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Italian Meatloaf

5 stars based on 38 votes

italian meatloaf

This 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.

ingredients

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.

roughly-chopped-veggies

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.)

finely-chopped-veggies

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

sauteing-veggies-1

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

sauteing-veggies-2

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

wet-ingredients

Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese and vegetables.

ready-to-mix

And mix with your hands until well combined.

meatloaf-mix

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.

free-form-meatloaf

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

ready-to-bake

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

Italian-Style-Meatloaf-1

My Recipe Videos

Italian Meatloaf

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

Ingredients

  • 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 breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce

Instructions

  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, breadcrumbs, 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.

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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, Edamam.com. 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.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    As usual with your recipes, this was amazing. The only change I made was using the grease of the morning’s bacon with ground beef. The highlight for me was the basil. I will never again make meatloaf without it.

    - MrsDLA on January 17, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Just made this meatloaf recipe and we loved it! It was delicious. I added a small amount of red pepper flakes and used dried oregano and dried basil since I don’t have fresh basil, but it was delicious nevertheless.

    - Andrea on January 9, 2018 Reply
  • Hi,

    I baked this meatloaf Tuesday, then put it in the freezer. We plan on eating it Christmas Day. I never froze cooked meatloaf before. Will it still be moist? By the way, took a nibble and it was amazing and made my home smell fantastic!

    - Rose on December 22, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Rose, Meatloaf freezes beautifully so no worries – it will be fine! Happy Holidays!

      - Jenn on December 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My family LOVES this meatloaf. In fact, it is a FAVORITE of my 8 month old daughter (we are doing baby-led weaning with her). Do you have any recommendations for loading it up with other veggies – like cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, etc to make it even more nutritious? About how much more veggies do you think the loaf could handle before it falls apart? Thanks!

    - Blair on December 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is the best meatloaf ever! My family is always requesting it! If there is any leftover, we like to place it on a toasted hogie roll with extra tomato sauce and cheese.

    - Sharon L on December 1, 2017 Reply
  • Hi…I am trying to go gluten free, any recommendations for something to use other than bread crumbs? Thanks in advance 🙂

    - Nora on October 2, 2017 Reply
    • Gluten-free bread crumbs would work well here. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on October 2, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        Thanks Jenn, I ended up using crushed rice crackers and they worked perfectly!
        I really liked the addition of the veggies, it was both Yummy and Gluten free – bonus!

        - Nora on October 3, 2017 Reply
  • 4 stars

    We really enjoyed this meatloaf tonight! I paired it with cauliflower/mashed potatoes and a tossed salad and we were very satisfied! Both my husband and I added a sprinkle of salt (we rarely do this), but otherwise every bite was tasty! I did bake mine is a 2-piece meatloaf pan that has a drainer so the fats can be pulled away from the loaf. Probably because of that, it needed an extra 15 minutes in the oven. I will make this again!

    - Kathy E. on September 20, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The most flavourful meatloaf hands down,followed the recipe exactly,served with mashed potatoes and salad and we made sandwiches with left over the next day, soooooo good!
    Julie from Halifax, Canada

    - Julie S on September 19, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is by far the best meatloaf recipe we have ever eaten. It is so moist and flavorful. With his first bite, my husband proclaimed that this recipe is definitely one to keep and I concur. Simply delicious!!!!

    Thank you for your hard work and sharing your undeniable talent with all of us.

    - Suzanne on August 18, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is the best meatloaf I ever made! I used one pound 85 lean and one pound of 90 lean grass fed beef – amazing!

    - Marla on August 5, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Once again, another great recipe. The Italian Meatloaf was absolutely delicious and my husband loved it.
    I’m not a fan of Meatloaf and I have to say this recipe is a really good one. Will definitely be making it again and again.
    Thanks,
    Suzanne

    - Suzanne Decker on July 22, 2017 Reply
  • I previously read that this recipe freezes well. Do you freeze it before or after cooking? And if it’s after then how do you reheat?

    - P on June 17, 2017 Reply
    • You really can freeze it cooked or uncooked, but I usually freeze meatloaf after cooking it. I’d recommend wrapping it in foil before putting it in a freezer bag and then reheating it at 300 degrees until hot in the middle.

      - Jenn on June 17, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Finally a meatloaf recipe that even my teenage son loves! Made exactly as written and it didn’t disappoint. Thanks for another great recipe.

    - Lynn on March 27, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Great meatloaf. My critics didn’t like finding “bits of orange” and immediately questioned if I was trying to slip something past them. Sigh, and they even like carrots! Next time, I would try adding mushrooms instead of the grated carrots and serve the carrots as a side dish.

