This Turkey Meatloaf is unbelievably moist, tender and super full flavor! A few secret ingredients really make this recipe Amazing!!! Makes a Big loaf which is absolutely perfect for leftovers.
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The weather is cooling down, sweaters are making their seasonal debut, and the trees are turning gorgeous shades of yellow and red and orange. That’s right, fall is here. And with fall’s arrival comes a host of delicious meals and desserts. (Pumpkin pie, for example.) But one of my favorite things about fall is the re-discovery of hearty meals. Spring and summer lend themselves to lighter meals, often cooked on a grill. It’s only once you get to fall and winter that you start seeing delicious recipes like this one for easy turkey meatloaf.
Serving meatloaf to my family is a fall tradition. When the leaves finally start to fall, I’ll put the first meatloaf of the season out on the table and everyone will know that sweaters and hot cocoa are soon to follow. I’ve cooked plenty of meatloaf recipes over the years, but this one is far and away my favorite. It’s a fantastic meaty, moist dish that makes the perfect dinner entrée. The mushrooms and parmesan cheese give it a unique flavor that my family just loves.
And, of course, the choice to use turkey as the base meat is a really important one. I think turkey cooks better into a meatloaf than other meats—it retains its moisture and texture even deep at the center of the meatloaf.
You’ll notice that the recipe simply calls for “ground turkey”—this would be the same kind of turkey you use in turkey meatballs or a similar recipe. One of the huge benefits of this recipe, though, is that you can choose a ground turkey that has a low-fat content. The chicken broth provides the succulent flavor we all love in a meatloaf, so the turkey doesn’t have to. That can seriously reduce the fat and calories you’d find in other meatloaves.
Which means, all in all, this is a pretty healthy meatloaf. And it’s waaay tastier than the Weight Watcher’s meatloaf or a similar kind of recipe. (But don’t take my word for it. Cook it up yourself and see if you agree!)
The cooked onions in this recipe are what help ensure that you get a moist turkey meatloaf. It doesn’t really need much sauce—so meatloaf purists can top with just plain old ketchup. I tend to prefer meatloaf with a hearty sauce on top, so this recipe comes with a delicious sauce mixture.
This recipe turns out a pretty firm meatloaf. This is especially nice when you’re cutting it—the meatloaf doesn’t fall apart! It allows you to serve nicely cut slices instead of clumpy mounds.
Be ready for this to be a large dish. This recipe is designed to produce a loaf that can feed 8-10 people. You can cut the recipe in half if you wish, but this is the amount I make even when I’m just feeding my family of four. My whole family loves the leftovers this dish leaves behind, so I make a large batch and we eat it for days. Check out the recipe notes for some advice on how to serve and prepare the leftovers.
As with many recipes, when it comes to meatloaf Barefoot Contessa has some great ideas. But there’s no doubt in my mind that this recipe is a step above anything she recommends. This is the meatloaf my family asks for every fall, and I think yours will too.
Give this dish a try—I think you’ll find you have a new go-to meatloaf recipe.
Cooking- I use aluminum foil on my rimmed baking sheet to seriously cut down on the cleanup time. There’s nothing like being able to bunch up the dirty foil, toss it in the trashcan, and place my baking sheet right back into the drawer.
Anyone who’s made a meatloaf before knows that preventing the top from cracking is a huge challenge. I place a pan of hot water in the oven on under shelf under the meatloaf—this usually does the trick.
Nutritional Value- Those who want to increase the nutritional value a little can substitute cooked whole grain brown rice for the breadcrumbs.
You can also increase the nutritional value by simply buying higher quality ingredients. Get whole wheat breadcrumbs, ground turkey breast, and look for a low sodium level in your other ingredients.
Sauce- Those who prefer a super thick sauce might consider waiting until the turkey has cooked for 30 minutes to add the sauce. Turkey is a juicy, moist meat. Those juices are especially present in the first 30 minutes of cooking. They tend to mix with the sauce, thinning it a little bit. I prefer it this way, as it makes the final load much moister and it gives the sauce a delicious turkey flavor. But if you prefer drier, denser loaves and a thicker sauce, consider waiting.
- Mushrooms: For those struggling to find a place to find decent mushrooms, I’ve discovered that Costco sells a great container of dried mushrooms that work really well in this recipe (and are relatively inexpensive). You can also buy a bag of Dried Porcini Mushrooms from Amazon. I do this just to have mushrooms around to use. The quality is wonderful and the price is fair. Dried Porcini mushrooms are my absolute favorite for this recipe. They have a wonderful meaty flavor. I’ve also found that dried Shiitake mushrooms taste great in this recipe.
- Thyme: I generally use fresh thyme in this recipe because I always seem to have it on hand. If you don’t have fresh don’t go out and buy it. Dried works just fine in this recipe. I substitute ½ dried for the 1 teaspoon of fresh.
- Gelatin: The inclusion of gelatin in this recipe, however weird it sounds, is absolutely essential to the meatloaf’s final taste and texture. The unflavored gelatin helps to combat that grainy texture you sometimes find in meatloaves by trapping the extra moisture. This also works to improve that final, juicy flavor.
- Parmesan Cheese: I don’t often find a meat recipe that isn’t improved with parmesan cheese. In this recipe, the cheese does something you wouldn’t expect. Rather than giving the meatloaf a cheesy flavor, it actually increases the meaty flavor. This is because parmesan cheese is rich in glutamate. Other ingredients in this recipe help do the same thing, like the tomato paste and Shiitake mushrooms.
- Onions: This may seem like a large number of onions for a meatloaf, but just remember that this recipe makes a big loaf. You need every bit of those onions to help keep all that turkey moist in the oven.
Leftovers- This recipe makes a big, I mean really big, loaf. Unless you have a very large, very hungry group ready to eat this meatloaf, I recommend freezing your leftovers in small portions. This guarantees that you can thaw a little at a time, and make one meatloaf last for a pretty long time! The leftovers from this recipe make exquisite sandwiches. I’ll thaw one of my little meatloaf packages in the microwave, then top it with ketchup and bread for a meatloaf sandwich. Highly recommended.
An alternate way to serve these leftovers is to bake them into turkey meatloaf muffins. These are delicious little bundles of bread and meat that can easily be transported to work or a potluck. (I usually just snack on them.)
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- 3/4 cup Chicken Broth
- 1/2 ounce Dried Mushrooms Shiitake or Porcini
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 3 Cups Yellow Onion Chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves Chopped
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/3 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 5 Pounds Ground Turkey
- 1 1/2 Cups Dried Plain Bread Crumbs
- 1 Cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 3 Teaspoon Unflavored Gelatin
- 3 Eggs Beaten
- 1 Cup Ketchup
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar Firmly Packed
- 2 Teaspoon Dried Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Ginger
- 1/2 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- Couple Drops Hot Sauce
- Preheat oven 325 degrees.
- Microwave chicken broth and mushrooms in a partially covered bowl for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and allow to sit and soften, about 5 minutes. Pour mushrooms through a fine mesh sieve and reserve broth. Chop the mushrooms. Set aside.
- In a large saute pan, over medium-low heat, add onions, garlic, chopped mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper, and saute until the onion is very soft and translucent about 12-15 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire Sauce, reserved chicken broth, and tomato paste and mix well. Remove from heat and cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, gelatin, eggs, and cooled onion mixture until well mixed. Shape into a rectangular loaf on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together ketchup, brown sugar, dried mustard, ginger, liquid smoke and hot sauce. Spread ketchup mixture evenly over top and sides of meatloaf.
- Bake meatloaf in a preheated oven, 1 1/2 hour or until meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
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