Take traditional meatloaf to a whole new level by adding Italian flavors. Italian meatloaf is stuffed with cheese and smothered in tomato sauce!
Tired of boring dried up meatloaf?
I have two words that will change everything you ever thought about meatloaf: Italian Meatloaf.
Take meatloaf to a whole new level, by adding Italian flavors to traditional homestyle meatloaf. Inspired by my meatball recipe, this tender, and delicious meatloaf is made of a combination of ground veal, pork, and beef mixed with shallots and Italian herbs, stuffed with mozzarella cheese, with a parmesan crust. Italian meatloaf is smothered in a tasty simple tomato sauce on a bed of pasta.
I first made this Italian Meatloaf many years ago. This was back when His Royal Highness was still around. The meatloaf smelled so good to him he actually grabbed a chair at the table, sat down, and had a whiff or two maybe even three. That kitty liked what he smelled. However, he did not like tomato sauce and soon left the table.
If you love Italian meatballs, then you will love this Italian-style Meatloaf. Here’s what you need to know before making it:
Panade – The Secret to Moist Meatloaf
I know, the what?!? What is a panade? A panade is a culinary term that refers to a 50/50 mixture of starch and liquid that is added to ground meat to help bind it together and prevent the meat proteins from shrinking and becoming tough.
This is where the bread comes into play. Meatloaf recipes typically call for some type of starch, usually bread crumbs, but the starch doesn’t have to be bread crumbs. The starch could be panko or even cracker crumbs. The starch is then mixed with a liquid, which can be milk, yogurt, meat stock, or water. Regardless, of how the panade is made, using panade instead of dried bread crumbs will make the meatloaf less dense and more tender.
The Tomato Sauce
There is a lot going on inside this meatloaf. Keep the tomato sauce simple. I recommend using this easy recipe.
If you make the basic tomato sauce, begin the sauce as soon as you get the meatloaf in the oven. This allows it time to simmer, while the meatloaf bakes.
What You’ll Need to Make Italian Meatloaf
A detailed list of ingredients is provided in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Meat: 2 pounds of ground meat. For meatloaf, I like to use a combination of veal, pork, and ground beef but use whatever ground meat you prefer.
- Produce: Minced garlic and shallots.
- Panade: Bread and Milk. Use whatever bread you have already in your pantry, even the end pieces will do!
- Herbs: Chopped basil, and flat-leaf parsley + extra for garnish!
- Spices: Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.
- Binder: Lightly beaten egg. Contrary to belief, eggs do not add moisture to a meatloaf. Instead, an egg acts as a glue that binds everything together and keeps all the ingredients from falling apart. You should never need more than one to two eggs in any meatball recipe. If you add too much egg the meatloaf will be dense and spongy.
- Cheese: There is lots of cheese in this meatloaf! Freshly grated parmesan cheese as well as cubed and shredded mozzarella + extra for topping!
- Tomato Sauce: Use this recipe for a basic tomato sauce or use your favorite simple jarred tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
- Pasta: spaghetti is optional, but highly recommended. You could also use linguine or fettuccini noodles.
How To Make Italian Meatloaf
- Make a Panade: Pour the milk over the slices of bread; turning the bread to coat with milk. Allow the bread to sit and absorb the milk while chopping the herbs, garlic, and shallots.
- Mix: Mix all the ingredients inside a very large bowl. Make sure the meatloaf mixture is mixed well. I always use my hands, they are the best kitchen tool for this task. (See tips!)
- Form the Loaf: Press the meatloaf mixture into a ½–inch thick square shape on the clean work surface, sprinkle with cheese. and roll over and tuck the cheese inside, to form a loaf. Place one hand on each end of the loaf and gently squeeze to shape the meatloaf mixture to shorten the loaf as needed. Place the meatloaf on a baking rack over a foil-lined sheet pan or put the loaf into a loaf pan, pressing as needed to fit the pan. Top with extra parmesan and mozzarella, if desired.
