How to Make a Copycat Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf Recipe That’s Just as Good as the Original
Get a taste of your favorite Cracker Barrel meat loaf at home with this easy copycat recipe.
If you love meat loaf, you’re likely already a fan of Cracker Barrel’s famous meat loaf. And if meat loaf isn’t your thing, we’re pretty sure this recipe is about to change your mind! Like all of our favorite homemade meat loaves, our copycat Cracker Barrel meat loaf recipe is packed with flavor (plus melty cheese, chopped veggies and buttery Ritz crackers.).
Serve this ultimate comfort food classic alongside a copycat Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole for a hearty, delicious dinner.
What Is the Best Meat for Meat Loaf?
We prefer a meat loaf with at least 80 percent ground beef. That amount helps give the meat loaf a juicy consistency and keeps it from drying out. If you want to combine the ground beef with another meat, ground pork, ground veal, ground lamb or ground turkey (like in this turkey meat loaf) are all good options.
This meat loaf recipe calls for two pounds of ground beef. You can swap in another ground meat, but at least 1.6 pounds should be ground beef—the rest can be any of the above.
Copycat Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf Recipe
Here’s what you need to make this Cracker Barrel meat loaf recipe right in your own kitchen.
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup 2% milk
- 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers (30 crackers)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
Step 1: Prepare the meat loaf ingredients
To start, preheat your oven to 350°F. Prep all of your ingredients while the oven is preheating: Chop the onions and peppers, crush the crackers, crack open the eggs and measure out the cheese, milk and seasonings.
Step 2: Combine everything but the ground beef
In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, milk, cheese, crackers, onion, green pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Step 3: Mix together
Mix the ingredients together until everything is evenly combined.
Step 4: Add the beef
With clean hands, crumble the ground beef over the mixture and mix lightly with a spatula. Do not overmix: That’s the key to a moist and tender meat loaf.
Step 5: Shape the meat loaf in a pan
Scrape the ingredients into a 13×9-inch baking dish and shape into a loaf that is approximately 10×5 inches.
Step 6: Bake uncovered
Bake the meat loaf for 50 minutes, uncovered. Why uncovered? It helps the meat loaf get a crispier outside and retain its shape. It will still be moist inside, but if you’re looking for an even moister meat loaf, you can cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Step 7: Prepare the glaze
While the meat loaf is baking, measure out your ketchup, brown sugar and mustard for the sauce. Dijon or yellow mustard works here, so feel free to use what you have.
Step 8: Stir together until smooth
You want the sauce to be smooth as silk before spreading it onto your meat loaf, so make sure the clumps of brown sugar dissolve into the condiments.
Editor’s Tip: If you’re dealing with hard or lumpy brown sugar, here’s how to keep brown sugar soft.
Step 9: Spread the glaze on the meat loaf
Using a silicone pastry brush, generously spread the sauce on the meat loaf until it’s completely covered. You want an even layer on top and around the sides.
Step 10: Bake again
Bake the meat loaf for another 10 to 15 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (use a meat thermometer to check). Even if you covered the meat loaf during the first bake, keep it uncovered during this second bake.
The meat loaf will continue to cook once out of the oven, so if your internal temperature reads 155°, feel free to take it out. Let it stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. For a burst of bright herby flavor, serve with fresh parley sprinkled on top. Is meat loaf a staple at your dinner table? Then check out these sides for meat loaf that pair great with this American classic.
Tips for Making Copycat Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf
What type of pan do you use for meat loaf?
In order to catch the juices (and not get them all over your oven), use a deeper baking pan instead of a cookie sheet. We used a 13×9-inch casserole dish for this meat loaf recipe. A deep oval or round pan works, too. This gives the meatloaf room to breathe while cooking, while still catching all of those tasty juices. Don’t forget to try these stuffed meatloaf recipes.
What do you serve with meat loaf?
We enjoy a thick slice of Cracker Barrel meat loaf with buttery mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. A simple salad or roasted green beans and easy cheesy biscuits are also great meat loaf sides. Or, recreate the restaurant experience with one of these other Cracker Barrel copycat recipes.
Have leftovers? Make a meat loaf sandwich the next day.
How do you store meat loaf?
Meat loaf should stay fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. To retain the moisture, keep it in a shallow airtight container. You could also wrap the meat loaf in aluminum foil, but some of the glaze might stick to the foil when you open it.
Can you freeze meat loaf?
You can freeze meat loaf for up to four months. Store the cooked meat loaf in an airtight freezer-safe container, or wrap it in cling wrap and aluminum foil. To thaw your meat loaf, put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or heat the loaf from frozen by cooking it in a 350° oven for about a hour.
Why is my meat loaf falling apart?
Binding ingredients like the cheese and eggs in this copycat Cracker Barrel meat loaf keep the loaf together. If your meat loaf is crumbly and falling apart, you likely didn’t use enough binding ingredients—so make sure not to cut anything out when making this recipe.
Next Up: How to make an easy air-fryer meat loaf.