Move over boring meatloaf, because Ritz Cracker Meatloaf with its brown sugar glaze is here to save dinner time! With its crushed Ritz crackers adding a burst of buttery goodness, this dish takes meatloaf from "meh" to "mmm."
It's comfort food with a twist, perfect for those nights when you're short on time but refuse to compromise on taste. So go ahead, show that oven who's boss and whip up the best Ritz Cracker Meatloaf that'll have your family begging for seconds (and maybe even doing the dishes!).
Ritz crackers, introduced in 1934, add a touch of nostalgia and a whole lot of flavor, transforming ordinary meatloaf into an extraordinary meal.
Meatloaf recipes have been around for decades. I can think of no better way to use a pound of ground beef (or 2.25 lbs. for this recipe) than mixing it up with lots of seasonings, topping it with a yummy sauce, and baking it to juicy perfection! This is truly comfort food the whole family will love! Who knew meatloaf made with Ritz crackers could be so lip-smacking delicious!
Why This Recipe Works
Meatloaf is versatile, easy to make, and makes the best leftovers! Cold meatloaf can be sliced and used in sandwiches, crumbled into salads, or incorporated into casseroles. This meatloaf recipe has a nice sweetness to the sauce thanks to the brown sugar.
If you prefer a more savory meatloaf, try my Southern Meatloaf recipe. It has a savory, smokey flavored sauce.
Why You'll Love It
Mmm, those little Ritz crackers have a buttery and slightly salty taste that really add to the big flavor and tender texture of this meatloaf.
The brown sugar meatloaf glaze is the final step and tied for first place as to why you'll love this meatloaf. It isn't overly sweet but you can adjust the level of sweetness by adding more or less brown sugar. Tada!
This meatloaf recipe is not only simple to make but customizable, too. You can use different types of ground meat such as beef, turkey, or a mixture, and add various seasonings, sneak in some grated vegetables, or even add a little cheese.
Overview of what goes in Ritz Cracker Meatloaf.
Ground beef - ground chuck that is 80% lean and 20% fat makes a nice and juicy meatloaf; not too dry and not too fatty.
Ritz crackers - that unmistakable buttery flavor of these crackers is what makes this meatloaf so special. Just crush them with your fingers while they're still in the bag.
Minced garlic - I keep a jar of minced garlic in my fridge because it's handy and easy to use (and tastes great).
Onions - minced, fresh onion is barely noticeable to the eye but packs big flavor; letting the meatloaf be the main attraction. Minced is smaller than diced and chopped. Because it's minced, there's no need to sauté it first; it will cook tender while the meatloaf bakes.
Eggs - eggs provide moisture and help hold the meatloaf together while it bakes.
Ketchup - we use it in the meatloaf and the glaze; it adds flavor and moisture to the meatloaf and caramelizes with the brown sugar glaze on top!
Vinegar - just a little splash of vinegar in the glaze adds a slight tang to the flavor. It balances the sweetness of the ketchup and brown sugar.
- You can use different types of ground meat such as beef, turkey, or a mixture of the two. I think a mixture of ground beef and ground turkey is a great choice.
- If you're out of ketchup, use tomato sauce. For more ketchup substitutions, check out The 10 Best Substitutes for Ketchup in Recipes brought to you by The Recipe.
- Worcestershire sauce is packed with flavor! I love to use it on meats, vegetables, and marinades. But if you don't have any, you can use soy sauce or A1 steak sauce if you have it.
- Use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of the minced garlic.
- Out of eggs? While eggs are used as a binder for meatloaf, there's no law that says you have to use eggs in a meatloaf; just leave them out. The meatloaf might be a little crumbly, but will still taste outstanding.
- If you don't add the eggs and feel you must add a binding ingredient, you can add about ¼ cup cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese (but adding cheese will also add another flavor profile to the meatloaf; just be aware of that).
How to Make It
How to make this Ritz Cracker Meatloaf in just 4 easy steps!
What to Serve With It
Make it a square meal by adding one or two of the following side dishes.
Store-bought rolls and a green salad.
How to Store Leftover Meatloaf
Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I prefer to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids from Bayco, available now on Amazon.
