Weeknight Cooking

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf

June 13, 2011

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf

- Jenny

I will not apologize for the turkey.

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Sure, the head flopping bits of foolish fowl make for bad burgers, and the sandwiches that we construct from them scream, “I’m in an interminable H.R. meeting and someone took the last roast beef on rye!” But ground dark turkey meat -- and to be clear that’s all I am talking about here – makes for some mean meatballs, and, when properly seasoned and gussied up, a mighty fine meatloaf too.

So, to recap: Turkey, it’s not bad. 

So I am pleased to inform you that Spicy Turkey Meatloaf is perhaps the world’s most perfect take on meatloaf. Perhaps you, like me, tend to think of this dish as a largely Italian affair, a pound or two of meat dressed up with tomato paste, parsley and some aromatics. But what apartmentcooker has done here is give us a sort of Asian spin on the whole thing, to great results. 

In the spirit of weeknight cooking, you can make this recipe all in one bowl, and even mix it up before you go to work, form the loaf, and fridge it ‘til cooking, if need be. I diverted from this path in only one way: I like to sauté my onions and garlic before tossing them into the meat, which I think offers a big enhancement for no real extra time commitment, because you can mix up the other stuff as you wait. (I did them in vegetable oil, though I do wonder, would sesame oil do?) I have tried it with plain breadcrumbs and panko, and the latter works a little better. 

The first time I made this, my husband and I were deeply excited by the intensity of the flavors, and the kids found it a little spicy. The second time, I doubled it, gave one loaf to the neighbors and only glazed half of each, which pleased all the children, though the neighbor kids liked it hot.

Honestly, unless you are two people you will want to double this anyway because it is such a great sack lunch. I brought my last slice to my office mate, C, who could not stop talking about the cumin. “It’s so savory," he said as he ate it cold. Then he made a lot of murmuring sounds, and rooted around in vain for more. So will you. 

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf by apartmentcooker






Spicy Sriracha Glaze:


  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (or more to taste)

  • Combine all ingredients for the meatloaf in a large bowl. Mix just to combine. If the mixture feels too wet, add more breadcrumbs.

  • Form the mixture into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the glaze until well combined.

  • Brush the glaze all over the loaf (this is why I don't use a loaf pan, so that you can get maximum glaze action).

  • Bake in a 350 degree oven until cooked through, about 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste occasionally. If you like, you can run the finished loaf under the broiler and the glaze will form a bit of a crust.


By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer



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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Make I. February 17, 2014
Great balance- I doubled it with a lb. of pork I had on hand. Also, added cup of raw spinach and a carrot (since this is they only way I can get my daughter to eat veggies). She painted her half with olive oil- and our half with the glaze. We had clean plates :)
landseergirl October 19, 2013
Made this last night and doubled the recipe, it was excellent. I used different mustards as I ran out of of spicy brown. So good!! Can't wait for sandwiches tonight.
Adam E. June 29, 2011
This was as delicious as everyone has said. Based on what I had in the pantry, I made a couple substitutions: A1 for Worcestershire sauce, and 1 Tb. each rice vinegar and red wine vinegar for the apple cider vinegar in the glaze. Following Jenny's advice, I sautéd the onion and garlic (in olive oil). I'm looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Jestei July 8, 2011
sounds perfect. i have a friend who wanted to make it but does not want to bother with the W sauce so i will refer him to your adjustments. left overs of this are the best.
Jsmaldone June 20, 2011
I, without question or substitutions, look forward to your recipes. This turkey meatloaf sounds wonderful and I plan to make when we're on the Cape (Cod) for our annual vacation...can't wait to try it. jrs
Jestei June 22, 2011
enjoy it!!!
GregoryBPortland June 19, 2011

