My turkey meatloaf is a mouthwatering alternative to classic beef meatloaf, with a delicious Italian twist. Filled with a handful of delectably savory ingredients such as finely diced red bell pepper, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, a sprinkle of parmesan, plus other mouthwatering seasonings, this turkey meatloaf recipe even features a rich tomato glaze to brush over top before baking!
A Leaner Meatloaf with an Italian Flair
Friends, I am all about classic comfort food, unadulterated and in its full-fat and full-calorie glory.
But I also really love the challenge of revamping a well-known favorite, giving it a fresh flavor profile and leaner, healthier ingredients.
Seeing as we're huge fans of beef meatloaf in our household, and consider it one of our favorite comfy-cozy meals to serve up with hot when we're craving some extra TLC, I was eager to play around with it to create a leaner, healthier version of it, and I love what I came up with...
With my turkey meatloaf recipe here, there’s no sacrificing when it comes to flavor and to that “comfort food” appeal we're always looking for when we're hungry for classic meatloaf.
As a matter of fact, I've added a few more bells and whistles into this version here to create a meatloaf with an Italian twist, loaded with savory flavor.
We're talking finely diced red bell pepper, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, grated parmesan, and herbs such as fresh parsley and basil.
I've even created a rich tomato glaze to replace the usual ketchup that meatloaf typically gets slathered in prior to baking, which actually makes for a scrumptious dipping sauce to serve on the side as well!
So if you love classic meatloaf like we do, but are looking to take things in a slightly leaner and healthier direction, this turkey meatloaf recipe, with a bit of an Italian flair, is definitely one for your recipe tin.
My Recipe for Turkey Meatloaf with Rich Tomato Glaze
When it comes to creating a tender and juicy turkey meatloaf, one that has all of the yumminess and flavor you love in a classic beef meatloaf, the more little add-ins and seasonings you sprinkle into that lean ground turkey, the better...
Because I've given this recipe an Italian twist, I sauté up some red bell pepper along with some onion and garlic for earthy depth, before adding that into the ground turkey.
I also love the sweet-savory flavor and the wonderful texture of julienned sun-dried tomatoes, so I add a small handful of those in for good measure, along with dried Italian herbs, some fresh parsley and basil, a touch of grated parmesan.
For my binder ingredients, those add-ins which help to bring the meatloaf together and keep that loaf-like shape, I use a little dash of breadcrumbs along with an egg, plus some low-fat milk for moisture.
And to create even more flavor for this turkey meatloaf, I prepare my own rich tomato glaze to spread over top of the meatloaf before it heads into the oven, and reserve a portion of it for dipping the meatloaf into.
Here's a glance at my turkey meatloaf recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get stared, I prepare my rich tomato glaze to have ready to brush onto my turkey meatloaf before it goes into the oven to bake.
- Next, I sauté the red bell pepper, the onions and the garlic in a hot skillet, and then spoon this mix onto a plate and allow it to slightly cool.
- Then, I add the ground turkey into a large bowl, add in the sautéed veggies, followed by the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Before baking, I turn the seasoned ground turkey out onto a large baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, then shape the mixture into a loaf shape, dollop over top a few tablespoons of my rich tomato glaze, and brush it evenly all over the meatloaf.
- I bake the turkey meatloaf for roughly 45 to 50 minutes (or longer if necessary), or until the internal temperature reaches 165° and juices run clear.
- To serve, I slice the turkey meatloaf and enjoy with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or on toasted bread, with some of the reserved, rich tomato glaze on the side.
by Ingrid Beer
This juicy turkey meatloaf has an Italian twist with red bell peppers, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, plus a rich tomato glaze!
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 511 calories per serving
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Turkey Meatloaf Ingredients:
- Olive oil
- 1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, plus extra, divided use
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus a pinch, divided use
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 ½ pounds ground turkey (darker meat, preferably)
- 1 ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, whisked
- ¼ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (if using “oil-packed”, then drain and dry of excess oil)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup low-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Rich Tomato Glaze Ingredients:
- 1 (15 ounce) can organic tomato sauce
- ¼ cup organic ketchup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch of two of salt
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your rich tomato glaze ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the glaze, add all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk to blend the ingredients well. Reserve about 4 generous tablespoons of the glaze to use for brushing over the raw meatloaf before baking it, and keep the rest separate to serve alongside the cooked meatloaf. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to brush over the meatloaf.
