Home Copycat Recipes Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

This Cracker Barrel Meatloaf is classic comfort food at its best.

Made with ground beef, onions, bell pepper, cheddar cheese, Ritz crackers and a sweet, savory glaze, it’s hard to beat.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe
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This copycat version is easy, delicious, and a crowd-pleaser that feeds the whole family at a fraction of the price. Plus, the leftovers are just as good the next day.

But fair warning – with this recipe, it might not last long.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

Meatloaf often gets a bad rap. Especially if you’ve ever had the “mystery meat” that’s often served in school cafeterias.

But when you make it with love (and a few simple tips), this classic meal quickly becomes a comfort food family favorite.

What makes the difference between a meatloaf that turns out dry and bland versus one that is moist and delicious?

This is where Cracker Barrel gets everything right.

They use lean ground beef, sauteed vegetables, buttery Ritz crackers, sharp cheddar cheese, eggs, milk and a savory glaze made from ketchup and brown sugar.

Plus, there are a few trade secrets that will ensure your meatloaf turns out tender and juicy. We’ll reveal those in just a bit.


80% lean ground beef
Bell pepper
Ritz crackers
Sharp cheddar cheese
Black pepper

For the topping:

Brown sugar

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe with list of ingredients

The Best Meat to Use

People often complain that their meatloaf is too dry. This is often caused by using leaner meat. 80% lean ground beef is the best ratio for a moist, juicy meatloaf that cooks to perfection.

You can also use half ground beef and half ground pork to enhance the flavor and texture of your loaf. Sausage is another excellent option.

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Tips & Tricks

1. Do not over mix the meat.

I’ve been guilty of this many times. But I’ve since learned from the error of my ways.

Mixing your ingredients too much will result in a tough, dry meatloaf.

One of the secrets to a juicy meatloaf is not to over mix your ingredients. If you’re a perfectionist like me, this one requires a bit of self-control.

But if it makes a better meatloaf, so I try and combat my OCD tendencies.

It’s also important not to compress the meat too much when you’re forming the loaf. When shaping your loaf, looser is better.

2. Don’t cook your meatloaf too high.

I’ve seen recipes that call for temperatures as high as 425 degrees F.

That tends to dry out the meat. Instead you want to shoot for 325 F to 350 F for a moist meatloaf.

3. Veggies are key.

The onion and green pepper make a huge difference when it comes to meatloaf. They add flavor, texture, and moisture. You can even add in some finely chopped carrots and celery as well.

It’s these little tweaks and additions that make all the difference between a bland, boring meatloaf and one that you’ll want to make again and again.

4. Give the meatloaf space in the pan.

For a long time, I made the mistake of filling up a 5×9 inch loaf pan from edge to edge. This causes the meatloaf to steam and results in what we call a “meat brick”.

It’s not the end of the world, but I’ve learned that you need to allow the meatloaf to breathe while cooking. This allows the edges to caramelize and form a really nice crust.

Allow it to breathe by using a baking sheet or large baking pan.

Meatloaf with Carrots and Mashed Potatoes

What to Serve With Meatloaf

A few side dishes can turn this simple meal into a family favorite.

  • Mashed Potatoes – This buttery smooth starch pairs perfectly with the savory deliciousness of meatloaf. It’s a classic combo.
  • Mac & Cheese – This is my personal favorite. Two classic comfort foods on a single plate. And the savory glaze pairs perfectly with the cheese.
  • Roasted Carrots – Add some color to your plate with glazed carrots. Another hearty vegetable that pairs perfectly with meatloaf.
  • Fried Okra – Ok. It may not be the healthiest. But this is one of my favorite sides at Cracker Barrel. I put it with almost everything. You can never go wrong with fried okra.
  • Biscuits – A side of bread makes this meal complete!

You can pick and choose your side dishes to fit any occasion.

If you’re looking to add a few veggies, you can also use green beans, asparagus, broccoli, or a nice side salad.

Can You Freeze Meatloaf?

You sure can! Meatloaf freezes well. You can double the recipe and have meals ready-to-go for a few weeks.

Be sure to let it cool to room temperature first. Then wrap it in foil and place in a sealed plastic Ziploc bag. Can be stored for up to three months.

When you’re ready to pull it out, add additional sauce on top and place it in the oven at 350F for about 20 to 30 minutes or until hot.

Or if you’re lazy like me, you can let it thaw in the refrigerator (or the kitchen counter) and then warm it up in the microwave.

Fun Facts about Cracker Barrel

The first Cracker Barrel was opened off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1969 by Dan Evins.

Since then, they’ve become an interstate institution. Famous for their checker boards, all-you-can-eat biscuits, tabletop peg games, and old-fashioned country store with vintage candy, games, and even rocking chairs.

Plus, all of those antique items you see hanging on the walls in the dining room are all vintage items inspired by local history. No reproductions allowed.

In fact, Cracker Barrel now owns quite the antique collection, with over 100,000 items.

Growing up, my family went to Cracker Barrel nearly every weekend. It felt like a second home. So it was only natural that it became my first job as a hostess when I was in high school.

But it’s been years since I stepped inside a Cracker Barrel. Although just writing this article makes me crave those homemade biscuits and fried apples.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

Cuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time







Enjoy the taste of Cracker Barrel without ever leaving home! This copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf is even better than the original. Made with ground beef, onions, bell pepper, cheddar cheese, Ritz crackers and a sweet, savory glaze on top!


