Crockpot Meatloaf (Best Melt-in-Your-Mouth Recipe)

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This Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe creates a flavorful, juicy loaf — just like the restaurant version. Serve with mashed potatoes and mixed veggies for an easy comfort food meal! It’s the perfect recipe for busy weeknights and is one of my favorite go-to dinner recipe options! 

crockpot meatloaf on serving platter


 

This Cracker Barrel copycat meatloaf is an easy and delicious comfort food meal to put together.

Plus, the leftovers are delicious and easy to reheat! It’s even better flavor the next day! 

overhead: bowls of ingredients for slow cooker meat loaf recipe

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe

Meatloaf is one of our favorite comfort foods. And, there are so many different ways that you can make this dish that I never run out of ideas!

Savory beef combined with veggies, seasonings, and cheese creates the most incredible flavor. 

And the sweet, tangy glaze on top is what really makes this copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf shine!

The first time that you create this meatloaf mix, it’s going to be your new favorite way. Set the dinner table with this comforting meal and let everyone gather around.

It’s an easy weeknight meal that makes dinner time a fun and delicious time. Sure to be a family favorite! 

My Best Meatloaf Ever with Balsamic Glaze is moist and delicious, plus it comes together quickly and freezes perfectly.

Craving bold steak flavors? This Bacon Double Cheeseburger Stuffed Meatloaf is just what you need. 

Or, try Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf for a lighter version of this classic meal. 

meat loaf in slow cooker, before cooking

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground beef – This Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe calls for 20% fat ground beef. You can use leaner ground beef if you want to. 

    However, the lower fat may result in the loaf being dry. Similarly, you can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken as a healthier option.
  • Crackers – I use crushed Ritz crackers because that’s what the restaurant uses. 

    Any variety of crushed crackers will work, as will breadcrumbs, crushed croutons, or torn slices of day-old bread.
  • Sauce – Cracker Barrel meat loaf is topped with a ketchup-based sauce that gives it the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, while also adding moisture to the dish. 

    However, plain ketchup or barbecue sauce are great substitutes.
  • Bell peppers – I use green bell pepper in this recipe. You can substitute any color of bell pepper, or leave them out entirely.
  • Cheese – Sharp cheddar cheese is what I use, but feel free to use your favorite variety for this dish. 

    Just be sure to buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself! The anti-caking ingredients in pre-shredded cheese absorb moisture. 

    As a result, the loaf will be dry. Also, pre-shredded cheese does not melt very well.
meatloaf with oatmeal in sauce

How To Prevent Meatloaf From Drying Out

  • Include enough fat. 

The best meatloaves are moist and juicy because they have the best ratio of meat to fat.

Beef that is 85/15 is the best choice — this means it is 85 percent beef and 15 percent fat. 

You could also use 80/20. However, using any leaner than 85/15 will cause the loaf to be dry.

  • Use enough liquid. 

Also, the addition of liquid to this Cracker Barrel meatloaf recipe plays a big role. I prefer to use milk, tomato sauce, or even barbecue sauce.

  • Avoid overcooking it. 

If possible, use an instant-read thermometer to determine when your Cracker Barrel meatloaf is cooked. 

Ovens rarely cook evenly, and some are known to be hotter than others. 

For this reason, rather than cooking the loaf for a set amount of time, it’s best to cook it to an internal temperature of 155 degrees.

  • Allow time for the dish to rest. 

Be sure to allow your Cracker Barrel copycat meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before cutting it. 

This allows the juices to redistribute into the loaf, so the juices don’t run out when you cut into it.

spooning sauce over slices of meatloaf made with oatmeal

Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf FAQ

Does Cracker Barrel meatloaf have pork in it? 

No, it does not contain pork — and neither does this copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf!

That said, ground pork or sausage is not an uncommon meatloaf ingredient. Feel free to swap it for some of the ground beef if you would like!

Why does my meatloaf fall apart? 

This dish gets its structure from a combination of ground beef with binding agents — specifically, crushed crackers and eggs.

