Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf is packed with holiday flavor! Extra moist turkey dinner with stuffing, sage and cranberries, ready in an hour!

Classic Beef Meatloaf is one of the ultimate comfort foods. This main dish combines the classic comfort of meatloaf with the special holiday flavors of Thanksgiving in one easy Dinner Recipe.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf slices in bowl with mashed potatoes and root vegetables

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 ingredients in mixing bowl preparation collage

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.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf uncooked in pan

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.
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf cranberry sauce topping ingredients in glass bowl and glazed on meatloaf in pan collage

Easy Side Dish Recipes

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of cranberry sauce should I use for Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf?

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.

What type of ground turkey makes the best meatloaf?

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.

What kind of stuffing mix should I use for Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf?

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.

How do I know when Turkey Meatloaf is done?

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.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf baked and slices cut top view

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 Meatloaf ingredients in separate bowls

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.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf slice sideview

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. 
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf baked in pan

More Delicious Meatloaf Recipes

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.
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf slices in bowl with mashed potatoes and root vegetables

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Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf is packed with holiday flavor! Extra moist turkey dinner with stuffing, sage and cranberries, ready in an hour!
Yield 8
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 472mg | Potassium: 395mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1516IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf slices in bowl with mashed potatoes and root vegetables and preparation collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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