Give meatloaf a Mediterranean treatment with this weeknight-friendly Greek meatloaf recipe! Wrapping the meat in grape leaves makes not only a show-stopping presentation, but it also keeps the meatloaf extra juicy as it bakes—all while imparting the perfect tang! Give this healthy meatloaf recipe a try!

The greek meatloaf sliced on a serving platter with garnishes of cherry tomatoes, lemon wedges, and parsley as well as a serving spoon. This is surrounded by small bowls of lemon wedges and tzatziki sauce and a blue cloth napkin. It's a healthy meatloaf recipe with vegetables, lean ground meat wrapped in grape leaves.
Photo Credits: Mariam Hamdy

If you’ve cooked from my book or been here a while, you’ll know I love giving American favorites my own Mediterranean twist, from baked potatoes to breakfast hash. And although meatloaf might seem quintessentially American we do have versions of it throughout the Mediterranean. Try something new and go Greek with this healthy meatloaf recipe.

When it comes to Greece you can find grape leaf-wrapped meatloaf which is what I'm sharing with you today, but also a version made with hard-boiled eggs. (Of course, every family has their own take on things leading to endless recipes.)

In my Greek meatloaf recipe, I flavor ground meat with finely chopped vegetables, oregano, fresh mint, and tomato paste, but the grape leaves are the real star of the show. The leaves add a subtle lemony flavor, and keep all the juices contained. The result is a moist, tender meatloaf that's pretty enough to serve at a party.

A drizzle of creamy-garlicky tzatziki adds a little something extra but this healthy meatloaf recipe is so incredibly juicy it’s really just a bonus. Think of this recipe as essentially a gigantic Greek meatball-meets-dolma. And what’s not to love about that? 

Table of Contents
  1. Greek Meatloaf Ingredients and Substitutions 
  2. How to Make this Healthy Meatloaf Recipe
  3. What to Serve with Greek Meatloaf
  4. You’ll Also Like: Classics with a Mediterranean Twist!
  5. Greek Meatloaf Wrapped in Grape Leaves Recipe
ingredients for greek meatloaf including ground beef, jarred grape leaves, white bread, carrot, celery, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, tomato paste, mint leaves, oregano, lemon, grape tomatoes and tzatziki sauce.

Greek Meatloaf Ingredients and Substitutions 

The ingredients for this healthy meatloaf recipe may be a little different from the traditional, but they’re all very easy to find. You’ll need:

  • Grape leaves: Find canned or jarred grape leaves preserved in brine in the international section of your grocery store or online (I ordered these from Amazon).
  • Soaked bread is my secret to keeping ground meat juicy–for both meatballs and meatloaf. It needs to be dry so it soaks up the liquid better–toasted or stale bread is best. And feel free to use gluten-free. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil is used throughout: to soften the vegetables, enrich the meat mixture, and to drizzle before baking to help the meatloaf get a nice golden “crust.” A high-quality extra virgin variety is essential for the best flavor–I like to use our rich and smooth Greek Private Reserve.
  • Carrot, celery, garlic, and onion form the aromatic base. I used red onion, but any color you have on hand will work fine.
  • Red bell pepper adds a bit of sweetness, but green or yellow bell pepper work too. 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper enhance the flavor. 
  • Meat: I used lean ground beef (7% fat) for a milder flavor, and it stayed very juicy. But you can use a mixture of beef and lamb or pork if you’d like. 
  • Egg holds the meatloaf mixture together.
  • Tomato paste adds richness and umami, no ketchup needed! 
  • Fresh mint brings a refreshing quality, balancing the richness of the meat.
  • Dried oregano adds a distinctly Greek aromatic quality. Fresh isn’t quite as strong so I wouldn’t recommend substituting with fresh oregano, but use 3 times the amount if you must.
  • Fresh lemon juice lifts the richness to add balance.
  • For drizzling: I love tangy-creamy tzatziki sauce for serving–you can use a high-quality store-bought version or make your own. Tahini sauce would also work as a substitute. 
  • For serving: Grape tomatoes and parsley are used as a garnish to bring freshness and a nice pop of color. You can use any juicy tomatoes you have, and substitute with other tender herbs like mint or cilantro. Or go all in with the Greek theme and serve this meatloaf recipe with a Greek Salad.
A close up of a slice of the healthy greek meatloaf on a plate with a lemon wedge, grape tomato halves, tzatziki sauce and a fork.

How to Make this Healthy Meatloaf Recipe

This healthy meatloaf recipe is simple enough to make on a weeknight, yet impressive enough to serve at a dinner party. It's loaded with Mediterranean flavors and packed with nutritious ingredients.