If your meatloaf is crumbling, you likely need to add more binders to it.

Another reason that your Cracker Barrel meatloaf may fall apart is that you haven’t worked the ingredients together well enough. Of course, you don’t want to over-mix them, but they should be well combined.

Should I cover meatloaf during baking? 

If you’d like to cover the Cracker Barrel meat loaf while you bake it, you can. 

Just be sure to uncover it during the last 15 minutes of baking time so the top can brown and the sauce can turn into a glaze.

What is the secret to a good meatloaf recipe? 

It really all comes down to the meat mixture. Having a juicy meatloaf is key, so using meat with a higher fat content is important. 

Also, when you’re making the formed loaf and mixing the meat mixture, don’t overmix. Just mix until combined, which is really only a little bit of time. 

What side dishes pair well with traditional meatloaf? 

The whole family will enjoy this great recipe with sides like green beans, brown gravy, and even mashed potatoes. You can easily create a true comfort meal for busy nights by having this delicious meatloaf be the main dish. This tender meatloaf is sure to be a bit a big hit for the entire family.  

cracker barrel meatloaf on mashed potatoes and veggies

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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crockpot meatloaf with sauce on platter

Other Easy Crockpot Recipes

crockpot meatloaf, sliced

Crockpot Meatloaf (Best Melt-in-Your-Mouth Recipe)

Donna Elick
Crockpot meatloaf is a twist on a family favorite that’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Prep it in 15 minutes and let the crockpot do the rest!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Slow Cooker
Servings 8

Ingredients
 

  • 1/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 7.5 ounces tomato sauce, half of 15 ounce can
  • 1 cup quick-cook oats
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 of 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions
 

  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together bread crumbs and milk. Allow the mixture to sit for a few moments so that the milk is absorbed into the bread crumbs.
  • To the breadcrumb/milk mixture, add remaining meatloaf ingredients. Use gloved hands to mix the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  • Divide meat mixture in half. Form into two loaves. You can cook both now if they will fit in your crockpot or freeze one loaf for cooking later.
  • Place loaf into the bottom of the crockpot.
  • Whisk together the glaze ingredients until fully combined and smooth.
  • Pour half of the glaze over the loaf (or all of the glaze if you are cooking both loaves).
  • Cover crockpot with lid and cook on LOW for 3 hours or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf registers 165°F.
  • Slice meatloaf and serve with sauce from the crockpot.

Donna’s Notes

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
This recipe makes 2 loaves! You can cut the recipe in half to make just one loaf. If you used this recipe and made one very large loaf, the cook time will be different. I like to divide into two loaves for maximum sauce coverage.
The sauce will thicken in the crockpot. I like to make an indent down the center of the meatloaf to make a nice trough for lots of sauce to settle in.
Mixing the breadcrumbs and milk together adds moisture to the meatloaf.
Check to make sure the center of the meatloaf reaches 165°F. No need to overcook beyond this. Overcooking will dry out the meatloaf and make it tough.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 324cal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 1187mg | Sugar: 19g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 5mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled pinterest collage for crock pot meatloaf recipe

Originally published November 2021, updated and republished February 2024

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4 Comments

  1. I made this meatloaf tonight and it was delicious. My picky son loved it too. Definitely a keeper recipe! The glaze was a flavorful finishing touch. My only question is about the cooking time. Was it based on one loaf? I made both loaves in one large crockpot and it wasn’t done after 3 hours. I cranked it up to high for another 45 minutes.
    I was hungry but it was worth the wait!

  2. 5 stars
    This is such a good recipe, definitely one to make weekly because you can just toss it into the crock-pot. I love lazy-day recipes.

  3. I want to make a meatloaf but with all hamburger can I use ur recipe n I want to use 6 lbs of hamburger what can I do n how long do I cook it

  4. 5 stars
    very good! moist and juicy without being to watery. my picky husband loved it! and I loved how easy it was to fix!
    thanks!

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