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Comfort food was on my mind with this delicious Spicy Italian Meatloaf recipe. Traditional meatloaf is something many enjoy in childhood and can bring a person back to mom’s dinner table. This recipe has that and so much more.

Italian food is another one that brings comfort to many. Today, we combine the two with some scrumptious Italian flavors in a traditional meatloaf recipe. Enjoy our Spicy Italian Meatloaf Recipe.

Spicy Italian Meatloaf on a big platter with mashed potatoes and green beans.
This Spicy Italian Meatloaf is tasty and special.

🇮🇹 What makes this recipe special?

We are constructing a well-made meatloaf but adding an Italian flare by incorporating pepperonis, hot Italian sausage, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella cheese. The combination makes for a great weeknight dinner. It can connect you to your childhood dinner table and create new comfort connections for your kids. 

This is constructed similarly to many traditional meatloaves but with a few key differences. Like a traditional meatloaf, we add meat, eggs, filler, cheese, and some veggie goodness to a bowl and mix. Add it all to a pan, and then let that baby bake for a while. 

Our special changes come with a few Italian ingredients that give this traditional favorite a refresh with a bit of spice and flare. 

If this recipe interests you, a few others you might like is this Panzerotti (Hot Pockets) recipe, an Easy Taco Soup Recipe, or perhaps this Baked Pork Chops with Apples recipe. Need a side dish for this recipe? How about these Easy, Creamy, and Cheesy Mashed potatoes?

No matter what you make, make sure to treat yourself!

🍖 Ingredients

You will see many meatloaf suspects in this recipe’s ingredients list, but a few surprises. Here is what you will need:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Italian breadcrumbs
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperonis
  • Lean Hamburger
  • Hot Italian sausage
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Crushed tomato
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce

See the recipe card for quantities.

Hot Italian sausage

Growing up, the meatloaf I was exposed to was almost always just ground beef. My father-in-law, however, introduced me to adding sausage to the mix. It is delicious with this addition. It adds a bit of sweetness to the meal, and since we are using hot Italian sausage, a bit of spiciness to the ordinary meal.

I can find hot Italian sausage at my grocer in the meat case, prepackaged next to the rest of the ground pork items. If your store does not carry hot italian sausage, mixing a half pound of regular ground pork with a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes is a good substitute to make this spicy Italian meatloaf with sausage.

Another thing I have done before is to purchase the large hot Italian brats and remove them from the casing. This can work in a pinch, but the easiest is packaged, non-casing hot Italian sausage.

Finally, you could use regular ground pork if you don’t have access to hot Italian sausage or if you just don’t like spicy food.

Pepperoni

The directions indicate 30 pepperonis. This recipe presumes you are using regular Hormel pepperonis, whose serving size is 28 grams. If you are using another brand of pepperoni, just weigh out 56 grams of pepperoni and chop them up.

Plus, this really does not need to be that exact. You can add more or fewer pepperonis to your taste.

Hormel is widely available and appropriate for a comfort food dish like this Hot Italian Meatloaf. I used this specific brand and 30 pepperonis(2 servings). There are some great pepperoni brands out there, and I say use what you like, but Hormel is great for this comforting recipe.

Breadcrumb brand

Part of what adds to the flavor of this Italian-inspired meatloaf is the bread crumbs I am using. Because this should be a simple dish and our recipe has an Italian inspiration, I choose Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs. 

There are other breadcrumb options that you could use, but it is essential to get approximately the same amount of crumbs. Different breadcrumbs could work slightly differently and impact the final moistness of the dish. 

This recipe calls for 1.5 cups of breadcrumbs, which translates to 6 servings of this particular brand. If you use a packaged breadcrumb similar to Progresso (fine cut and dried), this should translate evenly.

You may get slightly different results if you use an other brand or something like my delicious breadcrumb recipe. This should not deter you from making this recipe, but I just want to ensure you are aware of possible variances.

Glazed topping ingredients

I know that many traditional meatloaf recipes call for ketchup to be used with the topping. Still, I feel like the sausage and pepperoni add a bit of sweetness that isn’t needed here. Instead of ketchup, I used crushed tomato and mixed it with brown sugar and a few other ingredients.

Dish to bake this recipe in

If you already make meatloaf and have an oven-safe pan, that is what you should use for this recipe. The recipe makes about the same amount as a traditional meatloaf. I use a 9x5x3 Pyrex Loaf Pan (AFFILIATE LINK), which works well. 

🍲 Instructions

Like most meatloaf recipes, this is a super simple process. It is just as simple as mixing all the loaf ingredients together and baking it for a while.

Take the loaf out of the oven and add our topping about halfway through the baking. 30 minutes of the topping being cooked is plenty.

The topping is as simple as mixing some crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce), brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. This can be combined during the first baking stage, making it simple.

🤷 Substitutions and variations

Change this recipe up in a few different ways!

  • Breadcrumbs – I use Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs for this dish, but anything can work. You could even make your own using this Homemade Breadcrumbs recipe.
  • Sausage – I purchase hot Italian sausage by the pound, but you could remove it from cased sausages. Also, we use spicy, but you could also use regular ground sausage.
  • DIY Hot Sausage Mix a half pound of regular ground pork with a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes can work in a pinch.
  • Pepperoni – Use whatever pepperoni you have! 

📦 Storage

This stores perfectly in the fridge for a few days. Cover your loaf pan tightly and heat when you are ready to use.

