This tender meatloaf is better than a classic meatloaf recipe. Instead of barbecue glaze or ketchup based meatloaf sauce, this recipe calls for Italian seasonings and marinara. We think it's the best homemade meatloaf recipe!
We've enjoyed this meatloaf recipe for years. My family prefers the Italian meatloaf sauce, which is basically spaghetti sauce, instead of a barbecue glaze or ketchup. It pairs perfectly with a plate of spaghetti or keep it low carb with a side of our cheesy mashed cauliflower!
Why We Love This Recipe
There is so much to love about this meatloaf recipe!
- It is easy and quickly prepped for a weeknight dinner.
- The kids gobble it up.
- It feeds 8 people which makes it a great dish for guests.
Ingredients for Meatloaf
(full printable recipe at end of this post)
I like to focus on recipes with easy and accessible ingredients right from the grocery store or already in your pantry. Below are the ingredients to make this meatloaf recipe.
- Lean ground beef - For meatloaf, I like to get the 90/10 lean so there isn't a bunch of grease in the pan yet there is still enough flavor.
- Peppers and onion - You will saute a diced red bell pepper and a yellow onion that will be mixed into meat.
- Parmesan and bread crumbs - Both of these help bind the meat and add flavor.
- Eggs - Gives sturdiness to the loaf and also binds the meat.
- Garlic - As usual, I use the jarred minced garlic but you can mince up some fresh cloves.
- Worcestershire sauce, Balsamic vinegar - Adding to the flavor.
- Spices - Basil, parsley, salt, pepper (the recipe gives measurements for both fresh or dried basil)
- Marinara - Grab your favorite jar of marinara sauce. This will top the meatloaf.
How to Make the Best Meatloaf
Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the step-by-step instructions on how to make meatloaf. The general steps are as follows:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- In a medium skillet, heat oil and cook peppers and onions until soft. Transfer to a large bowl to slightly cool.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, except marinara.
- Mix until combined and press into loaf pan.
- Top evenly with marinara.
- Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160°F.
Your Questions Answered
Don't have a meat thermometer? - To tell if your meatloaf is done without a thermometer, you can poke a metal fork in the center. The meatloaf is done if the fork can move through the meat without much resistance.
How to stay moist? - This meatloaf will stay moist because of the correct ratio of binding ingredients to meat.
Cover with foil? - There is no reason to cover the loaf with aluminum foil during the baking time.
Best loaf pan? - I prefer to use my metal loaf pan to bake meatloaf for even baking, however, you can use a glass or ceramic loaf pan with possibly having to extend the time.
Don't have a loaf pan? - If you do not have a loaf pan, you can shape the meat mixture into an 8x4-inch loaf and bake on a baking sheet or casserole dish.
Make Ahead and Freeze
This meatloaf can be assembled ahead of time so its ready to pop into the oven. Because it's tricky to bake a cold pan, I suggest waiting to press the mixture into the pan and instead store the meat mixture in plastic wrap. It will be quicky and easy to press it into the pan right before placing in the oven.
After baking this meatloaf, it can be frozen once its cooled to room temperature. I suggest freezing the meatloaf in sliced servings, stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and in a freezer bag.
Can I Make Meatloaf in a Crock Pot?
Yes, this meatloaf can be made in a slow cooker! Click here for my crock pot meatloaf recipe.
How to Store Meatloaf and Reheat Leftovers
Store - Store any leftover meatloaf in sliced servings in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Leftovers - Leftovers can also be used chopped up in spaghetti sauce or sliced into meatloaf sandwiches!
Reheat - Reheat leftovers in the microwave or oven until heated through. Frozen leftovers should be thawed first overnight in the fridge.
What to Serve with Meatloaf
Here are few side dish recipes that go well with this Italian meatloaf recipe:
- Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
- Creamy Mac and Cheese
- Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- Quick Yeast Rolls
- Cheesy Cauliflower
PRINT this recipe or PIN it to save for later. Made this recipe? Leave a star rating and tag me on Instagram @seededtable so I can see. I love hearing from you!
This recipe was originally published March 2007 and most recently updated March 2022 with new photos and no changes to the recipe.
Photography by Lindsay Evers
Italian Meatloaf (NO Ketchup!)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided
- 1 medium red bell pepper , seeded and diced
- 1 medium yellow onion , peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a medium sized loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the peppers, onion and garlic and cook until just soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- When the peppers and onion are slightly cooled, mix in the remaining ingredients minus the marinara. Use your hands to pack the meat mixture into the loaf pan. Top evenly with marinara.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer, inserted in the middle of the meatloaf, reads 160°F. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.