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.
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 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!
How to Make the Best Ground Turkey Meatloaf
- 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.
- Cook the Mix-Ins. The onion, mushrooms, and spices help build big flavor.
- Add the Liquids. Let the mixture cool.
- Add the Meat, Breadcrumbs, and Eggs. We’re almost there!
- Mix. Be as gentle as possible here.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Bread. A side of Rosemary Olive Oil Bread or No Knead Focaccia would be a hit.
- Vegetables. Enjoy your meatloaf with a side of veggies like Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Roasted Green Beans, or Sautéed Brussels Sprouts.
- Salad. Keep things light with a side of Arugula Salad or go more hearty with Quinoa Salad.
- Farro. Check out my post for How to Cook Farro, and enjoy your meatloaf with this hearty grain.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Large Skillet. This pan is ideal for cooking everything from veggies to eggs.
- Baking Sheet. Perfect for baking this turkey meatloaf recipe.
- Instant Read Thermometer. A meat thermometer is how to know when turkey meatloaf is done.
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!
- 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
- 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.
- *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.
Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.Sign Me Up
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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).
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!