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Think of this Italian meatloaf as one big giant meatball.
My family loves this delicious Italian meatloaf that is essentially one big giant meatball. It’s comforting and satisfying, and the smell of it baking in the oven always lures everyone to the kitchen. I serve it with a big Italian salad and Parmesan smashed potatoes, but it is also delicious with pasta. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, the meatloaf is even better the next day, sliced and topped with melted cheese in a warm sandwich. To make the recipe quick and easy, I use a food processor to chop the vegetables. I also cheat and use a good-quality store-bought marinara sauce; the recipe only calls for 3/4 cup, so there is no need to make it from scratch. It’s easy to make two meatloaves, so you might as well—one to freeze and the other to bake straight away.
What you’ll need to make italian meatloaf
Begin by chopping the vegetables. I use a food processor, which makes it quick and easy. Always rough chop the veggies before putting them in the machine, otherwise they won’t chop evenly.
You want to pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped but not puréed — this makes for a nicely textured meatloaf.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the vegetables until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the eggs with the Worcestershire sauce, basil, salt and pepper.
Whisk to combine.
Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, and cooked vegetables.
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 to 70 minutes, until cooked through, then scrape away any fat that accumulates around the meatloaf.
Slice the meatloaf and serve.
You may also like
- Classic Meatloaf (Family-Style & Mini Loaves)
- Turkey, Spinach & Cheese Meatballs
- Turkey Meatloaf
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Turkey Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
Think of this Italian meatloaf as one big giant meatball.
- 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 pounds meatloaf mix (or use 1½ pounds 85% lean ground beef plus ½ pound ground pork)
- ⅔ cup Italian-style bread crumbs
- ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ¾ cup marinara sauce, plus more for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the vegetables are minced. (Alternatively, you can mince all of the vegetables by hand.)
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the minced vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown. Let cool until just warm.
- In a bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients, whisk the eggs with the basil, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
- Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, and cooked vegetables to the egg mixture and mix with your hands until evenly combined.
- 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.
- Bake for 65 for 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 with more marinara sauce on the side, if desired.
- 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. You can also freeze the meatloaf for up to 2 months before baking. Wrap the shaped loaf tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Add the marinara sauce after defrosting, when you are ready to bake and serve.
- 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.
I made this meatloaf last week, and this recipe will be my go-to from now on, I didn’t have celery, but did have two mini peppers, so I subbed those, I also did ketchup on the top, and it still came out fantastic… also will never use a loaf pan for meatloaf again!
Making this tomorrow. Having family for Sunday football. Can I use leftover meatloaf for sliders? What would you suggest putting on the buns (mayo, marinara, cheese…?) before they go into the oven? So excited to use the leftovers. Any suggestions would be great and thanks.
Hi Denise, Great idea! I’d top them with a bit of marinara and some mozzarella. Hope everyone enjoys!
Jenn, what would happen if I added ‘accidently pulverized ‘ veggies? Should I redo or can I use them in the meatloaf? The only time your recipes don’t work for me is when I mess up! 🙂
Hi Gina, Don’t worry about it – just proceed with the recipe and it will still be delish. 🙂
WOW, Jenn! My husband from Chicago said this is the best meatloaf he has had, ever. I shared it with two neighbors who said the same. I followed the recipe exactly (maybe a little extra marinara on top as I didn’t measure).
A note for folks new to your site: I’m vegetarian, I use Jenn’s recipes to prepare meat dishes for family and friends. Her recipes allow a vegetarian to cook meat dishes like a chef.
I’ve also made countless others of Jenn’s recipes; meat, soups, desserts, breads, scones, sides, veggies, etc.
Jenn’s recipes are an amateur cooks must have for stellar food! ❤️
Hi! Could you make this in a muffin tin so it’s individual portions to freeze? How long and at what temp would you cook it for? Thanks!
Hi Katie, I think you could. I’d bake them in a 425-degree oven for about 25 minutes give or take. (To take the guesswork out of whether or not they’re fully cooked, you could use an instant-read thermometer. The temperature you’re aiming for is 160°F.) I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try it!
Thanks for the info on this. Will try this tonight for the first time!
Oh Jenn – I hate to admit it but I just added the marinara sauce right into the meat mixture. I think I’ve created another dish entirely (sadly to say). What can I do????
Hi Gina, Sorry for the delayed reply! How did the meatloaf come out? My guess is that it would’ve been okay because it doesn’t call for that much marinara.
Hi Jenn, it actually came out very well. I did miss the sauce on top for appearance. I’ve put a few individual slices in the freezer and tonight will warm them up with some extra marinara on top. I just love all your recipes and greatly appreciate the fine-tuned tips you include. I’ve loved cooking for my entire life but you’ve upped my game entirely!!!
So glad it came out well — thanks for reporting back (and for your nice words about the recipes)! 🙂
would like to cook on pellet smoker- anybody done this-what would be time/temp
Can i sub dried basil?
If so, how much?