- Next, gather and prep all of your turkey meatloaf ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil that is lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
- Place a medium-large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced red bell pepper and the onion plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes, or until they are softened and lightly golden.
- Next, add in the pressed garlic cloves, and stir to combine; once the garlic becomes aromatic, turn off the heat. Then, slide the sauteed veggies onto a plate, and allow them to cool slightly for a moment.
- To prepare the meatloaf, place the ground turkey into a large bowl. Add to the meat the 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, the ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper, the breadcrumbs and the rest of the ingredients up to and including the Italian seasoning.
- Using your clean hands or a rubber spatula, gently mix the meat with the ingredients, incorporating everything as much as possible, without over mixing the meat too much. Then, form the meat into a mound and place it directly onto the parchment or foil-lined baking sheet.
- Begin shaping/pressing the turkey mixture into as rectangular a shape as possible, one that would resemble a meatloaf out of the pan. Dollop over top of the meatloaf the 4 reserved tablespoons of the rich tomato glaze, and using a brush or even your fingers, evenly spread the glaze over the entire outer part of the meatloaf, getting the sides, as well (you can give an extra twist of freshly cracked black pepper, as well, if you'd like).
- Bake the meatloaf for roughly 45 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°, and the juices run clear. Allow the meatloaf to rest for about 10 minutes lightly covered with foil, then slice and serve with your favorite side, plus a little of the rich tomato glaze on the side to dip it in, or drizzled over top.
Tips & Tidbits for my Turkey Meatloaf recipe:
- Fresh breadcrumbs, for the binder: I will typically make my own fresh breadcrumbs for a meatloaf recipe, and do so with this one. I use 1 or 2 slices of French bread or any good white bread, or even a small 2 ounce roll, and process the bread in my food processor. But fresh breadcrumbs aren't necessary—feel free to use pre-packaged, dried breadcrumbs for convenience.
- Bake turkey meatloaf to an internal temperature of 165°: While I offer a time frame for how long the meatloaf takes to bake, I advise that you don't rely solely on this. Use it as a ball park estimate, as everyone's oven works differently and, hence, the cook time will vary. I recommend you use a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meatloaf (the center), and bake until the internal temp reaches 165° for doneness. With a rest time of 10 minutes, the temp will continue to rise while the turkey meatloaf is out of the oven.
- Mouthwatering sides to serve with turkey meatloaf: We love these fluffy mashed potatoes, these roasted potatoes, or these oven fries as an accompaniment to our meatloaf. You can even serve it open-face style, on a thick slice of Texas toast. If going low-carb, then a nice, green, spicy salad is fantastic as well.
- How to prepare turkey meatloaf ahead: If you'd like to prep your turkey meatloaf a day or two ahead of when you'd like to serve it, it's easy: just mix up the ground turkey with all of the seasonings and ingredients, shape into a loaf on a baking sheet, and then wrap the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap and place it into the fridge. When ready to bake the meatloaf, allow it come to room temp for an hour or two before placing into the oven to bake.
Hungry for more comfy-cozy recipes? Check out this classic beef Meatloaf, this Roast Turkey Breast, this Parmesan Crusted Chicken, or these Chicken Meatballs!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!
Wow, Ingrid! This is a perfect meatloaf dinner for after the holidays. Looks, healthy and full of flavor! Loved your story too.
Just wanted to tell you that I've made this meatloaf 3x already and it has been amazing every time (and I've recommended it to others, who made it and said the same thing!). I make mine in a nonstick pan (I'm not good at free-form anything), and I leave foil over the top until the last 7-8 minutes. Perfection!
The Cozy Apron
Hi Adrienne! That's awesome - thank you so much for stopping by to share that with me. Glad you're enjoying this recipe, and I really appreciate that you've passed it along to others for them to try!