Indulge in the ultimate comfort food experience with this delicious Parmesan Meatloaf recipe. With every mouthwatering bite, you'll savor the blend of tender ground meat and cheesy goodness, making this a family-favorite dish you'll want to devour again and again.
Parmesan Meatloaf is a versatile dish that can be served on a variety of occasions, making it a valuable addition to your culinary repertoire. Whether you're preparing a cozy weeknight dinner, a hearty Sunday family meal, or even looking for an impressive dish to share at potlucks and gatherings, this recipe fits the bill.
Meatloaf itself has a fascinating history dating back to ancient times when it was originally made with a mixture of ground meat and other ingredients. It gained popularity in the United States during the 19th century, becoming a staple comfort food for many families during the Great Depression and World War II due to its affordability and the ability to stretch a small amount of meat into a satisfying meal. Today, meatloaf has evolved into countless variations, with this Parmesan Meatloaf offering a delicious twist on the classic, combining the savory flavors of seasoned meat with the richness of Parmesan cheese for a truly delightful experience.
Here's what you need to make Parmesan Meatloaf:
- Italian seasoned bread crumbs - I like standard Italian seasoned bread crumbs here but any form of plain, panko or gluten-free bread crumb works. Find these on the baking aisle in the grocery store.
- Ground beef - I recommend 80%-90% lean ground beef for this recipe. Any higher fat percentage will end up greasy and any lesser of a fat percentage will end up too dry.
- Milk - I use 2% cow's milk for this but any variety of cow's milk or plant-based milk works here.
- Eggs - Grade A large eggs.
- Shredded or grated parmesan cheese - I like to use a good quality shredded or grated parmesan here that's found on the cheese aisle, but you can use the standard canister of Kraft grated parmesan if you like, the flavor just won't be as rich.
- Salt - I use fine sea salt, but any form of Himalayan salt, kosher salt or iodized table salt works.
- Black pepper - Freshly ground black pepper tastes best, but you can use the standard boxed ground pepper if you prefer.
- Red pepper flakes - Red pepper flakes, also known as crushed red pepper add a touch of spice to the dish without making it spicy. Be sure not to use cayenne pepper or ground red pepper here, it's an entirely different level of spice.
- Garlic powder - Garlic powder or granulated garlic adds some extra flavor to this meatloaf, but you can use freshly minced garlic instead.
- Dried Italian seasoning - This dried seasoning found on the spice aisle contains a nice assortment of Italian herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and sage to add flavor to dishes.
- (Optional) Ketchup - You can use the classic Heinz or a no-sugar added ketchup.
See recipe card for quantities.
Here's how to make Parmesan Meatloaf:
1. Add the bread crumbs and milk to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes for the bread crumbs to absorb the milk. Then, add the parmesan cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to the bowl, stirring to combine.
2. Add the ground beef to the bowl and stir again to combine.
3. Divide the meat mixture in half and form it into two loaves on a greased or lined sheet pan. If desired, spread ketchup across the top of each loaf.
4. Bake the meatloaf at 400 for 1 hour or until it is cooked through and a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the meatloaf to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Hint: For easy cleanup, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper prior to adding the meatloaf.
Want to substitute an ingredient in Parmesan Meatloaf? Here's how:
- Ground beef - use an equal amount of ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the ground beef.
- Parmesan cheese - use an equal amount of a different cheese such as mozzarella cheese in place of the parmesan.
- Italian seasoning - use ½ teaspoon dried basil and ½ teaspoon dried oregano in place of the Italian seasoning.
- Bread crumbs - use an equal amount of quick oats in place of the bread crumbs.
Try one of these variations of Parmesan Meatloaf:
- Spicy - double the amount of red pepper flakes to add a little more heat to your meatloaf.
- Deluxe - add ¼ cup of drained finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil to add more flavor and moisture to the meat mixture prior to baking. Additionally, add mince a few cloves of garlic and add them to the meat mixture prior to baking.
- Gluten-free - use an equal amount of gluten-free bread crumbs or gluten-free quick oats in place of regular breadcrumbs for gluten-free meatloaf.
- Italian - for an Italian twist, top the meatloaf with pasta sauce, spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce instead of ketchup.
This equipment comes in handy when making Parmesan Meatloaf:
Store leftover cooled cooked Parmesan Meatloaf in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Don't skip the step of resting the meatloaf! After baking, remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes. This resting period lets the juices redistribute throughout the meatloaf, ensuring a moist and flavorful result when you slice into it. Rushing this step can lead to juices running out and a drier texture, so exercise patience for a more delicious and tender meatloaf.
The key ingredients that help meatloaf maintain its shape and prevent it from falling apart are breadcrumbs or a similar binder, eggs, and a liquid component. Bread crumbs or rolled oats act as a binding agent, absorbing moisture and creating a cohesive mixture with the ground meat. Eggs play a crucial role in binding everything together as they coagulate during baking, effectively gluing the ingredients in the meatloaf. Additionally, the liquid component, often in the form of milk or broth, not only adds moisture to the mixture but also helps distribute flavors evenly, ensuring a tender and well-structured meatloaf. When combined with the right ratios, these components work together to create a meatloaf that holds its form while remaining moist and delicious.
The secret to achieving a tender meatloaf lies in two key factors: proper meat-to-fat ratio and not overmixing the ingredients. Selecting ground meat with an ideal balance of lean meat and fat, such as an 80/20 ratio, ensures that the meatloaf remains moist and succulent. Overmixing, on the other hand, can lead to a dense and tough texture, so it's essential to mix the ingredients just until they are combined, avoiding excessive handling for a tender, melt-in-your-mouth result.
The choice between baking meatloaf on a sheet pan or in a loaf pan depends on the desired outcome and personal preference. Baking meatloaf on a sheet pan, often referred to as a free-form or open-style meatloaf, allows for more surface area to caramelize, creating a flavorful crust on the exterior. This method also allows excess fat to drain away from the meatloaf, resulting in a slightly leaner dish. Conversely, using a loaf pan can yield a meatloaf with a more uniform shape and a moister interior, as the pan traps juices and fat, keeping the meatloaf juicy throughout.
Looking for other delicious beef recipes like this? Try these:
Serve Parmesan Meatloaf with one of these side dishes for a balanced meal the whole family will love:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit.
- Add the bread crumbs and milk to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes for the bread crumbs to absorb the milk. Then, add the parmesan cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to the bowl, stirring to combine.
- Add the ground beef to the bowl and stir again to combine.
- Divide the meat mixture in half and form it into two loaves on a greased or lined sheet pan. If desired, spread ketchup across the top of each loaf.
- Bake the meatloaf at 400 for 1 hour or until it is cooked through and a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 160 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended