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Italian Meatloaf

5 from 5 votes

posted: 09/11/21

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Italian Meatloaf takes the wonderful flavors of my grandmother’s Italian meatballs and combines them with a traditional meatloaf recipe for a new dish your family will love.

an italian meatloaf sliced and on a serving dish topped with melted cheese and fresh parsley

Recently when I was testing my Crockpot Meatballs, I realized that my grandmother’s recipe for Italian Meatballs would work perfectly as a meatloaf. I already knew that my kids loved the flavor of them, and I decided that a meatloaf would be even easier to make.

To be clear, meatloaf is not an Italian dish. So this would be better named “Italian Inspired Meatloaf.”

This easy to prepare recipe is total comfort food. The flavors are tried and true and topping it with our easy homemade spaghetti sauce and some mozzarella puts it over the top.

How to Make Italian Meatloaf

This is a brief overview of how to make this delicious recipe. For the full recipe with all of the instructions, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Start by making a panade. A panade is bread that has been soaked in milk or water and is used to keep meatballs especially tender. My grandmother always used water, and in testing, I prefer that over milk. Allow the bread to soak for five minutes before ringing it out.
  2. Combine the remainder of the ingredients. In a large bowl combine the ground beef, ground pork, egg whites, panade, bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Mix until the ingredients are fully combined.
  3. Form the mixture into a loaf. You can just do this with your hands. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  4. Bake the meatloaf. Place the loaf in a baking dish and top with spaghetti sauce. Bake for 55 minutes. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake for 15 more minutes. Check the meatloaf with an instant read thermometer. It should reach 160 degrees before you take it out.
  5. Let rest. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
overhead of a bowl full of ingredients to make italian meatloaf

Making Panade

As mentioned above, a key element in my grandmother’s meatballs was her panade. Many recipes call for milk, but my grandmother used water. I suspect this was for budget reasons, though some have said that water helps the gluten bind better to the fat in the meat.

To make the panade, place 4 slices of Italian bread in a small bowl. You can use sandwich bread labeled Italian bread from the grocery store or you can slice a loaf of Italian bread from the bakery. Either way, you want 5 ounces.

Let the bread soak for 5 minutes. At the end of the five minutes carefully drain the bowl. Then pick up the wet bread and squeeze the remaining moisture out by making a ball between your hands.

Break up the mixture with your fingers and add it to the rest of the ingredients.


For this delicious meatloaf we are using some homemade spaghetti sauce. It gets mixed into the meat mixture and also tops the meatloaf. It brings some really great flavor. You could also use my marinara sauce recipe. It is another fantastic option.

Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

This Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe from scratch comes together in about 25 minutes! It is an Italian spaghetti sauce that you can make quickly to go with dinner.
Use this easy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe to top your pasta or put in your lasagna!
an Italian meatloaf in a baking dish

Using Both Pork and Beef

Our traditional meatballs always use a combination of both beef and pork. This give the perfect ratio of fat to meat and lends the best texture and flavor.

Baking Meatloaf

Though we are making a loaf, it isn’t necessary to use a loaf pan. I like just shaping this into a loaf form, and then putting it in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. It cooks up perfectly and maintains its shape well. Another great option would be a rimmed baking sheet.

When is Ground Pork Done Cooking?

Both ground beef and ground pork are done cooking when they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Because ovens vary, as does the thickness of a homemade meatloaf, we encourage you to buy an instant read thermometer. Using a meat thermometer any time you are making a meat dish is a great way to ensure you cook to doneness without drying it out.

Please keep in mind that ground pork can still appear pink after reaching an internal temperature of 160 degrees. The temperature is more important than the color. I love using the instant-read thermometer linked below to ensure the loaf is cooked to the proper temperature.


Instant Read Thermometer

I love this thermometer because it can be left in the meatloaf while it bakes in the oven.
Product Image
italian meatloaf on a platter

Freezing Meatloaf

This is a great recipe to make ahead and freeze.

  • Simply flash freeze the unbaked meatloaf (without sauce) by placing it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper for a few hours.
  • Once frozen, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
  • When ready to bake, place it (frozen) in a baking dish in a preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Top with sauce and bake for an additional 55 minutes. Top with cheese and bake until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.


When is meatloaf done?

Meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Can I use dried parsley?

Yes! Dry parsley will work in this recipe. You just want to reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons.

Can I use turkey or chicken instead of ground pork and beef?

Our preference for the recipe is ground pork and ground beef, but yes, you could replace them with 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or ground chicken. I would opt for higher fat content.

italian meatloaf recipe cut up on a platter

What to Serve with Italian Meatloaf

My preference with a dish like this is always vegetables. But you could serve some pasta with it too. Here are some of our favorite vegetable side dishes.

If you make this Italian Meatloaf recipe or any of my other recipe, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

an italian meatloaf sliced and on a serving dish topped with melted cheese and fresh parsley
5 from 5 votes

Italian Meatloaf

Serves: 8 slices
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes
Italian Meatloaf takes the wonderful flavors of my grandmother's Italian meatballs and combines them with a traditional meatloaf recipe for a new dish your family will love.


  • 1 pound ground beef (I use 85%)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork unseasoned
  • 2 eggs whisked
  • 4 slices of Italian bread 5 ounces
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Soak the bread in cold water for about five minutes, ringing out the excess water and pulling the bread apart with your fingers. (Read a more detailed explination here.)
  • Combine the meat, eggs, and parsley in a large bowl. Add the bread. Then add the dry bread crumbs, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place in the prepared baking dish. Top with 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce.
  • Bake for 55 minutes, top with mozzarella cheese and bake for 15 more minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Serving: 1slice Calories: 406kcal (20%) Carbohydrates: 17g (6%) Protein: 23g (46%) Fat: 27g (42%) Saturated Fat: 11g (69%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 116mg (39%) Sodium: 922mg (40%) Potassium: 355mg (10%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 4g (4%) Vitamin A: 330IU (7%) Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) Calcium: 150mg (15%) Iron: 3mg (17%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
an italian meatloaf sliced and on a serving dish topped with melted cheese and fresh parsley

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Italian Meatloaf

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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  1. Heather Sloan-Lopez says

    5 stars
    Hi I cant wait to make this. My Italian Grandma used to do this all the time and I wish she was still here to show me how she did this. So thank you for always posting such yummy and easy recipes! =

  2. Dorothy says

    Love your meatloaf recipe,thanks for sharing

    • Lisa Longley says

      You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy it!

  3. María Teresa Legler says

    Hi Lisa,
    For some reason your nutrition levels are not showing. Can you please share. Have to calibrate my levels of sodium, etc.
    Recipe looks great. Will also want to try your stuffed Italian peppers.
    Will try using toaster oven. 104 degrees here in Louisiana.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Those values are in there now, Maria. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Diane says

    This might sound like a silly question, but you didn’t mention it. If I freeze the meatloaf, do I defrost before baking?
    I would assume so because of the baking time, but would like to know from you. Thanks!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Nope, great question! I just clarified it within the post. But you are baking it from frozen with those instructions.

  5. Jon says

    5 stars
    I made this last night. My wife and I LOVED it. In fact, I’ll probably try making my meatballs this way. Served it with a side of linguine. Only thing I did different was a little more garlic (4 cloves instead of 2) Only because we love garlic. Thank you for sharing! Excellent!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad it was a hit, Jon! This recipe is actually based off my grandmother’s Italian Meatballs, so you absolutely can make it that way too.

  6. Shirley Carr says

    5 stars

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners