An 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.
Creating the perfect tender juicy turkey meatloaf can be a challenge as lean ground poultry doesn’t have the same fat structure compared to ground beef. This difference can potentially create dry and bland results. Not to worry, there are simple ways to incorporate moisture and flavor-retaining ingredients for delicious bites.
For this comforting dish, incorporating a breadcrumb panade is the best way to keep the baked loaf moist and held together. 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.
How to make turkey meatloaf
Turkey meatloaf is a simple mixture of ground poultry, 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. Form the mixture into a loaf, then bake until cooked through.
Similar to my original ground beef meatloaf recipe, a thick maple glaze coats the surface for a delicious sauce and acts as a shield to keep the meat from drying out. This meal makes for hearty, easy to portion dinner and can even be made ahead.
Enhancing the flavor
There are easy ways to build in layers of flavor into the meatloaf mixture. Sauteeing onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat brings out the natural sweetness compared to keeping them raw.
Adding in umami-packed ingredients like soy sauce, parmesan cheese, and tomato paste boosts the neutral flavor of the poultry. Herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme add enticing aromatics while the dish bakes and browns in the oven.
Why do you need breadcrumbs in meatloaf?
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 the lean meat. I use the smaller size Italian-style breadcrumbs to keep a more compact texture that provides a tighter binding.
Do you cook meatloaf covered or 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 being trapped under the foil.
The glaze brings this dish together
A sweet and tangy tomato-based glaze is brushed on top. It’s a combination of 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 barbeque sauce.
I add multiple layers of the sauce and roast at high temperatures (500ºF/260ºC) for a few minutes to help the glaze caramelize and to create a sticky coating on top. Make sure to save some extra sauce to warm up and serve on the side.
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 warmed through. 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 warmed through.
I serve this with
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 then added and further 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.
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (120 ml) unsalted chicken stock
- 1 cup (142 g) breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
- ¾ cup (115 g) finely minced yellow onion
- ½ cup (65 g) finely chopped celery
- 2 pounds (908 g) ground turkey, 93% lean
- 2 ounces (58 g) parmesan cheese, finely grated, about 1 cup
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon (3 g) finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon (7 g) kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
- 1 teaspoon (1 g) chopped sage
- ½ teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ⅓ cup (79 ml) pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup (52 g) tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- Set oven rack to the middle position, preheat to 350ºF (177ºC).
- 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.
- 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, saute until tender and the moisture is released and evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Cool the vegetable mixture before adding to the meatloaf by transferring to a small plate and placing it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
- 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 hands to gently mix meatloaf ingredients until combined, about 1 minute, being careful not to overmix.
- Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
- Transfer meatloaf mixture into the pan. Press down into the bottom and sides of the pan, then use hands to make a smooth and slightly domed surface.
- Bake until the internal temperature reaches 155 to 160ºF (68 to 71ºC), about 50 to 65 minutes.
- Carefully remove meatloaf from the oven and keep it in the loaf pan, set aside.
- To make the glaze, preheat the oven to 500ºF (260ºC).
- In a small bowl whisk together glaze ingredients; maple syrup, ¼ cup tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon soy sauce.
- Use a brush or spoon to spread an even layer of glaze on the top and sides of the meatloaf, bake for 3 minutes.
- Brush the second layer of glaze, bake for 3 minutes.
- Brush a third and final layer of glaze, bake until sauce is lightly browned and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Reserve any extra glaze.
- Allow cooling for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
- Once slightly cooled, cut the meatloaf into even-sized slices.
- Serve with extra glaze on the side and parsley sprinkled on top.