  • Get ready. Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly coat a sheet pan or baking dish with olive oil. 
  • Boil the grape leaves. Add 2 ounces of grape leaves (a large handful) to the boiling water and let them cook until softened but still in one piece, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and set aside for now. the grape leaves for the greek meatloaf sitting in a colander.
  • Soak the bread. Toast a slice of white bread and add to a small bowl. Cover the bread with water (or milk if you’d like). Allow it to soak until very tender, about 10 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, get your ingredients ready. Very finely chop or grate 1 peeled carrot, 1 celery stick, 1 red onion, and 1 red bell pepper, adding them to a large bowl as you go (you can use a food processor). Mince 2 garlic cloves and add to the bowl. Chop enough mint leaves to yield ½ cup and set aside separate from the veggies.
  • Add the bread. Drain and squeeze any excess liquid out of the bread so it crumbles (if you’re using a rustic loaf, discard the crusts) and add to a large mixing bowl. 
  • Sauté the veggies. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add the vegetable mixture and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the veggies have softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid, then add to the bowl with the bread. the vegetables for greek meatloaf being sauteed in a skillet.
  • Prepare the meatloaf mixture. To the bowl with the bread and veggies, add the mint, 1 pound ground beef, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix until everything is well combined. the unbaked meatloaf mixture in a large bowl.
  • Form the Greek meatloaf. Turn the meat out onto parchment paper or aluminum foil and shape into a meatloaf. It should be about the size of a loaf pan (even though we won’t use one), which is 8.5 by 4.5-inches. 
  • Make a bed for the meatloaf. Pat the grape leaves dry, then layer about 6 to 8 large grape leaves on the prepared dish with the stem facing up. Lift the sides and corners of the foil or parchment to transfer the meat mixture to the middle of the leaves. Gently turn the meat out onto the leaves, discarding the paper or foil.the unbaked greek meatloaf sitting on a bed of grape leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Wrap the Greek meatloaf. Wrap the grape leaves around the meat mixture from both sides to cover the bottom half of the loaf. Place more grape leaves over the exposed meat (as many as needed) to cover the top side, slightly overlapping the leaves and pressing them so they adhere to the meatloaf. the uncooked greek meatloaf wrapped in grape leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake. Drizzle a little olive oil all over the grape leaf-wrapped meatloaf. Cover the pan with foil (make sure to tent the foil so it is not touching the meatloaf). Bake in the heated oven for 30 minutes, then uncover and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the meat is fully cooked through.  
  • While the meatloaf bakes, get your toppings ready. Make the tzatziki sauce according to this tzatziki recipe. Halve a handful of grape tomatoes and pull off some parsley leaves.
  • Rest. Squeeze half of a lemon all over the grape leaf-wrapped meatloaf, then set aside to rest for 10 minutes or so. Slice the remaining lemon half into wedges for serving.
  • Finish and serve. Cut the meatloaf into slabs using a serrated knife. Garnish with parsley and halved cherry tomatoes. Serve with lemon wedges and tzatziki sauce on the side, letting people drizzle and dress as they like. An overhead photo of the greek meatloaf sliced on a serving platter with garnishes of cherry tomatoes, lemon wedges, and parsley as well as a serving spoon. This is surrounded by small bowls of lemon wedges, parsley and tzatziki sauce and a blue cloth napkin.

What to Serve with Greek Meatloaf

Mashed potatoes are a classic American side for meatloaf, but I much prefer something light and bright to balance the richness of the dish. Start with a big fresh Greek salad, and serve with fresh lemon wedges and tzatziki sauce for drizzling over everything.

For a dinner party, keep the theme going with ice-cold glasses of Ouzo. Finish with a light dessert, like Rizogalo (Greek Rice Pudding) or Greek Honey Cake with Orange And Pistachios, both of which you can make the day before.

You’ll Also Like: Classics with a Mediterranean Twist!

