Turkey Meatloaf

4.95 from 19 votes
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Easy turkey meatloaf recipe with savory seasonings, aromatic herbs, and chopped vegetables. Each slice is topped with a flavorful sweet, and tangy maple glaze. I’ll show you how to keep the meat tender using a simple breadcrumb mixture.

Turkey meatloaf recipe served on a white plate with green beans and mashed potatoes.

Creating the perfect tender, juicy turkey meatloaf can be challenging as lean ground poultry doesn’t have the same fat structure as ground beef. This difference can potentially create dry and bland results. Not to worry, there are simple ways to add moisture and flavor-retaining ingredients for delicious bites.

Incorporating a breadcrumb panade is the best way to keep the baked loaf moist and held together for this comforting dish. This recipe also calls for a thick tomato glaze sweetened with maple syrup. Your family will be so glad you made this and that they’ll be asking for seconds. The ground turkey meatloaf can also be portioned to make delicious turkey meatballs!

Why do you need breadcrumbs in meatloaf?

Making a panade in a bowl for turkey meatloaf.
Step 2. Make a panade

Bread crumbs are crucial to a well-textured meatloaf. Adding in a panade, a mixture of breadcrumbs soaked with a liquid creates a starchy paste. This simple step can prevent meatloaf from falling apart.

When ground turkey cooks, it can easily dry out, making for a crumbly texture if not properly bound together. The starches in the panade coat the turkey protein, and as it cooks, it sets into a gel. The panade helps the meatloaf keep its shape, retain moisture, and stay perfectly sliceable.

For this recipe, I use small-sized breadcrumbs combined with eggs and chicken stock, then let the mixture sit until fully absorbed. The extra fat from the eggs also helps to add richness to the dish, which is needed for lean meat. I use the smaller size of Italian-style breadcrumbs to keep a more compact texture that provides a tighter binding.

Saute to enhance the flavor

Diced onions, celery, and minced garlic sauteing in a skillet.
Step 3. Saute the vegetables

There are easy ways to build layers of flavor into the meatloaf mixture. Sauteeing onion and garlic in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat brings out the natural sweetness compared to keeping them raw. The cooked onion mixture also prevents a soggy loaf.

Adding in umami-packed ingredients like soy sauce, parmesan cheese, and tomato paste boosts the neutral flavor of the poultry. Worcestershire sauce is a delicious substitution for soy sauce. Herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme add enticing aromatics while the dish bakes and browns in the oven.

Combining the ingredients

Ground turkey and other unmixed meatloaf ingredients inside a large mixing bowl.
Step 4. Mix the meat

This recipe for turkey meatloaf is a simple mixture of lean ground turkey, breadcrumbs, finely chopped vegetables, and seasonings. It’s a nice alternative to traditional types of ground beef, especially if you’re looking to reduce the amount of saturated fat.

The goal is to coat the turkey proteins with fat and starches to prevent too much moisture from squeezing out as it cooks. This is accomplished by adding a breadcrumb panade, eggs, and sauteed vegetables. In a large bowl, gently mix the ingredients.

Pan selection

Uncooked turkey meatloaf inside a loaf pan.
Step 5. Bake the meatloaf

Form the mixture in a 9×5-inch loaf pan, then bake until cooked through. The pan can be placed on a baking sheet to make clean-up easy. It takes about an hour to cook the meatloaf at 350ºF (177ºC).

The glaze brings this dish together

Like my original ground beef meatloaf recipe, a sweet and tangy tomato-based glaze is brushed on top. It combines maple syrup, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. Brown sugar can be swapped for the maple syrup, but add a few tablespoons of water to slightly thin the mixture until it resembles barbecue sauce. Alternatively, use your favorite BBQ sauce for a quick swap!

I add multiple layers of the sauce and roast at high temperatures (500ºF/260ºC) for a few minutes to help the glaze caramelize and create a sticky coating. Make sure to save some extra sauce to warm up and serve on the side. Wait about 15 minutes before slicing to make it easier to cut.

Brushing a glaze on top of a turkey meatloaf in a pan.
Step 8. Brush with glaze

Storing and freezing

Uncooked meatloaf mixture can be made up 2 days ahead of time. Store baked turkey meatloaf for up to 2 days, then reheat in the oven at 325ºF (163ºC) until warm. Leftover meatloaf can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Leftover baked meatloaf can be sliced and individually wrapped in plastic and stored in a resealable bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost each slice and then reheat in the microwave at 30-second intervals until warm.

Serve this with

Frequently asked questions

Why does my turkey meatloaf fall apart?

The binder wasn’t made correctly, or there isn’t enough. The breadcrumbs need to be soaked in the egg and stock mixture to create the starchy paste called a panade. You need ½ cup of panade and 1 egg for every 1 pound of ground turkey. Let the meatloaf rest before slicing. It’s more fragile when hot out of the oven.

