Italian Meatloaf - Once Upon a Chef

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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

ingredients for italian meatloaf

Step-by-Step Instructions

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.

roughly chopped vegetables in food processorYou want to pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped but not puréed — this makes for a nicely textured meatloaf.

minced vegetables in food processor

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the vegetables until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

sautéed vegetables in skillet

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the eggs with the Worcestershire sauce, basil, salt and pepper.

eggs, basil, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in bowl

Whisk to combine.

whisked egg mixture in bowl

Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, and cooked vegetables.

adding the meat, vegetables, bread crumbs and cheese to the egg mixture

Mix with your hands until well combined.

italian meatloaf mixture in bowl

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.

free-form italian meatloaf on baking sheet

Top with marinara sauce, letting a bit drip down the sides.

topping italian meatloaf with marinara sauce

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, until cooked through, then scrape away any fat that accumulates around the meatloaf.

cooked Italian meatlaof

Slice the meatloaf and serve.

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Italian Meatloaf

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. In a bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients, whisk the eggs with the basil, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, and cooked vegetables to the egg mixture and mix with your hands until evenly combined.
  6. Form the meat mixture into a 9×5-inch loaf shape directly on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the marinara sauce evenly over top, letting it drip a bit down the sides.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • 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, 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.

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