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Classic Italian Meatloaf – Polpettone

A delicious Baked Polpettone or Italian Meatloaf is the perfect dinner idea. A moist tasty meatloaf baked with rosemary potatoes, it’s the perfect one pan dinner recipe.

meatloaf - polpettone in a white pan with roasted potatoes

Italian Meatloaf / Polpettone

When it came to meatloaf, it was always My Mom’s Best Meatloaf or nothing! I was sure and still am that it is the best meatloaf out there, even though to tell the truth I haven’t tried very many others.

Talking about food as Italians love to do, we talk about everything from pasta to bread to meat dishes. One that popped up often was meatballs.

polpettone how to make, ingredients in a white bowl and rolled into a log in a pan

So what does meatloaf have to do with meatballs? Well in Italian,  a Meatloaf Recipe is translated to Polpettone, meatballs on the other hand mean Polpette. 

Therefore Polpettone means “Big Meatball“. This delicious big meatball is baked. And my favourite way to make it,  is to add some rosemary, oregano and olive oil tossed potatoes and quartered onions.

It’s Dinner all in one pan.

Italian meatloaf how to make potatoes ready to be cooked and in the pan with the polpettone

The Main Ingredients

  • 80 – 85 % fat ground beef (too much fat makes it too greasy, not enough makes it dry).
  • Italian sausages with the casing removed (this will give you some added fat too).
  • a few spices
  • 2 slices of bread (crusty Italian is the best) soaked in milk
  • 1 egg
  • Parmesan Cheese

italian meatloaf with potatoes sliced in a pan

When I go to Toronto and I am looking for Italian sausages, I find the best place to get them is a local butcher or even better a local Italian or Portuguese butcher.

Half way through the cooking you may have some excess water in the pan (from the meat and also the potatoes) just carefully drain it and continue with the cooking time.

More Delicious Italian Meatball Dishes

Mom’s Easy Traditional Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs in a Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Soup

Saltimbocca alla Romana

polpettone sliced with potatoes in white dish

The first time I tried this Classic Italian Meatloaf it was baked by my mother-in-law. To make it nice and moist  she would soak the bread in milk instead of water.

So if you are looking for an alternative to your usual Meatloaf when not give this Italian Meatloaf / Polpettone a try?

I would love to know how you like it. Buon Appetito!


italian meatloaf with potatoes sliced in a pan

easy classic Italian meatloaf

Classic Italian Meatloaf / Polpettone

Rosemary Molloy
A delicious Baked Italian Meatloaf / Polpettone the perfect dinner idea. A moist tasty meatloaf baked with rosemary potatoes, one pan dinner.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 505 kcal



  • 1.3 pounds leaner ground beef (600 grams)
  • 10 1/2 ounces Italian sausages (about 3 sausages) (300 grams)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (70 grams)
  • 2 slices bread* (soaked in milk and excess moisture squeezed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 2 pinches salt**
  • 2 dashes pepper

*if possible use day old Italian bread, crust removed.

    **check for salt in the sausages before adding 2 pinches.


      • 3-4 medium - large potatoes (peeled and large cubed)
      • 1-2 onions (peeled and quartered)
      • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves only chopped)
      • 1-2 teaspoons oregano
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil


      • Pre-heat oven to 350° (180° celsius). Lightly oil a medium to large baking dish.


      • In a large bowl add the ground beef, Italian sausage (remove the casing and break into pieces), the parmesan cheese, moist bread, oregano, egg, salt and pepper gently combine well, form into a log and place in prepared baking pan.


      • In a large bowl toss together the cut up potatoes, onions (they can be left out if desired), rosemary, oregano, salt and olive oil. Place around the polpettone. 
      • Bake for approximately one hour (halfway through check for excess liquid in the pan and drain carefully if necessary/or when thermometer reads 160F / 70C) . Let sit 5 minutes before cutting. Serve. Enjoy!


      Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 937mg | Potassium: 479mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 3.4mg
      Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

      Updated from April 22, 2015.





      1. 5 stars
        I am australian living in california….i was raised making meatloaf with out a red tomatoe sauce over the top ….we either melted cheese on top or just made a gravy from the drippings…my husband being American wants his red sauce on top ….so over the years i just stopped making it cause we couldnt agree on how we liked it, I had also stopped eating red meat so make this meat loaf with pork italian SPICY sausage and ground turkey….add some more italian spices….and we now agree thats it is wonderful…honestly I dont think he knows its turkey and not ground beef…..shhhhhhhh…..so this recipe is lovely, flavorful and obviously adaptable….the milk in the bread is they way we did it in Australia also, probably adapted by the fact we had so many Italians living there…..very nice, very flavorful, will definitely make more often
        Thank you

      2. 5 stars
        When I got married in 1949, this is the recipe my husband taught me, which he got from his mother.We are Sicilian. It is exactly like yours, except for the Rosemary on the potatoes, ( only because we didn’t care for it). I’m still making it after all these years. Thank you for an authentic Italian recipe. I love all your recipes and usually try one or two a week.

      3. 5 stars
        Hi Rosemary,
        I made your meatloaf and roasted potato recipe last night and it was great. My husband was raving about it. I’ve also made your tablespoon lemon cake and that was also delicious. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes and I look forward to your emails.
        Thank you,

      4. 5 stars
        I have been making this meatloaf for about 2 years. My 92 year old mother loves meatloaf. I was looking for a simple recipe that had bread soaked in milk, I had heard that it made a really moist loaf. This recipe is perfect for her older palate. I make large batches every time I go home to Texas to visit. I slice them, put it between the round sandwich thins, which I cut in 1/2 ,wrap them in freezer paper and freeze them. She jokes that she has lunch with me every day. Sometimes it’s the simple things in the kitchen that bring the most joy. In this case it makes my Mom very happy. Thank you.

        1. Hi Mary Louise, so glad to help and that is so cute that she says she has lunch with you everyday. You are right it’s the simple things that are the best. Have a great week.

      5. 5 stars
        Hi Rose – can’t wait to try this. Question: have you ever tried this with chicken? I thought it might be an easy way to cut back on the fat.

      6. I love meatloaf. Unfortunately it’s one thing my husband doesn’t care for, so I rarely make it. Your recipe looks so simple, yet so delicious! I look forward to trying it, and who knows, maybe my husband will even like it.

      7. I always learn something new from your blog! Now I’m going to be saying “polpettone” all day, lol. This giant meatball looks and sounds amazing!

      8. It certainly looks delicious. It’s been years since I made polpettone although we make polpette frequently. We like freezing them and having them on hand. I married into a German family and they love food just about as much as Italians do. All conversations always turn to cooking and eating 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

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