How to Make Turkey Meatloaf

By Cody MarshallApril 15, 2022

LAST UPDATED: April 24th, 2023

Back in the day, I tried a spicy beef meatloaf recipe that I had gotten out of a Muscle & Fitness edition. The recipe contained a significant amount of cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese, from what I remember.

It was tasty and had enough of a kick to open your sweat pores and require a drink after the first couple bites. The next day, though, it felt like two ghost peppers were whooping up on a bottle of Sriracha in by belly.

In attempt to avoid that smoldering situation again, I started making a series of alterations that ultimately led me to this lean, less mean recipe. My mom grew up eating meatloaf so much that she hates it now, and she LOVES this ground turkey meatloaf to the point of returning for more every time I make it.  

Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Recipe
Looking for a different spin on meatloaf? Try this turkey meatloaf recipe this spring.

Ingredients for Turkey Meatloaf

The recipe card below is for those flying solo, but just multiply the ingredients by two or three for family size portions. Remember, this is a sweet and SPICY meatloaf recipe.  If you’re heat sensitive, dial back the cayenne and paprika by approximately half.  To get started, you will need:

  • 1 lb. Turkey, ground
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • ½ green bell pepper, or 1 jalapeno if you want a bit more kick, diced
  • ¼ onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of parsley (optional)

For topping:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper
Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Recipe
This recipe delivers the perfect blend of flavor.

How to Make Turkey Meatloaf

  1. In a large bowl, mix turkey, seasonings*(see notes), breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
  2. Cut your pepper and onion. The key here is consistency, so try to make sure all of your pieces are similar in size.  If you like the noticeable veggie crunch, leave them sizeable enough to achieve that.  If you prefer, an evenly consistent loaf, then go for more of a mince.
  3. Add diced pepper, onion, and minced garlic into the bowl with the other ingredients and mix.
  4. Pour the beaten egg over the top.  At this point, there is no avoiding using your hands unless you have some type of meat mixer.  So, get down and dirty to make sure you get everything mixed well throughout to avoid a splotchy meatloaf.
  5. Place the mixture into a loaf pan and firmly press it down, evenly packing it throughout.  Use your finger to press around the edges, pulling it away from the pan’s edges and achieving that raised look in the center.
  6. Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes at 400 or until the center reaches 165.
  7. While that is finishing up in the oven, mix the ketchup, brown sugar, black pepper, and crushed red pepper in a bowl with a whisk. You can play with the amounts of sugar, to alter the thickness and pepper to change the spice level as you see fit. 
  8. Remove the loaf from oven and cover with topping.  Return to oven for approximately 5-10 minutes or until you see the ketchup mixture start to produce all of these little bubbles.  The brown sugar is melting down, removing that grainy texture from the sauce.  You are now ready to remove and enjoy.

*Remember, this is a sweet and SPICY meatloaf.  If you’re heat sensitive, dial back the cayenne and paprika by half.

Tips for the Best Turkey Meatloaf

It is important to cook your turkey to the proper internal temperature.  Place your meatloaf in an oven that is preheated to 400 (convection) and cook until the center reaches 165. 

I typically use 99% lean ground turkey for this meatloaf recipe. I don’t add any fat when grinding the breast.  So, there is potential to end up with a dry loaf.  But fret not! The trick is already in the ingredients list. The fresh chopped/minced veggies along with the cheese help maintain moisture as your meat reaches the proper temperature.

Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Recipe
Keep in mind, this is a spicy meatloaf recipe. Be sure to turn the spice down if you can't handle the heat.

What do I Serve with Meatloaf?

This sweet and spicy turkey meatloaf pairs great with mashed potatoes.  If you find yourself wanting more, try fresh sauteed green beans or glazed carrots as an additional side.  

What to do with Leftover Meatloaf

Meatloaf Burger

That’s right! On my first trip to Orlando, I ate at this restaurant called The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal CityWalk.  Its plates offered as big of a mouthful as that title! And the shakes were over-the-top delicious.  They have a burger there that is essentially a meatloaf meal on a bun.  If you have leftovers from this meal, toast a brioche bun, spread the mashed potatoes, lay your meatloaf atop the potatoes, grab ahold of those buns, and enjoy.

Cody Marshall
Cody Marshall is an avid bowhunter, adventurer, and wild game chef. His outdoor adventures take he and his family into wild places across the country throughout the year.
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