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Turkey Meatloaf

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Turkey Meatloaf with BBQ Glaze

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A family favorite, this turkey meatloaf is as flavorful and juicy as one made with ground beef.

Turkey Meatloaf

Swapping ground turkey for ground beef is a great way to make meatloaf a bit healthier. However, for all its merits as a low-fat alternative to ground beef, ground turkey can be dry and bland. The key to making a good turkey meatloaf is to add flavor and moisture without adding fat, which would defeat the whole purpose of making it lighter. I season this turkey meatloaf with sautéed onions and garlic, and I also add some of the sweet and tangy glaze directly to the meatloaf mixture, which makes the meatloaf flavorful and juicy. One tip if you’re making this for kids: be sure to chop the onions very finely. My experience is that kids do not like finding flecks of onions (or flecks of anything, really!) in their meatloaf. Naturally, leftovers make excellent meatloaf sandwiches.

Looking for more ways to lighten up your classic ground beef recipes? Try my turkey chili, skillet turkey burgers and turkey meatballs.

What you’ll need To Make Turkey Meatloaf

ingredients for turkey meatloaf

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by making the glaze: in a medium bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and mustard.

glaze ingredients in mixing bowl

Whisk to combine.

whisked glaze ingredients

Next, in a small pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions.

sautéing onions for turkey meatloaf

Cook until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.

sautéing onions and garlic for turkey meatloaf

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the glaze with the Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, and eggs.

seasoning and eggs in mixing bowl for turkey meatloafWhisk to combine.

whisked seasoning and egg mixture

Mix in the onion mixture.

adding onion and garlic mixture to the bowl

Then add the bread crumbs and turkey.

adding the bread crumbs and turkey to the bowl

Use your hands to mix it all together.

mashed turkey meatloaf mixture in bowl

Form two loaves on a baking sheet.

free-form turkey meatloaves on baking sheet

Then spread the remaining BBQ glaze over top.

turkey meatloaves topped with glaze, ready to bake

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. I prefer this “free-form” 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.

baked turkey meatloaf fresh out of the oven

Scrape the fat away from the loaves, transfer to a platter, and slice.

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Turkey Meatloaf

A family favorite, this turkey meatloaf is as flavorful and juicy as one made with ground beef.

Servings: 6
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes


For the Glaze

  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the Meatloaf

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (93/7)
  • ¾ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • A few springs chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)


  1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil; grease the foil with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Make the Glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Set aside.
  3. Make the Meatloaf: Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Do not brown. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, eggs, and ¼ cup of the BBQ glaze. Whisk until well combined. Stir in the onion mixture. Add the ground turkey and breadcrumbs and mix with your hands until evenly combined.
  5. Transfer the meat mixture into two even piles onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape into two long loaves about 1½ in high x 6 in long x 4 in wide. Spread the remaining BBQ glaze over the loaves, letting it drip down the sides a bit. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the meatloaves are cooked through. Scrape any fat away from the sides of the loaves, then transfer the loaves to a platter. Slice and garnish with parsley if desired.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked meatloaf can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost it in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat it in a 300°F oven until hot in the middle.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 413
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 33g
  • Sugar: 20g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 35g
  • Sodium: 1086mg
  • Cholesterol: 166mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Yum! Made this for my son & his wife who came for dinner before he went on night shift. He’s a firefighter so I wanted to make something good & hardy for him. I made it exactly as indicated in the recipe and served with rustic mashed potatoes, roasted acorn squash & your broccoli with garlic recipe, it was a hit!
    This was the first recipe I’ve tried of yours Jenn, and one of the first internet recipes that came out exactly as I hoped, I’m so excited to dive into more! Thank you!!

    • — Bernadette on September 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • How much turkey did you use please??

    • — Phil on September 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Phil, you’ll need 2 pounds of ground turkey. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is such a perfect recipe and has become a family favorite. Making it this evening for company!! Thank you.

    • — Jennifer on September 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made it with ground pork and it is really wonderful!

    • — Mike on September 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • I made it and it was great! That there are two is a bonus for a future meal. I’ve always been intimidated by meatloaf, but this one was as easy as it reads. Thank you!

      • — Stephanie D. on September 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Wow, so good. I was looking for new ground Turkey recipes and found once upon chef , with high reviews. Gave it a go, turned out amazing. Family ate it up. It’s now on rotation, this is in my wheel house. So are your cook books, they look amazing and your recipes. Thank you

    • — Stephanie on September 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • Honestly, this may have been one of the best Turkey Meatloaf recipes that I have come across in a long time!!!

    • — R. Bonner on September 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made the assumption that the number of servings (6 servings) was for both loaves. Is that correct? I may have made my loaves longer than 6 inches but they were still about 1.5″ high and 4″ inches. I was able to get 8 servings. I felt like a single serving if I based it on 6 servings would have been a huge amount to eat, even at dinner.

    • — Drew on August 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Drew, 6 is the correct number of servings. When determining servings for each recipe, I always err on the side of larger servings. To give you a little context, one of my biggest fears is running out of food at the dinner table! 🤣

      • — Jenn on August 29, 2023
      • Reply
  • I grew up eating meatloafs and used my mom’s recipe to continue making them throughout my adult life. So 50+ years of eating meatloafs! LOL. Without a doubt, this is the best meatloaf recipe I have ever tried.

