BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

bbq turkey meatloaf

This BBQ Turkey Meatloaf is a little out-of-the-box the week before Thanksgiving, I know, but I thought you might appreciate a home-style dinner you could make tonight instead of a fancy, once-a-year dish for the main event next week. (We all still have to get dinner on the table between now and then, right?) It’s a family favorite…hearty, deliciously full-flavored and—bonus—low in fat.

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For all its merits as a low-fat alternative to beef, ground turkey can be incredibly dry and bland. The secret is to add flavor and moisture without adding fat, which of course would defeat the whole purpose. In this case, you start by making a tangy and sweet BBQ glaze: a simple mix of ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and mustard. Easy.

Turkey meatloaf 9

Next, finely mince a yellow onion. It’s important to mince, rather than chop, so large pieces of onion don’t cause the meatloaf to fall apart. The best way is in a food processor; just be sure to pulse carefully so the onions don’t turn to paste.

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Cook the onions in olive oil until soft, then add some garlic and cook a bit more.

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Combine some of the BBQ glaze with Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and eggs.

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Add the onion mixture, ground turkey and seasoned breadcrumbs.

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Finally, use your hands to mix it all together, then form two loaves on a baking sheet and spread the remaining BBQ glaze over top. I prefer this “freeform” meatloaf to those made in a loaf pan: clean-up is so much easier and all the extra fat is able to ooze out during baking. (Sorry, I know raw meat is neither appetizing nor photogenic, but hopefully the pictures will help you visualize.)

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Bake, slice and serve…

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Btw, leftovers are delicious, hot or cold. Enjoy!

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

Print Recipe
Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes


For the BBQ Glaze

  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the Meatloaf

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion, from one large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup BBQ glaze (from above recipe)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (93/7)
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (I use Progresso)
  • A few springs chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)


  1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Make BBQ glaze by combining ketchup, light brown sugar, cider vinegar and Dijon mustard. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in medium sauté pan and cook onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, eggs and ¼ cup of BBQ glaze and mix well. Add onion mixture and stir to combine. Finally, add ground turkey and breadcrumbs and mix with your hands until well combined.
  5. Transfer the meat mixture into two even piles on prepared baking sheet. Shape into two long loaves about 1½ inches high x 4 inches wide. Spread remaining BBQ glaze over loaves, letting it drip down the sides a bit (you may have a little extra), then bake for 40-45 minutes. Slice and garnish with parsley if desired.


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  • This sounds really yummy. I grate my onion when making meatloaf. It seems to get it to the perfect consistency. (Onion paste doesn’t work so well in meatloaf – as my experience has shown) And the moisture from the onion helps to keep the turkey from drying out.

  • Delicious! I love the lightened up version for meatloaf

  • Sharon

    Wow…made this last night and it was terrific! My kids gobbled it up!

  • yum. looks great!! going to make this right after the holiday :)

  • tanya

    yummm!!!thanks jenn! you always come to my rescue! xoxo’s happy thanksgiving! Hope you have a great one!

  • fabulous recipe! looks terrific and yummy..on new years eve i prepare like that recipe thanks for sharing.

  • Lynne

    Who knew turkey could be so tasty?! My family loved this…will definitely be a regular at our house. Thanks!!

  • love love the bbq turkey meatloaf. huge hit here!! thank you!

  • Sarah

    This is so great! I made it for dinner the other evening and had leftovers in the most delicious sandwich for lunch. Plus, I put the extra meatloaf in the freezer for a meal next week! Brilliant!

  • Kristina N.

    I use sundried tomatoes in my meatloaf along with fresh herbs and some grated parmesan cheese. This recipe looks yummy!

  • Rose Harper

    Made this tonight and it was so easy and me and my husband LOVE it !! Thanks for giving us an amazing lowfat alternative to a family favorite.

  • Joy

    Another wonderful recipe….My husband & daughter don’t eat red meat so no meat loaf for the rest of us meat eaters…lol…I’ve tried other turkey meatloaf’s, they were dry & tasteless…Not this one! My daughter doesn’t really like any kind of meat, but I made her try it & she ABSOLUTELY loved it. Actually, every one loved it. I did add 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce in the bbq sauce & it took the bold ketchup taste away; Other that that I followed the recipe. I will be making this again. Thanks!

  • Ashley

    This recipe was amazing! I also tried it with ground chicken and it tasted just as great!!

  • Christen G.

    This meatloaf recipe has become a staple for a weekend meal in my house. The loaf stays very moist, while the barbecue sauce is tangy and delicious. For a family of three, I usually half the recipe.

  • Sandy

    I’ve never made meatloaf before, but I gave your recipe a go, and boy was it delicious! Thanks for continuing to provide healthy but delicious recipes!

  • Marissa Pacelli

    This too, has become a staple. We don’t eat much beef in my house but like old fashioned beef type recipes, so finding good recipes to compliment turkey/chicken is a must. This is it for meatloaf, turkey never tasted so good!

  • Great healthy way to enjoy meatloaf. The glaze is like the icing on the cake.

  • Mike

    By far my favorite meal! I mix it up using turkey one time and beef/pork the next time I make it. It also makes great meatloaf sandwiches the next day for lunch.

  • Lisa

    I can not wait to make this for dinner tonight. Exactly what I’ve been looking for!

  • This is the recipe that got me hooked on this website. You won’t miss the beef. The turkey is so moist and flavorful. Yum

  • Josie

    I have dont this recipe both ways, with Turkey as well as ground beef.
    If you are in a pinch, I have used manwhich bbq flavor, it is not as good but the kids loved it!

