Italian meatloaf with mushrooms is simple, comforting, saucy, and full of flavor. All the things a good meatloaf should be. Our version uses homemade breadcrumbs, ground beef, garlic, red wine, plum tomatoes, and mushrooms for the perfect combination of flavors and texture. Since this can be made in about an hour it's perfect for weeknights during the cooler months.
Many people think of meatloaf as a typical American dish. But Italians and Italian-Americans do have their own version of meatloaf.
Known as polpettone in Italian, this dish is basically a giant meatball and I've never met a meatball I didn't like!
There are many variations of Italian meatloaf - some are stuffed with mozzarella or provolone and spinach, some are baked with potatoes or hard-boiled eggs.
My recipe is for the version I grew up eating and is influenced by my grandmother's southern Italian roots.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat the oven to 400f and set the rack to the middle level. In a large bowl, gently mix the ground meat, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, eggs, parmesan, salt, pepper, and milk.
- Once the ingredients are combined, form a 9 by 5" loaf and place it in a baking dish. Note: 9x5 measurement is approximate. No need to bust out your ruler for this! 😉
- Add a ½ cup of dry red wine directly to the meatloaf and baking dish.
- Add the crushed plum tomatoes directly to the baking dish and add ½ teaspoon to the sauce giving it a gentle stir. Place the meatloaf in the preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the meatloaf reaches 160f with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the loaf.
- While your meatloaf is in the oven, heat a large preferably stainless steel pan to medium heat. Once hot (should take about 3 minutes), add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and begin to saute the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until well browned. Once brown, season them with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and move to a plate.
- Using the same pan, lower the heat to medium-low, add the remaining olive oil and begin to saute the onions. Cook the onions for 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Season with a touch of salt if needed.
- As soon as the onions are done cooking, remove the meatloaf from the oven and add the mushrooms and onions to the meatloaf. Return the pan to the oven and continue cooking until you've reached the 160f internal temperature.
- Once the meatloaf has reached 160f, remove it from the oven and wait approximately 15 minutes before slicing so the meatloaf stays intact. Serve the sliced meatloaf with the mushroom and onion sauce and plenty of grated cheese. Enjoy!
Note: If you do not have day-old bread, you can use 1 cup of store-bought breadcrumbs instead. If you want to make your own breadcrumbs but don't own a food processer, you can use a ziploc bag and a rolling pin to achieve the same effect.
Why I love Italian meatloaf with mushrooms
There are many things to love about this dish!
It is simpler to make than meatballs. Since this is literally a giant meatball, it has the same fantastic flavor and texture as a meatball but is so much easier because instead of rolling a bunch of smaller meatballs you're just forming one giant loaf. Easy!
It freezes well. Meatloaf can stay for up to 3 months in the freezer. Be sure to cook it first and allow them to cool before freezing. Sometimes I will make several meatloaves at once and freeze a few so I can use them in a pinch. Making a big batch of our easy marinara sauce and gently heating the meatloaf in the sauce is a great way to prepare it for a quick meal.
Meatloaf sandwiches. Meatloaf makes a really fantastic sandwich. I love to slice a fresh loaf of Italian bread, scoop some bread out, layer some sliced meatloaf, sauce, and sliced mozzarella, then warm in the oven. Very similar to a meatball parm hero!
More Italian-American comfort food
To me, all Italian food is comfort food since it elicits feelings of home and memories of the people I've loved. Here are a few of my absolute favorites:
- Italian meatballs and Sunday sauce - The classic meal that graces Italian-American tabletops on Sunday afternoons.
- Baked manicotti - Four kinds of cheese stuffed into large tubes of pasta and baked until bubbly.
- Sausage and peppers - NY-style Italian feast food at its finest!
- Italian-American lasagna - Thanksgiving, Easter, or any time of year, this is the way my grandma made it.
- Beef braciole - Thinly sliced beef rolled with raisins, pine nuts, parsley, and parmesan cheese.
- Short rib ragu - Beef short ribs braised in tomato and red wine and tossed with pappardelle and Parmigiano Reggiano.
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- 2 pounds ground chuck
- 4-5 slices stale white bread see notes
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup milk
Remaining ingredients for sauce and topping
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 1 pound mushrooms sliced
- 1 large onion sliced
- ¼ cup olive oil divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- Preheat oven to 400f and set the rack to the middle level.
- Gently mix all of the meatloaf ingredients together in a large bowl. Form an approximately 9 inch long by 5 inch wide loaf and place in a baking dish.
- Pour the dry red wine over the meatloaf and add the plum tomatoes to the baking dish. Season the tomatoes with a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and mix together to distribute. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until meatloaf reaches 160f with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the loaf.
- After placing the meatloaf in the oven, heat a large pan to medium heat. Once hot add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until well browned, season with salt, then move to a plate.
- Using the same pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, add the remaining olive oil and onions to the pan. Cook the onions for 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent and season with a touch of salt. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and add the mushrooms and onions to the sauce. Return the meatloaf to the oven to finish cooking.
- Once the meatloaf has achieved the 160f internal temp, remove it from the oven and wait 15 minutes before cutting so that the meatloaf stays together. Serve with the mushroom and onion sauce and grated cheese on the side. Enjoy!
- Pulse stale bread in a food processer to make breadcrumbs or crush in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Store-bought breadcrumbs (1 cup) can also be used.
- If the meatloaf mix is too wet, just add a bit more breadcrumbs to the mix.
- Make sure to let the meatloaf sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it so that it stays together.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. Reheat in the oven at 350f until warm or in the microwave.