Turkey Meat Loaf Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour + standing
This turkey meat loaf recipe isn’t just for dieters! It may be a healthy spin on a comfort food classic, but it’s as flavorful and juicy as the versions made with ground beef.

Updated: Feb. 28, 2024

There are so many ways to make meat loaf, and not all of them include ground beef. Ground turkey meat loaf is a healthy spin on a comfort food classic. Although the meat is lean, it still tastes fantastic. Surprisingly enough, ground turkey stays very moist as it cooks—especially when you add chopped onions and grated carrots to the mix. Add in a unique topping made with quick-cooking oats and ketchup, and this turkey meat loaf recipe will soon become a staple at your dinner table.

This turkey meat loaf recipe is lower in calories, fat, sodium and carbohydrates than a traditional meat loaf. That also means it’s not quite as rich as meat loaf made with ground beef or pork. But that doesn’t mean it’s bland! We love how this ground turkey meat loaf tastes, and you can make it your own with a few ingredient substitutions. Utilize our variation tips to tweak this recipe to fit your preferences.

Turkey Meat Loaf Ingredients

Ingredients for Turkey Meat Loaf on wooden surfaceTMB Studio

  • Ground turkey: Just like ground beef, you can purchase ground turkey with various ratios of lean meat to fat. The leanest is 99%, but we generally prefer 93% for a juicier meat loaf. If calories aren’t a concern, use dark ground turkey (like Emily Blunt does in her turkey Bolognese).
  • Quick-cooking oats: The oats work as a binding ingredient, absorbing moisture from the liquid ingredients. That helps the meat loaf retain its shape as it cooks. Choose gluten-free oats to make this a gluten-free turkey meat loaf recipe.
  • Fat-free milk: Milk and eggs combine with the oats to bind the meat loaf ingredients together. They’re the key to making a ground turkey meat loaf that won’t fall apart as you slice it. For a dairy-free alternative, use chicken, beef or vegetable broth.
  • Egg substitute: Egg substitute is a good option for those looking to reduce calories, fat and cholesterol. If you don’t have the product on hand, you can substitute one whole egg for 1/4 cup egg substitute. You could also make a homemade egg substitute.
  • Ketchup: We use ketchup in two ways. It’s first mixed with the ground turkey to add sweet character to the loaf. Then, we combine it with quick-cooking oats to make a sweet-and-savory glaze with a stellar texture.
  • Onion: Onions can be pungent, so the type of onion you choose matters. Sweet onions are a good choice because they’re pleasant and mild. You can reduce the amount of onions if you like, but don’t omit it entirely. It’s one of the keys to ensuring this ground turkey meat loaf recipe turns out juicy. Onions contain over 80% water, releasing moisture as the meat loaf cooks.
  • Carrot: Shredded carrot adds sweetness to ground turkey meat loaf. It also contributes moisture to keep the meat loaf from turning out dry.

Directions

Step 1: Mix the meat loaf and topping

Mixing chopped vegetables and spices in a large bowlTMB Studio

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the quick-cooking oats, chopped onion, shredded carrot, fat-free milk, egg substitute, ketchup, garlic powder and pepper.

Mixing ground meat in large with other ingredientsTMB Studio

Add the ground turkey. Mix lightly, but thoroughly.

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and quick-cooking oats to make the topping.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t overmix the meat loaf, or it will become dense. A dense meat loaf is more likely to fall apart when you slice it.

Step 2: Form the meat loaf

Spreading meat mixture in baking pan with spatulaTMB Studio

Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Transfer the meat loaf mixture to the pan.

Spreading the topping on the meat mixture ion baking trayTMB Studio

Spread the topping over the loaf.

