Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust (gluten-free, paleo)


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I’m loving this Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust. There’s no fillers in this recipe, just high quality ingredients.

Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust |

After freezing my tushy off last week in New York, I decided that I needed to make some good comfort food this week. Can you believe we’re getting into winter already? And while it may not be nearly as cold in Cali as New York, anything below 70 degrees is too cold for me!

So this week I did a spin on an old classic – Italian meatloaf. And I think you’re gonna love this version. With all the herbs baked into the meatloaf it’s more traditional Italian style, but the marinara parmesan crust is the piece de resistance!

I was even tempted to pick the top off everyone else’s slices of meatloaf, because that crust is so darn good! But then the little voice inside my head reminded me that my guests would probably notice picked-at meatloaf slices. Ya think? 

As the meatloaf cooks, the marinara sauce drip down the sides, acting as a marinade in addition to a flavorful topping. Of course you can use store-bought marinara, but the homemade marinara sauce is really quite simple.

The great thing about this Italian meatloaf is that it doesn’t have “fillers” like oatmeal, bread crumbs or flour, so you’ll really taste the herbs and sauce. Then, the crusty parmegiano reggiano (and please, splurge on the good stuff) adds a zing of rich, Italian goodness.

Gosh, now I’m craving a trip back to Italy. Maybe that’ll be my next trip after I get back from my Sydney-Chiang Mai-Bali adventures. Whose with me?


Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust |

Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust |

Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust |


Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust

5 from 16 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Lisa Bryan


I’m loving this Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust. There’s no fillers in this recipe, just high quality ingredients.


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup parmegiano reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 cup marinara sauce


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place all ingredients (except the marinara sauce and parmegiano reggiano cheese) into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands until all of the ingredients are well combined.
  • Place the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan, gently pushing down until the top is flat.
  • Spread one cup of the marinara sauce evenly on the top of the meatloaf. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
  • Place in the oven and cook for one hour. When done, remove the meatloaf. You'll notice juice has pooled along the sides of the pan. Simply tilt the meatloaf while still in the loaf pan to drain the juice before serving.


Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 508mg | Potassium: 345mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 1.5mg | Calcium: 234mg | Iron: 2.8mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Gluten Free Meatloaf, Italian Meatloaf, Keto Meatloaf, paleo meatloaf
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi Lisa,

    I am brand new to your channel. I have made this and it was, like you said, Italian goodness. Thank you for sharing your recipes. I can’t wait to try more, i have them already saved and excited to try them.5 stars

  2. Hi Lisa, big fan of yr recipes. I can’t understand why the cooking time doesn’t change if u use 2lb, 4or 6 lb of mince

    1. Hi Kay – the buttons that change the quantity only affect the ingredients listed. But you’re correct that a large meatloaf will require more time. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  3. I made 4 mini meatloaves with this recipe using 1-cup Souper Cubes and popped them in the freezer! Yet to taste them but the recipe was easy and I Lile that they’re meal-prep-ready 5 stars

  4. This recipe was amazing! Everybody loved it, even my husband who’s no fan of meatloaf ;) .

    I want to make 1,5 dose next time, in the same loaf pan. Do you think I should increase the cooking time or it will be fine as it is? Thanks in advance! :)5 stars

    1. Wonderful! So happy you and your husband both loved the meatloaf. If you increase the quantity, you may need to increase the cooking time a smidge as well. Enjoy!

  5. Hello. Thank you for the recipe. Is there a sauce or gravy for those who want one, or is this okay without? Please reply at your convenience.

  6. This recipe is right up my alley. Just a few quality ingredients and some spices to give it some zing. I have made many versions of meatloaf and this one has risen to the top! Thank you again for this “one stop” site for most of my healthy cooking.5 stars

  7. This was so delicious! It’s our new favorite meatloaf! I especially like not having to put the fillers in it. I do need to buy some Parm Regg., but regular old Parmesan was still good.5 stars

  8. I made this recipe once before and I loved it! The parmesan on top makes it so yummy! I have a question….would this freeze well once fully cooked?5 stars

  9. All I can say is: WOW!

    That was so delicious. Best I have ever made…

    Make it!!

    I have tried many recipes now and have seriously Loved every one of them.
    I went on a wholefood idea of eating and have so far lost 23 of those nasty covid lockdown pounds,
    17 to go!

    The recipes use spices to bring out the flavors and I now have a new spice cupboard full of fresh spices.

    Found out my heartburn was caused by bread. I love that your recipes are so adaptable and fitting for gluten free eating.

    Thank you for what you do!5 stars

    1. Hi Sheila – Oh wonderful, I’m so happy you loved this recipe! And congrats on the healthy eating success – that’s awesome. Spices really do make such a difference with recipes so that’s great you’re all stocked up now. Hope you enjoy many more recipes!

  10. Hi Lisa
    I made your Italian meatloaf, added bacon bits and parmesan cheese into the mix and had a Herb savory gravy instead of the marinara sauce! And made it in my cupcake pans! It was delicious! Thank you for having so many great recipes!5 stars

    1. Hi Judy – love those variations, it sounds delicious! I’m so happy you’re enjoying all my recipes. :)

  11. I am obsessed with all of your recipes! They have all been winners so far! Wondering if there is an egg replacement for this recipe? Perhaps flaxseed? My kids have dairy and egg allergies. I would be using the vegan parm as well. Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Natalie – I’m so happy you’re enjoying all my recipes! I haven’t tried this with an egg replacer yet, but I say it’s worth a try!

  12. Outstanding like all other Lisa’s recipes I’ve followed thus far (I lost count now ;). I served this with a side of Lisa’s mashed potatoes and a fresh tomato/cucumber/herb salad and my entire family asked for seconds.  Oh and I used vegan parmesan.
    Thank you for another easy, delicious recipe!5 stars

  13. I tried the recipe with ground turkey instead of beef. It was amazing ! I have slowly been trying all of your recipes and they are always so tasty. 5 stars

  14. This recipe is great! I am so not a meatloaf fan but my hubby is, so I keep trying different recipes in the hope that this would be the one I like. Thankfully, I finally found it! I will most definitely be fixing this meatloaf time and again.5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa – So glad you loved this meatloaf! This is a recipe I hope to update soon in the future as well :)

  15. My husband requested Meatloaf for dinner one night. It was my first time making it and he really enjoyed this dish!!!5 stars

  16. I love this meatloaf. I look forward to nutritional information. I eat a keto diet and want this as part of my food menu. 5 stars

    1. Glad you love it Jenny! And I’m slowly adding nutritional info to all of my older recipes. :)

    1. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried this recipe in the crock pot so wouldn’t know. You’ll have to play around with it. :)

    1. I don’t have nutritional info on all recipes yet. I’m slowly adding them to all recipes though, so check back soon!

  17. Surprisingly tasty considering how simple! My family loved the tomato/parmesan topping and I used your recipe for the quick tomato sauce…great substitute for ketchup!

    1. Thanks Maggie – so happy to hear you and your family loved it! Gotta love simple and tasty recipes! :) x