Italian Meatloaf

published Feb 13, 2022
Italian Meatloaf Recipe

Marinara and cheese set this recipe apart from traditional meatloaf.

Serves8 to 10

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes

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Italian meatloaf (sliced meatloaf in a marinara sauce with melted mozzarella cheese on top, similar to an italian baked pasta dish)
Credit: Laura Rege

This Italian meatloaf is like one giant meatball topped with marinara and cheese, except it’s much easier to pull off. Skip the rolling of individual meatballs and instead opt for an easy-to-form loaf that’s baked and sliced to serve a crowd. Like a traditional meatloaf, our Italian version combines meat with bread, onion, celery, carrot, and an egg to create a nicely formed meatloaf that is also light in texture. It then takes an Italian spin.

A popular combination in Italian meatballs, this meatloaf uses a combination of ground beef and ground pork (although it can be prepared with all ground beef, if preferred). Marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning is mixed into the meat mixture before baking, then the baked loaf is doused in more marinara sauce and finished with gooey melted mozzarella cheese.

What’s the Difference Between Italian Meatloaf and Regular Meatloaf?

Beyond the flavors, an Italian meatloaf and regular meatloaf are very similar. Both are ground meat shaped to form a loaf, but this Italian meatloaf includes Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, and marinara sauce. Rather than a traditional ketchup glaze, the Italian meatloaf opts for more marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. 

Credit: Laura Rege

What’s the Best Binder for Meatloaf?

Bread and eggs are the best binders for meatloaf. Both help bring the meat together and add a lightness so it’s not a dense loaf. 

Can I Make Italian Meatloaf Ahead of Time?

The meatloaf can be formed, placed in the baking dish, and refrigerated a day ahead of time. Remove it from the fridge as the oven preheats and bake as directed.

Italian Meatloaf Recipe

Marinara and cheese set this recipe apart from traditional meatloaf.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 slices

    white sandwich bread

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 1 stalk

    celery

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium carrot

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh parsley

  • 4 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 firmly packed cup grated on a Microplane or 1/3 cup store-bought)

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    lean ground beef (90% lean)

  • 1 pound

    ground pork

  • 1 (24-ounce) jar

    store-bought or homemade marinara sauce (about 3 cups), divided

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 teaspoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and a second rack in the upper third and heat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Tear the ​​4 slices white sandwich bread into small pieces and place in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until finely ground, about 10 (1-second) pulses. Transfer to a large bowl.

  3. Prepare the following, adding each to the food processor as you go: Coarsely chop 1 small yellow onion, 1 celery stalk, and 3 garlic cloves. Peel and coarsely chop 1 medium carrot. Pick the leaves from the 1 small bunch fresh parsley until you have 1/2 packed cup; finely chop 2 tablespoons of the leaves and refrigerate for garnish, and add the remaining leaves to the food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl with the bread crumbs.

  4. Grate 4 ounces mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup) and reserve for sprinkling. Grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese on the small holes of the box grater (about 1/2 packed cup).

  5. Add the Parmesan, 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, 1 pound ground pork, 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce, 1 large egg, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Mix with your hands until well combined. Transfer to a broiler-safe 9x13-inch baking dish and use your hands to shape into a 6x13-inch loaf.

  6. Bake on the middle rack until cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should register at least 165ºF), 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes.

  7. Remove from the oven and carefully spoon off or drain any excess fat in the baking dish. Switch the oven to broil on high. Spoon 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the top of the meatloaf. Spoon the remaining 1 3/4 cups marinara around the sides of the meatloaf. Sprinkle the meatloaf with the reserved mozzarella.

  8. Broil on the upper rack until the cheese is melted and golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved parsley, slice, and serve with marinara spooned over the top.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.