Step 3: Bake the meat loaf

Bake the meat loaf until a thermometer reads 165°, 60 to 65 minutes. Let the meat loaf stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Variations

Turkey Meat Loaf served with peas and mashed potatoTMB Studio

  • Add fresh herbs: We love cooking with fresh herbs because they add a ton of flavor without extra sodium, fat or calories. Chopped fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, basil or parsley are all good options.
  • Use Worcestershire: Worcestershire sauce is a fermented condiment that packs a ton of umami vibes. Adding a small splash of this tangy sauce to the meat loaf mixture is a great way to amp up the flavor.
  • Include cheese: Mix grated Parmesan, pecorino romano or crumbled feta cheese into the meat loaf mixture to add extra salt to the loaf. Or add a melting cheese like cheddar or mozzarella to turn this into a stuffed meat loaf.
  • Use bread crumbs or crackers: Instead of using oats, try swapping in seasoned bread crumbs, crushed saltines, or other flavored crushed crackers, such as butter- or cheese-flavored crackers.
  • Upgrade the meat loaf sauce: Add spicy, tangy or savory ingredients to the ketchup topping, such as Dijon mustard, soy sauce, cider vinegar, horseradish, hot sauce or miso paste.

How to Store Meat Loaf

Leftover turkey meat loaf is good in the refrigerator for three to four days. After baking, let the meat loaf cool. To store the meat loaf whole, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. To reheat it, unwrap the loaf, and transfer it to an oven-safe dish. Reheat in a 350° oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°, about 30 minutes.

To store individual portions, slice the meat loaf. Store the slices in a container with a tightly fitted lid. Reheat the slices in the microwave until heated through.

Can you make turkey meat loaf ahead of time?

This turkey meat loaf recipe is easy to make in advance. You can make the meat loaf mixture a day ahead. Store it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. Then, when you are ready to bake, transfer it to the loaf pan.

You can also freeze uncooked ground turkey meat loaf for a later date. Tightly wrap uncooked meat loaf, and store it in a freezer-safe bag for up to six months. Thaw the meat loaf in the refrigerator overnight. Then, transfer it to a baking dish, and cook it according to the directions.

Can you freeze turkey meat loaf?

Yes, turkey meat loaf freezes exceptionally well, and it makes a great freezer meal. Cooked meat loaf can be frozen for up to three months. To freeze it as a whole loaf, wrap the cooled meat loaf in foil. Store it in a freezer-safe bag. For slices, wrap each piece individually, and store them in a freezer-safe bag. Thaw meat loaf in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Turkey Meat Loaf Tips

Turkey Meat Loaf served on blue plate with mashed potato on the sideTMB Studio

What do you serve with turkey meat loaf?

There are so many great meat loaf sides to choose from! Keep things healthy and serve ground turkey meat loaf with mashed cauliflower and an easy Caesar salad. Or go decadent and serve it with loaded mashed potatoes and creamed peas.

Why is ground turkey meat loaf mushy?

Ground turkey meat loaf can turn out mushy if it contains too much liquid. The liquid ingredients keep the meat loaf moist, but overdoing it can make the texture way too soft. If you made any liquid additions, compensate by adding extra oats or bread crumbs.

Why does turkey meat loaf fall apart?

Turkey meat loaf can fall apart for several reasons. Overhandling the meat can create a dry, crumbly texture. The meat loaf may become crumbly if it does not have enough binding agents (the combination of eggs, milk and bread crumbs or oats). If you follow this turkey meat loaf recipe, it should not fall apart, especially if you let it rest before slicing it. Resting allows the juices to redistribute within the loaf, helping it stay together.

How can you use leftover turkey meat loaf?

We love using leftover turkey meat loaf to make sandwiches. You can reheat meat loaf slices in the microwave, or gently fry them in a skillet to give them a crisp edge. Pair leftover meat loaf with your favorite bread, and add burger toppings to make the sandwich complete! We also love thin-sliced meat loaf for meat loaf gyros, and it’s an excellent pizza topping.

Watch how to Make Turkey Meat Loaf

Turkey Meat Loaf

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 8 ingredients. Add turkey; mix lightly but thoroughly.
  2. Transfer to a 9x5-in. loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Mix topping ingredients; spread over loaf. Bake until a thermometer reads 165°, 60-65 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Facts

1 slice: 195 calories, 8g fat (2g saturated fat), 63mg cholesterol, 188mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 1g fiber), 20g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch.

I first made this recipe when my husband and I had to start watching our diet. Since then, I've been asked to make my turkey meat loaf many times. —Ruby Rath, New Haven, Indiana
Recipe Creator