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I’ve cracked the code to the perfect healthy Turkey Meatloaf! This easy meatloaf recipe uses a few secret tricks and pantry staples to ensure that it’s juicy, flavorful, and entirely delicious.

Turkey meatloaf cut into slices

Why You’ll Love This Tender Meatloaf

  • Healthy and Hearty. Among the benefits of turkey meatloaf are its nutritional value and ability to satisfy. This turkey meatloaf is healthy. Meatloaf is also a good source of protein, meaning it’ll keep you full.
  • Everyone’s Invited. This is the best turkey meatloaf recipe for a crowd! The ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and it makes a hefty 6 to 8 servings. It’s perfect for a large group (or those who love leftovers!). Pair it with some Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and prepare for a standing ovation.
  • NOT Dry. After years of bad meatloaf, I made it my mission to create a better, non-dry version (essentially a giant version of Turkey Meatballs). The result? A truly fantastic, ultra juicy, flavor-packed turkey meatloaf that will instantly erase bad meatloaf experiences of your past.
  • Meal Prep Marvel. This turkey meatloaf tastes fantastic leftover, which makes it the ideal choice for meal prep. Make the meatloaf ahead of time and enjoy leftovers for a Meatloaf Sandwich with a side of Sauteed Mushrooms or Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.
A moist turkey meatloaf on a plate

A Brief History of Meatloaf

  • Meatloaf originated as a way to use up scraps of leftovers and stretch protein, becoming a staple for these reasons during the Great Depression.
  • Today, meatloaf is still a staple on the family dinner table, as it is easy, budget-friendly, tastes savory, is filling, and makes great leftovers.

You might also have mixed feelings about meatloaf if you have childhood dinner table trauma surrounding a chunk of ketchup-smothered mystery meat your mom said was grandma’s recipe.

I encourage you to overcome your loafy bias and give meatloaf a second chance with this easy moist meatloaf recipe!

A turkey meatloaf cut into pieces

How to Make the Best Ground Turkey Meatloaf

The Ingredients

  • Ground Turkey. Using ground turkey for this recipe helps keep it light without sacrificing flavor. Turkey is also an excellent source of protein and iron. (Don’t worry, it’s moist!)
  • Onion. Letting the onions caramelize brings out their natural sweetness, which tastes scrumptious in this meatloaf.
  • Mushrooms. Chock full of umami goodness, mushrooms add essential flavor to the meatloaf. They’re super finely chopped so no one will know they are in there, pinky promise.
  • Worcestershire. The second swing of the 1-2 umami punch.
  • Spices. For complexity of flavor I used a mix of smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme, salt, and black pepper.
  • Chicken Broth + Eggs. The addition of liquid (such as broth or milk) and eggs is how you make sure your meatloaf is moist and doesn’t fall apart.
  • Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are another secret to a perfectly moist meatloaf. Using Italian seasoned breadcrumbs helps add extra flavor.
  • Ketchup. Although it’s not my favorite choice for a meatloaf topping, I know many people enjoy it. For those who also dislike ketchup on meatloaf, see the recipe notes below for my easy swap.

The Directions

Chopped vegetables in a skillet
  1. Cook the Mix-Ins. The onion, mushrooms, and spices help build big flavor.
A mixture of vegetables in a bowl
  1. Add the Liquids. Let the mixture cool.
Egg, ground turkey, and breadcrumbs in a bowl
  1. Add the Meat, Breadcrumbs, and Eggs. We’re almost there!
Meatloaf being prepared in a bowl
  1. Mix. Be as gentle as possible here.
Red sauce being spread on top of meatloaf
  1. Bake the Meatloaf. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes at 325 degrees F. You can put parchment paper at the bottom of meatloaf to make cleanup easier. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Ground Beef Meatloaf. Swap some or all of the ground turkey in this recipe for ground beef.
  • Turkey Meatloaf without Ketchup. For a non-ketchup topping, mix 1 tablespoon tomato paste with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Brush over the top and sides of the meatloaf during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Turkey Meatloaf without Breadcrumbs. If you want to know how to make turkey meatloaf without breadcrumbs, I think you could use quick oats instead for a turkey meatloaf with oats. Add a pinch of salt and Italian seasoning to replace the flavor that the breadcrumbs would have added. Also, check out these Whole30 Meatballs, which are grain free.
  • Gluten Free Turkey Meatloaf. You can easily make this recipe gluten free by swapping the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for gluten free breadcrumbs. If your breadcrumbs are plain, add a pinch of salt and Italian seasoning.
A slice of turkey meatloaf being cut with a fork

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate meatloaf in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. You can freeze turkey meatloaf. Slice and freeze meatloaf in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, cook the mushrooms and onions with the spices as directed. Refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

Leftover Ideas

Use crumbled leftovers to create a unique homemade chili, or use them in the filling for stuffed peppers (try a spin on my Italian Stuffed Peppers).