Hi Carol, I definitely prefer this with fresh basil, but dried will work. I’d suggest a generous tablespoon. Hope you enjoy!
This was… AMAZING! So good! Even my very picky (Italian from NY) husband approved of this one! I will definitely be making it again. I love how simple the recipe is to follow. I ended up using my Ninja bullet to chop the veggies and that worked out great! I didn’t have celery on hand, and it was still delicious. Next time I will make two and freeze one. Thanks so much for sharing!! 🙂
The search is over! This will be my meatloaf recipe going forward. I love the sauté of the veggies where I substituted finely chopped mushrooms for the carrots. I was out of basil, so I subbed Italian seasoning. This makes the best sandwiches. Thanks.
This is one of my favourite of your recipes. My family loves it. I like to use the Turkey Meatloaf Glaze. Thank you for teaching and sharing your Classical Chef expertise and experience. Mary Heyens, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Looking forward to making this because of all the positive reviews. What would the adjusted cook time be if I doubled the recipe to accommodate more people?
Hi Tammy, I’d make two loaves and the bake time will be about the same. Hope everyone enjoys!
The meatloaf recipe was very easy to make. I would reccomend you need not look further for a recipe!
Now my favorite meatloaf!
I made this tonight and the kids devoured it in about 5 min. The entire meatloaf!! Did not put sauce on top but otherwise followed the recipe. It came out perfect.
So good! I didn’t have basil so I used dried oregano. This recipe is a keeper. I agree, processing the veggies changed the texture.
We love this meatloaf. By processing the veggies, the texture is really nice. And the flavor is delish, especially the crust. My husband loves a cold slice on a sandwich with horseradish.
Excellent meatloaf!! My family loves this recipe!
I have extra ground beef on hand. Can I make an extra loaf and freeze it before I bake it?
Sure, Anne, that should be fine. Glad you like it!
My mother just turned 100!! She requested meatloaf for her birthday meal. I’ve had bad luck with my meatloaf falling apart. The picture of the meatloaf along with your recipe looked like the perfect recipe! It was delicious and DID NOT fall apart. Thank you.
I am keen to try making this meatloaf to take to a friend’s place for dinner. She only has a microwave.
Can I make it the day before, or in the morning, and then reheat in a microwave?
Also with the ground beef being 85% lean…I assume the fat content is then 15%? (I know it sounds like a silly question but can’t recall how our ground beef ….we call it mince in Australia… is labelled.
Thanks so much for your help.
Anne , Sydney, Australia
Hi Anne, It’s perfectly fine for you to make this the day before. If you want to reheat it in a microwave, I think you may have the best luck reheating it in individual portions instead of as an entire meatloaf. And, yes, what you said about the fat content is correct. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much Jenn. As always, really appreciate your help.
I have a question about the marinara sauce please. In Australia, marinara sauce tends to mean a seafood sauce. Can you please let me know if this is what’s needed in the recipe or is it something else.
Also Italian style breadcrumbs…not sure what the equivalent would be here.
I would be grateful for your help.
Thanks so much.
Hi Anne, interesting that marinara refers to a seafood sauce in Australia! It is a tomato sauce. I Googled it and it looks like maybe in Australia it’s referred to as Napolitana. Does that sound familiar? And Italian style breadcrumbs are basically plain breadcrumbs that have some Italian seasonings added. Do you have those accessible in Australia?
Thanks so much Jenn for answering my marinara question. I can probably find a Neopolita sauce but not sure about Italian style breadcrumbs.
Is there something I can add to ordinary breadcrumbs…I assume packaged breadcrumbs?
Really appreciate your help!!
Hi Anne, Here’s a recipe for converting plain breadcrumbs to Italian breadcrumbs. It makes a little more than you need, so if you’re a math person, you could cut the other ingredients back proportionally. 🙂
Thank you so much Jenn. You are always so very helpful!
This meatloaf was a total hit! I’ve been making meatloaf for a long time and I have to say, this version was a definite keeper. I did fall back on our family’s favorite topping as opposed to the marinara sauce though. (Ketchup, maple syrup, & dijon mustard.) Although I will try it with marinara next time. Thanks, Jenn!
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!
This was delicious and easy to make. Thanks Jenn!
Can pecorino Romano cheese be used instead of parm reg?
Sure, Celeste, that should work. Enjoy!
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.
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”?
This came out PERFECT. I didn’t have celery on hand so I added an extra carrot. It was SUCH great meatiloaft! Thanks!
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.
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!!!
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.
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!
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?
Hi Elaine, Glad this has been a hit. You can replace the bread crumbs with gluten-free bread crumbs.
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!
So glad it came out well – thanks for reporting back!
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!
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?)
Hi Joy, I think it should be fine without any adjustments. Hope you enjoy! 🙂
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Another winner!! Hubby and I both loved it!
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
So glad you’re having success with the recipes, Marie-Jose. Meatloaf is definitely best warm. Happy holidays!
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!
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!
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.
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!