There’s meatloaf, and then there’s meatloaf stuffed with CHEESE! Once you try ricotta meatloaf you’ll never think of meatloaf the same way again…get ready for them to ask for seconds and thirds!
Why we love this recipe
I think meatloaf can have a bad rap…at least around my house. I personally am a fervent meatloaf lover, but some other folks around my table…not as much.
Which for me is just an irresistible challenge to make a meatloaf that non-meatloaf-lovers will like…if not fall head over heels for. 🥰
A meat loaf whose memory will last us until the next time I make meatloaf. And my friends, this cheese-packed ricotta meatloaf with tomato sauce is exactly the meat loaf to do that.
I can’t remember where I first came this meatloaf, but when I started looking around for ways to incorporate cheese into meatloaf they all seemed to be based on one created by the amazing Lidia Bastianich.
In a nutshell, it’s the same meatloaf we all know and love, but there’s a good amount of ricotta swirled into the meat mixture…and you KNOW I am always looking for any excuse to make my own ricotta cheese.
Not that you HAVE to make your own ricotta for this recipe, but it sure is satisfying!
And if that wasn’t enough, this recipe also features cubes of mozzarella cheese that melt into wonderfulness as the meat loaf bakes.
And if THAT wasn’t enough, it’s served topped with tomato sauce (I used my favorite sauce, the incredible tomato butter sauce that cooks up in a jif with just three ingredients and will guarantee that you never even LOOK at a jar of pre-made tomato sauce again as long as you live.)
Now, I followed Lidia’s meatloaf approach pretty closely with one major exception, and that was the amount of ingredients and the amount of cooking time – I cut both of them pretty much in half. Here’s how my version goes.
Ingredients you need
ngredient notes and substitutions
- Meat: You can either use all ground chuck steak – we suggest the 80/20 fat version for maximum flavor – or the meatloaf combo of beef, pork and veal that some supermarkets carry.
- Bread: Use whatever kind you have on hand – the last time I made this meatloaf I used leftover hamburger rolls!
- Ricotta: If you are using store bought ricotta, the full fat version works best.
- Mozzarella: Go for the fresh kind in the fancy cheese section of your supermarket. It tastes AMAZING.
- Tomato sauce: We like this three ingredient tomato sauce recipe which cooks up while your meatloaf bakes, but your favorite jarred version is just fine too.
How to make this recipe
There’s a link to the cookbook that has Lidia’s original recipe right under my slightly adapted version, so if you are cooking for a crowd (8 or more) that one is what you want. And then after you make it, you are going to want to go check out of Lidia’s fabulous cookbooks asap!
But if you are cooking for a smaller group, here comes my modified version.
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
STEP 2: Pour the milk over the bread cubes and let soak for a few minutes until the bread is saturated. Squeeze the soft bread a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as you can, crumble bread into crumbs with your fingers and place in a large mixing bowl.
STEP 3: Add the ground beef to the bowl, breaking it up into small pieces as you add it. Add the eggs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix everything together (your clean hands are the very best for this!)
STEP 4: Add the mozzarella cubes and work them through the meat mixture until they are evenly distributed.
STEP 5: Place a metal cooling rack in a rimmed baking pan and brush it with olive oil. I usually also line the pan with foil for easier clean-up.
STEP 6: Shape the meat mixture into an oval loaf and lay it on the rack.
STEP 7: Brush the loaf with olive oil and cover the roasting pan with foil, tenting it up so it doesn’t touch the meat loaf. Bake for 45 minutes.
STEP 8: Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover again with the foil and let the meat loaf rest for 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to rush right into slicing it up – your gorgeous meatloaf needs time to firm up. Heat up the tomato sauce while you are waiting.
STEP 9: Slice thickly and pour the tomato sauce on top. Garnish with more chopped parsley and serve.
You can! It’s now pretty easy to find near the ground beef, and is usually a mixture of beef, pork and veal in one package. It does give an extra boost of flavor!
It can be put together ahead of time, all the way up to the baking…but I would do that right before dinnertime just for optimal cheese meltage. And the leftovers (if there are any) are going to make the world’s best sandwich!
Drop your question in the comments and I will answer pronto!
want to round out your meal?
It’s pretty much a rule that you need to serve up mashed potatoes with meatloaf. This recipe for baked mashed potatoes is our current fave.
And if you want some green veggies on the side (always a good idea), how about this green bean and cherry tomato salad?
And if you still have room for dessert, we vote for these easy mini apple pies!
other meatloaf recipes we love!
could you leave us some stars?
If you try this recipe, we would love to hear how it came out for you! I’d be super grateful if you could leave a star rating (you pick how many stars! 🌟 ) and your thoughts in the Comments section. Your thoughts and advice will help both us and your fellow readers. 🥰Print
Slightly adapted from Lidia’s marvelous recipe