The Surprising Ingredient In Cracker Barrel's Meatloaf

When you're in the mood for comfort food but not in the mood to cook it, where do you go? Cracker Barrel, of course. The popular chain is famous for its down-home Southern cooking from buttery biscuits to creamy macaroni and cheese to the stick-to-your-ribs "chicken n' dumplins." While all of the above are delicious, diners rave that one of the best things to order at Cracker Barrel is the meatloaf.

Hearty, meaty, and slathered in a tangy tomato glaze, it's just like how mama used to make it. And you don't have to dine out to get your Cracker Barrel meatloaf fix — you can make a copycat version at home. However, you can't use just any meatloaf recipe and expect it to taste like what you'd be served at the plaid tablecloth-covered interiors of Cracker Barrel. That's because the chain uses a secret ingredient in its meatloaf that gives it that uniquely delicious flavor.

Cracker Barrel uses an interesting alternative to breadcrumbs in its meatloaf

Most meatloaf recipes use breadcrumbs as a binding agent to hold the meat, veggies, and other ingredients together while it bakes. Not Cracker Barrel, though. The chain uses buttery Ritz crackers instead of breadcrumbs as the starch source in its meatloaf recipe. The crackers (which are crushed up fine enough to be the same consistency of breadcrumbs) not only help hold the loaf together like breadcrumbs do but they also add an extra dose of flavor to the finished product (via Insanely Good Recipes).

Despite the interesting ingredient, people love Cracker Barrel meatloaf. Not only has it been known to sell out, but many Yelp reviewers rave it's the best they've ever had. One in particular says, "The meatloaf was freshly baked to perfection. The seasoning was not too sweet and not too salty honoring the soul food of the South. It was soft and delicious in every bite."