Why eat a plain meatloaf when you can stuff it with cheese, eggs, ham, and spinach? Since I tried this stuffed meatloaf years ago, I've never gone back to the plain one! Every time I change the stuffing based on the ingredients I have available and every time comes out super delicious! It doesn't take much time at all and it's the perfect family dinner recipe.
I was probably 18 or 19 when I started to fall in love with cooking, and one day I saw the recipe for stuffed meatloaf in an Italian cooking show. It looked and sounded so delicious that I wanted to make it immediately. Since then, I made it countless times and it was even one of the first recipes I made for my boyfriend when we started dating. That's how confident I am about this cheesy meatloaf.
During the years I adapted the recipe to my own taste and always changing it a little bit depending on the ingredients I have available. I always add some kind of cheese, and vegetables like spinach, broccoli, or even roasted peppers. You can really customize it as you prefer and will always be delicious!
The end result is a rich and moist meatloaf loaded with goodness which makes every bite a comfort food heaven. It's not a light meal for sure, but comfort food isn't supposed to be light! 🙂
How to make stuffed meatloaf
First, in a pan cook the spinach with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until completely wilted. Then set them aside to cool down.
The most important part is to create a great base. So it's vital to season the ground meat well. In a bowl, add the ground meat, 1 egg, Parmesan cheese, finely chopped onions, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix very well (preferably with your hands), then spread the meat on parchment paper into a square about 9-10 inches (25 cm) and uniformly thick (photo 1).
Squeeze all the water out of the spinach and spread them in a central layer, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) space on each side (photo 2). Add the slices of ham on top (photo 3), then the grated or sliced cheese, and finally the 3 peeled hard-boiled eggs (photo 4).
Note: I didn't add exact measurements for salt and pepper (I never do) because different types and brands may be very different in intensity and therefore season incorrectly. So I leave the seasoning up to you. If you're not sure, I suggest you cook ½ teaspoon of ground meat mixture in a small pan before you assemble the meatloaf. This way you can taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
How to roll it
Rolling the stuffed meatloaf may seem difficult but with the help of parchment paper, it can become very easy. Grab the parchment paper on one side and start rolling it tightly around the eggs, then roll it on itself leaving the seam side down (photo 1). If the stuffing starts rolling out, you can grab the other side of the parchment paper and close the meatloaf upwards, by pressing it gently (photo 2). When done, always roll it over to keep the seam on the bottom.
If needed, move it gently to the middle of the parchment paper, then press the sides with your fingers to close them shut. The ground meat should not break and crumble, but if it does, try to squeeze it together gently (the reason might be that the meat is too dry).
Move the meatloaf to a baking pan by lifting it with the paper (photo 3). You can choose if you want to cook it with or without the parchment. I tried both ways and didn't notice any difference in terms of cooking time and result.
Top with butter before baking, to keet the meat moist (photo 4).
FAQ & Tips
In Italy, we don't usually top our meatloaf with tomato sauce or ketchup. To keep the meat moist we top it with butter or oil. If you want to add sauce, please feel free to do that too to replace the butter. The end result will not be a classic Italian meatloaf but it will be still very delicious!
You can use whatever you want! I always suggest keeping at least 2 main elements: cheese and vegetables. You can use goat cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella, brie, or anything you like. As for vegetables, you can use broccoli, asparagus, roasted peppers, zucchini, and more. You can use ham, bacon, mortadella, or any cold meat you would see fit, and finally, the hard-boiled eggs are totally optional! 🙂
This meatloaf already has vegetables inside and it's loaded with goodness, so keep the side dishes light and simple. You can cook a larger batch of spinach (or whatever veggie you use in the filling) and serve that as a side, or simply pair it with a fresh salad. If you feel indulgent, potatoes would also be great as a side dish.
Preferably not. I suggest using a mix of 50% beef and 50% pork for this meatloaf as beef alone would make the meatloaf too dry and crumbly. The fat of the pork will keep the right moisture in the meat for a better end result.
If you like this recipe, try also these other meat recipes:
You can find step-by-step photos and tips in the post above.
Italian Stuffed Meatloaf
- 1 lb Ground meat, half beef and pork
- 4 Eggs
- ⅓ cup Parmigiano cheese
- ⅓ cup Breadcrumbs
- 2 Garlic cloves
- ½ Onion
- 1 cup Spinach, cooked
- 3 slices Ham
- ½ cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated
- 1-2 tablespoon Butter
- Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- First, cook the spinach with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and some garlic powder. Cook until fully wilted, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a small pot with water, boil 3 eggs for about 10-12 minutes, then set aside to cool down.
- Finely mince the onion and the garlic cloves, as tiny as possible. You can use a grater or a food processor as well if you prefer.
- In a large bowl, add the ground meat, the remaining egg, the grated Parmigiano cheese, the minced onion and garlic, and the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix well, preferably with your hands, until all the ingredients are combined.
- Roll out a sheet of parchment paper, then spread the meat on top into a square about 9-10 inches (25 cm) and uniformly thick.
- Squeeze all the water out of the spinach and spread them in a central layer, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) space on each side. Add the slices of ham on top, then the grated cheese, and finally the 3 peeled hard-boiled eggs.
- Grab the parchment paper on one side and start rolling it tightly around the eggs, then roll it on itself leaving the seam side down. If the stuffing starts rolling out, you can grab the other side of the parchment paper and close the meatloaf upwards, by pressing it gently. When done, always roll it over to keep the seam on the bottom.
- If needed, move it gently to the middle of the parchment paper, then press the sides with your fingers to close them shut. The ground meat should not break and crumble, but if it does, try to squeeze it together gently (the reason might be that the meat is too dry).
- Move the meatloaf to a baking pan by lifting it with the paper. You can choose if you want to cook it with or without the parchment. I tried both ways and didn't notice any difference in terms of cooking time and result.
- Add a few slices of butter on top of the meatloaf to keep the meat moist. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
- There will be some grease in the pan after baking, gently lift the meatloaf up using two spatulas and move it to a serving platter before cutting up the slices.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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