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Easy Parmesan Meatloaf – Cheesy Easy Meat Loaf Recipe

Are you tired of the same old boring meat loaf recipe? This easy Parmesan meatloaf is flavored with Italian inspired fresh herbs and topped with a layer tasty Parmesan cheese and a delicious homemade marinara sauce.

The recipe  is fall comfort food at its best and a great addition to your collection of Italian recipes!

I am tired of meatloaf recipes getting a bad rap.  With the right blend of spices, you can turn this simple family staple into something extraordinary in the taste department. 

You will make believers out of those who say that there is no such thing as a great meat loaf recipe.

Easy Parmesan Meatloaf


This Parmesan meatloaf could not be easier to prepare!

Using fresh herbs for cooking this recipe adds so much flavor. Thyme, basil and marjoram all do their part in giving great taste to the meatloaf.

Ingredients for Parmesan meat loaf

The Parmesan cheese in the mixture and the cheddar cheese on the top of the meatloaf add and extra richness to the meat loaf recipe. The Italian inspired fresh herbs and a sauce made from roasted tomatoes are the key to the ingredients. 

Panko bread crumbs and an egg are the binding agents that hold everything together.

Can I use powdered Parmesan cheese instead of freshly grated?

You can used the bottled Parmesan if you don’t have fresh cheese on hand, but the taste and recipe won’t be the same.

Freshly grated cheese tastes better, cooks better, and even looks better. It is more expensive to use than the bottled kind, but it is so worth it to plan ahead and just make sure you buy some decent cheese. 

Fresh Parmesan cheese is sold in block form and is very easy to grate as needed. It also keeps really well in the fridge for weeks on end.

How about the marinara sauce? Will bottled sauce do?

I’d like to say, “oh, no, you must spend hours making my homemade marinara sauce” because it really is that good, but a good quality bottled sauce will do just fine if you don’t have time. 

Just add a splash of red wine to it, since that will give it extra flavor.

I make my marinara sauce in bulk and freeze it, so that I have it to use in all sorts of recipes.  But if you don’t want to take the time to roast the tomatoes and make the sauce, just use bottled sauce.

Homemade marinara sauce

I use a medium sized loaf pan.  I like my meat loaves to be narrow and tall!  This recipes fits it beautifully.

Meat loaf ready to cook.

One of the beauties of a meat loaf recipe is that it is very fast to put together.  Just make the loaf, put it in the fridge and then spend the day doing other things you enjoy. 

For me today, it is tidying up my office, if you can believe it.  Not the most appealing of jobs, but I know I will be happy when I get it done. 

Then tonight, I will just pop this beauty in the oven and can relax with a glass of wine while it cooks.

Time to taste this Parmesan meat loaf recipe

The easy meat loaf recipe is very moist and full of flavor. Add an extra dollop of the the marinara sauce on top to garnish.   It is also great served cold the next day.

Slice of Meatloaf with Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce

Serve this Parmesan meatloaf with creamy mashed potatoes and a salad or veggie side dish and you will have another ultimate comfort food recipe!

Tips for a great meatloaf

Yes, you can combine onions and ground beef in a bowl and shape it into a loaf and bake it, but that is what gives meatloaf a bad rap. For a great tasting meat loaf be sure to remember these things.

  1. Use good quality meat. If you choose the cheapest ground meat available, you’ll end up with a swimming mess of fat drenched meatloaf that no one will want to eat.
  2. Choose fresh herbs instead of dried. If you are a reader of my blog, you know that fresh herbs are keys to my recipes. They give so much more flavor than dried and are very easy to grow.
  3. Have liquids as part of the recipe. A good meatloaf will hold its shape well but not be too dry. This happens when you incorporate flavorful liquids into the mixture. In the case of this meatloaf, it’s balsamic vinegar and eggs that give it some moisture.
  4. Finish it off well.  Adding the grated cheese at the end of the cooking time and topping with the marinara adds loads of flavor to this recipe.
  5. Let the meatloaf rest before serving it. After cooking, drain off any excess fat and allow the pan to rest for 5 minutes. This allows the loaf to settle and makes even slicing easier.

Pin this meatloaf for later

Would you like a reminder of this easy meat loaf recipe? Just pin this image to one of your cooking boards on Pinterest.

This Parmesan meatloaf recipe is flavored with fresh herbs and has a cheese topping and fresh marinara sauce. #parmesanmeatloaf

This meatloaf is sure to become a family favorite. It serves 8 and works out to just under 390 calories each.

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in July of 2013. I have updated the post to add new tips and reader questions, as well as a printable recipe card.

Yield: 8

Easy Parmesan Meatloaf - The Ultimate Comfort Food

Easy Parmesan Meatloaf - The Ultimate Comfort Food

Are you tired of a boring meat loaf recipe? This easy Parmesan meatloaf is flavored with Italian inspired fresh herbs & topped with tasty cheddar cheese.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 egg ( I use free range eggs)
  • 2 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh marjoram (you can use oregano if you can't find fresh marjoram)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup marinara pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • parsley for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 350 º F. Lightly grease a loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, Panko breadcrumbs, thyme, marjoram, basil, garlic, onion, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
  • Just mix until well combined. Don't over handle it or the meat loaf will be tough.
  • Place the mixture in the greased loaf pan and form into a loaf. Top the meatloaf with the pasta sauce.
  • Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Put the meatloaf back in the oven and bake just until the cheese has melted. Warm the marinara sauce.
  • Allow the loaf to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the warm marinara sauce spooned over the slices. Garnish with parsley and serve.
  • Nutrition Information:



    Serving Size:


    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 468mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 36g

    Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

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