Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – Averie Cooks

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – Averie Cooks

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Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

I have some family members who want to stop at Cracker Barrel every time we pass one!

I live in California so there aren’t too many here, but if we’re in a part of the country where we pass one, everyone is eager for their good ‘ole fashioned home cooking recipes.

This Cracker Barrel Meatloaf copycat recipe is one of those family favorite dinner recipes that everyone loves.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

My copycat recipe for Cracker Barrel meatloaf is complete with juicy ground beef that’s mixed with diced tomatoes, onions, green peppers, Ritz crackers, and more.

There’s the signature sweet-and-tangy meatloaf glaze made with a mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. I layer it on thick because I am always all about the sauce in whatever recipe!

I’ve provided options for  either air frying the meatloaf or baking it in the oven.  That’s right – two ways to cook this fantastic glazed meatloaf.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

So What’s In Cracker Barrel Meatloaf?

Fun facts: I called a few different Cracker Barrels and asked about the ingredients in their meatloaf. I had to really come up with some creative stories and tall tales and said to one location that I was making this for a special anniversary dinner and  next time to another location I said that it was for a very important family reunion meal.

But I had some luck!

  1. They all told me that their meatloaf contains diced tomatoes, onion, green peppers, eggs, milk, and crackers.
  2. There is NO cheese and NO oatmeal in their glazed meatloaf recipe based on my conversations. 

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Ingredients in Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

That being said, it’s impossible to really know what ingredients Cracker Barrel puts in their meatloaf.

However, I included very basic fridge and pantry ingredients in this easy air fryer OR oven-baked meatloaf recipe including the following:

Meatloaf

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Glaze

  • Ketchup
  • Light brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dried ground mustard
  • Dried onion powder

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Tip: Scroll to the recipe card section for a more complete list of ingredients with amounts and directions included.

How to Make Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf in an Air Fryer

To make a Cracker Barrel copycat meatloaf recipe in your air fryer, follow these straightforward steps:

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Step 1: Mix together al the ingredients, stirring the Ritz crackers in at the end.

Step 2: Divide the meatloaf mixture between two mini loaf pans that are lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Step 3: Air fry for 30 minutes at 350F.

Step 4: Mix together the glaze ingredients while the meatloaf is air frying.

Step 5: Spread the glaze over the top and air fry for 5 to 7 minutes.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Step 6: Rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Making Cracker Barrel Meatloaf in the Oven

Making copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf in your oven is a cinch by following these easy steps:

Step 1: Mix together al the ingredients, stirring the Ritz crackers in at the end.

Step 2: Press the meatloaf mixture between into a 8×4-inch loaf pan that’s lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Step 3: Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

Step 4: Mix together the glaze ingredients while the meatloaf is baking.

Step 5: Spread the glaze over the top and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant’s secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Step 6: Rest for 15 minutes before serving.

What’s The Difference Between Air Frying and Baking Meatloaf?

There is not a clearcut “right” or “wrong” way to cook meatloaf but here are a few notable differences that I’ve found:

  • With air frying, the meatloaf cooks in half the time, about 35 minutes versus 60 minutes
  • The grease or fat from the meatloaf tends to seep out more with an air fryer compared to an oven
  • You’ll get slightly crispier edges with air fried meatloaf compared to baked

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

What Kind of Protein is Best for Meatloaf?

When I make meatloaf, I use ground beef but not “lean” ground beef. You need fat in order for the meatloaf to hold together.

Therefore, I use 80/20 ground beef.

Alternatively, you can use half ground beef and half ground pork. This makes for an extra moist meatloaf.

I’ve actually got a recipe for Air Fryer Turkey Meatloaf coming up in January so it’s safe to say that you can use ground turkey. However, you’ll need to make modifications to the meatloaf mixture to make sure there’s enough moisture since turkey is so lean, such as by adding ketchup and sautéed mushrooms to the meatloaf mixture. 

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Do I Have to Add Green Peppers to Cracker Barrel Copycat Meatloaf?

The short answer is yes because not only do they add flavor, they also provide moisture to ensure your copycat meatloaf recipe is tender and juicy.

If you’re concerned about a picky eater who doesn’t like green peppers, you can swap them out for another color pepper such as red, orange, or yellow for the fresh green peppers I call for in meatloaf recipe.

And you can use another canned variety of diced tomatoes or tomatoes and onions only. Make sure to drain it.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Serving and Storage Suggestions for Homemade Meatloaf

After you’ve allowed the copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf to rest for 15 minutes, feel free to dig right in!

Serve it with a side of Classic Mashed Potatoes, lLoaded Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, or a BLT Side Salad.

Extra meatloaf will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. 

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Tips for the Best Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

Don’t Overmix: When it comes to the meatloaf mixture, I urge you not to overwork the mixture because your meatloaf will be tougher. You’ll notice that I actually have you mix everything together first, add the beef at the end, and then finally add the Ritz crackers to help avoid overmixing.

Loaf Pans: For the air fryer version, I used two ceramic mini loaf pans that are 5x3x2-inches. This is a very standard size mini loaf pan. You can also use metal pans, noting that the meatloaf will cook a bit faster in a metal pan compared to a ceramic pan.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

For the oven baked meatloaf, I used a ceramic 8×4-inch pan. However, you can also use a 9×5-inch pan noting that your meatloaf will not be as tall and may cook a few minutes faster.

Lining the Pan: I always line my pans with parchment paper by making a sling and spraying it well with cooking spray to ensure you can easily lift the meatloaf right out.

Don’t Pack It: If you want crispier edges, my suggestion is to leave a bit of air space around the meatloaf and the perimeter of the pan so that your loaf is about a centimeter from touching the pan on all sides. 

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

No Pan?: I never bake meatloaf without a loaf pan because I think it will just fall apart and I don’t need the mess nor hassle! Although I know some people make their favorite meatloaf recipe this way. However, I’ve never tried this recipe without a loaf pan.

Baking Temps and Times in an Air Fryer vs. Oven: In both instances, the meatloaf cooks at 350F and for 30 minutes before adding the meatloaf glaze.

The difference is that in an air fryer, after adding the glaze you only return it to the air fryer for 5 to 7 minutes whereas in an oven it’s an additional 30 minutes after glazing. Therefore, if you’re looking for a winner on speed, the air fryer gets the win.

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf - This Cracker Barrel meatloaf copycat is tender, juicy, made with the restaurant's secret ingredients, glazed to tangy-sweet perfection, and sure to become a family FAVORITE comfort food dinner recipe! Air fryer AND oven baking options provided.

Do Not Overcook: Whether it’s an air fryer or the oven, take care not to overcook your meatloaf or it will be dry. And this is one recipe that no one likes on the dry side! 

Use a Thermometer: The best, easiest, and most accurate way of knowing if your meatloaf is done or not, is by using a digital read thermometer. Pull the meatloaf out at 155F and during the 15 minute resting period the temp will continue to rise to about 160F, which is the safe temperature at which to enjoy ground beef.

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions, drained
  • 1/2 medium green pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk (2% or whole recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef* (do NOT use lean ground beef)
  • 1 cup crushed Ritz Crackers

