Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf is packed with holiday flavor! Extra moist turkey dinner with stuffing, sage and cranberries, ready in an hour!
Turkey Meatloaf gets a tasty, easy upgrade so that you can have all the Thanksgiving flavors you love all year round. No need to make a whole feast whenever you are craving holiday flavors, just make this easy weeknight dinner instead!
This Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf is a great way to use holiday leftovers like Homemade Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce. All it takes is some ground turkey, plus the leftovers, and a handful of pantry items you are sure to have on hand from cooking your turkey dinner. Packed with veggies and delicious stuffing, this meatloaf is a complete turkey dinner on its own, or you can serve it with your favorite fall sides.
Whether they’re leftovers or made fresh for a weeknight dinner, the best side dishes to serve with Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf are classics like Mashed Potatoes, Baked Mac and Cheese, and Sautéed Green Beans. Of course you’ll want to round out your easy weeknight holiday feast with a side of Dinner Rolls.
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to 3 months. You can freeze it fully cooked or raw, without the cranberry sauce mixture. Freeze in a baking dish wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and foil. When you are ready to use, thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating or baking.
Instead of a full main course, you can use this Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf recipe to make a delicious holiday appetizer or little lunch sized meatloaves. At the bottom of this post there are variations for Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs and Mini Thanksgiving Meatloaves. Both are great for snacking, lunch boxes, or a festive party appetizer.
How to Make Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
- Prep Meatloaf Ingredients: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine stuffing cubes and milk. Let stand for 10 minutes for the milk to rehydrate the bread cubes. Then break up stuffing cubes with a fork and stir in egg, celery, onion, carrot, cranberries, salt and pepper. Mix together the sage and rosemary and sprinkle half onto the mixture, stirring in gently.
- Form and Cook Meatloaf: Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well. Pat meat mixture into an ungreased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and drain if necessary.
- Glaze: Combine cranberry sauce, ketchup, pepper sauce and remaining herbs. Spread over meat loaf. Return meatloaf to oven and bake 20-25 minutes more, or until no pink remains and a thermometer reads 165 degrees.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Use a whole berry cranberry sauce, not a jellied style cranberry sauce, to make the glaze for your meatloaf. The whole berries will add a tart bite and be less sweet, since you are also mixing it with ketchup.
Most ground turkey is available with 93/7 meat to fat ratio, which is perfect for this meatloaf recipe. If you use the extra lean variety, it will likely taste dry. You want a little extra fat to render off of the meat because it will be absorbed by the stuffing and make your turkey meatloaf extra flavorful.
Any seasoned, dry bread cube stuffing will work. Some brands have different flavors like turkey, chicken, or herbs seasonings. Use your favorite variety or whatever you have on hand. It is also a great way to use up any leftover stuffing mix from Thanksgiving, since you only need 1 cup.
The best way to tell if your turkey meatloaf is ready is to use a meat thermometer. Because this meatloaf is made with poultry, you want to make sure it bakes to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
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Key Ingredients in Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
Turkey: Look for a good quality, fresh 93/7 ground turkey. You want to avoid the extra lean or extra fatty for the best texture and flavor.
Stuffing: Any style of your favorite dry breadcrumb stuffing works great for this recipe. If you don’t have stuffing mix on hand, you can make your own. Just cut bread into cubes and toast in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until they are dry and toasted, but not hard or crunchy. Then toss with ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning.
Seasonings: Sage and rosemary are classic poultry herbs that find their way into many Thanksgiving recipes. They lend a fresh
Veggies: Celery, onion and carrots are classic aromatic vegetables that complement turkey perfectly. They will make your meatloaf taste like a turkey that has been roasting all day in the oven. Dried cranberries add the perfect sweet bite along with the savory veggies.
Cranberry Glaze: Use whole berry cranberry sauce mixed with the ketchup, hot sauce, and herbs to make a sweet and savory cranberry glaze. This glaze is the perfect topping for your Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf.
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs
Prepare the meatloaf mixture as usual, roll into ping pong sized balls, and place in a baking pan. Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Brush with cranberry sauce mixture and bake an additional 5 minutes, until cooked through.
Mini Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease with cooking spray. Make meatloaf mixture according to recipe and divide meat into muffin cups evenly, pressing down gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, remove and drain if needed. Top each meatloaf muffin with cranberry sauce mixture, return to oven, and bake 5-6 minutes more, until cooked through.
Variations on Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
- Meat: Ground beef or ground chicken will work in this meatloaf on a one-to-one ratio. If you use ground pork or veal, mix it half and half with either beef or turkey.
- Cranberry Sauce: This recipe uses a canned cranberry sauce, but try this easy homemade Cranberry Sauce instead. It’s great for making in large batches and storing for recipes just like this Thanksgiving Meatloaf!
- Ketchup: You can swap 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with ⅓ cup tomato sauce to replace the ketchup. You could also use ½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.
- Stuffing: Use ½ cup plain bread crumbs instead of stuffing cubes. If you use homemade stuffing, skip the milk step since they are soft enough. For lower carb meatloaf, try swapping in ½ cup crushed pork rinds.
- Seasonings: All the best savory holiday herbs taste great with this meatloaf. Try fresh or dried herbs like thyme, parsley, and marjoram, or use a tablespoon of poultry seasoning.
- Veggies: This recipe uses a classic combination of celery, onions, or carrots. You can also use finely chopped mushrooms, well-drained frozen spinach, peas or corn to add variety and crunch to your meatloaf.
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How to Store Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
- Serve: Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf can be at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be covered and stored.
- Store: Cover your meatloaf tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: Cool meatloaf completely and transfer to an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- 1 cup seasoned stuffing cubes
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg , beaten
- 1 celery rib , finely chopped
- 1 small onion , grated
- 1 small carrot , grated
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried sage , divided
- 1 teaspoons dried rosemary , divided
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 1/2 cup cranberry sauce , whole berry
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine stuffing cubes and milk. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Break up stuffing cubes with a fork. Stir in egg, celery, onion, carrot, cranberries, salt and pepper.
- Combine sage and rosemary; add half to the mixture.
- Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well. Pat meat mixture into an ungreased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes. Remove from oven and drain if necessary.
- Combine cranberry sauce, ketchup, pepper sauce and remaining herbs. Spread over meat loaf.
- Return meatloaf to oven and bake 20-25 minutes more, or until no pink remains and a thermometer reads 165 degrees.