- Bake: Place in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until juices run clear. The cheeses brown and crisp up on the outside of the meatloaf and the cheese may also start to ooze out. That meatloaf becomes pretty luscious!
- Rest: Remove the meatloaf and allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
- Serve: Slice and place over a bed of pasta and smothered in tomato sauce.
Tips for Making Italian Meatloaf
- Freezer paper is helpful for rolling the meatloaf. It can be your best friend for keeping your countertop clean while doing things like this! You could also use parchment or wax paper.
- Use wet hands for mixing the meatloaf mixture. Wet hands repel the oils from the meatloaf mixture from sticking to your hands and keep them cleaner.
- The picture above is of the meatloaf resting on my brand new sheet pan. I adore that thing and highly recommend it! It comes with a rack to help the meat drain grease. You can buy one HERE.
David and I always plan to have leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day. Often times people don’t like leftovers unless they are reinvented in some way.
If by chance you do not devour this meatloaf in one sitting and you have leftovers, nix the pasta and serve the meatloaf topped with sauce on a bun. It’s amazingly delicious!
Store meatloaf tightly sealed in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Bake the meatloaf uncovered. Leaving it uncovered will help it form a crispy crust and brown the cheese sprinkled on the outside.
Absolutely. Freeze the meatloaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap wrapped inside aluminum foil in the freezer for 3-4 months. To reheat, thaw the meatloaf inside the refrigerator for 24 hours before making using the baking instructions in the recipe card below.
Yes! Prepare and wrap up the meatloaf with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you’re ready for it. When ready to bake, uncover and bake as instructed in the recipe card below.
Yes, substitute ground turkey for the ground meatloaf mixture if you prefer.
Making this Italian meatloaf recipe? We’d love your feedback. Leave us a comment and a star rating below. We value your opinion and appreciate your time.
See ya on the mountain!
- 2 pounds ground meat I used 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound meatloaf mixture of Veal/Pork/Beef but use whatever ground meat you prefer
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 shallot minced
- 3 slices bread
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup basil leaves chopped
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley chopped
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, divided + extra for topping
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese cubed
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded + extra for topping
- 4 cups tomato sauce see recipe link or use your favorite jarred sauce
- ½ pound cooked pasta (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil for garnish, (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Put the bread slices into a bowl. Pour the milk over the slices of bread; turning the bread to coat with milk. Allow the bread to sit and absorb the milk while chopping the herbs, garlic, and shallots
- After chopping the herbs, squeeze out excess milk from the slices of bread with your hand like you would a wash rag.
- In a very large bowl, add the first 9 ingredients + ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese, reserving ¼ cup of the parmesan. Mix well, ensuring that the mixture is thoroughly mixed.
- Once the meatloaf mixture is mixed evenly, dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, press the meatloaf mixture into a ½-inch thick square shape on the clean work surface.
- Sprinkle the meatloaf mixture with the remaining parmesan cheese, the cubed and shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Begin rolling the flattened meatloaf over, tucking the cheese inside, to form a loaf. Placing a hand on each end, gently squeeze and shape the meatloaf mixture to shorten the loaf as needed.
- Roll the flattened meatloaf over and tuck the cheese inside, to form a loaf. Place one hand on each end of the loaf and gently squeeze to shape the meatloaf mixture to shorten the loaf as needed.
- Place the meatloaf on a baking rack over a foil-lined sheet pan or put the loaf into a loaf pan, pressing as needed to fit the pan. Top with extra parmesan and mozzarella, if desired. Place in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until juices run clear.
- If you make the basic tomato sauce, begin the sauce as soon as you get the meatloaf in the oven. This allows it time to simmer, while the meatloaf bakes.Boil the pasta and warm jarred sauce during the final 15 to 20 minutes the meatloaf is in the oven.
- Remove the meatloaf and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Slice and place over a bed of pasta and smothered in tomato sauce.