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Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole

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Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole combines two classic comfort foods into one delicious, hearty dish. This casserole features a flavorful meatloaf base topped with creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese. Perfect for family dinners or gatherings, this dish is sure to be a hit. Let’s dive into the step-by-step recipe to create this ultimate comfort food casserole.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 30 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 10.5 oz can of cheddar cheese soup
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Meatloaf Base

  1. Preheat Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Mix Meatloaf Ingredients:
    • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, crushed Ritz crackers, eggs, onion soup mix, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  3. Form Meatloaf:
    • Press the meatloaf mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, creating an even layer.
  4. Add Toppings:
    • Spread the ketchup and BBQ sauce evenly over the top of the meatloaf layer.

Step 2: Cook the Macaroni

  1. Boil Macaroni:
    • Cook the macaroni noodles according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the Cheese Sauce

  1. Make Cheese Sauce:
    • In a large saucepan, combine the milk and cheddar cheese soup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and heated through.
  2. Add Cheese:
    • Stir in the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese until melted and well combined.

Step 4: Combine and Bake

  1. Mix Macaroni and Cheese:
    • Add the cooked macaroni noodles to the cheese sauce, stirring until the noodles are fully coated.
  2. Layer Casserole:
    • Spread the macaroni and cheese mixture evenly over the meatloaf layer in the baking dish.
  3. Bake Casserole:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Rest and Serve:
    • Allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes before serving. Slice and serve hot.

Cooking Notes and Tips

  • Cracker Substitute: If you don’t have Ritz crackers, you can use any buttery cracker or breadcrumbs.
  • Cheese Variations: Feel free to use different types of cheese, such as gouda, parmesan, or a cheese blend, for added flavor.
  • Veggie Addition: Add vegetables like diced bell peppers or mushrooms to the meatloaf mixture for extra nutrition.

Variations

Spicy Version

  • Add Heat:
    • Add 1-2 teaspoons of hot sauce to the meatloaf mixture and/or cheese sauce for a spicy kick.

Low-Carb Version

  • Replace Macaroni:
    • Use cauliflower florets instead of macaroni noodles for a lower-carb option.

Vegetarian Version

  • Meat Substitute:
    • Use a plant-based ground meat substitute and vegetable broth-based cheese sauce for a vegetarian-friendly version.

Serving Suggestions

With a Green Salad

  • Salad:
    • Serve with a fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette to balance the richness of the casserole.

With Garlic Bread

  • Garlic Bread:
    • Pair with warm garlic bread or a crusty baguette for a complete meal.

With Roasted Vegetables

  • Vegetables:
    • Serve with a side of roasted vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or Brussels sprouts.

FAQs

Q: Can I make this casserole ahead of time? A: Yes, you can prepare the meatloaf base and the macaroni and cheese separately. Assemble the casserole just before baking. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking.

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Q: How do I store leftovers? A: Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.

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Q: Can I freeze this casserole? A: Yes, you can freeze the assembled but unbaked casserole. Wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.

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Q: What if I don’t have cheddar cheese soup? A: You can make a homemade cheese sauce by melting 2 tablespoons of butter, whisking in 2 tablespoons of flour, and gradually adding 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese until smooth.

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Q: Can I use a different type of pasta? A: Yes, you can use other small pasta shapes such as penne, rotini, or shells if you prefer.

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Mac and Cheese Meatloaf Casserole is the ultimate comfort food, combining the best of both worlds: savory meatloaf and creamy mac and cheese. This hearty dish is perfect for family dinners and gatherings. Enjoy making and sharing this delicious recipe with your loved ones!