You can also freeze leftover meatloaf. Just wrap completely cooled meatloaf in clear wrap, then place it into a freezer-friendly airtight container. Write the date on it and freeze for up to 3 months.
Best Way to Reheat Meatloaf
When it comes to reheating your leftover meatloaf, there 3 methods that have pretty good results.
Microwave - My favorite way to reheat meatloaf is in the microwave. It's a quick and easy method especially if you're in a hurry. Take 2-3 slices of meatloaf, place them on a plate, cover with another plate, and heat on 50% power for 30-60 seconds, depending on how thick or thin your slices are and how warm you want the meatloaf to get. Try not to overheat the meatloaf or it'll get dry!
Oven - Preheat your oven to around 325°F (165°C). Place meatloaf slices on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, cover it with foil to prevent drying out, and heat it for about 10-15 minutes or just until warm. Or heat the whole meatloaf for about 20-25 minutes.
Stovetop - Place meatloaf slices in skillet over medium heat and add a small amount of oil or butter. Cook (or fry) for 15-20 seconds on each side until heated through. This method allows for a slightly crispy exterior while keeping the interior moist.
Tips for Success
I want you to have the best results making my Ritz Cracker Meatloaf! Here are some tips to consider.
- Whisk all the ingredients (except for the ground beef) together in a bowl. Then add the ground beef to the mixture and lightly blend. This technique helps to blend the meatloaf without overmixing.
- Cut the raw meatloaf into several chunks before adding it to the seasoning mix. This helps to cut down on the mixing time while helping to distribute the seasonings and crushed crackers.
- Shape the meatloaf into a loaf and use the back of a spoon to create a slight indentation (or a well). The "well" will hold most of the glaze and keep it from dripping down the sides and into the pan while it bakes.
- Let the meatloaf rest after it bakes. This will help the juices redistribute within the meat, making it more flavorful and easier to slice. Just 5 minutes makes a big difference!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely not! Just shape the loaf into a loaf shape, then bake on a rimmed sheet pan or casserole dish. I actually prefer not to use a loaf pan so that I can drain off the grease after it bakes.
Use a high-fat meat such as ground chuck (not a lean ground beef). Also, we add a little milk to the meatloaf mixture and that helps, too. Those are the answers to that secret!
Ground chuck (80% lean/20% fat) is the winner for meatloaf! Regular ground beef (70% lean/30% fat) has a much higher fat content and will definitely shrink down more than chuck. On a side note, lean ground beef (90% lean/10% fat) might seem like a great choice, but it may yield a dry meatloaf.
While this meatloaf is very similar to Cracker Barrel Meatloaf, they are not the same recipe. But one thing for sure with my recipe, you know exactly what's in it because you made it yourself (with love, right?).
More Ground Beef Recipes
If you tried this recipe, please let me know by leaving a comment! I'd love to hear from you.
Do you like the way I organized the recipe steps in the post above? For example, the photo with the instructions below the photo. Let me know!
If you'd like more easy recipes sent straight to your email, subscribe and get a free 5-day meal plan! How easy is that!
Ritz Cracker Meatloaf
- mixing bowl
- measuring cup(s)
- measuring spoons
- rimmed sheet pan
- ½ cup fresh minced onion (Note - minced is smaller than diced and chopped)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (Tip - use the minced garlic that comes in a jar)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon milk
- 2.25 lbs ground beef (Tip - for easier mixing, cut the ground beef into 8 chunks)
- 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers (the texture of the crackers should be similar to breadcrumbs)
- ½ cup ketchup
- 4 tablespoon brown sugar (Note - 4 tablespoon of brown sugar makes a sweet glaze; for a less sweet glaze, use 2 tbsp)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Place all the ingredients -- except for the ground beef and crackers -- in a large bowl and mix well. Tip - a whisk works well for this step.
- Add the ground beef and the crackers to the bowl with the mixture. Blend well, shape into a loaf, and place into a rimmed baking pan or casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the glaze and spread on top. Tip - before adding the glaze, make a small well down the center of the meatloaf with the back of a spoon to help keep some of the glaze from sliding down the meatloaf.
- Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Check for doneness (no red juices come out when pricked with a fork). Bake another 5-10 minutes if need be. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.