Classic Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

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While traditional meatloaf is a delicious, timeless meal, it can be high in fat and less healthful than some folks prefer. For those who love a great meatloaf but are not big on consuming red meat and would like to keep the meal on the lighter end, ground turkey is a great alternative to ground beef. Ground turkey of any fat content can be used, though I recommend adding additional oil to very lean turkey meat, as it helps hold the meatloaf together and also adds flavor and moisture. After trying this classic turkey meatloaf recipe, you can get creative with your recipe by adding seasonings, herbs, and vegetables to change up the meal. You can even get creative with the sauce. This simple recipe requires very little effort to prepare and is perfect for throwing together any night of the week.

How to Make Turkey Meatloaf
How to Make Turkey Meatloaf (Image: Julia Mueller)

Things You'll Need

  • 1-1/4 pounds ground turkey (see note)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (Or, use gluten-free breadcrumbs for a gluten-free meatloaf)
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Meatloaf sauce

Tip

  • Ground turkey with a higher fat content is recommended. If using ground turkey with a low fat content (97/3), add another tablespoon or two of olive oil to help hold the loaf together and keep it moist.

Step 1: Prepare Meatloaf Sauce

Follow the instructions for preparing a delicious meatloaf sauce. Cover or seal in a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 2: Gather Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly oil the bottom of a casserole dish. Add all of the ingredients for the meatloaf (except for the sauce) to a stand mixer. If you don't own a stand mixer, you can use a regular mixing bowl and your hands to combine the ingredients.

Add ingredients to a mixing bowl
Add ingredients to a mixing bowl (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 3: Mix Ingredients

Secure the mixing bowl in the stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.

Secure mixing bowl in stand mixer
Secure mixing bowl in stand mixer (Image: Julia Mueller)

Mix on medium-high speed just until combined.

Mix until combined
Mix until combined (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 4: Form the Meatloaf

Use your hands to form a loaf shape out of the meatloaf. Try to avoid leaving many cracks in the meat. Place the loaf in the center of the oiled casserole dish.

Form a  loaf
Form a loaf (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 5: Spread Sauce on Top

Spread two to three tablespoons of the prepared meatloaf sauce on top of the meatloaf.

Spread sauce on top
Spread sauce on top (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 6: Bake the Meatloaf

Place meatloaf on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through. Turkey meatloaf is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. To test the temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the meatloaf and wait until the numbers stop moving to get an accurate reading.

Bake and allow meatloaf to rest
Bake and allow meatloaf to rest (Image: Julia Mueller)

If desired, spread more sauce on top of the meatloaf. Allow meat to rest 15 minutes to allow the juices to distribute throughout the meat.

Step 7: Slice and Serve

Transfer the meatloaf to a cutting board and slice thick slices. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired, and serve alongside your favorite side dishes.

Allow meat to rest before slicing
Allow meat to rest before slicing (Image: Julia Mueller)
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