Turkey Meatloaf

Jump to Recipe

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.

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

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.

Making a panade in a bowl

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.

Ground turkey and other unmixed meatloaf ingredients inside a large mixing bowl

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.

Uncooked turkey meatloaf inside a loaf pan

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.

Brushing a glaze on top of a turkey meatloaf in a pan

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

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

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.

Pin this recipe to save for later

Pin This

Turkey Meatloaf

Easy turkey meatloaf recipe with savory seasonings, aromatic herbs, and chopped vegetables. Topped with a flavorful sweet and tangy maple glaze.
Pin Print Review
4.43 from 7 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
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 

  • 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.

Want to save this recipe?

Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.

Register now

Nutrition Facts
Turkey Meatloaf
Amount Per Serving
Calories 281 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 120mg40%
Sodium 866mg36%
Potassium 540mg15%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 376IU8%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 137mg14%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tried this recipe?

Tag @jessica_gavin on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Filed under:

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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.

Jessica's Secrets: Cooking Made Easy!
Get my essential cooking techniques that I learned in culinary school.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating