Copycat Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Copycat Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf

Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour + standing
Get a taste of your favorite Cracker Barrel meat loaf with this easy-to-make copycat recipe! Here's a step-by-step guide.

Updated: Mar. 26, 2024

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.)

What’s the best meat for meat loaf?

Cracker Barrel Meat LoafTMB Studio

We prefer a meat loaf with at least 80% 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 then 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.

Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Ritz crackers
  • Onion
  • Green pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Ground beef
  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • Dijon or yellow mustard

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the meat loaf ingredients

ingredients for copycat meatloafTMB Studio

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

combine ingredients for copycat meatloafTMB Studio

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, milk, cheese, crackers, onion, green pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together until everything is evenly combined.

Step 3: Add the beef

mix in meat for copycat meatloafTMB Studio

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 4: Shape the meat loaf in a pan

shape meatloaf and shape in pan for copycat meatloafTMB Studio

Scrape the ingredients into a 13×9-inch baking dish and shape into a loaf that is approximately 10×5 inches.

Step 5: Bake uncovered

bake meatloaf in pan for copycat meatloafTMB Studio

Bake the meat loaf for 50 minutes, uncovered. Why uncovered? It helps the meat loaf get a crispier outside and retain its shape.

Editor’s Tip: If you want a meat loaf that’s even more moist, cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Step 6: Prepare the glaze

sauce ingredients for on top of copycat meatloafTMB Studio

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 7: Stir together until smooth

Stir the ingredients until smooth. Make sure the clumps of brown sugar dissolve into the condiments.

Step 8: Spread the glaze on the meat loaf

spread sauce on top of copycat meatloafTMB Studio

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 9: Bake again

copycat meatloaf baked for another 15 minutesTMB Studio

Bake the meat loaf for another 10 to 15 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 160° (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.

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 an hour.

Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf Tips

copycat meatloaf served with sidesTMB Studio

What type of pan do you use for this copycat Cracker Barrel meat loaf recipe?

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.

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.

What do you serve with this copycat Cracker Barrel 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 delicious 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.

Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 12 servings.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, crackers, onion, green pepper, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into a 5-in. x 10-in. loaf in an ungreased 13x9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Spoon over meat loaf.
  3. Bake until a thermometer reads 160°, 10-15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 305 calories, 19g fat (8g saturated fat), 99mg cholesterol, 504mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 0 fiber), 20g protein.