Turn Crackers Into Breadcrumbs For Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

While meatloaf is made with ground meat (or meat substitute) just like a burger, the texture of the two is quite a bit different. The reason for this is that most meatloaf recipes call for breadcrumbs and eggs to bind the ingredients together. Exactly why this is needed we can't say, since hamburgers seem to hold together just fine without either ingredient, but we'll just go with tradition and leave it at that. Speaking of traditional meatloaf, Cracker Barrel's certainly fills the bill. The chain isn't really known for culinary innovation, after all, but instead stays in business by dishing up familiar foods at a decent price. Its meatloaf is one of the most popular items on the menu, perhaps because this is the sort of old-timey comfort food that you won't find at every restaurant.

Though Cracker Barrel may be affordable, it's always cheaper to dine at home, hence Mashed developer Lindsay D. Mattison's efforts to create a meatloaf that she proudly proclaims "tastes almost exactly like the restaurant's." As she admits that Cracker Barrel doesn't really share its recipes, her choice to use crushed crackers instead of breadcrumbs as a binder was based on preference. Well, that and some research she did into how the chain's meatloaf is made.

A little detective work informed the developer's choice of cracker

Since Cracker Barrel doesn't publish its recipes or even delve too deeply into its ingredients on the website, Lindsay Mattison took a look at other copycat meatloaf recipes out there for comparison's sake. One thing she noticed was that many of them call for buttermilk biscuits to be used as breadcrumbs. While it might make sense that Cracker Barrel would choose to re-purpose its leftover biscuits thusly, Mattison checked the chain's published allergen guide. What she discovered was that while Cracker Barrel's great-tasting buttermilk biscuits do contain milk, its meatloaf does not.

The dairy-free nature of Cracker Barrels meatloaf does tend to discount biscuits, but Mattison says that regular breadcrumbs or crushed croutons could work. Her preference, however, is for using crumbs specifically made from Ritz crackers. As she explains, "Ritz crackers taste buttery and rich, but they're dairy-free." While she says you could go with a different kind of cracker such as saltines, in her opinion, you'll only achieve the most Cracker Barrel-like meatloaf if you stick with some type of butter-flavored cracker.