  • Megan

    Hi I just made this and it was delicious! Definitely a hit with the family! Thanks for sharing. I was wondering if you had any idea what the caloric value per serving was? Thank again!

    • Jenn

      Hi Megan, So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Unfortunately, I’m not sure about the calories but I know there are site that allow you to plug in recipes for nutritional data. Hope that helps.

  • Tom M.

    This looks delicious.

  • Amy Simonson

    I have to say, I’m not really a meatloaf fan, but this recipe has made me one! My husband didn’t even know it was turkey!! This has become one of my standard menu items. I just had a baby and have learned that it freezes really nicely. One for tonight and dinner for next week’s already done! Thanks for another great one!

  • TJ

    This looks like a great idea to jazz up a rather boring dish. THe bbq sauce will surely add alot.

  • Adrian

    This recipe has become a staple, with a few simple changes. I add a few shakes of crushed red pepper and granulated garlic, plus I grate the onion to distribute it more evenly through the meatloaf. Even better, stuff the mixture in bell peppers and roast for 45 minutes (until it reaches 165 degrees). Serve with either the glaze or a good marinara and it is fantastic.

  • Raechelle

    This was absolutely delicous! I made it for a group of 10 and everyone loved it. It satisfied everyones taste buds and food preferences. I added about 2 pounds more of ground turkey so it would feed more people. I also made it ahead of time before I baked it and it set up well in the fridge overnight. I didn’t have time to sauté my onions so I grated them and added to the mix. It turned out well. Thank you, it’s one of my favorite recipes now!

  • Shirley

    Please tell Amy Simonson it’s really not a good idea to freeze her new baby….or maybe she should just proofread what she writes….I really am kidding you, Amy, I just got such a kick out of your line about the baby and freezing….I’m 87 and a greatgrandmother of 8, and this just made me smile but I knew what you meant!!

  • Liesel

    Followed this recipe exactly, but I did mince the onion by hand. The glaze was delicious and added just the right sweet and sour touch to the turkey meat. This meatloaf was served to the family along with yukon gold mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and sauteed spinach. Moist, tasty and a crowd pleaser.

  • Rebecca Salerno

    I look forward to trying this recipe out on my family this week. We have enjoyed your recipes in the past. My question is, if I freeze one meatloaf, how should I reheat when I’m ready to use it? Defrost and then what temp should I reheat at? Thank you – Rebecca

    • Jenn

      Hi Rebecca, I’d reheat it at 300 degrees. Hope your family enjoys it!

  • Karen

    This meatloaf was delicious and will be my new “go to” meatloaf. The consistency was perfect and you would never even know it was made with turkey. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Carol

    I made this for a ladies’ lunch today. I followed the recipe exactly. It went so deliciously with broad noodles. I just wish I had doubled the glaze! My friends loved it!
    Next time I make it I will cut one meatloaf in half to freeze for another time. This makes two good-sized meat loaves.

  • Becca J

    I loved the sauce on this, but the meatloaf came out kind of dry and crumbly. I don’t remember whether I used extra-lean turkey, but I’d be willing to try it again with 93/7 turkey just in case, since your recipes don’t usually give me trouble.

    • Jenn

      Hi Becca, Yes, be sure to use 93/7. Hope it comes out next time.

  • Sarah

    DELICIOUS! My husband thought he didn’t like meatloaf until I made this. I changed absolutely nothing about the recipe. It was spiced perfectly and very moist.I served it with roasted acorn squash and broccoli. I know I can always count on your recipes to be a hit on the dinner table. Thank you!

  • Carrie Hirshfield

    This is my go to meatloaf recipe! My favorite part is the topping, perfect balance of tang and sweet!

  • Jengi

    I bought ground turkey for the first time – just to make this BBQ Turkey Meatloaf. Wow. We loved it! The paprika, onions, thyme, Dijon – all worked together to pack some real hearty flavor into this dish. The BBQ glazed added an additional sweet and tangy punch.

    My only alterations were to cut the recipe in half and pop the meat mixture into muffin tins and top them with the glaze, that helped me cut down on the cooking time for my hungry family. Plus, they love having portions served as a muffin size.

    This is another family fav!

  • Mary Malik

    This meatloaf is the vest I’ve ever made! My family went bonkers over it. They couldn’t believe it wasn’t beef. This is my go-to meatloaf from now on! Thanks so much for this recipe!!!!!!!

  • Cindy

    Any idea on how many calories per serving?

    • Jenn

      Sorry, Cindy, I don’t offer nutritional info for my recipes. But it’s something I’m working on, so stay tuned.

  • Penny

    Sounds tasty! I’m currently obsessed with roasted poblanos… I could incorporate them in this meatloaf, right?

    • Jenn

      Hi Penny, I don’t see why not. Hope you enjoy!

  • shawn

    I cooked this last night and was surprised at how great it taste. My family loved it and it will be a reg on our menu. Great recipe.

  • shawn

    Loved it!!

  • Melinda

    Made this for my birthday yesterday and it was delicious. My husband thought it was beef; boy was he surprised it was turkey.
    Is the paprika supposed to be ground, not dried? I wasn’t sure because spices come in so many different forms nowadays. From the pic, it looked like ground, so I just used what I had.
    My little one even liked it. I think that I’m going to make this for Xmas.
    Thanks for the recipe and also making my bday extra special. :)

    • Jenn

      Hi Melinda, So glad you enjoyed the meatloaf! It is ground paprika. Happy Birthday!

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