Imagine the delicious smells and flavours of Thanksgiving dinner all combined in one easy and scrumptious ground turkey meatloaf recipe. With flavourful ingredients (like ground turkey, stuffing mix, veggies, cranberries and pecans), this Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf is a great way to try something new for that next special occasion meal.
Growing up, a big turkey feast typically happened three times a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day (at my parents’ home) and New Year’s Day (at my grandparents’ home).
Each and every one of those times, I was always so amped, anticipating the heavenly smells that were going to be wafting through the air and the fantastic food that was about to fill my plate (roast turkey, mashed turnip and potatoes, cranberry sauce, pease pudding, dressing and so forth). And leftovers? Amazing!
Even these days, when we visit my mom and dad for Christmas day dinner, taking leftovers is a must (and, really, why would I not want to take more to enjoy the next day?!).
Roast turkey is not something hubby and I often make. I’m pretty sure that my mother makes the best turkey dinner (hands down), so I’m gonna leave that to her.
So, whenever we do have a hankering for roast turkey dinner, that’s when I make this ground turkey meatloaf recipe. I lovingly call it “Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf” because the smell reminds me of a whole roasted turkey as it bakes. And the taste? So incredibly yummy!
Fan of meatloaf recipes? Check out this ground chicken meatloaf!
How To Make Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
Here is an overview of how to make this Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf (full details are in the recipe card below):
Prepare the meatloaf ingredients
- To make the meatloaf sauce, whisk together cranberry sauce, ketchup and mustard in a bowl, then set aside.
- Prepare store-bought stuffing mix according to the package instructions and allow it to cool slightly.
- In another bowl, combine ground turkey, the prepared stuffing mix, eggs, carrots, onion, celery, cranberries, pecans, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, sage, rosemary and thyme.
- Mix until everything is well combined.
Assemble, bake and cool the meatloaf
- Transfer the ground turkey mixture to a prepared loaf pan.
- Bake the meatloaf.
- Partway through baking, carefully remove the meatloaf from the oven and brush with the reserved cranberry sauce mixture. Place the meatloaf back into the oven and continue to bake until it’s fully cooked through.
- Once cooked, carefully remove the meatloaf from the oven. Allow the meatloaf to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool for another 10 minutes before slicing.
What To Serve With It
If you’re anything like me, the sides served with turkey dinner are just as important as the main star (I just love them). And because the turkey meatloaf has a Thanksgiving vibe, I like to stick with the classics. Some of my favourites to serve with this Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf are:
- Mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes or scalloped potatoes
- Mashed turnip
- Steamed veggies, like broccoli, green beans or cauliflower
- Roasted veggies
- Cranberry sauce (I know there is cranberry sauce in the meatloaf topping, but I just love the stuff)
- Dinner rolls smeared with butter
- And, as is tradition in Newfoundland, no dinner is complete without pickled beets and mustard pickles
Tip: As important as the food is at Thanksgiving dinner, what’s more important (if you ask me), is who you share the meal with. Not everything has to be homemade.
If you want to save some time, consider using a decent brand of instant mashed potatoes or canned gravy and corn, for instance. Alternatively, you can pick up some premade sides at your favourite grocery store. Use what works for you!
Leftovers and Storing
This Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf yields about 8 slices (depending on how thick you slice it). It feeds a crowd and can easily be finished in one sitting if you have family or friends over.
Having said that, if you do have leftovers, that’s pretty awesome too (who doesn’t love leftovers?). Properly store leftover turkey meatloaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 days. Reheat before serving.
Leftover meatloaf is really yummy sliced up on a sandwich, in sliders, crumbled up to use in tacos, quesadillas, nachos or loaded fries, or simply enjoyed as is with your favourite sides.
Tips for Making This Recipe
- I love to use a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan for this meatloaf recipe. However, if you don’t have a loaf plan, line a sheet pan with some parchment paper and shape the meatloaf mixture into a loaf, similar in size to the loaf pan. Then it’s just a matter of cooking your meatloaf as per normal.
- I like to use a turkey store-bought stuffing mix to keep with the turkey theme. If you have another flavour you like (or even homemade), you can use that instead.
- Pecans add a touch of flavour and texture in this meatloaf. You can use walnuts instead if that’s what you have on hand or prefer.
- The sauce for the meatloaf topping is nice and generous (meaning there is lots). If you want to half the amount, go for it! Just use ¼ cup of whole-berry cranberry sauce, 2 tablespoons of ketchup and ½ tablespoon of yellow mustard. Not sure? Make half the original amount, spread over the meatloaf, then decide if you want to spread over some more.
- Crispy sage leaves make a pretty and festive garnish to this meatloaf. If you happen to have a lot of sage growing in your herb garden (like me), then this is a great way to use some of it. Totally optional, of course!
- After the meatloaf is cooked, it may be tempting to slice and serve right away. I completely understand. Been there, my friends. However, it’s important to let the meatloaf cool for a tad. It’ll slice up way better that way!
More Yummy Ground Turkey Recipes
If you make this Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf recipe, be sure to leave a comment below!
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
- Cooking spray, to grease loaf pan
- 1 (12-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce, divided (about a 348 millilitre can)
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, or Djion mustard
- 1 (4-ounce) box turkey stuffing mix, about a 120-gram box (equates to about 3 cups of stuffing once prepared)
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup shredded carrot, about 2 small carrots (don't pack the carrots into the measuring cup, let it naturally settle)
- ¾ cup minced yellow onion, about 1 smallish yellow onion
- ¾ cup minced celery, about 2 small ribs of celery
- ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Crispy sage leaves, garnish to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper (the parchment paper should cover the bottom and two longest sides of the loaf pan, with some parchment paper slightly overhanging the longest sides — this makes for easy removal of the meatloaf after it's baked). Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray, then set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup of cranberry sauce, ketchup and mustard and set aside.
- Prepare the stuffing mix according to package instructions and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey with the prepared and cooled stuffing mix, eggs, carrots, onion, celery, cranberries, pecans, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, sage, rosemary and thyme and mix until combined and everything is nicely incorporated.
- Transfer the ground turkey mixture to the prepared loaf pan and spread out into an even layer, gently packing it into the pan. Once in the pan, I simply tap the pan onto the counter about 5 or 10 times to allow it to naturally settle. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Carefully remove the meatloaf from the oven and brush with the reserved cranberry sauce mixture. Place the meatloaf back into the oven and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until it's fully cooked through (the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the centre of the meatloaf when checked with an instant-read meat thermometer).
- Once cooked, carefully remove the meatloaf from the oven. Allow the meatloaf to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove the meatloaf from the pan and allow it to cool for about another 10 minutes (this makes slicing the meatloaf so much easier). Slice and serve with the remaining cranberry sauce and garnish with crispy sage leaves if desired. Enjoy!
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
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Tried this recipe?
If you do make this recipe, thank you!! It would mean so much if you could leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed it, and it helps other readers too!
David @ Spiced
We often use turkey or a turkey-beef combo when making meatloaf. However, we’ve never tried it with the traditional Thanksgiving flavors you’ve added here. I love it! What a fun way to mix up meatloaf. Definitely going to be giving this a try at some point this season!
I’ve made “turkey ‘meat’ loaf” several times and my husband & I LOVE it!
The only real difference is that I’ve used turkey gravy for the top and served cranberry sauce on the side.
Now I need to try this one since it sounds DELICIOUS!!
Dawn | Girl Heart Food
Thank you very much, Gladys!! Hope you love the recipe!!