Did you grow up eating meatloaf as a kid?
I sure did. It was that easy recipe that my mom would pull out just about every week because it was easy to make, and the leftovers would last us a couple of days.
When you’re a single mom trying to make ends meet, you have to find a way to make dinners go the extra mile, so to speak.
I used to think that meatloaf could only be made one way, with one type of protein. Well, let me tell you that there are so many new ways to reinvent the classic recipe.
But when I say “forget everything you think you know about meatloaf,” I seriously mean it when it comes to this new recipe.
First of all, if you’ve ever made one with ground turkey, you know that there is one major challenge to overcome:
Turkey is a very low-fat protein that I love using as an alternative in recipes like meatballs, chili, and more. But there is always a risk of whatever you make being dry when you use it as the main ingredient.
This loaf is particularly genius because there is plenty of moisture in there to keep the meat moist. There’s balsamic vinegar, milk, and egg, so the meat stays nice and juicy.
Of course, this means you then run the risk of watching all that liquid seep out when you bake it in the oven…
That’s where the second genius part of this recipe comes in. Instead of being formed and baked on a sheet pan as many meatloaf recipes are, this one is baked in a loaf pan.
By keeping it contained in a loaf shape, you are helping the meat to retain all that moisture, so you get a nice and tender entree as a result.
The key to this is making sure that you let the it rest after baking. Like when you cook a cut of beef, if you slice it too soon, all the juices seep out.
This is very similar to what can happen with this recipe if you don’t leave it in the pan to rest after removing it from the oven.
By letting it rest, you give the turkey the opportunity to lock all those juices in so when you remove it and slice into it, you don’t have to worry about it oozing the moisture right out.
Now let’s talk about flavor, because this meatloaf brings a whole new level of flavor to the party. That’s thanks to the balsamic vinegar that infuses it with a tangy flavor that seriously impressed me.
Sorry, Grandma. After you try this, you just won’t look at that plain old recipe that she used to bust out the same way anymore.
I’m not aiming to ruin any childhood memories here, but sometimes those old dishes are due for a killer upgrade. That’s where recipes like our gluten-free meatloaf, or this turkey version, become go-to recipes for an alternative lifestyle.
Serving this to your family is going to be an absolute joy because they will eat it up like machines whose only job is shoveling it into their mouths.
It’s one of those comfort meals that you simply can’t deny the pleasure of enjoying – not to mention, it’s easy to make, inexpensive, and it will fill up the whole family with an extra bang of tasty flavor.Print
Forget everything you thought you knew about the classic meaty comfort food, because this balsamic turkey meatloaf recipe will blow you away.
For the Meatloaf:
- Cooking oil spray
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cups dry breadcrumbs
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
For the Glaze:
- 1 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, onion, egg, and milk until combined. Stir in balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
- Press into the prepared pan. Stir together the ketchup and brown sugar until combined; pour evenly over the top of the loaf.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the inner temperature reaches 170˚F and juices run clear when pricked with a knife.
- Let rest for 15 minutes in the pan before removing to slice and serve.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Meatloaf
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Comfort Food
Keywords: meatloaf, ground turkey, balsamic, comfort food
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep Produce, Beat Egg, And Measure Remaining Ingredients
Peel and chop one medium onion. Tired of those tears? We’ve got some tips for you to try.
Remove the rosemary stems and chop the leaves until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons total.
In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork or a small whisk.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients. You can use pre-made breadcrumbs, but I added three pieces of bread to a food processor, and pulsed until crumbs formed.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper to form a sling, with paper hanging over the sides. This makes for easy removal. Lightly grease with cooking spray.
Is this your first time baking meatloaf in a loaf pan? You’ll love it because it retains all the moisture from the egg and other liquids. Since turkey has a low fat content, you can avoid potential dryness by baking it in the pan.
Step 2 – Make Meat Mixture
Add the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, onion, beaten egg, and milk to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Sometimes this is easier to do with your hands, even though it’s messy.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary until combined.
Step 3 – Make Sauce
In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup and brown sugar until combined. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to make this meal truly from scratch, try our recipe for homemade ketchup!
Step 4 – Bake
Press the turkey mixture into the prepared pan. Pour the sauce over the top.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The inner temperature should reach 170˚F when done, as indicated by an instant read thermometer, and the juices will run clear when pricked with a knife.
Maintaining Moisture and the Art of the Parchment Sling
One of the best tips I can give you for this recipe beyond trying out my loaf pan technique and ditching the baking sheet is to make a parchment sling to line the pan. It really does make removal ever-so-easy.
Yes, it might feel like an extra step, and who has time for that? But getting a meatloaf out of a loaf pan intact isn’t always the easiest when you don’t have the added assistance of the parchment paper.
Trust me when I say, you won’t want to skip this step.
Looking for even more inspiration for baked dinners that are oh-so-simple? Here are some of our favorites:
- One-Pan Roasted Spiced Chicken with Vegetables
- Mini Mushroom Lasagna Cups
- Crunchy Buffalo Baked Chicken Cutlets
- Hasselback Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Pears
- Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie
Tell us in the comments below and once you try the dish, be sure to come back to rate it.
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on February 22, 2010. Last updated: October 6, 2021 at 11:10 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.