The most delicious Italian meatloaf stuffed with Taleggio cheese and wrapped in crispy pancetta. This main dish is so impressive that it is perfect for special occasions. It is juicy, delicious and full of flavor. Served with a simple tomato sauce.
This Italian meatloaf is designed to be as easy as any other meatloaf recipe, but impressive enough to serve to family and friends on special occasions and large gatherings.
I know what you are thinking… ‘uggh, meatloaf, my grade school cafeteria nightmares!’ I hear ya. I was never really a fan of meatloaf until Mark introduced me to his Italian-Style Meatloaf with a Garlic Tomato Sauce, and now I can’t get enough of this, and I request it often.
Italian-Style Meatloaf with Garlic Tomato Sauce
What makes it Italian-Style?
You may have had the traditional meatloaf, typically made with ground beef, maybe some veggies are thrown in there, and topped with a bbq sauce or some type of weird ketchup-based sauce. Nothing about that is Italian. Nothing. But this version has all the Italian flavors you love and enjoy and makes your home smell amazing while it’s cooking. Also, the garlic tomato sauce you could literally use as a pasta sauce without thinking twice!
This outstanding Italian Meatloaf recipe is sure to please the entire family, and the leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have any!) are amazing!
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 lb. ground mild Italian sausage
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 C. chopped bell pepper (I used orange, it was all I had in the freezer)
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. basil
- 1/2 tsp. parsley
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 C. Italian bread crumbs
- 2 slices white bread, crumbled
- 1 T. milk
- 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese, reserve 3/4 C. for topping
- 1/4 C. parmesan cheese
- 1 C. marinara sauce, plus 1/2 -3/4 C. more for topping
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over med. high heat and sauté the onion and bell pepper for 3-4 minutes, remove from heat. In a large bowl, add the meats, onion and peppers along with all remaining ingredients reserving 3/4 C. mozzarella cheese for topping. Now, dive in there with the best tools God gave you, your hands and combine everything really good. Once it has all come together, place and mold the mixture in a baking dish of your choice. I used my oval Portuguese stoneware for ours. Spoon 1/2 to 3/4 C. of the marinara sauce on top and spread around. Place in a 400 degree oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining cheese and sprinkle a little dry basil over the top. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Make sure the meat is not pink before serving, baking time will vary depending on the thickness of your loaf. Mine was about 2″ thick.
- If serving with mashed potatoes, you might warm up some additional marinara sauce for serving.
- 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.
- Let the meatloaf refridgerate: after shaping and wrapping the meatloaf put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This helps keep it’s shape and chills the cheese before going in the oven.
- Seal all the cracks: it is very important to spend a minute or two sealing all the cracks around the meatloaf with your hands. This will prevent the cheese from leaking out.
- Ground beef : Try to choose lean ground beef so there is less fat in your meatloaf. You can also make a 50-50 mix of mild Italian ground sausage for even more Italian flavor.
- Garlic: I used fresh garlic but you can substitute it with garlic powder. If you use fresh garlic, the quickest way to mince it is with a or
- Tomatoes: I used Roma tomatoes for the meatloaf because of their low water content, but you should be able to use other types of tomatoes since we cook them anyway.
- Parmesan: We use finely grated parmesan because it mixes well with the ground beef.
- Mozzarella cheese: You can also substitute mozzarella cheese with a blend of Italian cheeses.
- If you don’t have a loaf pan, any other baking dish will do. An 8×8 or 9×9 pan will also work. You’ll just have to adjust the baking time, as these pans are shallower and wider than a traditional loaf pan, and the baking time will probably be a little shorter.
- Don’t worry if it looks like there’s a lot of liquid in the meatloaf pan during baking. More moisture means your meatloaf won’t dry out! If there is any liquid left in the pan after baking, let the meatloaf sit for 5-10 minutes. You can then discard it if you wish, but I usually leave it in the pan.
Do you cook meatloaf covered or uncovered?
Bake the meatloaf uncovered. This will allow it to form a crispy crust and brown the cheese sprinkled on the outside.
Can I freeze this meatloaf?
Absolutely. Freeze the meatloaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap wrapped in aluminum foil in the freezer for 3 to 4 months. To reheat, defrost the meatloaf in the refrigerator for 24 hours before preparing it according to the cooking instructions in the recipe card below.
Can I make this meatloaf ahead of time?
Yes, prepare and wrap the meatloaf in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready. When you’re ready to bake, uncover and bake as directed in the recipe card below.
Can I use ground turkey instead?
Yes, substitute ground turkey for the ground meatloaf mixture if you prefer.
Do you make this Italian meatloaf recipe? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment and star rating below. We value your opinion and appreciate your time.