An American Supper: Turkey Meatloaf

“Meatloaf, double-beet loaf, I hate meatloaf!” My mom hates Randy. (“I hate Randy!” she’s saying now. Right mom?).

What does this have to do with anything? I made meatloaf Sunday. My friend Annie just returned after two years in Mozambique with the Peace Corps, where she did a lot of great work and wrote an awesome blog in the process. She has some incredible stories, some of which will make you laugh your behind off and others that make you want to curl up and cry. Bottom line is this lady is amazing and I’m fortunate to have her in my life…and I couldn’t be more proud of her!

So I invited her and our mutual friend Julia over for dinner with my roommates and myself this past Sunday and decided to make something comforting and quintessentially American–meatloaf. Living in the Bay Area, we have so many different kinds of foods (Annie introduced me to Indian food and sushi, in fact), but sometimes it’s nice to go back to those down-home classics. And turns out, Annie had never had meatloaf before (at least, not that she remembered). As I was making it, she discovered that Everything Emily Eats does not always exactly measure things. It’s not my fault she didn’t see that in my inaugural post! 🙂 These measurements, although somewhat approximated, are actually pretty accurate. Of course you should always season and adjust to taste as you like it.

This meatloaf was a hit, and is sure to make it in the regular rotation now that I’ve got it good and documented. Don’t be afraid that the low-fat turkey will dry out–mushrooms, onions, and carrots come in to save the day, infusing the loaf with so much flavor and moisture you won’t believe it’s turkey! The key to the sauce is the caramelized tomato paste and balsamic vinegar–they add a lot of depth and flavor as well. The caramelized tomato paste was inspired by a Bon Apétit piece I read a while back. Do it, it’s worth it.

Now let’s get cookin’….

Turkey Meatloaf


  • Meatloaf

    • 1-1.5 lbs ground turkey (get the highest fat content possible, don’t get the 99% lean)
    • 1.5 c finely chopped carrots (I chopped baby carrots in the food processor, it was a few large handfuls of carrots)
    • 2 c finely chopped white/yellow onion
    • 1 lb finely chopped mushrooms (I used crimini, but white would be fine)
    • 2 tbsp garlic powder
    • 4 tbsp dried herbs (any mix of oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, herbes de provence, italian seasoning as desired)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1c bread crumbs (Italian seasoned if you have them, plain is fine too)
    • Salt & pepper
    • Optional: Worcestershire sauce (a couple of dashes), a squeeze of tomato paste
  • Sauce

    • 1 can tomato paste
    • 1 c tomato sauce (~1/2 can)
    • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
    • Salt & pepper
    • Olive oil

What to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F
  • Prepare the sauce:

    • Add some olive oil to a medium pan (a few tbsp) and warm over medium heat
    • Add your can of tomato paste and stir.
Point A: super bright color, raw tomato flavor

Point A: super bright color, raw tomato flavor

    • Allow the paste to caramelize, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes. It should be a deeper red color and should no longer smell like raw tomato. You can caramelize it as much as you’d like, just don’t let it burn! Take the time to do this–the flavor is worth it, I promise.
Point B: darker color, more rich flavor

Point B: darker color, more rich flavor

    • Stir in your tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 7-10 minutes (stirring occasionally) and then turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If the sauce is thinner than you want, let it simmer a little longer to thicken up. Set aside as you prep your meatloaf!
"red sea" of sauce!

“red sea” of sauce!

  • Drizzle a few tbsp of olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add your veggies as well as a healthy pinch of salt and pepper and saute for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This allows them to cook down and not be so raw and crunchy.
As you can see, it's not pretty. But it's a ton of flavor. I promise.

As you can see, it’s not pretty. But it’s a ton of flavor. I promise.

  • Remove from heat and allow to cool down for a bit.
  • Place your meat in a large bowl. Scramble your eggs in a bowl and add to your meat, along with your breadcrumbs, a large pinch each of salt and pepper, your dried herbs, and your garlic powder. If you’ve got some tomato paste or Worcestershire sauce, add those in here too.
all the things before the veggies!

all the things before the veggies!

  • Give this a quick stir to combine, but don’t worry about it being perfectly combined because you still need to add your veggies too.
  • If your veggies are still pretty hot, temper the meat by adding about a cup and mixing it in. Proceed to add the rest of the veggies (including any juices in the pan) and then get down and dirty by mixing everything together with your well-washed hands. If the mixture is still very runny/loose, add a little more breadcrumbs so it sticks together a bit better.
Again, not too pretty, but bear with me.

Again, not too pretty, but bear with me.

  • Grease two loaf pans and divide your mixture evenly between the two.
  • Top with your sauce and place in the oven.
Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

  • Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 165°F. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
    • Note: a lot of liquid might seep up to the top of the loaf. Don’t worry, it won’t fall apart! Just be careful as you serve it out.


I served it up with parsnip-potato mash, which was a perfect companion for this all-American dinner. We also had some salad. Let me just say that this meatloaf for some awesome leftovers the next day (and the next!).

Enjoy! 🙂



One thought on “An American Supper: Turkey Meatloaf

  1. Oh my god I HATE Randy but I love this meatloaf , and will even try it with turkey because I think the caramelized tomato paste is the perfect antidote to boring weird colored ground turkey. Love you! Mae.

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