10 Stuffed Meat Loaf Ideas

Updated: Apr. 21, 2024

Think you know meat loaf? Think again! These stuffed meat loaf ideas will make dinner something special.

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The only thing that could make meat loaf better is stuffing it with cheese, vegetables or a combination of both. Stuffed meat loaf is an excellent way to take a classic comfort food dish to a whole new level. Simply start with your favorite meat loaf recipe, be it beef, turkey or a mixture of meats. Once you’ve combined the meat with binders like breadcrumbs or crackers, egg, milk and spices, you can go two different routes for filling the loaf.

One is to divide the meat mixture in half, then place half  in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet, making a small well down the middle. Top with your fillings, add the rest of the meat, and without working the loaf too much, seal it all up. Top the meat loaf with a sauce or glaze if desired, and bake.

Another option is to spread the meat into a rectangle on tin foil or plastic wrap, top with fillings of your choice, leaving about 1 inch along the sides, and then roll it up jelly-roll style. You’ll get a fun, decorative pinwheel effect that looks special and tastes amazing. Either way you choose, a good rule of thumb is to use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of filling per pound of meat.

Stuffed meat loaf is a delicious twist on an old favorite, and with so many options, you can regularly switch things up to keep dinner interesting. Here are some meat loaf filling ideas to get you started.

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Fresh Mozzarella Slices
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Cheese makes everything better! On its own or mixed with meats or vegetables, cheese is the perfect way to give meat loaf some extra pizzazz. Mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, Swiss or a combination of cheeses are delicious ideas. Just make sure to choose cheese that melts well so it can have a slightly oozing center.

Contributor Paula Sullivan’s cheeseburger meat loaf uses American cheese, which melts like a dream. Ketchup, pickles and mustard are also rolled inside, but you can serve those along with other favorite burger toppings on the side.

Laura Lawrence likes the ease and uniformity of pre-packaged mozzarella sticks for her string cheese meat loaf. Speaking of mozzarella, try spreading some pesto with it for meat loaf with a big flavor punch.

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Garnish steamed spinach
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Spinach-stuffed meat loaf is practically a meal unto itself. Either alone seasoned with garlic powder or Italian seasoning, or layered with other ingredients like cheese, roasted red peppers or ham, spinach adds color and a few added health benefits. It works for both a pinwheel-type stuffed meat loaf or one made in a loaf pan.

When using fresh spinach, baby spinach leaves are the easiest to layer in the middle of a meat loaf. Because they’re so tender, they’ll wilt right into the loaf; no need to cook it ahead of time. If using frozen spinach, thaw and drain it to get the excess water out. While meat loaf loves moisture, too much can make it mushy.

While you are at it, try these meatloaf recipes that are anything but boring.

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Butter and Garlic Mushrooms with Onions
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Mushrooms add a good burst of umami flavor and heartiness to meat loaf. But because they contain a lot of moisture, it’s best to cook them before stuffing inside the loaf. They’re great with aromatics like fresh herbs or garlic.

One idea: Saute 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms and 1 cup of diced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 2 cups of breadcrumbs, some dried thyme, salt and pepper and combine. Place half the meat filling in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet, top with the mushroom filling and the rest of the meat, lightly shape and bake. Or combine the cooked mushroom mixture with cream cheese or Boursin cheese instead of breadcrumbs for a creamier filling.

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fried zucchini in iron skillet
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Zucchini is another great way to add more nutrition to meat loaf, but it’s best when paired with other vegetables and maybe some cheese. Like spinach, it can add some extra juiciness to meat loaf, especially when using a leaner meat like turkey or chicken, but you’ll want to squeeze out most of the liquid so it’s not too much moisture. Use fresh zucchini for the best results, and no need to cook it ahead of time. Zucchini easily cooks in the center while the meat loaf bakes.

Try layering thinly sliced ribbons with roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese, or combine shredded zucchini with Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Take that Italian inspiration a bit further and top the meat loaf with tomato or pasta sauce before it bakes.

