Recreating the Classic: Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
Cracker Barrel’s meatloaf is a beloved comfort food that brings back fond memories of home-cooked meals and family gatherings. If you’re a fan of this classic dish, you’ll love our Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe. With its savory flavors and moist texture, this meatloaf is sure to become a staple in your recipe collection. Join us as we recreate the magic of Cracker Barrel’s meatloaf right in your own kitchen!
For the Meatloaf:
- 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
- Preheat the Oven:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- Prepare the Vegetables:
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and red bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Mix the Meatloaf Mixture:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, crushed Ritz crackers, beaten eggs, grated cheddar cheese, whole milk, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and the cooked onion and bell pepper mixture. Mix until well combined.
- Shape the Meatloaf:
- Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the prepared loaf pan and shape it into a loaf shape, pressing it firmly into the pan.
- Make the Topping:
- In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, and yellow mustard until well combined. Spread the topping evenly over the top of the meatloaf.
- Bake the Meatloaf:
- Place the loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through and the top is caramelized.
- Rest and Serve:
- Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm and enjoy!
Cook’s Notes and Variations:
- Vegetable Variations: Feel free to customize the vegetable mix in the meatloaf to suit your taste preferences. You can add diced carrots, celery, or mushrooms for extra flavor and texture.
- Cracker Substitutes: If you don’t have Ritz crackers on hand, you can use breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers instead. The crackers help bind the meatloaf mixture together and add a subtle buttery flavor.
- Cheese Options: While sharp cheddar cheese adds a delicious flavor to the meatloaf, you can use any cheese you like. Try using shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Swiss cheese for a different twist.
Keto and Low-Carb Versions:
- Substitute crushed pork rinds or almond flour for the Ritz crackers to reduce the carb content.
- Use a sugar-free ketchup alternative or homemade keto-friendly ketchup for the topping.
- Omit the brown sugar from the topping or use a sugar-free sweetener such as erythritol or stevia.
- Follow the keto version instructions above, adjusting the seasoning and topping options to suit your low-carb preferences.
- Be mindful of portion sizes to stay within your daily carb limit while enjoying this low-carb meatloaf.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Can I freeze leftover meatloaf? Yes, leftover meatloaf can be frozen for future meals. Wrap individual slices or the entire loaf tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
2. Can I make mini meatloaves instead of one large loaf? Absolutely! Divide the meatloaf mixture into individual portions and shape them into mini loaves. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as mini meatloaves will cook faster than one large loaf.
3. Can I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef? Yes, you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef in this recipe. Keep in mind that leaner meats may result in a slightly drier texture, so you may want to add extra moisture or fat to the mixture.
4. Can I customize the seasoning in the meatloaf? Of course! Feel free to adjust the seasoning to suit your taste preferences. Add herbs such as thyme, parsley, or oregano for extra flavor, or spice it up with chili powder or cayenne pepper for a kick.
With its savory flavor and hearty texture, Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf is a classic comfort food that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re serving it for a cozy family dinner or hosting a casual gathering with friends, this meatloaf is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Plus, with keto and low-carb variations available, everyone can enjoy the deliciousness of homemade meatloaf. So gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to savor the nostalgia of Cracker Barrel’s famous meatloaf right in your own home!