    This is a very moist tasty meatloaf. I doubled the recipe because of the amounts of meat I had. It was a real time saver as I had one for tonight and one for later.

    - Ty on March 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this tonight as we celebrated the first day of spring as Jenn suggested. The only change I made was I added an extra clove of garlic cause we really like garlic. It tasted great. Usually I put a sweet glaze on top of my meatloaf, but this was a really nice change for something different. I will be making this one again for sure!

    - Cheryl Q on March 20, 2017 Reply
  • Could I use this recipe for meatballs?

    - Lynne on February 27, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Lynne, I think you could. I do have an actual meatball recipe that’s pretty similar to the flavors in this meatloaf.

      - Jenn on February 27, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Excellent results every time & everyone loved this meatloaf! Made it 3 times. Here’s what I did: no pork, no cheese. Marinara sauce is the better choice (tried a tomato basil sauce-just ok). Sprinkled the bread crumbs over the sauteed vegetables and combined.

    - Sandra on February 15, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jenn,
    My willingness to even try a meatloaf recipe is a testament to the wonderful success I’ve enjoyed with all of your recipes. Just wondering, can I sub Italian-flavored panko for the breadcrumbs?

    - Linda on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • So glad you’re going to give it a try! Yes, panko would work here. Hope you enjoy it.

      - Jenn on January 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Is it possible to freeze this recipe?

    - H+ on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • sure, it freezes nicely!

      - Jenn on January 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I hate meatloaf.
    Okay, let me rephrase that, I hated meatloaf.

    Never being a lover of meatloaf, one random day, I had a craving for it. I don’t know why, but I did. So, of course, I turned nowhere else but to Jenns recipes because if I was going to love a meatloaf, it was going to be on onceuponachef.

    Once again, not disappointed.

    Use high quality ground beef and ingredients. I feel like a lot of people don’t use the right parm-reggiano cheese, which even though can seem pricey, is so worth the cost. So hunt for that cheese! You won’t regret it!

    The only thing in this recipe I substitute is the pork. I just buy 85% lean beef and use that for the whole loaf. We like pork but try to avoid it if we can. Using all beef has worked out for me and it tastes amazing. I’m sure the pork gives it a softer/juicier consistency but if you can’t have pork, all beef still tastes great.

    My sister, an avid hater of meatloaf (she pretty much dislikes anything meaty) had two slices, something I never thought I’d ever see in my life.

    Leftovers taste amazing!

    I usually make it with homemade biscuits, mashed potatoes and green beans with olive oil and a little sea salt.

    Also, a note on my picky eater- he still picked some of the carrots out but said that he loved the meatloaf overall and he had a nice big piece. I guess I’ll have to get those carrots even smaller next time!

    - Celeste on December 5, 2016 Reply
    • Thank you, Celeste for your review. I do not eat pork, so I was glad to see that it works well as an all beef meatloaf. Thanks for sharing your comments. Looking forward to trying this.

      - Diane on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • I needed a recipe that I could use to make a meatloaf that had a different flavor profile than the ordinary run of the mill meatloaf. I found this recipe on Jenn’s website & decided to give it a try. I’m not sure why I chose to do this for a family gathering for the very first time I made it, but I did! Everyone loved it, coming back for seconds, asking for the recipe. It has the perfect proportions of ingredients & chopping things finely in the food processor helped distribute the veggies well throughout the meat loaf. What very little that was left over was fought over for the privilege of taking home for leftovers! I’ve since made it with ground chicken, adding shredded mozzarella & parmesan cheese to it. Wonderful as well!

    - Aletha Karen Bass on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • Great flavorful meatloaf. We skipped the marinara and instead dip in ketchup.

    - Chad Bohl on November 30, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow Jenn! Another keeper recipe. I’ve made a lot of meatloaves over the years, but this was one of the best. Adding it into the rotation. Thank you!

    - Allyson on November 29, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is my new go to meatloaf! Turns out perfectly every time:)

    - Jena on November 28, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I have now turned my youngest daughter on to the OUAC website as her go-to for recipes (besides mom!) She tried this meatloaf recipe a few days ago for her and her boyfriend and LOVED it! She followed the recipe to the letter and said it turned out great, was nice and moist and flavorful.

    - Cheryl Burney on October 12, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Yesterday was a chilly Sunday evening and I was looking to make a great old fashion comfort food dish for a chill Sunday dinner. Look no further. I found this wonderful meatloaf recipe to make and thought it would be ideal to pair it with your potatoes au gratin recipe. …..This meatloaf recipe was simply amazing and so easy to make, it is a classic! Once again thank you Jenn for all your incredible dishes.

