery, salty nature. In other words, they serve a purpose, but they do it with style.

There’s some other stuff you would probably expect — like onions, eggs, and milk — but then there are some unexpected additions like cheddar cheese and bell pepper. Well, those are the only other two that go beyond basic and they’re not totally unexpected in a meatloaf but they do up the flavor quotient considerably. Bell peppers add a zesty sweetness, as only they can, and cheddar cheese acts as a comforting binder with subtle little pockets of meltiness running throughout the loaf. They’re not odd additions, they’re not all that out of the ordinary, but they make this taste like something really special.

In my humble opinion, meatloaf isn’t meatloaf without a ketchup topping and this one is one to write home about. With the addition of brown sugar, it caramelizes beautifully, and a little yellow mustard adds a subtle tang. It’s just what you need — the ultimate topping to top off the ultimate meat loaf!

Serves 8

15m prep time

1h cook time

Rated 4.8 out of 5
Rated by 28 reviewers

Allergens: Eggs, Milk, Gluten

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 lbs 80% lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
For the topping:
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add peppers and onions and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cracker crumbs, beaten eggs, cheddar cheese, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add veggies once cool enough.
  4. Using your hands, mix until just combined but do not overwork.
  5. Transfer to loaf pan and bake 30 minutes.
  6. While meatloaf bakes, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard for the topping.
  7. Brush over top of meatloaf, then return to oven until meatloaf reaches 155°F, 30-40 more minutes.
  8. Let rest in pan 15 minutes before removing to slice. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Insanely Good Recipes.

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