There is something so comforting about meatloaf. It reminds me of my childhood. I guess some dishes never go out of style. They are timeless. This is the case with Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe.
Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
This dish soon became as American as hot dogs. Every family and a lot of restaurants have their own recipe, and we all think ours is the best.
Well, I think this recipe is the best of all. I love the crust that forms on top when a mixture ok ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard is cooked along with the loaf.
Some people use crackers in their meatloaf, but I think seasoned breadcrumbs are the way to go.
Eggs are the binder of choice, and onions, garlic, and bell peppers infuse the meat with amazing flavor. Oh, and throw in some sharp Cheddar cheese just because we love it!
- Ground beef: I like to use 90% lean ground beef.
- Chopped onion and garlic are a must in almost all my dishes. To me, food without them tastes bland and unflavored.
- Red bell pepper gives the meatloaf a great look.
- Parsley not only makes it look great, but it also makes it taste amazing.
- Seasoned breadcrumbs: if you can add more flavor, why not? Plain breadcrumbs don’t contribute much to the taste, but seasoned breadcrumbs do.
- Milk: you can use whole milk, skim milk, or 2% milk. Any milk will do.
- Eggs bind everything together. Without eggs, the meatloaf may fall apart when cutting it.
- Sharp Cheddar cheese is not a must-add, but who doesn’t like a bit of cheese in their food? If you decide to use it, I recommend shredding your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese has added fillers that you don’t want in your food.
- Ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar, when combined, make an amazing coating for the meatloaf.
The full recipe and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
How To Make Cracker-barrel Meatloaf
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Using a medium-sized bowl, mix the veggies, parsley, eggs, cheese, and milk
- Add the ground beef, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs and mix with your hands, just until combined.
- Place mixture in a loaf pan and bake for 30 mins.
- Meanwhile, using a small bowl, mix ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar
- After 30 minutes, take meatloaf out of the oven and spread the ketchup mixture on top
- Continue baking for another 30 to 40 mins until the meat is cooked through
The Best Meat To Use
I like to use lean ground beef. Some people like to mix ground pork with ground beef, but I think the added fat creates a bit of a problem with the ketchup coating.
When the meat is baking in a pan, the grease goes to the top and mixes with the ketchup mixture preventing it from forming a coat.
If you are free-forming your loaf and baking it on a baking sheet, you can use the meat of your choice because the grease will come out from the bottom.
Tips and Tricks
- Do not overmix the meat mixture. If you do this, the meatloaf will come out tough, and you will activate the fat inside the meat. It tends to separate when you manipulate the meat too much.
- If you are using crushed saltines instead of breadcrumbs, let them sit in the milk and egg mixture for a couple of minutes before adding the meat so that they can absorb the liquid.
- You don’t need to grease the loaf pan if you are using a non-stick pan. If you are not, spray the pan with nonstick spray before putting the meat mixture in.
- Chop the onions, garlic, and pepper as finely as you can so no one gets a big chunk in one bite.
- Shred your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese has added fillers that keep it from melting properly.
- If you don’t have a loaf pan, free-form the loaf and bake it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
What To Serve With Meatloaf?
Another great dish to serve is Creamed Potatoes, but if you are not a potatoes kind of person, we have a great Homemade Rice Pilaf recipe that is super easy to make. Another great side dish is our delicious Cucumber and Tomato Salad. It is the best salad for meatloaf.
But, if you are feeling like something a bit more gourmet, try our Homemade Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing. You will love it.
Can Your Freeze Meatloaf?
Definitely, just let it cool completely and wrap it in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and lastly, put it inside a freezer bag.
Label the bag with the date you made it and freeze it for up to 4 months.
More Meatloaf Recipes You’ll Love
Cracker-barrel Meatloaf Recipe
- 2 lbs 90% lean ground beef
- ½ white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ⅓ cup of milk
- ½ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the veggies with the beaten eggs, milk, and shredded Cheddar until well combined
- Mix the ground beef, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs into the bowl until everything is well combined but not overmixed.
- Put the meat mixture inside a loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- While the meatloaf is baking, combine the ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Mix it until you feel most of the sugar has dissolved. Set it aside.
- After 30 minutes, carefully take the meatloaf out of the oven and spread the ketchup mixture evenly over the top.
- Continue baking the meatloaf, uncovered, for another 30 to 40 minutes. Let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting it.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you make sure it’s tender, moist, and not dry?
The answer is milk! Milk mixes with the breadcrumbs and makes them moist, making the meatloaf moist as well. This prevents it from drying out and becoming tough.
- Do you use a loaf pan or are other methods better?
I prefer to use a loaf pan. It keeps everything together and helps it keep its shape better.
If you are using a pan, I recommend cooking with lean ground beef. That way, the grease in the meat doesn’t come up on the surface.
If you don’t own a loaf pan, you can free-form your loaf and cook it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I feel this method produces a not-so-good-looking loaf, but it’s a good method also.
- How do you know when it’s done?
Generally, a 2 lb meatloaf should be cooked in about one hour.
If you own a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 155F. Try not to overcook it, it tends to get tough if you overcook it.