Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

Story by Holly
Turkey quinoa meatloaf cut into slices on a plater
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Tender and bursting with flavor, this turkey quinoa meatloaf is a satisfying dinner that is sure to please even the pickiest palates. 

Quinoa Meatloaf, an Updated Spin on Classic Meatloaf! 

This is the best meatloaf recipe that results in a healthier dish, without skimping on flavor. Mention the word “meatloaf” and chances are you’re likely to conjur strong feelings of one kind or another. Perhaps you are brought back to your childhood dining room and flooded with nostalgia. Or, maybe you cringe just a bit at its mention and are transported to your elementary school cafeteria. Meatloaf can be quite the polarizing dish, and I’ve found that, depending upon one’s individual experiences, you either love it or hate it.

Whatever meatloaf camp you may find yourself in, I am here to tell you that this turkey quinoa meatloaf is going to be one of the best (and best for you) that you’ve ever tasted and will either keep you or transport you to team meatloaf once and for all.

Ingredients laid out for Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf, onion, bell peppers, 2 eggs, spices, tomato paste, carrots brown sugar

How Do You Make Meatloaf with Turkey?

You may be wondering if ground turkey meat makes a good meatloaf. The answer to that question is an astounding “yes!” True, it isn’t as flavor-forward (read: fatty) as pork or beef, but this recipe has that perfect combo of ingredients that result in a loaf that is moist, flavorful, and gives all other meatloafs a serious run for their money. Packed with protein, low in fat, and made with easy ingredients you are likely to already have on hand, this is one one seriously tasty turkey meatloaf. 

I discovered this Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf many years ago when I was helping a friend clean up her diet. I’ve been tweaking the recipe little by little ever since and I believe it has finally been perfected. The basic ingredients you’ll need to make this simple meatloaf recipe for dinner tonight are: 

  • Turkey and Quinoa - Both of these main meatloaf ingredients are packed with protein and complement each other perfectly. The quinoa acts as a mild binding agent, which results in a dense enough loaf ideal for slicing. 
  • Onion, Garlic, Veggies - As I played with this recipe for meatloaf over the years, I discovered that by adding veggies into the meat before it cooks not only does it up the nutritional content of the dish, but the flavor as well. What’s more, your kids won’t even know those veggies are hiding inside. 
  • Lots of Seasoning- It’s amazing how a well seasoned dish can really set itself apart from its bland counterparts. We added onion and garlic powder to this dish, along with cayenne for a kick, and worcestershire for a touch of umami. 

How do You Cook Meatloaf in the Oven? 

The thing I love about this turkey quinoa meatloaf in oven, is how weeknight friendly it is. Half the battle in making this meal is just ensuring your ground turkey is thawed out when it’s time to throw all the ingredients together. In fact, this dish is so simple to construct, you’re likely to assemble your mis en place before your oven reaches 350°F. Did I also mention this a meatloaf without breadcrumbs, making it GLUTEN FREE! Gotta love that right?  

This recipe calls for two pounds of ground turkey (because one just didn’t seem like enough for leftovers) which results in a cooking time that takes about an hour. And while I’m usually all for those 30 minute meals, the simple prep this 2 lb meatloaf requires and tender, savory meal that result are well worth it! 

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf on a black plate

Tips for Making This Easy Meatloaf Recipe: 

  1. Rinse your quinoa before boiling it. This process reduces the bitterness that can sometimes occur in cooked quinoa. 
  2. Keep your cut onions on the small side. It’s true that the onions will shrink up significantly once they get cooked down, but the smaller the pieces, the better the loaf will stay together. The fact that small onion pieces are also well camouflaged from picky eaters is just an added bonus. 
  3. Two words...meal prep! Many of the ingredients used in this better than good meatloaf recipe can be prepped ahead of time (quinoa, carrots, onion, garlic, etc., all of which will make throwing this turkey meatloaf into the oven come dinner time a breeze.  
  4. Form your homemade meatloaf on a rimmed baking sheet covered in foil or parchment paper. Because it produces a lot of liquid (see photo above), if you bake the meatloaf in a loaf pan you will have to skim the fat off the surface of the loaf and the brown sugar topping won’t be as successful. Trust us on this one and use the parchment. (The speedy cleanup that results is another big time bonus). 
  5. Last but not least, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. This step will help ensure that you are not overcooking your dinner and results in a very moist meatloaf. Maybe even the best meatloaf you've ever had! 

Three Variations of This Meatloaf Recipe We’d Love to Try: 

The thing I love about this turkey quinoa meatloaf is how truly versatile it is. I usually follow the recipe as I’ve shared it here, but I’ve got plans to try a few things out. 

  • Turkey meatloaf muffins? How cute would it be to serve this recipe in individual portions? I’m doing it! 
  • Make it Keto! Our friend Daisy makes a keto version of this meatloaf recipe by leaving out the sugar and replacing the quinoa with pork rinds that have been pulsed in the food processor. Can you say genius? 
  • Wrapped in bacon. You heard me right. Who doesn’t love a good meatloaf wrapped in bacon?  (Maybe you’ve never had one, but use your imagination on this one- it’s good!)

What to Serve With Meatloaf?

Our Roasted Cauliflower with Toasted Panko and Golden Raisins or Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower would help make this meatloaf a more complete meal and also add one more veggie to the mix. You could also add these Herby Rhodes Rolls as a buttery, carby, and completely indulgent addition to this healthy dish, because it’s all about balance, right?

A slice of homemade meatloaf on a plate

Did You Love it?

If you make this turkey quinoa meatloaf we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper on Instagram to share where you found the recipe. Happy cooking! 

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

Ingredients

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
2/3 cup water or chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs ground turkey
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
`1 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Method

  1. Bring the quinoa and water or chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat an oven to 350° F.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrot and bell pepper, sauté until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, cooked veggies, tomato paste, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, eggs, salt, and pepper until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a parchment or foil lined rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Combine the brown sugar and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160° F. Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.