Experience comfort food at its best with our Easy Turkey Meatloaf—a healthier take on the classic dish. We’ve ditched the fatty ground beef for lean ground turkey and opted for egg whites over whole eggs, making this meatloaf lighter and lower in calories. Infused with Southwestern seasonings, it packs a flavorful punch with a subtle kick. The tomato sauce, both inside and on top, adds moisture to every bite. Enjoy the goodness without the guilt!
Table of Contents
- What is Meatloaf?
- Why This Turkey Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal Works
- Ground Turkey Meatloaf Ingredients
- How to make Turkey Meatloaf
- How do you Make Ground Turkey Moist?
- Best Turkey Meatloaf Variations
- Turkey Meatloaf Recipe with Oats FAQ
- What to serve with Ground Turkey Meatloaf
- How to Store Turkey Meatloaf with Oatmeal
- Ground Turkey Meatloaf Recipe with Oats
What is Meatloaf?
Meatloaf is one of the quintessential comfort foods in the U.S. According to the LA Times, “In the United States, meatloaf has attained iconic comfort food status, right up there with fried chicken and mac and cheese, hamburgers and hot dogs.” I have loved meatloaf since I was a kid; it was one of the first dishes I learned how to make in a middle school cooking class.
The basic recipe for meatloaf calls for a combination of ground meat, seasonings, egg, and breadcrumbs; often ketchup and/or tomato sauce are added on top. The mixture is then placed in a loaf pan, or shaped into a loaf, and baked. There are an almost infinite number of variations on this traditional approach – including wrapping mini loaves in bacon or prosciutto or baking individual portions in muffin tins, to mention a few.
Why This Turkey Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal Works
This Easy Turkey Meatloaf recipe is moist and full of flavor, with that perfect not-too-dense, not-too loose meatloaf texture. Here’s why:
- Lean ground turkey instead of ground beef. Ground turkey is a leaner, versatile, flavorful ingredient that works well in meatloaves, provided you mix it with other ingredients that add moisture and complementary flavors.
- Egg whites instead of whole eggs. Using just the whites lowers the calorie count while maintaining moisture in the meatloaf.
- Quick-cooking oats for half of the breadcrumbs. Quick-cooking oats offer a higher fiber content and fewer calories compared to traditional breadcrumbs, while still maintaining the texture and structure of the meatloaf.
- Tomato sauce, both inside and on top. Tomato sauce inside adds needed moisture, keeping the meatloaf juicy, and also provides additional flavor. Brushing a tomato sauce, catsup, and Tabasco mixture on top halfway through cooking adds color, brightness, and a bit of spice.
- Seasonings. Adding in Southwestern ingredients including chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cumin, oregano and cilantro add a flavorful punch to the mild ground turkey.
- A loaf pan. With traditional fattier beef-based meatloaves, using a loaf pan can sometimes result in a greasy meatloaf. On the other hand, using a loaf pan to bake a meatloaf prepared with much leaner turkey helps to retain the juices, keeping it moist.
Ground Turkey Meatloaf Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to create this healthy meatloaf recipe (details and quantities are included in the recipe card below):
- Puréed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- Small onion
- Fresh cilantro
- Quick-cooking oats
- Tomato sauce
- Fresh parsley
- Kosher salt
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Ground black pepper
- Egg whites
- Ground turkey (mix of regular and breast)
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
What can I put in meatloaf instead of breadcrumbs?
For this recipe, just double the amount of oats you are using – oats are an excellent substitute for breadcrumbs in meatloaf.
How to make Turkey Meatloaf
This meat loaf recipe is pretty foolproof, and super easy to prepare. Here are the steps:
- Purée the chipotle peppers.
Place chipotle chiles and their sauce in a small food processor or blender and blend until well puréed.
- Prep vegetables and fresh herbs.
Chop onion, cilantro, parsley and garlic.
- Prep oven and baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- Mix ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix all meat loaf ingredients (puréed chipotle chiles through ground turkey) until well combined. Place leftover purée in a closed container and refrigerate for another use (will last for months in your fridge).
- Bake halfway.