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sliced prosciutto on a wooden board
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The thinly sliced Italian ham can be used as a wrap on the outside of meat loaf, but it’s equally good as a filling. Prosciutto works particularly well in rolled stuffed meat loaf recipes, where it becomes sort of a protective shield for other ingredients.

For a pinwheel effect, pat your meat loaf mixture into a 15×10-in. rectangle on a large piece of heavy-duty foil. Starting with a few pieces of prosciutto, layer thinly sliced Havarti or mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes (drained of oil and cut into thin strips) on top of the meat. Roll it up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side and peeling the foil away while rolling. Seal the seams and ends, and place the meat loaf seam-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 75 to 85 minutes or until no pink remains and a thermometer reads 160°. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

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Ham and cheese sandwich fixings
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Ham and Cheese

Similar to prosciutto, deli ham adds an extra layer of salty flavor to meat loaf. Ham and cheese together? Perfection! Smoked, black forest or honey ham are all great options. For cheese, try cheddar, Havarti, American or pepper jack—it all works.

Do like contributor Barb Jacobsen and make a swirled meat loaf cordon bleu with ham, Swiss cheese and mushrooms. Or go Italian with Mrs. W. G. Dougherty’s Sicilian meat roll stuffed with ham and mozzarella.

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Fresh broccoli spears being sauteed/stir fried in a heavy iron pan on a gas stove against a turquoise colored background.
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For those times when you need to hide veggies to get kids to eat them, a broccoli-stuffed meat loaf should do the trick. Broccoli and cheese—even better!

You don’t want to use big pieces of raw broccoli here. Instead, chop the broccoli or pulse in a food processor a couple of times to get smaller pieces. Pre-cooking raw broccoli is also a good idea to ensure it’s soft when serving the meat loaf. Either steam the broccoli before chopping or saute chopped broccoli with a bit of olive oil and garlic. If using frozen broccoli, allow it to thaw and then drain the excess moisture; no need to pre-cook it.

For broccoli and cheese-stuffed meat loaf, layer the broccoli with cheddar or American cheese, every kid’s favorite; blend with cream cheese and Parmesan and spread on to the meat loaf before rolling or topping; or try some dill Havarti with broccoli for a more grown-up dish.

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Mashed potatoes in white bowl on wooden rustic table. Healthy food
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Mashed Potatoes

Talk about a meal in one. Mashed potato-stuffed meat loaf is the ultimate comfort food. This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, but you can make fresh ones via microwaved or boiled potatoes for this meat loaf. Even instant potatoes work in a pinch.

A good mashed potato filling should get a boost of flavor from other ingredients. Think: sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives or bacon. Basically anything you’d put on a loaded baked potato can be added to mashed potatoes to stuff meat loaf. All you’ll need is a green salad, green beans or any other sides for meat loaf to complete the meal.

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Colored peppers mixed in a bowl
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We mentioned using roasted red peppers in various stuffed meat loaf recipes, but you can also use fresh bell peppers, too. The sweetness from red, orange or yellow offers a nice contrast to saltier fillings like meats and cheeses, plus they’ll add a burst of color.

You can also use poblano peppers or jalapenos for a little heat. Slice roasted or grilled poblano peppers into thin strips, and layer them with Oaxaca cheese for a Mexican spin on meat loaf. Or make a jalapeno poppers-type filling with diced jalapeno peppers mixed with cream cheese, shredded cheddar and bacon.

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Making Reuben Sandwich
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Corned Beef and Sauerkraut

Once you get the basics of stuffed meat loaf down, feel free to experiment with different cheeses, vegetables and meats.

Contributor Denise Wahl’s reuben meat loaf gets stuffed with rye bread crumbs, Dijon mustard, sauerkraut, corned beef and Swiss cheese. You can stuff a turkey meat loaf with instant stuffing and cranberry sauce for a spin on Thanksgiving. We’ve even seen macaroni and cheese-stuffed meat loaf. Let your imagination run wild!