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried onion powder

Instructions

  1. Meatloaf – To a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients through pepper, and mix to combine.
  2. Add the ground beef and using either clean hands or a wooden spoon, mix to just incorporate the ingredients. Tip – The beef is added at the end to make sure you get everything else mixed first before adding the beef since you don’t want to overmix it at all or your meatloaf will be tougher.
  3. Add the Ritz crackers and mix lightly to incorporate. If air frying, go to step 4. And if oven baking, go to step 8.
  4. Air Fryer – Preheat an XL air fryer to 350F, line two 5x3x2-inch ceramic pans or similarly sized mini loaf pans (you can use metal, noting meatloaf will cook faster in metal than ceramic) with parchment paper, and spray well with cooking spray.
  5. Divide the meatloaf mixer between the two pans taking care not to hard-pack it in or meatloaf will be denser. For crispier edges, leave about a 1 centimeter perimeter between the meat and all sides of the pan.
  6. Air fry for 30 minutes.
  7. While waiting, make the glaze by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.
  8. After 30 minutes, open the basket, and evenly brush and distribute the glaze over the tops of both loaves of meatloaf and return to the air fryer.
  9. Air fry again for about 5 to 7 minutes, and check for doneness with a digital thermometer that should read 155F, before removing the loaf pans from the air fryer basket and allowing them to rest for 15 minutes. Tip – The resting period is important because it will allow the internal temp to climb to 160F which is when the meatloaf is technically done and safe to consume. Therefore, don’t skip the resting step. Jump to step 16.
  10. Oven Baking – Preheat oven to 350F, line a 8×4-inch ceramic pan (9×5-inch is also fine but mealoaf will not be as tall and may cook quicker; metal baking pans are also fine noting meatloaf will cook quicker) with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
  11. Add the meatloaf mixer to the pan taking care not to hard-pack it in or meatloaf will be denser. For crispier edges, leave about a 1 centimeter perimeter between the meat and all sides of the pan.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. While waiting, make the glaze by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.
  14. After 30 minutes, pull out the meatloaf, and evenly brush it all over the top of the meatloaf and return to the oven.
  15. Bake again for 30 minutes, or until done. Check for doneness with a digital thermometer that should read 155F, before removing the loaf pan from the oven and allowing it to rest for 15 minutes. Tip – The resting period is important because it will allow the internal temp to climb to 160F which is when the meatloaf is technically done and safe to consume. Therefore, don’t skip the resting step.
  16. Serve meatloaf after the 15 minute resting period if air frying or oven baking with your favorite sides. Meatloaf will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Notes

*I use 80/20 ground beef. Alternatively, you can use half ground beef and half ground pork. This makes for an extra moist meatloaf. You can use ground turkey. However, you’ll need to make modifications to the meatloaf mixture to make sure there’s enough moisture since turkey is so lean, such as by adding ketchup and sautéed mushrooms to the meatloaf mixture.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 195Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 729mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 9g

Favorite Easy Beef Recipes:

Instant Pot Beef Tips — Tender, juicy beef tips smothered in loads of savory mushroom gravy! So much hearty flavor and just PERFECT for piling over mashed potatoes or noodles! An EASY family-favorite comfort food recipe made entirely in your Instant Pot in about 30 minutes! 

Instant Pot Beef Tips - Tender juicy beef tips smothered in loads of savory mushroom gravy! So much hearty flavor and just PERFECT for piling over mashed potatoes or noodles! An EASY family-favorite comfort food recipe made entirely in your Instant Pot in about 30 minutes!

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Grilled Steak Kabobs — Juicy steak with sweet bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and pineapple for the PERFECT sweet-and-savory kabob!! You’ll want to fire up your grill for these! Fast, EASY, zero cleanup, and DELISH!!

Grilled Steak Kabobs on white serving platter

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef — Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

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Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff – A comfort food classic that everyone in the family LOVES! Hearty chunks of beef, rich and flavorful beef gravy, and served over a bed of warm noodles to soak up all that goodness! The EASIEST recipe for beef stroganoff ever because your Crock-Pot truly does all the work! Set it and forget it! 

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Comfort food at its finest with thick and tender chunks of potatoes, buttery soft potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The broth is rich, deep, and exquisite thanks to a mixture of beef broth, red wine, and a mixture of herbs and spices. IMPRESS your family and friends with this CLASSIC beef stew recipe! 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Comfort food at its finest with thick and tender chunks of potatoes, buttery soft potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The broth is rich, deep, and exquisite thanks to a mixture of beef broth, red wine, and a mixture of herbs and spices. IMPRESS your family and friends with this CLASSIC beef stew recipe!

Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast — A foolproof recipe for tender, juicy pot roast with just FIVE main ingredients! Your slow cooker does all the work in this comfort food classic pot roast that the whole family will adore! EASIER than any pot roast you will ever make and with more robust flavor! 

Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast - A foolproof recipe for tender, juicy pot roast with just FIVE main ingredients! Your slow cooker does all the work in this comfort food classic pot roast that the whole family will adore! EASIER than any pot roast you will ever make and with more robust flavor! 

Beef Tater Tot-Chos – Crispy tater tots topped with taco-seasoned ground beef and melted cheese is a DELICIOUS and fun twist on nachos!! EASY, ready in no time, and perfect for PARTIES!!

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