    • — Andrew Carey on August 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • Absolutely loved this recipe, loved the glaze, only difference i made was i used oats instead, but that is just because its my personal preference in meatloaf. This is a keeper for sure! Thanks for sharing!

    • — donna on August 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made the and I have to say it was pretty delicious!! I added a little worchesterchire to the Bbq sauce. The sauce was similar to my family recipe though this one had a little more tang and I liked it. Onions and garlic flavored the meat nicely!! Don’t skip this step!!

    • — Patricia on August 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can you place the meatloaf in a loaf pan?

    • — John on August 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2023
      • Reply
  • This turkey meatloaf recipe is excellent! This was my first time making meatloaf (my husband’s request) and we cannot be more pleased with how it came out. Moist, herby, and can be made with simple pantry ingredients! Will definitely be adding this into our rotation.

    • — Allison on August 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious recipe! I made a half recipe and didn’t have breadcrumbs on hand. I also skipped making the glaze and just put sugar free bbq sauce on top. Yummy, quick for a midweek meal – I will definitely make again!

    • — Catherine on July 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • what did you use in place of the breadcrumbs? I want to make this recipe also but am out of breadcrumbs – did you use oatmeal, crushed crackers? I am thinking of crushing some croutons to use for the breadcrumbs. What do you think?

      • — Kathy G on July 31, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Kathy, crushing croutons would work nicely. Hope you enjoy the meatloaf!

        • — Jenn on July 31, 2023
        • Reply
        • This is my go to meatloaf recipe. I love the sauce. I make the meat recipe as is, subbing oats, cooking a half pound loaf. The rest of the raw meat I vacuum seal in 1/4 pound portions so I always have several quick thaw seasoned meals ready for burgers, pasta sauces, tacos, etc.

          • — Michael on August 25, 2023
          • Reply
  • Made this today and all I can say is Delicious 😋 😊

    • — Nichole on July 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is the best turkey meatloaf ever!
    Moist, juicy and flavorful!

    • — Roslyn Kushner on July 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • This evening I made this meatloaf for my grandson who had never tasted meatloaf in his life. Subsequently, he asked for the recipe and is going to make it at home. Thank you!!!

    My only substitution was that I used 85%-15% ground turkey for the additional flavor.


    • — Noel A MacDonald on July 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight. It was moist and delicious with a really nice flavor. I made very minor changes in amounts of onion and garlic based on my husband’s preferences but for the most part I followed the recipe. Thanks for sharing this healthier alternative to traditional meatloaf. I will make this again!

    • — Mary on July 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • I was nervous this would turn out dry because ground turkey tends to do that. But it was perfect. So herby and moist. Keeping this recipe forever now. Thank you!!!

    • — Erin on July 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Followed the recipe as is except, I ended up using 1.7 lbs of ground turkey and it came out very moist. I would suggests a little less salt.

    • — Maria S. on June 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can I make this without mustard? Or what would be a good replacement?

    • — Rosie on June 11, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Rosie, You can just omit the mustard. If you happen to have dry mustard, you could use that instead; you’ll need 1.5 teaspoons. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 12, 2023
      • Reply
      • One of the best turkey meatloafs I have had!

        • — David S on June 16, 2023
        • Reply
  • I am making 1 pound of Turkey meat. How long should I bake it for?


    • — Cindy on June 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cindy, I would keep it as one loaf and the bake time will be the same.

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • What would be the difference in taste between using regular mustard or Dijon? Also, am I missing something in looking up recipes? I have to go thru the list until I find what I want instead of typing in the name of the recipe and having it pop up. There doesn’t seem to be a place for it or I am just not seeing it?

    • — sidney on May 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sidney, there would be a slightly different taste using regular mustard instead of Dijon, but you can get away with it if that’s all you have on hand. And you can search for any recipe (or ingredient) you’d like by using the search function on the upper right corner of each page of the blog. (Just click on the little magnifying glass you see in the upper right corner.) Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • I loved this recipe. My Turkey meatloaf was so good, and I paired it with mashed potatoes. I will definitely make this again.

    • — Katrina on May 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this about a half dozen times now, and it’s just *perfect* exactly as written. There are only two of us, so I use just one lb and halve everything. (We looooove the sauce so, I’ll sometimes keep “double” of that!) It couldn’t be quicker or easier to come together, and it tastes delicious! Thank you!

    • — Kayla on May 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • What would be the recipe for just one pound and half of the original measurements because I want to make this for just a serving size of 2.?

      • — Tanya on July 8, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Tanya, I’d just halve all of the ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on July 10, 2023
        • Reply
  • Can you make turkey meatloaf early in the day and bake later?

    • — Sherry Fulmer on April 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can you freeze turkey loaf raw and bake later?

    • — Sherry Fulmer on April 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • This was my first time making meat loaf and this recipe was delicious and super easy to make. I followed the recipe exactly. Everyone in my family including my toddler liked it.

    • — Lien N. on April 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • The best turkey meatloaf I’ve made.

    • — Ron Stroh on April 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this meatloaf soooo awesome!!!
    My husband loved it! Best recipe for turkey meatloaf EVER!!!

    • — Mary Hughes on March 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, What is the best substitute for apple cider vinegar .

    • — Joyce on March 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Joyce, Do you have rice vinegar or white wine vinegar? Both of those would work well.

      • — Jenn on March 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • So good! Highly recommend

    • — Jenna on March 26, 2023
    • Reply

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