Meatloaf is sometimes seen as an old school meal, maybe even one of those we all turned our noses up to, but this Italian Meatloaf recipe is like a giant meatball. Full of flavors and kept so moist with rich marinara sauce, you can’t go wrong!
It uses a blend of Italian sausage and ground beef with spices and cheese for a tender one dish meal. Think of an Italian version of a traditional meatloaf recipe.
I’ve got quite a few meatloaf recipes on the site. And that’s because I finally figured out how to make it! Forget the crusty slices you were served in the school cafeteria; this Italian Meatloaf takes it to a whole new level.
It’s a great recipe to make when you’re craving Italian food, but aren’t in the mood for pasta. It has all the flavors of your favorite Italian recipes all wrapped up into one loaf.
- Bread – I like to use either white or Italian bread for this recipe. Make sure the crusts are removed and the bread is cut into cubes. This acts like a binding agent for the meatloaf.
- White onion – If you aren’t a fan of onion, you can leave this out altogether. However it does provide both flavor and substance to this loaf.
- Garlic – Always opt to use fresh garlic whenever possible. Although convenient, the jarred version is way less pungent.
- Fresh herbs – We use fresh fresh parsley and oregano in our version. Fresh always packs more of a punch, but if you need to save a little time chopping, feel free to use a dry Italian seasoning blend.
- Salt – I use coarse kosher salt. Different salt measure differently, so be sure to plan accordingly.
- Lean ground beef – I always like to use lean ground meat when making meatloaf.
- Bulk Italian sausage – The combination of ground beef and ground pork makes for a very flavorful and tender meatloaf.
- Worcestershire sauce – You might be thinking: but that’s not Italian? Well, neither is meatloaf, but it does give a full bodied and rich flavor to just about any recipe.
- Egg – Egg acts as a binding agent for meatloaf. It helps to hold everything together.
- Bread crumbs – I like to use Italian bread crumbs rather than something like panko for this recipe. It brings even more Italian flavor to this meatloaf.
- Cheese – We use three cheese to make the best cheesy blend with layers of flavor. We use Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and fontina cheese. I always try to freshly grate my own cheese whenever possible.
- Marinara – Some recipes use plain tomato sauce, but marinara gives a hearty does of Italian flavors with more texture. Customize this recipe using your favorite version. It can be sweet, spicy (like a fra diavolo or aribaritta) or even just plain like basil.
How to Make Italian Meatloaf
- Prepare oven and pan. Preheat the oven and prepare a loaf pan or meatloaf pan with cooking spray or parchment paper.
- Toss bread with milk. In a small bowl, toss the cubed bread with the milk. Set aside for 3-4 minutes to absorb. Milk should be pretty well soaked up.
- Combine with seasonings. In a large bowl, or the base of a stand mixer, combine milk-soaked bread, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano and salt. Mix to combine into a paste.
- Add meat. Add the ground beef and sausage, breaking into small pieces.
- Combine with remaining ingredients. Before mixing, top with Worcestershire sauce, lightly beaten egg, dry bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella and marinara sauce.
- Mix. Blend until just mixed, either using your fingers to toss or putting the stand mixer on low. Too much mixing will make your meatloaf tough, so only mix until barely blended.
- Add to pan. Transfer meat mixture to baking dish of your choice, forming into a loaf as you go. You can make it free-form on a rimmed baking sheet, but I prefer using a meatloaf or bread loaf pan. Top with 1/2 cup marinara sauce.
- Bake, add cheese. Bake uncovered. Remove and add remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and another shake of Italian seasoning (if desired) to the top of the meatloaf.
- Bake again. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to sit before cutting and serving. Serve with additional marinara sauce, if desired.
I love this flavorful meatloaf just the way it is, but there are several ways that you could make it your own.
- Make it spicy – If you like your food on the spicier side, you can throw in some black pepper or red pepper flakes into the meatloaf mixture. You could also use this spicy marinara sauce.
- Sandwiches – Have leftovers? A great way to use them up is to put a slice between two pieces of sandwich bread and turn it into a sandwich.
- Mix up the meat – You don’t have to use ground beef with this meatloaf. You could use ground turkey or ground chicken in its place. Just be sure to use an instant read thermometer to make sure the center of loaf has a safe internal temperature.
- Meatballs – You could use this same meat mixture and turn them into Italian meatballs instead of a meatloaf recipe. Follow my tips and tricks to better meatballs.
What to Serve Italian Meatloaf With
There are any number of things you can serve with this Italian meatloaf, but there are a few of our favorites:
Storage, Make Ahead and Freezing
Storage: If you’ve got leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three days. We like to scrape the meatloaf 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: If you want to make this Italian 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.
Freezing: You can also freeze your leftovers. Make sure to wrap tightly with plastic wrap and put in a freezer safe container. It will stay for up to three months.
More Meatloaf Recipes
- 1 cup Italian or white bread crusts removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/2 cup white onion minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley minced, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano minced
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1 cup mozzarella and fontina cheese shredded, divided
- 3/4 cup marinara divided, plus more for for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare a loaf pan or meatloaf pan with cooking spray or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, toss the cubed bread with the milk. Set aside for 3-4 minutes to absorb. Milk should be pretty well soaked up.
- In a large mixing bowl, or the base of a stand mixer, combine soaked bread, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano and salt. Mix to combine into a paste.
- Add the ground beef and sausage, breaking into small pieces.
- Before mixing, top with Worcestershire sauce, lightly beaten egg, dry bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup marinara sauce.
- Blend until just mixed, either using your fingers to toss or putting the stand mixer on low. Too much mixing will make your meatloaf tough, so only mix until barely blended.
- Transfer meat mixture to cooking vessel of your choice, forming into a loaf as you go. You can make it free-form on a rimmed baking sheet, but I prefer using a meatloaf or bread loaf pan. Top with 1/2 cup marinara sauce.
- Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove and top with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and another shake of Italian seasoning (if desired).
- Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with additional marinara sauce, if desired.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!