When cooking a meatloaf, do you cover it or leave it uncovered?

Meatloaf should be cooked uncovered to make sure that meat bakes and browns instead of steam. Covering the pan can also create a mushy texture due to the moisture trapped under the foil.

Why do people put milk in their meatloaf?

Milk adds extra fat and flavor to the meatloaf. It also helps to hydrate the breadcrumbs to create a starchy paste to help retain the moisture in each slice.

Closeup of two slices of turkey meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Recipe Science

At what temperature is the meatloaf done?

This turkey meatloaf is done cooking when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads an internal temperature between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). For this recipe, cook the loaf until 155 to 160ºF (68 to 71ºC). The glaze is added and baked for several minutes, increasing the temperature and making the poultry safe to consume. This is very important because it destroys harmful bacteria like Salmonella Enteritidis

Turkey Meatloaf

Easy turkey meatloaf recipe with savory seasonings, aromatic herbs, and chopped vegetables. Topped with a flavorful sweet and tangy maple glaze.
4.95 from 19 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Turkey Meatloaf

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¾ cup finely minced yellow onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, 93% lean
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated, about 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  • ½ teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary

Glaze

  • cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position, and preheat to 350ºF (177ºC).
  • Make a Panade – In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs and chicken stock. Add breadcrumbs and whisk to combine and allow to absorb all of the moisture.
  • Saute the Vegetables – Heat a medium-sized saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil, once hot add garlic, then saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add onions and celery, and saute until tender and the moisture is released and evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes.
    Cool the vegetable mixture before adding it to the meatloaf by transferring to a small plate and placing it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
  • Mix the Meat – In a large bowl, add ground turkey, breadcrumb mixture, cooked vegetables, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, parsley, soy sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, sage, thyme, and rosemary.
    Use your hands to gently mix meatloaf ingredients until combined, about 1 minute, being careful not to overmix.
  • Bake the Meatloaf – Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Transfer the meat mixture to the pan. Press down into the bottom and sides of the pan, then make a smooth and slightly domed surface.
    Bake until the internal temperature reaches 155 to 160ºF (68 to 71ºC), about 50 to 65 minutes.
  • Drain the Pan – Remove the meatloaf from the oven and carefully drain excess juices from the bottom of the pan. Increase the oven temperature to 500ºF (260ºC).
  • Make the Glaze – In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, ¼ cup tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon soy sauce.
  • Brush with Glaze – Use a brush or spoon to spread an even layer of glaze on the top and sides of the meatloaf, and bake for 3 minutes. Brush the second layer of glaze, and bake for 3 minutes. Brush a third and final layer of glaze, and bake until sauce is lightly browned and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Reserve any extra glaze.
  • Rest Before Serving – Allow the loaf to cool before removing it from the pan for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack. Cut into even-sized slices and serve with any extra glaze on the side and parsley sprinkled on top.

Notes

  • Breadcrumbs: Traditional breadcrumbs are used. Larger panko or homemade breadcrumbs can be substituted for a slightly less dense texture.
  • Foil Sling: To make the meatloaf easier to remove, fold a piece of foil to fit lengthwise in the pan, with about a 1-inch overhang. Grease, then add the meat. Use the overhang to carefully lift out the meatloaf after baking. 
  • Storage: Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It’s easier to reheat sliced pieces.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 281kcal (14%)Carbohydrates 18g (6%)Protein 34g (68%)Fat 8g (12%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Cholesterol 120mg (40%)Sodium 866mg (36%)Potassium 540mg (15%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 376IU (8%)Vitamin C 3mg (4%)Calcium 137mg (14%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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12 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Tina Harter says

    I have never put sugar of any kind (except brown in chili) in savory foods. i do not like that the recipes i look up has sugar in it!!!!!!! I am a senior citizen and I do not take prescription meds. Also if you have tomato sauce that is acidic and a pinch of baking soda, works.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can use ground chicken. I’ve found that it’s a little more watery compared to turkey. If needed, gradually mix in more bread crumbs for structure.

  2. Frances D Kirby says

    I need a turkey meatloaf recipe that does not have tomato, potatoes, or green peppers in it. I will have to swap out the soy sauce for coconut aminos and use oatmeal to thicken and bind with the eggs.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can skip the tomato paste in the meatloaf, perhaps increase the coconut aminos to 2 tablespoons. However, the glaze can’t be as easily substituted without the tomato paste.

  3. Laura Katz says

    I’m trying to avoid flour and consequently bread crumbs. Do think rolled oats could be substituted for bread crumbs?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think you could use rolled oats, but use less so that the texture doesn’t feel too dense. I would try 2/3 cups of rolled oats. Please let me know how it turns out!

  4. Maria Terry says

    Made this for dinner last night. It was delicious comfort food. The glaze was sweet and tangy. Meat loaf sandwiches are on the menu later in the week.