I like this combination. I make a mean Italian-style meatloaf, but one with Asian flavors sounds mighty appealing. I applaud your idea of baking this meatloaf in a baking dish rather than a loaf pan. I think loaf pans don't give the meat enough surface to caramelize. Loaf pans make the meatloaf more steamed than baked. A friends bakes hers in her gas grill on her terrace. That's another superb technique. And yes, I love meatloaf sandwiches. I'm on my way to Trader Joe's for turkey meat right now!
Jestei June 22, 2011
this was a revelation to me, too and i really really like the method and agree with you totally.
phyllis June 22, 2011
I agree about the loaf pan and have never used one for meatloaf. I also don't like the meat steaming in all the fat. Some people have given me grief about this, but I've maintained my stubbornness. I plan to cook this over the predicted rainy NYC week-end.
Erin J. June 15, 2011
Jenny - thanks for profiling this! Today is my birthday, and what a lovely thing to wake up and find! Glad my meatloaf has reached fame beyond those of my roommates (who ask for it on a weekly basis)!
Jestei June 16, 2011
Yeah happy birthday!! C wants more right now!
phyllis June 14, 2011
I love good turkey meatballs, dark meat only, and tonight cooked yummy dark meat turkey burgers flavored with garlic, cilantro, lime juice and a bunch of spices. Delicious. Will definitely try this very soon and will, for sure, double the recipe. Thanks, again!
Jestei June 16, 2011
that sounds like you should be posting it!
bethshax June 13, 2011
Just made this but replaced 1/3 of the turkey with spicy turkey sausage (uncased of course) and it is delicious. Perfect weeknight meal.
Jestei June 16, 2011
wow. blackbelt turkey meatloaf.
mrslarkin June 13, 2011
So nice to have an alternative to Turkey Chili. Thanks Jenny and apartmentcooker!
Jestei June 16, 2011
Hope you enjoy it.
mcs3000 June 13, 2011
Having been scarred as a child by some very bad meatloaf, I never ate it until I found Ina Garten's recipe. She also uses turkey. Love it. I also trust you, Jenny. So, I'll try it. Plus, can't turn anything down with sriracha.
Jestei June 16, 2011
Totally understand. Been there.
Sam1148 June 13, 2011
That's a nice bunch of flavors there. I'm going to try this soon.
One trick I use on Turkey Burgers is a Cook Illustrated trick on making a moist all beef meatloaf.
Bloom about a 1/2 tsp of unflavored gelatin in 1/2 cup of stock or water.
It really helps replace some of the moisture you'd get from fat in a lower fat loaf or burger.
Jestei June 16, 2011
That is quite interesting.
kstallbe June 13, 2011
I have never seen ground turkey dark meat, only the white meat. I don't mind grinding meat, just not on a weeknight.... Any tips?
Jestei June 13, 2011
trader joes and whole foods both carry it in los angeles and DC anyway; ask your butcher to grind it for you?
kstallbe June 13, 2011
boulangere June 13, 2011
LOVE ground turkey. I used it for my Buffalo Girls, and thought it much better than ground chicken. True, though, the poor thing has been taken in directions it never should have gone.
Jestei June 13, 2011
what in your view is the difference between how turkey and chicken behave?
boulangere June 13, 2011
No matter what I've done to ground chicken (adding crumbs, egg, more crumbs, more egg), it's hard to get it not to be crumbly, and by that time its flavor profile has been very altered. Turkey - especially good turkey - has much more dark meat, so has that nicer texture and much better flavor. The one I like is a blend of both dark and white meat.
boulangere June 13, 2011
Sounds terrific. I use tomatoes in mine, also.
boulangere June 13, 2011
Oven-roasted tomatoes, that is. When I get a load of the in fresh, I core, quarter, olive-oil, s&p them, and roast until caramelized, freeze flat in ziplocks that I stack up in the freezer like cordwood. And anything with Sriracha is by definition perfect.
boulangere June 13, 2011
Truly does.
Blissful B. June 13, 2011
To stick up for the maligned turkey a little bit more, if the interminable HR meeting served CAJUN turkey sandwiches (my favorite lunch meat), someone else can have that roast beef on rye!
Jestei June 13, 2011
yes that is totally fair
amysarah June 13, 2011
My mother always glazed her meatloaf with a mixture of ketchup, brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, so I do too - though I add a good shot of Tabasco as well. But I like the idea of sriracha for the heat...actually surprised it never occurred to me, given my addiction to the stuff. Anyway, will definitely do this one. Already dreaming of meatloaf sandwiches.
Jestei June 13, 2011
i hope you like it almost as much as moms.
southern P. June 13, 2011
I made this into patties and used ground venison, instead of turkey, as my husband is a bow hunter and we have a freezer full.

Turned out deliciously! Made a cucumber, radish and carrot slaw as a side. Hunter husband and hunter sons loved it. The glaze is marvelous!
Jestei June 13, 2011
bow hunter!! people, need we say more. all props to you, and your patties!!!
Sagegreen June 13, 2011
Love the glaze to top this off. Thanks for highlighting this, Jenny.
Jestei June 13, 2011
I hope you try it.
potstirrer June 13, 2011
Do you think if you made it with ground pork the results would be similar? My go-to meatloaf is Aunt Norah's Mock Lobster from Amanda's "Cooking for Mr. Latte". SUCH a crowd pleaser. All that bacon!
Jestei June 13, 2011
Hm I rarely make pork meatloaf but I imagine it would work well; tho not sure if the cooking time would change. Recipe write might wish to weigh in.
Lizthechef June 13, 2011
At last, a tasty recipe for turkey meatloaf - bet these would be terrific as burgers as well...Bring on the spice!
Jestei June 13, 2011
Burger idea a smart one.
drbabs June 13, 2011
Oh, yum, I was just wondering what to do with that pound of ground turkey sitting in my freezer--thanks for finding this!
Jestei June 13, 2011
I hope you post results.
drbabs June 17, 2011
OK, here you go: I liked your idea about sautéing the onions and garlic, and I wanted to make the loaf in the morning, so I sautéed the vegetables early in the morning, deglazed the pan with the vinegar and soy sauce, turned the heat down as low as possible, covered it, and went to take a shower. The onions and garlic got all brown and soft and sweet and melty. I mixed that in with the rest of the meatloaf ingredients, covered it with foil, and refrigerated it. When I got home, I took the loaf out, heated the oven and made the sauce. (I didn't have Sriracha so I used ground chiles, extra ketchup and a little Tabasco.) When my husband (picky eater--I may have mentioned that a few million times) tasted it, he said, boy, this is really good. I loved it, too. I served it with baked potatoes and spinach, garlic scapes and bok choy sauteed with a little coriander and sesame oil. A great meal, easy, and quick clean up--all my favorite things. And there's more left for sandwiches!