    - Celeste on October 10, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    We were craving meatloaf last night so what do I do – onceuponachef.com is always my first stop and this recipe did not disappoint!! Thank you so much Jenn!

    - Tamera Gjesdal on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • Could you mix all of the meatloaf ingredients together the nite before, place it in a bowl in the fridge but then not cook it until the next day?

    - marny mccain on September 27, 2016 Reply
    • Yes, that should work Marny. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on September 27, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This meatloaf was delicious and eaten enthusiastically by my two young-ish kiddos, who are good eaters generally but tend to resist new recipes. I couldn’t find meatball mix and used one pound each 85% lean organic beef and pork. The fat baked off nicely, and the loaf was flavorful and moist. My only note is that it was quite dense and filling….one slice goes a long way.
    P.s. I am 5 for 5 with your recipes and coming back for more! Thanks for a great site!

    - Dot on September 22, 2016 Reply
  • Hi. I’ve just stumbled across this recipe and thought I would give it a try. Meatloaf isn’t something we’re big on here in England but it looks scrummy so thought I would give it a try. We don’t have Marinara sauce here – but we do have various jars of pasta sauces – do you know a good substitute or what is in a Marinara sauce so I can look for something similar? Many thanks.

    - Jacqueline on August 31, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Jacqueline, Marinara sauce is a red sauce usually made with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs, so if you can find a pasta sauce resembling that, it should work well. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on August 31, 2016 Reply
  • pork shank receipe please

    - dororthy mcelduff on June 29, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Dorothy, I will add a pork shank recipe to my list of recipes to potentially develop. Thanks for the suggestion as I am always looking for new inspiration!

      - Jenn on June 29, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe was easy to follow and the results were moist and delicious! I did not have anything but 80% lean ground beef and decided to give it a try. I am looking forward to trying it again following it with the exacts meats called for. A definite keeper. Thank you for another terrific recipe!

    - Maria R on April 15, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this last night for dinner. It was the best meatloaf ever . Thank you for another amazing recipe.

    - Lisa m on April 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I don’t know why I haven’t came across Once Upon a Chef until now. For the first time I find recipes that I love making and taste GREAT!

    - Danielle on April 7, 2016 Reply
    • I also just came across this site which is amazing that I haven’t before since I am always on the internet looking for recipes. I have already printed out 4 that I am going to try. Can’t wait.

      - Dave on October 4, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Amazing, as usual. Hands down the best meatloaf I’ve ever had. I don’t eat pork so used all ground beef and it was still outstanding. The Rao’s marinara totally makes it! Thanks for the great recipe!

    - Jen W. on April 5, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    In a word, OUTSTANDING!!! A home run. Thanks for the loved by all recipe.

    - Colette on April 3, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jen, just need some substitution advice:
    What is another cheese I can use other than Parmigiano-Reggiano ?

    Substitution for Italian breadcrumbs?

    Substitution for Worcester sauce can I use steak sauce?

    I am also trying to cut down on the amount of sodium, love meatloaf but family member has sodium restriction.
    Thanks a bunch.

    - Shell on March 21, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Shell, If you can’t find Parmigiano-Reggiano, other options are Romano, Asiago or Grana Padano. Also, you could omit the cheese and increase the breadcrumbs to 3/4 cup. You could use plain breadcrumbs instead of Italian and just add a pinch of dried Italian seasonings like basil and oregano to taste. And Lea and Perrins makes a reduced-sodium version of Worcestershire sauce if you’d prefer to go that route.

      - Jenn on March 21, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was delicious and super moist. Rave reviews from all family members! It crumbled slightly as I cut which I think is because i was lazy when chopping veggies and didn’t do fine enough. Will use food processor next time.

    - Sara on January 27, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this meatloaf along with the big Italian salad and the Parmesan smashed potatoes for dinner on Sunday. My husband and teenagers said it was one of the best meals I’ve ever made! Life is busy and with school and sports and part time jobs, it’s hard to get us all together at meal time. I think if I keep cooking your recipes, family meal time will happen more often!! Thank you!

    - Maureen on January 27, 2016 Reply
  • Thanks Jenn for this delicious recipe, made this for my family yesterday and they Loved it.

