This cranberry, pecan, and mushroom turkey meatloaf recipe is meant to remind you of Thanksgiving dinner. Just add your favorite sides!
The starting formula for meatloaves and meatballs is a pound of ground meat plus one egg plus one half cup of breadcrumbs or equivalent. It’s the spices and fillings that give your meatloaf its character.
A meatloaf pan is typically a 9 inch by 5 inch pan with an insert with holes that allows the fat to drip away from the meatloaf. This is the pan that I have used for years. It isn’t critical to use a meatloaf pan, especially with a turkey meatloaf, but I would recommend buying one if you make a lot of meatloaf.
Tips and tricks for this recipe
There is nothing complicated about making this turkey meatloaf recipe. It starts off with some basic homemade cranberry sauce. I combine fresh cranberries, the zest and juice of an orange, and a small amount of sugar to create the glaze for this recipe. You only need to add water if your juice doesn’t cover the bottom of the pan.
When I make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, I often add a bit more sugar and some cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Here, I’ve kept the ingredients for the glaze simple. You’ll just want to make sure to mash the cooked berries.
After glazing this meatloaf, I’d recommend serving this cranberry sauce thinned and warmed with a tablespoon or more of balsamic vinegar. That makes it more ketchup than jam.
While some meatloaves can be thrown together and baked immediately, this recipe requires a bit of pre-cooking. Cooking the onions and mushrooms gets rid of the raw onion taste and reduces the water in the mushrooms so the meatloaf holds together better. You can roast and then chop the garlic separately if you prefer.
And the rest of the ingredients, all chopped small. Don’t skip the step of toasting the nuts, which really brings out their flavor. I promise that once you start toasting nuts before using them in recipes, you won’t go back.
Mix everything together except for the egg and turkey. And then incorporate those with your hands. There’s no need to knead. Your goal is just to make sure that everything is mixed together.
FAQs about this turkey meatloaf
Unlike my taco meatloaf, which really tastes like taco, this turkey meatloaf is not going to fool you into thinking that you’re eating turkey dinner. But it’s healthier than an average meatloaf due to the turkey. And if you add some good meatloaf sides, well, that’s the best part of Thanksgiving anyway. Except for the pie, of course.
I would take my cues from Thanksgiving for meatloaf sides for this recipe. Think mashed potatoes and gravy. Or baked sweet potato. Or maybe some green beans.
If we’re keeping to the Thanksgiving theme, I’d pick a light-bodied red like Beaujolais or an inexpensive Pinot Noir.
Yes, meatloaf freezes very well. Just slice it before freezing, wrap it well, and put it in a freezer bag. Reheat it in the oven in a pan covered with foil.
Cranberry, Pecan, and Mushroom Turkey Meatloaf
- Meatloaf pan or cast iron pan
- 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
- ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or one teaspoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or one teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- ½ cup panko
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Put the berries, orange zest, orange juice and sugar into a medium pot. Add water, if needed, to cover the bottom of the pot.1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, 1 orange, zested and juiced, ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- Heat the berries over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries have popped and the liquid has started to thicken.
- Remove the pan from the heat and mash the berries.
- Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-low heat.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.8 cremini or button mushrooms, chopped, ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
- Add the garlic, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for one more minute.2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Remove the pan from the heat and let cool while starting while putting together the other meatloaf ingredients.
- Add all of the meatloaf ingredients except for the turkey and egg to a large bowl and mix with a spoon.½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped, ½ cup panko, ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped, ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- Add the turkey and egg and use your hands to lightly combine until mixed.1 pound ground turkey, 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Form the meatloaf in the meatloaf pan or shape it into a loaf in a cast iron pan.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 160°F.
- Add about ¼ cup of the cranberry glaze to the top of the meatloaf and continue cooking for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until the meatloaf is 165°F.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes for easier slicing. Serve with additional cranberry sauce as is or combined with a bit of balsamic vinegar (see note).
If you make this turkey meatloaf, or if you want to see more meatloaf recipes, please leave a comment or rating.