Italian Chicken Meatloaf is the best kind of comfort food! This meatloaf recipe is a twist on a classic and includes tomato sauce, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese and more. It’s ready and on the table in an hour, making it an easy weeknight meal that has fast become a family favorite.
What's In This Article
This Italian Chicken Meatloaf Recipe is a fun twist on a classic!
Homemade meatloaf is such a comfort food dish, and this Italian Chicken Meatloaf is a fun twist on the classic. Instead of a ketchup-brown sugar sauce on top, we’re using tomato sauce.
And the meatloaf itself features grated parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and more.
In other words, this meatloaf recipe is a total flavor bomb and something that people young and old enjoy! I should know—this is a recipe my girls now request.
Ground Chicken Meatloaf Recipe ingredients
Homemade Chicken Meatloaf is an easy recipe to make for a weeknight—or a special weekend dinner, too. It requires a few basic ingredients, and you probably have most in your kitchen already.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ground chicken—this meat is typically made from ground chicken breast and is lean and easy to flavor with various seasonings and additions. Because it doesn’t have much fat, you will need the binders, like egg and cheese so that it all sticks together.
- Egg—this is super important and is our main binder. Make sure that you’ve got a large one.
- Parmesan cheese—Purchase the real deal stuff, not a shelf stable bottle, OK? Our grocery store has pre-grated fresh parmesan in the cheese section. Save some extra to put on top of the meatloaf before baking.
- Panko breadcrumbs—I love panko because it’s extra crispy and light. These breadcrumbs help bind this chicken meatloaf together without weighing it down.
- Onion—a small white or yellow onion is perfect. We don’t need a ton, but it will add a lot of flavor and texture. If you don’t like onion, you can add half an onion.
- Garlic cloves—I used the biggest ones I had, but if you don’t love garlic as much as I do, use three small cloves. This adds to the overall flavor. Be sure to chop it small! Garlic powder can be used in a pinch, but fresh is always preferred.
- Fresh parsley—not only does this add color, but it adds some brightness and flavor to the meatloaf, too! If you don’t have fresh parsley, use dried parsley and measure in half of what the recipe calls for. Save a little of this for a garnish, if desired.
- Italian seasoning—this seasoning blend lives in my spice cabinet, but you can make your own if you don’t have it. It’s a combination of marjoram, basil, rosemary, thyme, savory and sage.
- Kosher salt—I like to use a medium grain salt for this one. You could also use a similarly sized sea salt. If you have a fine salt, use ¾ teaspoon instead to ensure the meatloaf is not too salty.
- Black pepper—to add just a little bit of heat.
- Tomato sauce—while I love homemade tomato sauce, if it’s easier to grab a can at the store, do that. It’s equally delicious and makes dinner even simpler on you! This is not the same as tomato paste (thicker) or marinara sauce (thinner), so make sure to get actual tomato sauce.
Best Chicken Meatloaf Recipe variations
Here are also some acceptable substitutions for this recipe if you find yourself not able to find some of them above:
- Bread crumbs: If you don’t have (or can’t find) panko, replace those with regular breadcrumbs or even Italian breadcrumbs.
- Swap out the cheese: If you don’t like parmesan, feel free to use pecorino romano or even mozzarella. The flavor profile will be a little different, but equally delicious!
- Add some heat. Red pepper flakes will add a pop of heat, if you’re into that kind of thing.
- Meat Alternatives: Our goal was to get away from traditional meatloaf recipes, but feel free to use ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork or any combination of these meats.
- Saucy: This is an Italian recipes, so tomato sauce works best, but if you only have ketchup, go ahead and use it. BBQ sauce works too.
How to make Chicken Meatloaf
First and foremost, preheat the oven. Use nonstick baking spray to spritz your high-sided baking dish so that the meatloaf doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Prep your ingredients. Grate the parmesan cheese. Chop the onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the parsley.
- Pro tip! If you need a kitchen shortcut, purchase pre-chopped veggies from your local grocery or put them all in the food processor and give it a few pulses.
- Measure the ingredients. Place the ground chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, parmesan, onion and garlic on top of the meat. Season with parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Mix the ingredients. Scoop your fingers (with clean hands) beneath the meatloaf mixture and pull it up, combining it with the other ingredients, until the mixture is well-mixed. We want to make sure that every bite includes every ingredient—so take your time, get your hands messy and do this right. This is why you need a large bowl, to not make a huge mess.
- Form the meatloaf. Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared pan, and form it into a loaf. Mine was 6 ½” (L) x 3 ¾” (W) x 1 ¼” (H). The taller and thicker your chicken meatloaf is, the longer it will take to cook through, so be aware of this, cook times will vary. You can also use a standard loaf pan or meatloaf pan.
- Finish the meatloaf. Drizzle on the tomato sauce. It’s OK if some spills into the baking dish—this will soak up flavors. Sprinkle with additional cheese, too.
How long to cook Chicken Meatloaf
- Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through.
- Pro tip: Use an instant read digital thermometer (meat thermometer) to check your meatloaf’s internal temperature to ensure it’s cooked through! To do this, insert the tip into the thickest spot of the meatloaf, careful not to poke all the way through. If the temperature reads 165°F, you’re good to go!
