You’ll love this Italian Meatloaf with cheese and spinach topped with marinara! Use this recipe for chicken meatloaf, turkey meatloaf or any ground meat! It’s easy to make this gluten free or keto friendly too.
Would you be mad if I told you I’ve been making this delicious Italian meatloaf recipe for months and never shared it until now? It’s become a family favorite around here, and I’m predicting you’ll add it to your dinner rotation after trying it.
It’s basically a meatball in loaf form. Think ground chicken or ground turkey mixed with Parmesan, spinach, garlic, parsley, eggs, seasonings and topped with marinara. My main deviation from Italian-style meatloaf is to bind everything with rolled oats instead of bread crumbs.
I find that briefly soaking the oats in water and adding them to the remaining ingredients produces a tender, moist turkey meatloaf (or ground chicken meatloaf). You won’t notice any oat flavor, I promise. The spinach adds moisture as well.
Plus, I add a little Worcestershire sauce for umami flavor. Trust me.
How to make Italian meatloaf
1. Add all of the meatloaf ingredients (except the marinara) to a large bowl. Mix gently with clean hands.
2. On a greased half sheet pan (affiliate link) shape the meatloaf into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. This will help the meatloaf to cook faster, but you can make it thicker, if you wish.
3. Top the raw meatloaf with marinara, then bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through. (If your oven runs hot, check it after 30 minutes.)
Internal temperature when it’s done
Meatloaf made with poultry is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. For best results, bake it just until it reaches that point, or it will become dry.
Keep in mind, the meatloaf cooking time will increase if you make a thicker loaf than what’s pictured here. It helps to use an instant thermometer (afiiliate link) to check for doneness.
What type of chicken or turkey to use
I’ve tried many variations!
- Ground Dark Meat Chicken – This produces the most juicy and flavorful chicken meatloaf, but not all grocery stores carry it. In the Cleveland area, I buy it at Heinen’s.
- Lean Ground Turkey – This is a great option for a healthy turkey meatloaf that’s not dry.
- Ground White Meat Chicken – This is what you see in the photos. It’s less juicy than the other types of meat, but it works well here, as long as you don’t overcook it.
- Ground Chicken & Turkey Combo – This recipe calls for two pounds of ground meat, so feel free to use a pound each of ground chicken and ground turkey. It tastes great!
Of course, feel free to use beef, pork or a combination of ground meats for this meatloaf. Just be sure to cook red meat until it’s no longer pink inside.
To make this meatloaf gluten free, simply use gluten-free oats. You’re welcome!
For a keto-friendly version, just omit the oats and make sure to use my sugar-free marinara, linked in the recipe card below. You’ll still need to add the water called for in this meatloaf, to provide moisture.
What to serve with it
Friends, I hope you enjoy this chicken meatloaf recipe as much as we do. And be sure to check out my cheese-stuffed meatloaf with creamy potato gravy!
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C)
Italian Meatloaf with Chicken or Turkey
- 8 ounces frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 pounds ground chicken or turkey (see notes)
- 2/3 cup rolled oats (use gluten free if needed)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 6 tablespoons fresh parsley (no stems) (or 2 tablespoons dried)
- 2 cloves garlic (large)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup marinara (plus extra for serving; see notes)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a half-sheet pan with cooking spray.
- Place the oats in a small bowl and pour 1/2 cup water over them to soften them. Set them aside.
- Thaw the frozen spinach in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, covered with wax paper. (Heat on high for two minutes, then check to see if it needs more time.)
- Drain the thawed spinach in a fine-mesh strainer in the sink. When cool, squeeze it dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel that doesn't shed. Add the thawed, dried spinach to a large mixing bowl.
- Grate your Parmesan cheese if needed. (I use my blender.) Add the Parmesan to the mixing bowl.
- Crack two eggs into a cup, beat them lightly with a fork and add them to the bowl.
- Rinse the parsley and snip off the leaves until you have 6 tablespoons. Add the parsley to the bowl.
- Press the garlic through a garlic press or peel it and chop it finely with a knife. Add it to the bowl.
- Add the Worcestershire, pepper and salt. Then add the ground chicken or turkey and the soaked oats. Mix gently with your hands, just until combined.
- Transfer the meatloaf mixture onto the greased pan. Shape the meatloaf into a 1-inch-thick rectangle about 8 inches wide and 12.5 inches long. Wash your hands well afterward.
- Top the raw meatloaf with 1/2 cup marinara sauce and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.
- Bake the chicken or turkey meatloaf for 35-40 minutes, or just until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- To serve, slice the meatloaf in half the long way, then slice each half into pieces four inches long. Top with extra marinara.
- Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Ground Dark Meat Chicken - This produces the most juicy and flavorful chicken meatloaf, but not all grocery stores carry it. In the Cleveland area, I buy it at Heinen's.
- Lean Ground Turkey - This is a great option for a healthy turkey meatloaf that's not dry.
- Ground White Meat Chicken - This is what you see in the photos. It's less juicy than the other types of meat, but it works well here, as long as you don't overcook it.
- Ground Chicken & Turkey Combo - This recipe calls for two pounds of ground meat, so feel free to use a pound each of ground chicken and ground turkey. It tastes great!