Meatloaf is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s delicious with a big scoop of mashed potatoes, and even better the next day on a sandwich with thick-cut bread. And it’s easy to make, so it’s really the perfect dish in my mind! This Italian Meatloaf is a fun twist on the traditional meatloaf – it’s got onion and garlic of course, plus chunks of oozy mozzarella cheese and a thick coating of tomato sauce.
(Just a brief disclaimer – while I am Italian-American, this dish is not a traditional Italian dish by any means, just my own creation with Italian-inspired ingredients!)
Italian Meatloaf Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Italian Meatloaf recipe:
- Ground beef: I like to use 85% lean beef. You could also use 90%, but I prefer to stay in this range. For me, it’s the perfect amount of tender and moist without being too greasy.
- Egg: to help bind the loaf together
- Salt, pepper and dried Italian seasoning
- White sandwich bread: my Italian-American grandma always used bread to make meatballs instead of breadcrumbs. The key is to soak the bread in water and squeeze out some (but not all of the moisture). This helps bind the loaf but also adds a softness and extra moisture. I’ve also used wheat bread instead of white bread before and it also tasted delicious!
- Mozzarella cheese: in chunks, not shredded. That way you get those deliciously oozy pockets of cheese!
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato paste: the sauce and paste are mixed together to make a thicker coating for the meatloaf; that way it will cling to the loaf instead of sliding off.
How to Make Italian Meatloaf
The steps to making this Italian Meatloaf are easy, here’s how to do it:
Step One: Add the Meatloaf Ingredients to a Bowl (Minus Cheese)
(Wait, before you do anything else, preheat the oven to 400 degrees!)
Then add the finely chopped onion and garlic to a large bowl, along with the ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
Next soak the two slices of bread in water (I just run the bread under the sink until it’s fully moistened). Squeeze the bread out until it’s not sopping wet anymore, but still very moist.
As you can see from the picture above, the bread should be moist and break apart really easily.
Then break the bread apart and add it to the bowl.
Mix everything together until evenly combined. I firmly think this is most easily done with (freshly washed) hands!
Step Two: Add in the Cheese
Cut the mozzarella into big chunks (about ½ inch). Incorporate the cheese into the meatloaf mix.
Step Three: Shape the Loaf
Get out a sheet pan. If you want an easier time cleaning up, line it with foil. Plop the mixture out onto the pan and shape it into a loaf about 10 inches long by 5 inches wide. The shape is really up to you, if you want to make it longer or wider, go for it! (But just know this will probably change the cooking time some.)
Here’s a helpful tip: if you don’t want the cheese to ooze out the sides, poke the cheese cubes back into the interior of the meatloaf. I like the oozy cheese, but it’s up to you!
Step Four: Bake then Sauce, then Bake Some More!
Bake the meatloaf for 25 minutes in the 400 degree preheated oven. While the meatloaf is cooking, mix together the tomato sauce and tomato paste. When the 25 minutes are up, coat the meatloaf in the tomato sauce and bake the rest of the way.
It may seem easier to just put the sauce on in the beginning, but when I tried that the first time, a lot of the sauce just slid right off! I think this happened because the meatloaf was releasing moisture as it cooked. By adding the sauce after the meatloaf has cooked halfway, the outside of the loaf has had time to dry out and crisp up, so the sauce stays put.
If you’ve tried this recipe for Italian Meatloaf, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments down below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more delicious recipes from Nibble and Dine!Print
A deliciously comforting meatloaf with oozy mozzarella cheese and a thick tomato sauce coating.
- 1 ½ lb. ground beef (85% or 90% lean)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 ½ tsp. dried Italian seasoning
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 c. finely chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 2 slices white sandwich bread
- 8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 c. tomato sauce
- ¼ c. tomato paste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Add the finely chopped onion and garlic, ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to a large bowl.
- Soak the bread in water until it’s saturated, and squeeze out the excess water. The bread should be very moist and very easy to break apart, but not dripping wet. Tear the bread into chunks and add it to the bowl.
- Mix the ingredients together until they are evenly incorporated, but do not over mix. Add in the mozzarella cubes and mix again just until the cheese is distributed throughout the ground beef mixture.
- For easier cleanup, line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place the meatloaf mixture onto the pan and shape it into a loaf, about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. Bake in the 400 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- While the meatloaf is baking, mix together the tomato sauce and tomato paste in a small bowl.
- After 25 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven. With a spoon or rubber spatula, spread the tomato sauce mixture over the top and sides of the meatloaf. Place back in the oven and bake for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reaches at least 160 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Keywords: Italian meatloaf, easy meatloaf, Italian meatloaf with cheese, easy Italian meatloaf
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