How to Serve Turkey Meatloaf

  • As a Sandwich. Slice and serve it as a Meatloaf Sandwich with any other desired ingredients.
  • With Potatoes. Meatloaf and potatoes are a delicious pairing. Serve a side of Crockpot Mashed Potatoes or an Air Fryer Baked Potato.
  • On a Pizza. Turn meatloaf into a pizza topping (Whole Wheat Pizza Dough makes the perfect base) by crumbling slices onto a pizza before baking it.
  • With Pasta. Since we’ve already established that this turkey meatloaf is basically one big meatball, it makes sense that it would be delicious with pasta. Try it with Instant Pot Spaghetti or Eggplant Pasta (and don’t forget a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese).

What to Serve with Ground Turkey Meatloaf

A fork slicing a piece of turkey meatloaf on a plate

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Water. Yes, you do put water in the oven with the meatloaf. This is the secret to juicy meatloaf! The water is in a separate dish below the meatloaf. It creates steam, which makes the meatloaf extra moist.
  • Don’t Shortcut Steps. To make sure this is the most flavorful, scrumptious meatloaf, there are a few steps you absolutely cannot skip. First, you must take your time caramelizing the onions. Their flavor is dynamite! Next, don’t skip the mushrooms. You can’t taste them but they really boost the umami factor and make this recipe special. Lastly, don’t miss the smoked paprika and Worcestershire sauce. They’re simple but powerful additions.
  • Be Gentle. Be gentle with the meat while you’re preparing the meatloaf mixture. If you compact it, your meatloaf will be tough.
  • Skip the Ketchup (or Don’t!). As a non-lover of ketchup, the typical meatloaf topping does not interest me one bit. If you share my lack of ketchup enthusiasm, don’t let that deter you from making this recipe. You can choose how to top your meatloaf. I’ve shared some ideas in the recipe notes and FAQ sections below. For those who love ketchup, spread it on your meatloaf with abandon!

Turkey Meatloaf

4.93 from 14 votes
This healthy turkey meatloaf is unbelievably moist! Layers of flavor from caramelized onions make it the most flavorful classic recipe.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Servings: 6 (to 8) servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms very finely chopped (you can’t taste these!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth or milk
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds ground turkey use a max of 93% lean or the meatloaf will be dry
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup ketchup see notes* to make meatloaf without ketchup

Instructions
 

  • Place racks in the upper middle position of your oven and the lower position and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, thyme, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are browned, about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed so that the onions soften but do not brown. Don’t shortcut this step as it is key to the meatloaf’s flavor.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • To the bowl, add the turkey, breadcrumbs, and eggs.
  • With your hands (they really do work best for this), gently mix until all of the ingredients are evenly combined.
  • Wet your hands, then use them to shape the turkey mixture into a 9×5-inch loaf in the center of the prepared baking sheet. Spread the ketchup evenly over the top.
  • Fill a 9 x 13“ casserole dish with about an inch of water and place it on the lower rack (this will create steam in the oven to make the meatloaf extra moist and keep the top from cracking). Bake the meatloaf on the upper third rack for 55 minutes, then take its internal temperature to gauge progress. Return to the oven and continue baking until the internal temperature is 160°F at the thickest part, about 5 to 15 minutes more depending upon your oven and the shape of your loaf. Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes, then slice and enjoy.

Video

Notes

  • *If you share my aversion to ketchup in general or just like your meatloaf without ketchup, instead mix 1 tablespoon tomato paste with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Brush over the top and sides of meatloaf during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate meatloaf in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Slice and freeze meatloaf in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 365kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 34gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 174mgPotassium: 671mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 389IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 4mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Other Sauces Can I Use On My Meatloaf?

