This stovetop turkey meatloaf recipe utilizes some unexpected ingredients and techniques to create a deliciously healthy family meal. It’s also super easy to throw together, with a quicker cook time than most traditional-style meatloaves. Stovetop turkey meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food that you can feel good about eating.
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Cooking Turkey Meatloaf on the Stovetop Vs. in the Oven
While it’s true that meatloaf is traditionally baked in the oven, I’ve been making meatloaf on the stovetop for the last 15 years.
But what does it mean to cook a meatloaf on the stovetop?
Great question – I’m glad you asked!
Stovetop meatloaf is formed in a skillet with a small amount of water added. The water is then brought to a boil, reduced to a simmer and then covered until the meatloaf is cooked through. Essentially, the meatloaf is steamed versus baked.
Because steaming is a cooking method reliant on moisture, the resulting meatloaf is tender and moist even when using a very lean protein such as turkey.
This method also produces a less greasy meatloaf and cooks in less time than the baked versions of meatloaf.
A Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Recipe
One of my favorite things about this stovetop turkey meatloaf recipe is that it is comfort food that you can feel good about eating. With just a few simple swaps, this recipe creates a meatloaf that is hearty, yet healthy.
- Ground turkey – Turkey is a rich source of protein and several B vitamins such as B3, B6 and B12. It is also lower in saturated fat than beef making it a good option for those focused on heart health.
- Quick cooking oats – Instead of using breadcrumbs found in most meatloaf recipes, I substitute for quick cooking oats. Oats are an excellent source of fiber including beta-glucan. It’s a highly soluble fiber that is shown to reduce cholesterol, increase feelings of fullness, promote the growth of good bacteria in the body and improve blood sugar control. Oats are also naturally gluten-free. (*Note – Although oats are naturally gluten-free, trace amounts of gluten can be introduced in the manufacturing process. Be sure to check the labels of specific brands and products for the gluten-free designation if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy.)
- Eggs – Eggs act as a binder in this recipe. They also add to the overall structure of the meatloaf. Eggs are a nutrient-dense protein. They’re heart-healthy and high in amino acids.
- Crushed tomatoes – At the risk of breaking a cardinal rule of meatloaf making, I omit the ketchupy sauce/glaze that is traditionally seen on meatloaf. My primary reason for leaving it off is that, well… I just don’t like it. A secondary reason is that the glaze found on top of many a meatloaf is pretty, dang high in sugar. Even so, to retain some of the tomatoey flavor found in classic meatloaf glazes, I add crushed tomatoes straight to my meatloaf mixture. This does two things for the meatloaf – enhances the flavor and adds moisture which is important when making meatloaf with a lean meat such as ground turkey.
- Onions – Onions boast antioxidant properties and also fight inflammation. They’re another food great for heart health.
- Ranch seasoning – You can certainly use a variety of herbs and spices to season your meatloaf. I like to use dry Ranch dressing mix. It has a lot of the spices I would individually add to the mixture – onion powder, garlic powder, dill, chives, parsley – in one convenient form! Be sure to check out my homemade ranch seasoning recipe!
Variations to Consider for Stovetop Turkey Meatloaf
Like most recipes, I look at this stovetop turkey meatloaf recipe as a guideline more than the gospel. So I’ve made it a lot of different ways through the years. Here are some of my favorite variations that you may want to consider:
- Include some additional veggies to the mix! If I have some vegetables laying around that need to get used up, I won’t hesitate to throw them in with whatever is on the menu for the day. This meatloaf is no exception. Try adding grated carrots or zucchini, spinach, peppers, garlic or leeks.
- Don’t have any crushed tomatoes on hand? Don’t fret! Try adding some salsa instead! You could also use diced tomatoes or even tomato sauce in a pinch.
- I usually use Vidalia onions in this recipe, but any onion will do. Being the eagle-eyed observer that you are, you may have noticed that I used green onions when making the meatloaf for this post. Honestly, they’re what I had on hand, and I didn’t want to go to the grocery store just to pick up an onion. And they worked great! So don’t be afraid to make a substitution based on your preferences or what you have in your cupboards!
- Experiment with different herbs and spices! I daresay, a lemon pepper mixture would be quite nice in this stovetop turkey meatloaf. Rosemary, thyme and sage all work well with turkey. I’ve even made a version using a packet of french onion soup mix during the great eat-down of 2019, and it was really good!
- Try using ground chicken instead of ground turkey.
- Instead of steaming the meatloaf in a water bath, amp up the flavor by using chicken stock instead.
- I don’t add any type of glaze to the top of my meatloaf, but I will occasionally make a simple pan sauce to drizzle over the top. After my meatloaf has finished steaming, I add a couple of tablespoons of butter or olive oil to the pan along with a couple tablespoons of flour to form a roux. Then I add some water or chicken stock and stir constantly to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet and prevent lumps from forming. Season if needed and serve with the meatloaf.
- Instead of one big meatloaf, try making several mini meatloaves!
Freezing Stovetop Turkey Meatloaf
I make a double batch every time I make this stovetop turkey meatloaf. It’s just too easy not to! It doesn’t add additional time to mix a double portion of ingredients, and I save myself some time in the future. And my future self ALWAYS appreciates that.
I just mix everything together and partially cook in the steam bath until the meatloaf is firm enough to remove without breaking.
Then, I allow it to cool, package with my vacuum sealer and freeze. You can also wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
To reheat, allow to thaw completely in the refrigerator and then steam in the water bath until cooked through.
Frozen meatloaf should keep for about six months in the freezer.
Ready to make stovetop turkey meatloaf? Complete your menu with one of these side dishes!
Add all of the ingredients (except for the water) and mix together in a large bowl until just combined. Overmixing results in a dense, tough meatloaf.
Then form the mixture into a loaf shape.
Place the loaf in a non-stick skillet and then add about a half cup of water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer. As the meatloaf cooks, the water will evaporate, so watch the meatloaf carefully and add water a ¼ at a time if the water evaporates completely. I usually have to do this 1-2 times depending on how large my meatloaf is.
Steam meatloaf until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit on your instant-read thermometer.
Remove from heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Then slice, serve and enjoy!
Stovetop Turkey Meatloaf with Oats
- 2 ½ lbs lean ground turkey
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 small onion
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup Ranch seasoning
- 1 tbsp Kosher salt
- ½ tbsp black pepper
- ½ - 1 cup water
- Add all of the ingredients (except for the water) and mix together in a large bowl until just combined. Overmixing results in a dense, tough meatloaf.
- Then form the mixture into a loaf shape.
- Place the loaf in a non-stick skillet and then add about a half cup of water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer. As the meatloaf cooks, the water will evaporate, so watch the meatloaf carefully and add water a ¼ at a time if the water evaporates completely. I usually have to do this 1-2 times depending on how large my meatloaf is.
- Steam meatloaf until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Then slice, serve and enjoy!
Want to try stovetop turkey meatloaf? Be sure to pin, share or save this recipe so you can easily locate it when you’re ready to give it a whirl!
And be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!
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