Italian Meatloaf

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This Italian meatloaf is basically one big giant meatball, or at least that’s what I tell my kids so that they’ll eat it.

italian meatloaf

This Italian meatloaf is basically one big giant meatball, or at least that’s what I tell my kids so that they’ll eat it. But, seriously, it is similar to meatballs, only it has a lot more flavor and is easier to make. I like to serve it with my Big Italian Salad — a firm family favorite — and Parmesan Smashed Potatoes, but it’s delicious with pasta too. Leftovers are even better the next day, sliced and topped with melted cheese in a warm sandwich.

What you’ll need to make italian meatloaf


As you can see, I use a good quality store-bought marinara sauce. Feel free to make your own, but I don’t think it’s worth it since the recipe only calls for 3/4 cup.

to make italian meatloaf


Begin by chopping the vegetables. I use a food processor, which makes it quick and easy. You want to pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped but not puréed — this makes for a nicely textured meatloaf. (And always rough chop the veggies before putting them in the machine, otherwise they won’t chop evenly.)


Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the vegetables.


Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Then let cool.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the Worcestershire sauce, basil, salt and pepper.


Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, and vegetables.


And mix with your hands until well combined.


Shape the meat into a 9×5-inch loaf on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet. I prefer to “free-form” it rather than cook it in a loaf pan — that way, the fat cooks out and there’s always enough well-browned crust to go around.


Top with marinara sauce, letting a bit drip down the sides.


Bake for 65-70 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board or serving platter. Enjoy!


You may also like


Italian Meatloaf

This Italian meatloaf is basically one big giant meatball, or at least that’s what I tell my kids so that they’ll eat it.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 75 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds meatloaf mix (or use 1-1/2 pounds 85% lean ground beef plus 1/2 pound ground pork)
  • 2/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Do not brown. Let cool until just warm.
  3. In a bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients, whisk the eggs with the basil, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, and cooked vegetables to the egg mixture and mix with your hands until just evenly combined.
  5. Form the meat mixture into a 9x5-inch loaf shape directly on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the marinara sauce evenly over top, letting it drip a bit down the sides.
  6. Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the middle of the meatloaf. Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes. Scrape any fat away from the edges of the meatloaf (it will ooze out and brown while baking), then use a wide spatula to transfer the meatloaf to a cutting board or serving platter. Slice and serve.
  7. Note: If serving with mashed potatoes, you might warm up some additional marinara sauce for serving.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked meatloaf can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost it in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat it in a 300°F oven until hot in the middle.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 585
  • Fat: 42g
  • Saturated fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 35g
  • Sodium: 966mg
  • Cholesterol: 180mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

See more recipes:

Reviews & Comments

  • Love this recipe! I am not on a strict “keto” diet but I eliminate or replace flour and high carb foods and sugar whenever possible. This meatloaf is an easy recipe for this. Exchange the bread crumbs for crushed pork rinds and use sugar free/low carb marinara and no one can tell the difference!

    • — Rhonda on October 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was delicious and easy to make. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Ashley B. on October 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can pecorino Romano cheese be used instead of parm reg?

    • — Celeste on September 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Celeste, that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Best meatloaf ever. Fabulous flavor and texture and it doesn’t fall apart. I’m done looking for a good recipe. Try this one….you won’t be sorry.

    • — Nina on September 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • My family loved it!
    The next day I sliced it 1/2 inch, heated it and placed it on two slices of bread. Once my son finished the first sandwich he called out “Mom! Can I have another one”?

    That good!

    • — Norma on September 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • This came out PERFECT. I didn’t have celery on hand so I added an extra carrot. It was SUCH great meatiloaft! Thanks!

    • — iTeach on August 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • We love your Turkey Meatloaf with BBQ sauce so much (my wife says it is restaurant quality) I did not want to try another but I finally did. The Italian Meatloaf was just as good! Moist and tasty…I will definitely put in the arsenal. I used ground turkey for this recipe also and it was outstanding.

    • — mikermeals on June 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight for dinner. My husband is the type that hates when I change up recipes but this sounded so good I had to try it (without telling him that I changed my original recipe). He absolutely loved it!! My husband is like Mikey – if he loves it, it must be awesome!! Thank you for all your amazing recipes. You are my go to page for dinner!!!

    • — Darla on May 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Oh my, the crispy brown edges on this meatloaf are so good. The flavor of the mix is spot on. I also tried your parm smashed potatoes as a side. So easy, delish, and they got eaten very quickly. Thanks for 2 wonderful recipes.

    • — Penny on April 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this meatloaf last night and it was so delicious! I usually make your glazed turkey meatloaf which is amazing too! I used beef & pork and sautéing the veggies is a game changer! So flavourful and moist! My boys were looking forward to meatloaf sandwiches today! Thanks again Jenn for another wonderful recipe!

    • — Linda on March 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this meatloaf several times without changes. My two boys inhale this. What is a good substitute for the breadcrumbs to make this gluten free for a friend?