Spoon meatloaf mixture into prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Add sauce; finish baking.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together 1/4 cup tomato sauce, ketchup and Tabasco. Brush mixture evenly over meatloaf, cover with foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until an intant-read thermometer inserted in the middle registers 165 degrees.
- Let rest, then serve.
Remove meatloaf from oven and let sit at room temperature for around ten minutes before serving.
How do you Make Ground Turkey Moist?
There are three keys to why this ground turkey meatloaf is very moist:
- Use a mix of ground turkey breast and dark turkey meat. The latter has a higher fat content, which helps keep the finished product moist.
- Add tomato sauce both on top and inside. Tomatoes are made up largely of water. So, even when condensed into tomato sauce or ketchup, there still is a high water content.
- Don’t overcook. Take the meatloaf out of the oven as soon as it reaches 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Overcooking will cause it to dry out.
Best Turkey Meatloaf Variations
Here are some ways to vary the ingredients in this meatloaf:
- Make it gluten free. Use gluten-free chipotles in adobo sauce, gluten-free oats, and gluten-free bread crumbs.
- Make it even spicier. Use salsa in place of some/all of the tomato sauce.
- Add vegetables. Add 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper.
Turkey Meatloaf Recipe with Oats FAQ
The answer to this question is, it depends on the recipe. For this turkey meatloaf, cook it uncovered for the first half, then cover it after I put the tomato mixture on top, to keep the topping from drying out.
The key to ensure your meatloaf doesn’t fall apart after cooking is to have enough “binding” ingredients. For meatloaf, these are breadcrumbs and eggs. These two ingredients help to hold the ground turkey meat together.
As mentioned above, the best binder for meatloaf – i.e., the ingredients to keep it from falling apart – are breadcrumbs and eggs.
To ensure your turkey meatloaf doesn’t get mushy, use a mixture of oats and breadcrumbs. Too many breadcrumbs can make it turn to mush. Also, if using homemade breadcrumbs, make sure they are not fresh. The drier the better!
It depends on the ingredients in your meatloaf recipe. Most often, I find 350 degrees is a good temperature – there is enough heat to cook the meatloaf completely without drying it out.
As mentioned above, the best temperature to cook turkey meatloaf is 165 degrees. At this temp, the turkey is done, but not overdone.
Bake turkey meatloaf until it reaches 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
What to serve with Ground Turkey Meatloaf
Here are my favorite side dishes to serve with this meatloaf:
- Mashed Potatoes with Parsley and Chives
- Golden Potatoes (Twice Baked Potato Casserole)
- Cauliflower Purée (in my cookbook “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®”)
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Quick and Easy Sautéed Asparagus
- Broccoli Salad
- Broccoli with Bacon and Walnuts
- Lemon Dijon Green Beans
- Spinach Salad with Lemon-Pine Nut Dressing
- Coleslaw with Lemon-Mayonnaise Dressing
How to Store Turkey Meatloaf with Oatmeal
Place any leftover meatloaf in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will last for up to 4 days. Can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
- 4 to 5 teaspoons puréed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce – see Note
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats – see Note
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 pounds ground turkey (mix of regular and breast)
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix all meat loaf ingredients (chipotle chiles through ground turkey) until well combined. Spoon into prepared loaf pan and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together 1/4 cup tomato sauce, ketchup and Tabasco. Brush mixture evenly over meatloaf, cover with foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until thermometer registers 165 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest at room temperature for around ten minutes before serving.
To make puréed chipotles in adobo sauce: Place 1 (7 ounce) can chipotle chiles and their sauce in a food processor and blend until well puréed. Place leftover purée in a closed container and refrigerate for another use (will last for months in your frig!).
Make ahead: Meatloaf can be prepared but not baked earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving. Can also be baked, cooled, covered and frozen for up to 2 months.
Note on oats: I prefer the texture from quick-cooking oats in this recipe, but you can also make it with regular.
- Category: Main dish, poultry, easy
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: One slice
- Calories: 240
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 479.7 mg
- Fat: 10.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 7.9 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 27.8 g
- Cholesterol: 89.4 mg