There’s nothing more comforting than a classic Italian meatloaf (polpettone) made with all the traditional flavors. It’s a delicious, easy way to feed the whole family.
This classic Italian meatloaf recipe is sure to become a firm family favourite. Simple, fast and so comforting, it's always a crowd-pleaser!
Polpettone is a traditional Italian recipe with thousands of different variations: stuffed with cheese, vegetables, prosciutto, and many more.
But one thing is for sure: Italian meatloaf is a super easy recipe, perfect for a weeknight meal or for a holiday menu.
I've made the basic version filled with Italian cheese. But you can add ham, veggies, bacon, Parma ham, or whatever you have in the fridge.
Here below you'll find my tested-and-approved technique for the best Italian meatloaf ever.
I promise that if you follow this step, your meatloaf will cook beautifully, it won't break and it will be juicy and tasty!
If you have made meatloaf before, chances are you have probably shaped the meatloaf into a loaf or stuffed a loaf pan with the meat mixture.
But doing so might result in a dry meatloaf or worse, it might actually fall apart.
My secret for a baked meatloaf that's tender but doesn't fall apart, is to cook it wrapped in parchment paper.
It's probably a bit unusual, but trust me, I've been cooking it for 15 years and this technique has never failed me!
WHAT IS POLPETTONE?
Polpettone is the Italian word for meatloaf, it literally translates to “big meatball”, because it calls for the same mixture used for making meatballs.
Italian polpettone is usually stuffed with cheese or hard-boiled eggs and can be served on its own or with tomato sauce.
For the best Italian meatloaf ever, you only need just 6 easy-to-get ingredients:
- Beef: I use beef mince. You can also use a mix of veal, beef, and pork mince for extra flavour.
- Cheese: You can use grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) or Grana Padano. For an extra kick of flavour add some Pecorino Romano.
- Eggs: Don’t skip the eggs! They bind the meat, breadcrumbs and cheese together into an actual loaf.
- Milk: a few tablespoons of milk will add moisture to your meatloaf.
- Breadcrumbs: Italian breadcrumbs (a mix of bread, parsley and garlic) adds flavour, texture and moisture to the beef mix. You can also use plain breadcrumb, panko or even almond flour for a gluten-free meatloaf version.
- Cheese filling: I have added Italian provolone cheese in the meatloaf center. You can also use mozzarella, caciocavallo, scamorza or smoked scamorza).
MORE MEATLOAF FILLINGS
I used a simple cheese filling for this easy Italian-style meatloaf, but here some other great add-ons:
- Veggies: add sauteed spinach or cubed pumpkin for a veggie boost.
- Parma ham: thin strips of prosciutto, or cubed mortadella or ham give a nice kick of flavour.
- Eggs: Italian meatloaf with hard-boiled eggs is super popular and delicious. Just add three peeled hard-boiled eggs into the center of the polpettone.
HOW TO MAKE POLPETTONE STEP-BY-STEP
The recipe for Italian polpettone couldn’t be easier. It comes together in just one bowl and takes barely 10 minutes of work.
Scroll down until the end of the post for the full printable recipe.
STEP 1 - In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together besides the provolone cheese.
The mixture should be soft, perfectly blended together, and should not stick to the sides of the bowl.
STEP 2 - Place the mixture on a sheet of kitchen paper and form a small rectangle. Arrange the cubed cheese onto the center.
STEP 3 - Roll the meat with the help of the parchment paper to form a log. Make sure it's well sealed on all sides.
Roll it in the parchment paper and twist the ends to form a large candy.
STEP 4 - Transfer onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
After this time, the meatloaf will have released some liquid, but it's totally ok.
Remove the parchment paper, drizzle the top with olive oil, then place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Check if the meat is done with a meat thermometer, if it reaches 155°F/68°F you can safely remove it from the oven.
Let the meatloaf rest for about 15 minutes, then slice it and serve with your favourite sides.
This polpettone recipe is pretty straight-forward but these useful cooking tips will ensure the best results:
- Use a meat thermometer. Even if it looks like your meatloaf is done on the it may not be fully cooked on the inside. Use an instant-read meat thermometer and continue to cook the meatloaf until it reaches 155°F/68°F.
- Let it rest. Before slicing your meatloaf, let it rest for at least 15 minutes. This will make it easier to slice it for serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container, it will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days.
You can freeze the prepared meatloaf both whole or sliced.
I like to cut it into individual slices, place them on a tray, freeze for 30 minutes, then transfer them into individual ziplock bags.
You can store the meatloaf in the freezer for about 3 months. To defrost it, place it in the fridge the night before and consume it within a day.
Yes! You can prepare the meatloaf the night before, wrap it in parchment paper and bake it the next day.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH ITALIAN MEATLOAF?
Here are some more delicious ways to serve Italian-style meatloaf:
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook!
Polpettone - Italian Meatloaf
- 600 g beef mince , or a mix of beef and pork
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 5 tablespoon milk
- 3 tablespoon Italian breadcrumbs, or breadcrumbs, or panko.
- 80 g provolone cheese, cubed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together besides the provolone cheese and olive oil. The mixture should be soft, perfectly blended together, and should not stick to the sides of the bowl. Add a little more breadcrumbs or milk if necessary.
- Place the mixture on a sheet of kitchen paper and form a rectangle. Arrange the cubed cheese onto the center.
- Roll the meat with the help of the parchment paper to form a log. Make sure it's well sealed on all sides. Roll it in the parchment paper and twist the ends to form a large candy.
- Transfer the meatloaf in the fridge and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and arrange the oven tray onto the middle shelf.
- Transfer the meatloaf onto a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. After this cooking time, the meatloaf will have released some liquid, but it's totally ok.
- Remove the parchment paper, drizzle the top of the polpettone with olive oil, then place it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
- Check if the meat is done with a meat thermometer, if it reaches 155°F/68°F you can safely remove it from the oven. Let the polpettone rest for about 15 minutes, then slice it and serve with your favourite sides.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.