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Italian Meatloaf

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posted: 09/11/21

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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

  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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

FAQ

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
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Italian Meatloaf

Serves: 8 slices
(tap # to scale)
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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
Author: Lisa Longley
an italian meatloaf sliced and on a serving dish topped with melted cheese and fresh parsley

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