The Best Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf Recipe

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This tried and true family favorite recipe for Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf is bursting with rich meaty, garlic flavor and baked in a marinara sauce for a meatloaf dinner that doesn’t dry out and is low carb and gluten free! 

meatloaf baked in marinara and topped with cheese on a white plate

I have a weird thing with condiments – I am allergic to mustard, and I simply don’t like mayonnaise, relish, salad dressing, or ketchup – so meatloaf sounds like a bit of a weird choice as one of my all-time favorite meals. 

There’s nothing NOT to love about meatloaf though, aside from that pesky all-present too-sweet stuff (I jest) slathered all over it.

I prefer to make a meatloaf smothered in marinara for a decidedly more Italian inspired twist – and it’s rapidly become one of our family’s favorite meals.

The Best Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf Recipe isn’t just delicious – it stays nice and moist and doesn’t dry out when baking, thanks in part to baking it right in marinara.

This lets the marinara sauce’s flavor sink in to the meatloaf, giving it a rich and hearty flavor and a juicy, delicious texture!

If you’ve ever wondered how to make a meatloaf without breadcrumbs – or wanted to know what a good substitute for breadcrumbs in meatloaf is, get ready for my favorite easy swap!

This recipe stands out to me because I don’t use breadcrumbs – I make my own binder out of blended dried mushrooms, instead.

The dried mushrooms work like breadcrumbs to stick to the extra moisture from the meat and the egg to act as a binder for the meatloaf – but also give an extra rich, meaty flavor to the meat as the mushrooms cook with it.

To ensure you have a perfect mushroom powder that will work well binding meat without soaking up too much moisture, whiz it in a blender or food processor until chopped very fine.

You do not want large chunks of dried mushrooms in your meatloaf, or it will be a bit crunchy and uneven in the meatloaf.

Using dried mushrooms as a binder makes this recipe a perfect easy keto meatloaf – and reduces the carb totals, making this meatloaf a perfect choice for a low carb diet.

It’s also a great way to add extra flavor and a few more nutrients!

To Make This Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf Recipe You’ll Need:

This Italian Meatloaf recipe is insanely easy – but there are a few tried and true tools that make this dish super simple and perfect, every single time.

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-Loaf Pan

To make a meatloaf, you need a loaf pan! I like using loaf pans that are nonstick, and easy to pull out of the oven without spilling sauce all over when I go to grab them. I love the substantial handles of this loaf pan!

-Dried Mushrooms

The trick to my meatloaf is that I use dried mushrooms instead of breadcrumbs to bind the meatloaf and to give it extra flavor. Any dried mushroom will work – but I prefer “gourmet blends” because they usually contain shiitake, cremini, button mushrooms, and other varieties with a meaty, hearty flavor instead of say a morel with a sweeter, nuttier flavor.

-Meat Thermometer

To make the perfect meatloaf, you have to be sure it’s cooked all the way through. To do that, a thermometer is essential so you dont have to slice it open to know if it’s done! With meatloaf, you have to poke a couple places (both a side and the middle of the loaf, towards both the top and the bottom, as the larger size can affect cooking time.)

-Aluminum Foil

-Large mixing bowl

Tips to Perfect Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf:

Double the fun. To make sure your meatloaf is perfectly cooked through without drying out, I like to make two smaller loaves instead of a giant meatloaf. It cooks faster and more evenly, so that the meat doesn’t dry out.

Sauce Might Separate. Baking your meatloaf in the sauce might allow the sauce to separate and break slightly. If it does, never fear – it will still taste great. When you lift your meatloaf out of the pan, go ahead and discard the sauce it cooked in – the recipe does call for adding a reserved cup of marinara sauce to top it with fresh from the oven.

Mince Matters. I really try to make sure my vegetables are as small as possible when serving – and give them a good whiz in the food processor. This is essential for a nice, even textured meatloaf that doesn’t dry out or have weird clumps. Since vegetables give off a lot of water, having larger diced veggies in the meatloaf can give uneven results and be a little unappetizing – so go ahead and pulverize.

The Best Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf Recipe

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Meatloaf with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese on a white plate, the best easy baked Italian meatloaf recipe ever.
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The Best Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf Recipe

The Best Easy Baked Italian Meatloaf Recipe – a tried and true family favorite bursting with rich meaty, garlic flavor and baked in marinara sauce.
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, italian inspired, main dish, marinara, meatloaf
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 409kcal
Author Courtney ODell

Ingredients

  • 4 oz dried mushrooms crushed into a fine powder
  • 1 zucchini blended in a food processor
  • 2 carrots blended in food processor
  • 1 onion blended in food processor
  • ¼ cup garlic diced extra fine
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground italian sausage mild or spicy
  • 2 stalks celery diced extra fine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp italian herb blend
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 2 tsp pepper freshly cracked
  • 12 oz marinara sauce
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ cup parsley diced

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • In a blender or food processor, blend dried mushrooms until they are a fine powder (this will act as a binder instead of using breadcrumbs.) 
  • Add mushroom powder into large bowl, set aside. 
  • Whiz large zucchini, carrots, and onion in food processor until finely diced and add to mushrooms in large bowl. 
  • Add ground beef, parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, celery, Italian sausage, eggs, garlic, herbs, and seasonings and mix well. 
  • Grease a loaf pan well. 
  • Pour about 1/4 cup marinara sauce into bottom of greased loaf pan. 
  • Add meat mixture into loaf pan and top with 1/2 cup marinara sauce (do not use all your sauce, this will break down in the oven and you'll want more to top it with when meatloaf is done.) 
  • Cover meatloaf and loaf pan with foil and bake at 350 until meatloaf is 150 degrees internal temperature, making sure to poke your thermometer in a couple of places to be sure all of the meatloaf is cooked through. 
  • Remove from oven and top with sauce, parmesan cheese, and parsley to garnish. 

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1289mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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  1. Floranet says:

    This is one of the best blogs I have read on this topic.