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.

Full meatloaf in green baking dish.

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. 

I use an easy red sauce and mushrooms and will usually serve Italian meatloaf with a simple side, such as Italian green beans, sauteed spinach, or a green salad.

Ingredients shown: plum tomatoes, onion, garlic, eggs, beef, bread, cheese, mushrooms, red wine, and parsley.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. 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.

Italian meatloaf recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Once the ingredients are combined, form a 9 by 5″ loaf and place it in a baking dish.  Note:  9×5 measurement is approximate.  No need to bust out your ruler for this!  😉
  2. Add a 1/2 cup of dry red wine directly to the meatloaf and baking dish.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Add the crushed plum tomatoes directly to the baking dish and add 1/2 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.
  2. 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 1/2 teaspoon of salt and move to a plate. 

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Recipe process shot collage group number four.

  1. 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.

Gloved hands holding baking dish with cooked meatloaf.

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

And as good as this Italian meatloaf is as a sandwich, our meatloaf with brown gravy is equally delicious!

Slice of meatloaf in white plate with mushrooms and sauce on top.

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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Italian Meatloaf

4.97 from 28 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Italian meatloaf with mushrooms and onions is an ultra-comforting, easy to make meal that everyone will love.

Ingredients 

Meatloaf ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 4-5 slices stale white bread turned into breadcrumbs, see notes
  • 1/4 cup parsley minced
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk

Remaining ingredients for sauce and topping

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • 1 pound mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided

Instructions 

  • 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 1/2 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!

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 633kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.5g | Protein: 59.2g | Fat: 26.1g | Saturated Fat: 10.8g | Cholesterol: 174mg | Sodium: 1121mg | Potassium: 817mg | Fiber: 3.3g | Sugar: 6.9g | Calcium: 277mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.97 from 28 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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69 Comments

  1. Zoe D'Cunha says:

    5 stars
    can wait to try it. can i swap the bread for something else

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Zoe, thanks for the comment. You can swap the bread for breadcrumbs or gluten free breadcrumbs. You can also just omit the bread entirely but your meatloaf will have less volume. The breadcrumbs are there to help extend the dish.

  2. Audrey says:

    5 stars
    Excellent meat loaf! It’s now my go-to.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Audrey, we’re so happy you enjoyed and appreciate your comment!

  3. Carol Annis says:

    5 stars
    I I tried this recipe when I had family guests and told them I was experimenting on them, followed it without changing anything and it was delicious! Everyone loved it, and my sister-in-law started following you because of it!

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Carol, we’re so happy you and your guests enjoyed the meatloaf! Thanks for the comment and rating!

  4. Patricia says:

    5 stars
    After mixing the meatloaf, I combined steps 3, 4, and 5, by cooking the mushrooms, onions etc., then adding the wine and tomatoes and pouring over the meatloaf, so the sauce cooks the whole time with the meatloaf. It only makes the sauce even better and richer.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Patricia, thanks for the comment and happy to hear you enjoyed the meatloaf!

  5. Ellen says:

    Can’t wait to try it,but could I add onions to meat instead?

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Ellen, yes, you can add onions if you’d like.

  6. Susan Lambert says:

    Can you relay the Name of the wine you used for the Meat Loaf. Is it Chianti like the Beef Stew?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Susan, the wine used was Banfi Col Di Sasso Toscano (Sangiovese and Cabernet). You can find a picture of it in the post with the other ingredients.

  7. Ginette B says:

    5 stars
    Made this yesterday for dinner at my trailer and cook it on the BBQ. It was a success and very moist even with no wine or broth on hand. Thanks for your excellent recipes!

    1. Jim says:

      hi Ginette, I’m so happy you enjoyed the meatloaf and really appreciate the comment!

  8. Judy says:

    5 stars
    Hi Jim, I made this a few weeks ago and once again, HOME RUN! I had planned on making meatballs so I had the holy trinity (aka – beef, veal & pork) but, I decided to check out your site and this caught my eye. I adore meatloaf and by far, this was the best I’ve ever made. It really struck a chord because once again, you managed to create a recipe reminiscent of my mother’s (I had totally forgotten that added red wine to hers until I saw your recipe!). The leftovers found themselves happily nestled in crusty Italian bread with some of the sauce, some more Parmesan and a bit of shredded mozzarella. Thank you once again!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Judy, I’m so happy to hear you found this recipe to be a home run! Thanks for the great comment and rating!

  9. Tess says:

    Help! Plenty of wine…no milk! Could I use beef broth or tomato juice instead? Thank you.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Tess, you can just omit the milk. If you’re using 80/20 chuck you should be fine.

  10. Nancy says:

    5 stars
    First day of spring, feast of St Joseph, cold and snowy Montana day. This was the perfect dish today! Not only does my kitchen smell amazing but that is the best meatloaf I’ve ever made. Used our homemade red wine with the recipe and served garlic roasted potatoes with it. Used an In-Oven Programmable Meat Thermometer because of high altitude. Once again, thank you Jim. Buona festa!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Nancy, this comment makes me so happy! Thanks for the review and so happy to hear you enjoyed the meatloaf. I’m sure it was extra wonderful because of your homemade wine!