Italian Style Meatloaf – Polpettone is comfort food all the way. With Italian flavors like pancetta, basil, Parmesan , this meatloaf tastes like the best giant meatball bathed in delicious marinara sauce.

The meatloaf on a wood serving board with 2 slices and vegetables


There really is an Italian meatloaf

I recently learned that there is a traditional Italian meatloaf recipe, they call it ‘polpettone’.  I learned this after writing my recipe and was hoping that I wouldn’t offend the Italians by calling it ‘Italian style’ but I think I may be safe now  ๐Ÿ˜‰


Meatloaf is very popular in my house at this time of year and my go-to is my pork, apple and sage meatloaf and I thought it was time for a new meatloaf recipe. Bolognese sauce and cheese stuffed meatballs are also in regular rotation for dinners (can you tell my husband is Italian?) and these were all inspiration for this Italian style meatloaf.



This is an all beef meatloaf with a little pancetta, carrots, celery, onion and garlic that is cooked and cooled before adding to the beef. This does 2 things, you get a lot of flavor into the meatloaf and this cooks the vegetables because I have found they just don’t cook all the way in the meatloaf when its roasting in the oven. The vegetables tend to stay a little crunchy.


In keeping with the Italian theme, I covered the top with homemade marinara sauce (this easy recipe link can be found below). Make sure you serve extra for pouring over the sliced meatloaf. Like Italian gravy.

Serving suggestion

When the meatloaf is 10 minutes away from being cooked. Cover the top in mozzarella cheese. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds amazing.


Pouring marinara sauce onto sliced meatloaf


If you’ve tried this Italian Style Meatloaf – Polpettone or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I love to hear from my readers!

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Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce


Marinara sauce being ladled into a pan

Yield: 8 slices

Italian Style Meatloaf - Polpettone

Italian style meatloaf sliced on a serving board with fresh basil leaves

This Italian style meatloaf is comfort food all the way. With Italian flavors like pancetta, basil, Parmesan and lots of marinara sauce, this meatloaf tastes like the best giant meatball.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) pancetta, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 slice bread, lightly toasted then ground into breadcrumbs in the food processor
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
  • 2 pounds (680 grams) ground beef
  • 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (110 grams) marinara sauce


  1. To a sauté pan add the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Cook until the vegetables soften and the pancetta slightly crisp. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. To a mixing bowl add the breadcrumbs and milk, and leave for until all the breadcrumbs have soaked up the milk.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Once the pancetta mix is cool, add the ground beef, bread and milk mix, Parmesan, oregano, basil, egg, salt and pepper and ¾ cup marinara sauce. Mix until everything is well combined.
  5. Turn the mix out onto the baking sheet and mold into a meatloaf shape. About 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. Top with the remaining ¾ cup marinara sauce.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a thermometer when inserted into the center reaches 165°F/74°C.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with extra marinara sauce

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 165Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 50mgSodium 611mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 10g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.