    - Wilma Flores on January 21, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this meatloaf last night and it was fantastic. My kids don’t usually like meatloaf so I followed what you said and told them it was a meatball recipe but it was quicker to make it in a loaf. They actually ate it and enjoyed it. I had to make a last minute substitution because I was out of celery. I kept staring at the zucchini I had in the drawer and decided to throw it in the food processor as well. It was a great substitution. The loaf was very moist.

    - Michelle on January 20, 2016 Reply
    • 5 stars

      I’m making this now and was considering the same thing; no celery, hmmm what about that zucchini..glad to hear it worked!

      - Gwyneviere on January 5, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Great meatloaf! The best tasting I’ve ever made. Thank you so much. One comment, and I believe it is my fault… When the meatloaf is mixed by hand, is it possible to make it dense or tough if it is handled to much?

    - Colleen on January 19, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Colleen, Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it is possible to overmix — you want to mash it until just combined. It’s also possible that you overcooked it (your oven might run a little hot), so maybe reduce the cook time by 5 minutes next time. If that doesn’t fix it, increase the bread crumbs to 3/4 cup and/or add a bit more veggies.

      - Jenn on January 20, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was the most flavorful meatloaf I have ever had! Thank you so much!

    - Colleen on January 19, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I just made the meatloaf, turned out wonderful! Never really knew what ‘meatloaf’ was until I moved to Canada, and even then I thought it would be boring and bland..I mean who would just bake a hunk of ground meat like that…but I really love this recipe!!!! It was flavorful and not dry at all. Definitely a keeper and will be making it again, was very easy to do after you mix the ingredients and shape the loaf the oven does the rest, and loved how it made the house smell. I didn’t have marinara sauce but used rosee pasta sauce instead and I also did not have celery but just used more carrot and some green onions.

    - Lian on January 19, 2016 Reply
  • Do you have an Italian meatball recipe already on the site, or should I just make meatballs out of your meatloaf recipe? Do you think it would work? I need some meatballs! Thanks, Jenn.

    - Christy on January 16, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Christy, I have several meatball recipes on the site, but the one closest to what you may be looking for is from this Spaghetti and Meatball recipe. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on January 16, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My family has an aversion to meatloaf…not this one! I have made several recipes but this is the one! It’s a keeper!!! I just fed 4 boys your meatloaf and they are HAPPY!!!

    - Joy Rabbini on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    i love to read and analyze recipes before ever i try them out. this one is a keeper. i don’t like too much tomato in my loaf, and this has just a bit on top; fine, i can deal. it’s missing my fave bacon latticework, but it IS a giant meatball, so no bacon — pancetta, maybe?

    - Hollis Ramsey on January 15, 2016 Reply
    • Hollis, You could absolutely add pancetta along with the veggies. I’m sure it’d be delicious. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi there Jen,
    I have been looking for a good recipe for meatloaf for a long time. It’s difficult as in Australia Meatloaf isn’t a popular dish. When I saw you added one I knew it would be amazing and tried it straight away. It was excellent, really delicious and easy to make. My Husband also loved it.
    Just a note, when you change to metric measurements on this recipe, not all the pound measurements change to g/ kg. Just a minor note. Also on metric perhaps you could also change the degrees F to degrees Celsius. Just a thought to make it easier for people cooking metric.
    Thanks so much for all your amazing recipes, Your website is absolutely amazing.
    Talia

    - Talia Eldridge on January 14, 2016 Reply
    • So glad you and your husband enjoyed it, Talia! Thanks for letting me know about the conversions — that was an oversight and it has been corrected 🙂

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • Hello. New subscriber here, really enjoying your website. Can I make this same meatloaf using ground turkey? I’ve tried making turkey meatloaf previously the texture & taste was always a litte off.

    - Justine on January 14, 2016 Reply
    • Justine, I think it’d work, although it’s not likely to be quite as juicy. If you really want to use turkey, you may want to try this recipe.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • QUESTION: The recipe looks wonderful, especially adding finely chopped vegetables. Again, the question of adding onion, as they cause us gastric distress.

    - Milla Isaacson on January 14, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Milla, If you’re concerned about the onions causing stomach distress, you could substitute an equal amount of carrots instead. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • Have you tried making this meatloaf with turkey instead of beef/pork?

    - marcia mandell on January 14, 2016 Reply
    • Marcia, I think it’d work, although it’s not likely to be quite as juicy. If you really want to use turkey, you may want to try this recipe.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    How can I substitute the Parmesan cheese to make this recipe kosher?
    Thanks!

    - Jenny on January 14, 2016 Reply
    • Jenny, you can just omit the cheese. I’d increase the breadcrumbs to 3/4 cup too. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply

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