- Let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes after you’ve removed it from the oven, then slice and serve with your favorite side dishes. To get moist meatloaf, you must let is sit for the liquids to distribute back into the meat fibers and hold them. Otherwise, you cut a meatloaf slice and all the juices will run right out.
How to Make a Meatloaf Sandwich
If you ask my husband, meatloaf the next day is better than the day it is made. Take your meatloaf leftovers and slice it to your desired thickness. Heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to warm through.
Butter two slices of bread, and place them in a skillet. Place the meatloaf in the skillet, too, and heat over medium heat.
When the bread and meatloaf are browned, flip and cook through on the other side. Once the other side is also browned, turn off the heat and build your sandwich.
Layer your sandwich with your desired toppings—tomatoes, lettuce, etc.—and enjoy immediately.
Storing Meatloaf with Ground Chicken
How long is meatloaf good in the fridge?
If you’ve got leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. We like to scrape the tomato sauce from the bottom of the baking dish and store that with the meatloaf, as well, since it offers a ton of flavor.
Make ahead instructions: If you want to make this meatloaf easier, mix and form it the morning of OR the night before. Once shaped, place the meatloaf on the prepared baking dish and wrap tightly with plastic wrap before refrigerating. When it’s time to bake, top with the tomato sauce and parmesan, then bake for the specified time.
How to freeze: You can freeze this meatloaf! To do this, shape the meatloaf and gently place the raw meatloaf on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap it tightly and transfer to the freezer. When ready to bake it, defrost the meatloaf in the fridge on a plate while still wrapped. Once defrosted, bake according to the recipe. Do not bake while frozen.
Ground Chicken Meatloaf FAQs
We cook this Italian Chicken Meatloaf uncovered. If the tomato sauce on top begins to brown or starts to burn, you can place some aluminum foil on top of it as it finishes baking, but this has not happened in testing.
The internal temperature needs to reach 165°F. Use an instant read digital thermometer to check this.
We have a few ingredients that are known as “binders” to keep this meatloaf together. The egg and the breadcrumbs help hold it together!
Adding enough liquid or moisture to binder while still allowing it bind, having enough fats and not overcooking will give you moist meatloaf every time!
Start by using a good, quality meat with some fat. Fat equals flavor. Season it well with spices and herbs, but also salt which helps to amplify natural flavors. And lastly, add sauce! Which it is a jammy topping or a tomato braise, sauce helps elevate the dish.
How to serve Chicken Meatloaf
- Sherry Steamed Green Beans
- Crispy Baked Potatoes in the Oven
- Homemade Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
Best Chicken Meatloaf Recipe
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup parmesan cheese , grated
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 small onion , diced
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley , chopped
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 15 ounces tomato sauce (store-bought or homemade)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spritz a baking dish with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
- Place the ground chicken in a large bowl. Add the egg, parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, onion and garlic on top of the meat. Season with parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until combined. This might take a few minutes and effort since you want to make sure that the ingredients are well-dispersed in the meat.
- Place the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish and form into a loaf. Mine was 6 ½” (L) x 3 3/4 “ (W) x 1 ¼” (H). The taller your meatloaf is, the longer it will take to bake.
- Pour the tomato sauce on top of the meatloaf, and sprinkle additional cheese on it.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through. The meatloaf’s internal temperature should reach 165°F at the thickest spot.
- Once out of the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving with your favorite sides.
- If you've tried this recipe, please come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!
I made this meatloaf and it was delicious. I had to make some adjustments as the sodium was very high – more than I am allowed for an entire day. So I used no salt added tomato sauce, 1/8 tsp salt, increased the Italian seasoning and garlic to make up for less salt. I also used low sodium Parmesan cheese. This reduced the sodium from 1535mg per serving to below 400mg which is doable.
Thanks for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed and were able to customize.
Just for an FYI, I have made this at least five times and it is by far my favorite meatloaf. I bake it and then slice it and then freeze the slices individually wrapped in plastic wrap and foil and put in ziplock bag. Then when things are hectic or just feel like meatloaf, I thaw a slice in the microwave or refrigerator and then warm in microwave. It is just as good as when it came out of the oven
Thank you for that! I’m sure others will love that advice too!
Hi, your recipe calls for 15oz of tomato sauce, however it also says to drizzle the tomato sauce in top of the loaf. Can you provide me with a more accurate amount of tomato sauce to use ? Thanks and have a great day
You pour the 15 ounces of tomato sauce over top of the loaf. I’ll change the word drizzle, I think that is what is confusing.
The family LOVED it! So flavorful and so easy to put together! Served it over mashed potatoes! Delish!
There has never been a meatloaf recipe that I did not like, and this one doesn’t seem to be the exception! I am so excited to try this recipe this weekend 🙂
What a great twist on traditional meatloaf! Definitely adding this to my weekly dinner plan soon. 🙂
Homemade meatloaf is an outstanding dish
Yum! I love meatloaf and love that this is made with chicken. Saving!