If neither the ketchup nor tomato paste option sounds appealing to you, you can take your meatloaf in a different direction. Some recipes call for a topping of Barbecue Sauce, Alfredo sauce (try my Chicken Alfredo Bake sauce and add some fresh parsley), or Basil Pesto.

Should Turkey Meatloaf Be Baked Covered or Uncovered?

For this recipe, we’re baking the meatloaf uncovered. However, if you feel like your meatloaf is getting too brown on top towards the end of the cook time, you can tent it with aluminum foil.

Can I Make Turkey Meatloaf in the Air Fryer?

While I don’t have a recipe for how to make turkey meatloaf in the air fryer, I do have a delicious turkey Air Fryer Meatballs recipe. For meatloaf, prepare the meatloaf mixture as directed. Divide the mixture in half, creating two smaller-sized meatloaves. Transfer the meatloaves to an air fryer basket coated with nonstick spray. About 30 minutes is how long to cook turkey meatloaf at 350 degrees F in the air fryer (or until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees F).

Why Is My Turkey Meatloaf Mushy?

If your turkey meatloaf is mushy, it’s likely undercooked or you used too much liquid. Check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer first. If the temperature is 160 degrees F or more, then it is cooked through. If your meatloaf is mushy but cooked through, it should still taste delicious!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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30 Comments

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  1. I’ve been known to use mashed cruton cubes if I didn’t have any bread crumbs, plus you get extra flavor~~!

        1. Hi Glenna! Possibly! I’ve only tested it with the mushrooms, so it would be hard for me to say for sure. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to know how it goes!

    1. This was SO good! Literally did a happy dance in my kitchen. This was the first time I’ve used ground turkey and actually had it come out edible. 5 stars from my picky eight year old and even pickier husband (even after I told him about the mushrooms) too!5 stars

  2. This was a HUGE HIT with the entire family. Founded recipe to a T, must admit was dubious about how it would come out but it was AMAZING! Kids loved the leftovers too (mind you, we had only 2 pieces left :0 )5 stars

  3. I made it and loved it. Only thing I don’t have an oven & cooked it in my Air Fryer. Came out delicious & moist. Hubby loved it.5 stars

  4. This was super moist as you said it would be. I would recommend people cook the mushrooms until the liquid is out. I didn’t but it was fine.. I just wasn’t sure about it. I also put the tomato paste on too early. oops. My thermometer was low battery so it wouldn’t work, but cooking it 70 minutes worked. I am looking forward to meatloaf sandwiches.5 stars

  5. I made this last night, it was perfect. Of course, I could not wait for lunch today, as I thought about a turkey meatloaf sandwich, which was yum! I did not change anything except when I looked in my pantry for Italian breadcrumbs, I was out…..I used oatmeal instead with a T of Italian seasoning…it was juicy and wonderful.
    Thanks again!5 stars

  6. My husband was SO skeptical when I told him this meatloaf was made with turkey, but after trying it, he ended up eating almost half the loaf! It had so much flavor and wasn’t the least bit dry. He has already requested for this to be on our dinner recipe rotation!5 stars

  7. How do you caramelize onions and them not turn brown? You cook onions a long time to get them caramelized.

    1. Hi Patti! Brown in the sense that you don’t want them to burn. They will be a nice caramel color. This is done by cooking them low and slow.

    1. Hi Patti! There is no draining involved. You shouldn’t have any liquid coming off them that would require you to drain them.

    1. Hi Sal! You could. I would just make sure to drain them well and try to get any liquid off of them. Also it might change the flavor slightly. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to know how it goes!

  8. This was SO GOOD! I was weary of the mushrooms, but man am I glad that I gave it a shot. Most moist meatloaf that I’ve ever had! Definitely adding this one to our roster! Yum!5 stars

  9. We really like this recipe. Last time I cut it in half and made a smaller meatloaf. There are just two of us. Can I make the full recipe into 2 meatloafs and freeze one? Can you freeze it uncooked? What are your thoughts?

  10. Erin I would give this recipe a 10 if I was allowed. It is every thing you said. Extremely moist, great taste, and very easy to make. Plus it didn’t taste like turkey. The idea, and it worked, putting a dish containing water beneath the meatloaf keeping moist is one I could use on other dishes. Also your suggested times were right on. Many thanks for all your recipes. Paul Jarhead Wagner5 stars