    • — Elaine on March 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Elaine, Glad this has been a hit. You can replace the bread crumbs with gluten-free bread crumbs.

      • — Jenn on March 15, 2021
      • Reply
      • Didn’t have time to run to the store to get GF breadcrumbs so I pulverized rolled oats and used in place of breadcrumbs. It worked great!

        • — Elaine on March 18, 2021
        • Reply
        • So glad it came out well – thanks for reporting back!

          • — Jenn on March 18, 2021
          • Reply
  • This is now my ‘go to’ recipe for Meatloaf. Four teenage boys devour this every single time I make it (tonight will be the 4th time since finding this recipe). It’s packed with flavor. Thank you for this delicious recipe!

    • — Mary on March 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Curious — I have some 73/27 ground beef in the freezer I purchased by accident last month. Would using that fat ratio in this recipe invite a problem that a modification could take care of? (Or would you have a recipe using the 73% you’d suggest?)

    • — Joy Marie on February 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Joy, I think it should be fine without any adjustments. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • What a great recipe! I grew up on meatloaf and changed it through the years and I was looking for one that easy and flavorful. This meatloaf is FANTASTIC! Just the right ingredients and perfectly moist. We made it with the parm mashed potatoes and did not make the side salad – we wanted room for the meat and potatoes! My husband just said again, for the fifth time, “Thank you! That was really good!” Another great recipe from Chef Jen!

    • — Phyllis on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a moist and flavorful meat loaf. I have substituted the Italian sausage I had on hand. for the ground pork with great success.
    Pay attention to the sodium level of your purchased Italian breadcrumbs and adjust the salt accordingly.

    • — Amy on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the best meatloaf ever! It dispels any bad reputation about the word “meatloaf”. I impressed my husband so much when I made this for the first time (he’s the cook in our family). I felt so proud of myself putting this delicious home cooked meal on the table! I follow the recipe exactly using the metric measurements. It’s now in our regular rotation of meals. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Andrea F. on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Currently enjoying a sandwich with the leftovers of this yummy meatloaf. We loved the Italian accents of the recipe, a nice change up from a traditional meatloaf recipe. I did find I had to bake it about 85 minutes to reach the internal temp of 160 (I actually measured my loaf , it was 9 x 5). Thanks for another great recipe!

    • — Cindy Bryson on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I thought I made a pretty good meatloaf until I tasted this one. Now it’s the only one I make. Absolutely full of flavor. Per family orders, I’m not allowed to make any other meatloaf! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Jane on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the best meatloaf recipe EVER! It’s a great idea to finely chop the veggies and sauté first. I also love that it’s baked ‘free standing’ – way easier for cleanup! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • — Donna Deegan-Smith on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love this meatloaf recipe and so does my family. Using the food processor makes it a lot faster. It’s flavorful and moist. The addition of the cheese, basil, and marinara sauce is brilliant. I have made this once with half ground beef and half ground turkey and it was just as good as usual.
    Thank Jenn. You have made me a better cook.

    • — Kathy on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My meatloaf is usually tasteless and falls apart. Decided to try this recipe. Absolutely perfect. Was so easy to make and healthy vegetables added in. Made a nice large loaf(I did make it in a meatloaf pan) and did not fall apart. Love your recipes and this one was another winner.

    • — Chantal on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This meatloaf is the best I have ever eaten. I never thought of including celery and carrots in meatloaf. What a great addition. This meatloaf has become a regular dinner entree for us and I have shared the recipe with friends who love it as well.

    • — Darla Pianowski on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another winner!! Hubby and I both loved it!

    • — Becky on January 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello Jenn
    I am from France, but live in Utah and have tried many of your recipes, knowing that, if I follow the steps faithfully it always turns out delicious… My daughter gave me your book for my birthday.
    My question today is : is the meatloaf better warm or cold ? I am going to serve a Christmas evening buffet with other things. What do you suggest ? If cold, what would you accompany it with ?
    Thanks for your answer and happy holidays to you and your family

    • — Marie-Jose LACROIX on December 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you’re having success with the recipes, Marie-Jose. Meatloaf is definitely best warm. Happy holidays!

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • One more fantastic recipe!
    My daughter dislikes meatloaf but raved how good this was. We had it with spaghetti squash and parmesan cheese pieces on top of meatloaf. A definite go to recipe!

    • — Ann on November 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Well Jenn, you did it again…This was the BEST meatloaf I have ever made! Will definitely keep in the meal rotation. Family gobbled it up.
    Looking forward to trying yet another new fabulous recipe from you!

    • — FP on November 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Do you ever put a little marinara in the meat? Can you use Panko? Can you make a day ahead and use for sandwich or is it best to use day that it was cooked.

    • — MJ on October 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi MJ, I’ve never put marinara in the meatloaf mixture. Yes, you can use panko here, and it’s great on the second day. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2020
      • Reply

Add a Review or Question

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.