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef

  • 1 small finely diced onion

  • 1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper (optional)

  • 48 Ritz crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 sleeves)

  • 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar or Colby cheese

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • For the topping:
  • 1/2-3/4 cups ketchup

  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon mustard


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Place to the side. This will be used later as the topping.
  • In a large bowl, combine the eggs, crushed Ritz crackers, cheese, milk, onion, bell pepper, salt and black pepper. Mix well.
  • Add in the ground beef. Mix well just to combine. Do not over mix.
  • Transfer the mixture to a greased and line loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the topping over the meatloaf. Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


  • There are 32 crackers in a sleeve from the “Ritz Original Crackers (13.7 OZ)” box. So you’ll need about 1.5 sleeves to make 48 crackers total.


  • Calories: 393kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 20.7g
  • Protein: 42.2g
  • Fat: 15.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.2g
  • Cholesterol: 167mg
  • Sodium: 522mg
  • Potassium: 587mg
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Sugar: 8.5g
  • Calcium: 120mg
  • Iron: 4mg

Looking for Additional Meatloaf Recipes?

Or how about some more Cracker Barrel Recipes?

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

49 thoughts on “Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe”

  1. If you form your meatloaf over top of a couple of slices of white bread in the bottom of your casserole dish, the bread will work as a sponge to soak up the grease…works like a charm!!

    • Works great I use a sheet pan and use about four to six slices of bread. The bread smells really good when you cook it that way to. Also absorbs all the extra grease.

  2. I’ll admit, I was never a good cook. I’ve only mad one meatloaf during my married life…It looked nice, but it shrank to half the size, dry and hard…horrible. I gave up and never made it again. I’m now a retired widow and I am going to try my hand at making this recipe. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  3. Once at Cracker Barrel they had a temporary or trial dinner. It was outstanding but never served again. It was MAC and cheese with their smoked ham. Wish there was a recipe for it.❤

  4. Love to eat with you anywhere we go. The meatloaf is probably my favorite,because I never make it myself. I sure will try this recipe.

  5. I made this just as it was written. I was the best meatloaf I have ever had!!! Looking forward to making this again..Thank you for posting!!!

  6. I went ahead and made this for dinner tonight, using 1 cup of cracker crumbs (Italian) instead of crackers, and only 1 Tblsp of brown sugar for the topping. I chose red bell pepper for the color. Even my hubby said its a keeper! Thank you for bringing meatloaf back into my kitchen.

  7. I’ve been cooking for over 50 years and I’d never heard of putting a slice of bread in the bottom of your meatloaf pan. It makes such good sense, I’ll be trying that. Thanks for the excellent hint.

  8. I made this meatloaf today and it was wonderful. I did add dried parsley, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder to the recipe. My sister is very critical about food and she said it was good!

  9. I have never been a fan of meatloaf but my husband likes it. I had never found one that I liked-they were always so dense and dry. Since I am now “Stay-at-Home” I have had plenty of time to try new recipes. When I happened on this I was attracted by the photo which looked too good to pass up. I tried this and we all loved it. It comes out flavorful, but most importantly for me, it was so light, moist, and juicy. So I’ve added it to our family favorites and will definitely be making it again.

  10. Absolutely delicious! The 1-1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers is approx 50 crackers. There are 35 in one sleeve. I cooked this in my Instant Pot in a springform pan for 35 mins with 10 minute natural release. I used Dijon mustard in the ketchup topping instead of plain mustard.

  11. Fabulous recipe! I’ve been so frustrated trying to find a really good meatloaf recipe and this is IT! I will be making this one again ad again.

  12. Omg….this meatloaf was so good. I would not change anything. I served it with corn souffle and baked mac and cheese. Yummo!!!!

  13. I love meatloaf, especially Cracker Barrel’s. I tweaked a few things:
    1. I sauté the onion and pepper before mixing loaf ingredients. Set it aside to cool then add.
    2. I’m not a big fan of beef and try to tweak meats that are a lil healthier. I actually use one pound of each: ground chicken and pork. Comes out less greasy and I promise you won’t miss the beef. I made it for a house full of men, HUGE beef eaters. They couldn’t get over how good it tasted. Now they always request “the other meat” loaf.

  14. This is my go to meatloaf! It’s just the absolute best, and there’s wiggle room to add new ingredients. tonight I added a fresh from the garden green chile and a little red chile sauce!

  15. This is the best meatloaf on earth. I would not change one single thing, but it needs to be followed carefully. I’ve made it more times than I can count.

  16. Oh heavens, this recipe is divine! I made it tonight and we all absolutely loved it. Tender and moist and the glaze is delicious! Even my Mother, who up until tonight disliked all meatloaf other than her own, said it was fantastic and blew hers away. My Mom is FINICKY so that is really saying something! Thank you for the fantastic recipe. This will be my new go to!

    • Hi Quinie, it made my day to hear this! I’m so happy it turned out perfect for you. It’s part of my regular meal routine as well and never disappoints!

  17. This is the best meatloaf that I have ever made and my family loves it and goes for seconds. It is so moist compared to other copycat ones that I have tried. I just love your recipes. Do you have a cookbook?

    • Hi Nancy!
      So happy you and the family enjoyed the meatloaf. It’s one of my faves, too 🙂
      No cookbook (yet!) but you can save the recipes by adding your email or by clicking PRINT in the recipe card, then choosing “Save as PDF”


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