This meatloaf can be frozen after it has been cooked. To freeze, wrap the cooled meatloaf tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Frozen meatloaf will keep for 2-3 months.

🎓 Meatloaf history

Meatloaf seems to have a sort of American icon feeling to it. Still, it history is more than an American comfort dish. It has been on our dinner plates for decades, but what is its origin? 

It is not strictly an American dish, and many countries have some variation or play on what we call meatloaf. It seems natural that this dish would be worldwide, as it is a great way to use meat. 

In any society where meat needs to be used before it goes wrong, meatloaf seems like a natural answer. When an animal was raised for consumption, they were often processed before Winter, as they did not have a way to feed them during the long cold months.

Because people had to use this meat up, they found interesting ways to use it. Meatloaf, or some variation of it, was an ideal way to use meat. 

This was common in the northern American colonies, where they had cold winters. The American version of meatloaf has roots in scrapple, a pork-based meatloaf that was a typical German dish.

German immigrants in the northern colonies brought the tradition of scrapple with them. Still, they then learned it would also work for the beef they raised. Like much of traditional American food, its origins lay with immigrants adapting to a new lifestyle.

Electric grinders and refrigeration

Before the advent of good mechanical grinders and refrigeration, ground beef was not that common. In our History of the Hamburger post, we explored this a bit already. The hamburger was not invented until the early 1900s.

In any event, the advent of good refrigeration and proper equipment helped spread ground beef’s popularity in the US and encouraged the spread of meatloaf.

The Great Depression and meatloaf

The great depression had folks using whatever they could find to make a meal, and meatloaf became a dinner staple during this time. Home cooks could find reasonably priced ground beef made from lesser cuts of meat and provide an economical, protein-filled dinner for their families.

While meatloaf started appearing in cookbooks as early as the 1870s, the great depression solidified this dish as an American icon. It became even more entrenched following World War II.

Following the war, our kitchens became places of efficiency. Canned food and easy food became more fashionable. Refrigerators, ground beef, and food industrialization all lent itself to being an obvious go-to for many in the 40s and 50s.

❓ FAQ

What is meatloaf made of?

Meatloaf is typically made of ground meat (such as beef, pork, or turkey), breadcrumbs or oats, and a variety of vegetables and seasonings.

How do you cook meatloaf?

Meatloaf can be baked in the oven or slow cooked in a crockpot. It is important to cook meatloaf to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit to ensure that it is fully cooked and safe to eat.

Can meatloaf be frozen?

Yes, meatloaf can be frozen after it has been cooked. To freeze, wrap the cooled meatloaf tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and then place it in a resealable plastic bag. Frozen meatloaf will keep for 2-3 months.

How do you serve meatloaf?

Meatloaf is typically served sliced and topped with a glaze or sauce. It can be served with a variety of sides, such as mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables.

📝 Tips and tricks

  • If you don’t want it quite as spicy, use regular Italian sausage
  • If you want it spicier, try adding a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before you mix everything up.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your clean hands in there to mix all the ingredients up. 
  • I recommend Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs, but other brands will work (or my homemade breadcrumbs recipe ) in a pinch.
  • I use Hormel Pepperoni, as they are widely available. Other brands work.
  • Use a meat thermometer [AFFILIATE] to make sure your ground beef hits 160° Fahrenheit.
Full platter of Italian Meatloaf with beans and potatoes on the side.
Try this tasty comfort meatloaf today!

🛠 Products used in this recipe

😋 Did you make this recipe?

That is awesome, and thank you so much for giving this Spicy Italian Meatloaf recipe a try. If you could leave a rating in the comment area below, it would be greatly appreciated. This lets me know how I am doing and also helps others decide if they want to make this recipe. Most of all, thanks for visiting Ramshackle Pantry.

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Spicy Italian Meatloaf on a big platter with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Spicy Italian Meatloaf

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Ben
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
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Description

This is a tasty, easy meatloaf with a tad of spicy Italian flare. Our Spicy Italian Meatloaf combines all of the great flavor of Italian food with the comfort of meatloaf to make a perfect easy dinner that will fill you up.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 ½ cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 30 Hormel pepperonis(60g), chopped
  • 1 Pound lean hamburger
  • ½ Pound hot Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

For Topping

  • ½ cup crushed tomato (or tomato sauce)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheigt
  2. Add beaten eggs and milk to large dish and mix.
  3. Stir in onion, carrots, breadcrumbs, cheese, and mix well.
  4. Add Pepperoni, ground burger, sausage, salt and pepper.
  5. Using hands, mix all of this really well.
  6. Spread evenly in meatloaf dish
  7. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
  8. While cooking mix all topping ingredients and set aside.
  9. At 30 minutes, spread topping evenly over the top of the meatloaf and bake for another 30 minutes.
  10. Using a thermometer, make sure internal temp hits 160° Fahrenheit.
  11. Let stand for 10 minutes and then serve!

Notes

  • If you don’t want it quite as spicy, use regular Italian sausage
  • If you want it spicier, try adding a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before you mix everything up.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your clean hands in there to mix all the ingredients up. 
  • I recommend Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs, but other brands will work (or my homemade breadcrumbs recipe ) in a pinch.
  • I use Hormel Pepperoni, as they are widely available. Other brands work.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure your ground beef hits 160° Fahrenheit.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6 pan
  • Calories: 534 calories
  • Sugar: 245 g
  • Sodium: 1413 mg
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Saturated Fat: 36 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Cholesterol: 149 mg

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