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4.75 from 4 votes

Greek Meatloaf Wrapped in Grape Leaves

Suzy Karadsheh
A close up of the greek meatloaf sliced on a serving platter with garnishes of cherry tomatoes, lemon wedges and parsley.
This healthy take on the classic meatloaf is essentially a giant Greek meatball-meets-dolma, with no individual rolling or wrapping! And no dry meatloaf here: the grape leaves encase the flavorful meat mixture, keeping it nice and juicy and imparting a welcome tang. It's show-stopping enough for a dinner party, but quick and easy enough for a weeknight. Serve with a big Greek salad and rice or pita bread.
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 50 minutes
Total – 1 hour 10 minutes
Cuisine:
Greek
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces jarred grape leaves, drained and rinsed
  • 1 slice white bread, toasted (gluten-free is okay)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 celery stick, very finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 small red bell pepper, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or a mix of ground beef and lamb)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large lemon
  • Tzatziki sauce, for serving
  • Halved grape tomatoes and parsley, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Get ready. Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly coat a sheet pan or baking dish with olive oil.
  • Boil the grape leaves. Add the grape leaves (a large handful’s worth) and let them cook until softened but still in one piece, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and set aside for now.
  • Soak the bread. Place the toasted bread in a small bowl and cover it with water (or milk if you’d like). Allow it to soak until very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze any excess liquid out of the bread so it crumbles (if you’re using a rustic loaf, discard the crusts) and add to a large mixing bowl.
  • Sauté the veggies. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add the carrots, celery, onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the veggies have softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid, then add to the bowl with the bread.
  • Prepare the meatloaf mixture. To the bowl with the bread and veggies, add the ground beef, egg, tomato paste, mint, oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix until everything is well combined.
  • Form the meatloaf. Turn the meat out onto parchment paper or aluminum foil and shape into a meatloaf. It should be about the size of a loaf pan (even though we won’t use one), which is 8.5 by 4.5-inches.
  • Make a bed for the meatloaf. Pat the grape leaves dry, then layer about 6 to 8 large grape leaves on the prepared dish with the stem facing up. Lift the sides and corners of the foil or parchment to transfer the meat mixture to the middle of the leaves. Gently turn the meat out onto the leaves, discarding the paper or foil.
  • Wrap the meatloaf. Wrap the grape leaves around the meat mixture from both sides to cover the bottom half of the loaf. Place more grape leaves over the exposed meat (as many as needed) to cover the top side, slightly overlapping the leaves and pressing them so they adhere to the meatloaf.
  • Bake. Drizzle a little olive oil all over the grape leaf-wrapped meatloaf. Cover the pan with foil (make sure to tent the foil so it is not touching the meatloaf). Bake in the heated oven for 30 minutes, then uncover and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the meat is fully cooked through and the grape leaves are tender.
  • Rest. Squeeze half of the lemon all over the grape leaf-wrapped meatloaf, then set aside to rest for 10 minutes or so. Slice the remaining lemon half into wedges for serving.
  • Finish and serve. Cut the meatloaf into slabs using a serrated knife. Garnish with parsley and halved cherry tomatoes. Serve with lemon wedges and tzatziki sauce on the side, letting people drizzle and dress as they like.

Video

Notes

  • Find canned or jarred grape leaves preserved in brine in the international section of your grocery store or online (I ordered these from Amazon).
  • Make sure to very finely chop the vegetables so the texture is similar to the meat. A food processor works well here.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 194.9kcalCarbohydrates: 11.4gProtein: 18.1gFat: 8.8gSaturated Fat: 3.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 3.6gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 76.4mgSodium: 134mgPotassium: 494.7mgFiber: 3.3gSugar: 4.1gVitamin A: 5213.5IUVitamin C: 40.6mgCalcium: 88.3mgIron: 3mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was completely amazing! Followed the recipe exactly, but could not find any grape leaves at the store. Used a frozen banana leaf I had and it worked great! (Did not eat that though.) My husband wants leftovers tonight! Served with lemon snap peas and roasted eggplant.

  2. 4 stars
    The dish is delicious.
    But I have a lot of left-over gape leaves and hope to figure out something to do with them that won't be a major effort.

  3. This sounds yummy! I bought the book and have started making some of the other recipes and both my husband and I enjoyed them. Another accompaniment for the meatloaf is red rice. It is loaded with fiber, has a chewy texture and adds a nutty flavor to the dish.

    1. Hi Judith, Devin here from the Mediterranean Dish team. I'm thrilled to hear you're loving the book! I love the idea of red rice–thank you for sharing this suggestion!

  4. 5 stars
    I used ground turkey, more peppery seasonings, and no slice of bread. I also cooked it for 60 min, it ran a little red when checked. However, the next time I’ll use lamb. I’m looking forward to trying it tomorrow. I enjoyed the turkey meatballs so I’ll enjoy this style of meatloaf. I forgot to use tomato paste.

  5. Question, the Greek meatloaf looks wonderful but could you use fresh picked grape leaves instead of store bought and would you boil them as you do the canned ones? thank you

    1. Hi, Carol. Sure! You'll want to be sure to wash them well, then blanch them in boiling hot water. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to fully cool and drain. From there, you can use them as indicated.

  6. This looks delicious. I plan to try with turkey since I no longer eat red meat. I wanted to mention my Mom made her meatloaf stuffed with cheese and that is how I have enjoyed it for decades. I think this could work on this with a good Greek or regional cheese layered in the middle of the loaf. I plan to try it. A cheese that melts or even a good Feta.