Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole

Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole

Looking for a hearty, comforting dish that combines the best of two classic favorites? This Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole is the perfect blend of savory meatloaf and creamy macaroni and cheese. Here’s how to create this delicious casserole step by step.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar barbecue sauce
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 30 Ritz Crackers
  • 2 oz Lipton onion soup mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups milk
  • 10.5 oz condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese blend

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven:
    Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Prepare the Sauce:
    In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ketchup and barbecue sauce, then set aside.
  • Prepare the Meatloaf Mixture:
    In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef. Place Ritz crackers in a large Ziploc bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then add the crumbs to the ground beef. Add the Lipton onion soup mix and eggs to the ground beef mixture. Pour in 1/2 cup of the ketchup and barbecue sauce mixture. Use your hands to mix all of the ingredients together until fully combined.
  • Form the Meatloaf:
    Press the meatloaf mixture evenly into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread the remaining ketchup and barbecue sauce mixture on top of the meatloaf.
  • Bake the Meatloaf:
    Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Cook the Macaroni:
    While the meatloaf is baking, cook the macaroni noodles according to the package directions, then drain.
  • Prepare the Cheese Sauce:
    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and condensed cheddar cheese soup until no lumps remain. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to the bowl and whisk well. Stir in the cooked macaroni noodles until they are coated in the liquid. Mix in 2 cups of the shredded cheese.
  • Combine Meatloaf and Macaroni:
    Once the meatloaf has baked for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. Pour the macaroni mixture on top of the meatloaf and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of the macaroni.
  • Bake Again:
    Return the dish to the oven and bake for an additional 17-20 minutes, or until the cheese on top is fully melted and just starting to brown.
  • Serve:
    Let the casserole sit for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy this comforting dish!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Kcal: 549 kcal per serving
Servings: 8 servings

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  • Garnish: Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or chives on top for a burst of color and added freshness.
  • Side Dishes: Pair this casserole with a simple green salad, steamed vegetables, or garlic bread to balance the richness of the dish.
  • Condiments: Offer additional barbecue sauce or ketchup on the side for those who like extra sauce.
  • Portion Control: Cut the casserole into even squares for easy serving, ensuring each piece has a good balance of meatloaf and mac and cheese.

Storage Tips:

Refrigeration:

  • Leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The casserole will keep well for up to 3-4 days.
  • Reheating: Reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. For a crisper top, reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10-15 minutes.

Freezing:

  • Before Baking: You can prepare the casserole up to the point of baking and then freeze it. Wrap the assembled casserole tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
  • After Baking: If freezing leftovers, let the casserole cool completely before cutting into portions. Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then bake at 350°F (175°C) until heated through.

Portion Control:

  • Individual Servings: Consider dividing the casserole into individual servings before freezing. This makes it easier to reheat just the amount you need and helps maintain the texture and flavor.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure your Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole remains delicious and enjoyable, whether you’re serving it fresh or reheating leftovers.

Variations:

  1. Turkey Meatloaf Casserole:
  • Substitute lean ground beef with ground turkey for a lighter version of the dish. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  1. Spicy Mac and Cheese Meatloaf:
  • Add chopped jalapeños or a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the meatloaf mixture for a spicy kick. Use pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar for an extra layer of heat.
  1. Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf:
  • Before baking, wrap the meatloaf in strips of bacon for an added smoky flavor. Bake until the bacon is crispy.
  1. Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Meatloaf:
  • Use gluten-free crackers or bread crumbs instead of Ritz Crackers. Ensure all other ingredients, like the soup mix, are gluten-free.
  1. Veggie-Packed Meatloaf:
  • Add finely chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, or spinach to the meatloaf mixture for added nutrition and flavor.
  1. BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese Meatloaf:
  • Substitute the ground beef with ground chicken and use a smoky barbecue sauce for a different twist on this classic casserole.
  1. Italian-Style Meatloaf:
  • Incorporate Italian seasonings like oregano, basil, and parmesan cheese into the meatloaf mixture. Use marinara sauce instead of ketchup and barbecue sauce.
  1. Cheesy Mac and Cheese Meatloaf:
  • Mix different types of cheese such as gouda, mozzarella, and provolone into the macaroni mixture for a richer, cheesier casserole.
  1. Mushroom and Onion Meatloaf:
  • Add sautéed mushrooms and onions to the meatloaf mixture for added depth of flavor. This also pairs well with Swiss cheese in the macaroni.
  1. Low-Carb Mac and Cheese Meatloaf:
  • Replace the macaroni noodles with cauliflower florets or zucchini noodles to reduce the carb content while still enjoying the creamy, cheesy goodness.

FAQs:

  1. Can I make this casserole ahead of time?
  • Yes, you can assemble the casserole up to the point of baking and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking.
  1. What can I use instead of Ritz Crackers?
  • You can use bread crumbs, crushed cornflakes, or even crushed pretzels as an alternative to Ritz Crackers.
  1. Can I use a different type of cheese?
  • Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, or pepper jack, depending on your preference.
  1. How can I make this dish healthier?
  • Use lean ground turkey instead of beef, add more vegetables to the meatloaf mixture, and use whole grain or gluten-free pasta for a healthier version.
  1. Can I freeze the casserole?
  • Yes, you can freeze the assembled, unbaked casserole or leftover portions. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking or reheating.
  1. What side dishes go well with this casserole?
  • This casserole pairs well with a green salad, steamed vegetables, garlic bread, or coleslaw to balance the richness.
  1. How do I prevent the meatloaf from becoming too dry?
  • Ensure you don’t overmix the meatloaf mixture, and be sure to cover it with the ketchup and barbecue sauce mixture to keep it moist during baking.
  1. Can I add other ingredients to the macaroni and cheese?
  • Yes, you can add ingredients like bacon bits, diced ham, or vegetables such as broccoli or peas to the macaroni and cheese for added flavor and texture.
  1. How do I reheat leftovers without drying them out?
  • Reheat individual portions in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel, or reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) covered with foil to retain moisture.
  1. What can I use if I don’t have condensed cheddar cheese soup?
  • You can make a homemade cheese sauce by melting butter, whisking in flour to make a roux, and then adding milk and shredded cheese until smooth and creamy.

These variations and FAQs provide ways to customize the Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole to suit different tastes and dietary needs, ensuring it remains a versatile and beloved dish in your kitchen.

This Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole is a perfect meal for family dinners, combining the rich flavors of meatloaf with the creamy delight of mac and cheese. Give it a try and watch it become a household favorite!