Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

Before I came back from Paris, my parents asked me what I would like for my welcome home dinner. They said ANYTHING was an option. Steak? Lobster? Crab legs? Going out to a super-fancy restaurant? They would try to arrange anything I wanted.

My choice? Meatloaf. I wanted my parents’ meatloaf.

They were a bit shocked and laughed, but I associated meatloaf with the comfort of home. And I know everyone (who likes meatloaf) tends to think that their family’s recipe is The BestTM, but I really loved my parents’ meatloaf. (My dad also made The BestTM grilled cheese sandwiches and my mom made The BestTM spaghetti sauce.)

So when I say that I have tried to make meatloaf since my parents died and have never been able to succeed in making some that I liked SO MUCH that I wanted to eat the entire thing until now…that’s saying something! Believe me, if I wasn’t on a diet, I’d probably have lost all self control over this one. I liked it THAT MUCH, and since I made it into mini-loaves, the portioning is already done to make leftovers really easy to fix.

Turkey Quinoa MeatloafTurkey Quinoa Meatloaf


1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 (20 ounce, or 1.25 lb) package ground turkey
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon water


  • Bring the quinoa and water 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.
  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.
  • Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.
  • 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 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Aili’s Notes:

This really was a “very moist” mixture. I had 85/15 ground turkey. The leaner the turkey, the better. I’ll be buying 93/7 or better from now on.

I had hot sauce, though I didn’t really want it in this recipe, and didn’t have tomato paste. I didn’t want to buy even a small can of tomato paste if I was only going to use 1 tbsp of it. Reading through the comments, I saw that one person used ketchup instead, so I made the same substitution with no-sugar Heinz ketchup. Instead of hot sauce, I used another person’s substitution of using Sweet Chili sauce. I think the flavor went really well, complimenting the brown sugar glaze on the top.

Use the smallest sauce pan you have to cook the quinoa. It really was a very small amount, but just perfect for about a pound of turkey. For those who are worried about the texture, you really couldn’t tell that there was quinoa in the meatloaf. The texture was EXCELLENT.

When they say this mixture will be very moist, they mean it! When you form your loaf/loaves, you can shape them with your hands after you’ve plopped your meatloaf mixture onto your foil-lined cookie sheet. And DEFINITELY line your cookie sheet with foil! DO NOT SKIP THAT STEP! There’s a LOT of fat and juice run-off that would have resulted in either buying new cookie sheets or spending at least a half hour trying to wash it off.

The recipe says this is 5 servings, but I split it into 3 mini-loaves to make 6 servings. This way I am serving half a loaf per person for dinner each night, making it easier to prepare the meals. If I was living alone, I’d probably split it into 5 or 6 mini-loaves and save myself the hassle of cutting off slices and guessing the portions. It’s REALLY easy to split into portions before cooking, so might as well do it!

Even with splitting it into 3 smaller loaves, I still had to cook it for the full 50 minutes. I used steak thermometers to help judge when they were done.

Once the loaves are formed, the instructions said to rub the brown sugar/Worcestershire/water “paste” onto the top of the loaf. I used light brown sugar, and this was definitely not a “paste.” I was able to spoon it over my loaves. However, since my turkey had a higher fat content, I think a lot of the fat run-off washed away the majority of the brown sugar rub, so 5 minutes before it was done, I took the meatloaf out of the oven, applied another dose of the sauce, and cooked it for the last 5 minutes. The next time I make this (because I WILL make it again!) I’ll probably just cook the meatloaf for 40-45 minutes, THEN apply the brown sugar sauce, THEN cook it for the remainder of the time.

Finally, be sure to let it cool for the 10 minutes after it’s done cooking. You don’t want your meatloaf to fall apart on you because it’s still too hot. That 10 minutes is a good time to prep your salad, cook your veggies, get your drinks, and even pop in a movie and get through the trailers.

The first night I made this, I served it with steamed fresh green beans. I’ll also be serving it with big salads. Mini loaves meant the portions were already taken care of, because believe me, I would have gone back for more if it was just one meatloaf!


Posted on May 14, 2011, in Recipes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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