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Mama's Turkey Meatloaf

November 10, 2017 by Nicole Collins

There's no place like home.

And today's recipe is inspired by Mom Collins, herself.

This past weekend, I went to a showing of The Wizard of Oz. But, it wasn't your typical “sit and watch an old movie” type deal. The entire score was being played by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra while the movie was going on. Movie with Orchestra is what the event was called. It was sooooo cool!

It's been ages since I saw that movie. But, I'd forgotten how many popular quotes came from that movie. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” “Some people without brains do a lot of talking, don't they?” ← Totally relevant these days. And of course, “There's no place like home.”

We're certainly in the time of year where everyone starts to remember that simple little phrase. The holiday season definitely brings a feeling of nostalgia and a longing for home along with it.

I am very fortunate to live only 3 minutes from the home I grew up in. So, I don't really have the opportunity to miss home. And, I'm totally ok with that.

The weather around here is starting to get cold for real. We kept getting warm days tossed in to the week here and there, but I think the fall/winter season is finally ready to show up. Ugh...

So, the need for all things comforting is where my brain is at these days. And that, combined with the reminder from Dorothy, got me thinking about one of the meals I grew up on...meatloaf.

I already had meatloaf on the agenda for this week, but I was having a hard time deciding what direction I wanted to go with it. I kept going back and forth from a meatloaf with zucchini to a southwest meatloaf to a florentine meatloaf to a million other different thoughts.

All of those ideas will happen, eventually. But, I realized I was totally overthinking it. I really just wanted my Mama's Meatloaf.

So, that's what I made. But, with my spin.

I stayed pretty true to her basic recipe, but the biggest thing I changed was the protein. And, you'd really never even know it.

Today, we're having Turkey Meatloaf!

I feel like ground turkey gets a bad rep, but I love it! With a little seasoning and a little love, I think any red meat eater would be fooled here.

We're keeping this seasoning in this meatloaf very simple: onion, salt, pepper, and a little pinch of garlic. That's it! The flavor comes from the BBQ sauce on top.

Most people serve their meatloaf with ketchup, but my mama always put BBQ sauce on hers. And, that's how I've always done it too. I'm actually kind of disgusted by the idea of ketchup on meatloaf. But, I'm really not much of a ketchup eater. Which is ironic, because mama puts ketchup on EVERYTHING!

Now, most meatloaf recipes use breadcrumbs as a binder, but that's not how mama does it. She just uses torn sandwich bread and milk. So, again, that's how I'm doing it. That was actually my favorite part of her meatloaf...the little pieces of bread floating throughout the meat. I just really like the texture of it and the way it soaks up the juices from the meat...mmm.

That, and the end pieces. Thankfully, there are 2 end pieces, because that's the piece that we both go for first every time.

The first bite of this meatloaf took me right back home. It totally reminds me of the ones she used to make. And, the ground turkey lightens it up a little bit, so it's a little healthier for us.

Toss some mashed potatoes and something green on the side, and your comfort meal is complete!

I'd like to say I will save her some, but I don't think it's going to last that long around here. It's that good! I'll just have to make another one for her!

So enjoy, remember there's no place like home, and let's eat!


Mama's Turkey Meatloaf

Serves: 4 Print


  • 1 ½ lbs ground turkey

  • ½ onion, diced

  • 3 slices of sandwich bread, torn in to small pieces (white or wheat will work)

  • ¼ cup milk (any percentage milk or almond milk will work)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ½ tsp pepper

  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ cup BBQ sauce, plus more for serving

  • olive oil cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with olive oil cooking spray.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine turkey, onion, bread, milk, egg, salt, pepper, and garlic. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is combined. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, and form meat in to a loaf shape. Brush BBQ sauce over the top of the meatloaf. Bake for 50 mins until cooked through, and the internal temperature in the center is 165 degrees. Serve with additional BBQ sauce, if desired.

Recipe notes:

*You can certainly use ground beef for this meatloaf if you're not a fan of ground turkey. That's how mama does it.

*Use your favorite BBQ sauce for this. Mama likes hickory brown sugar. I prefer a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce.

*Your hands are your best kitchen tool. It's much easier to mix the meat and make sure everything is incorporated with your hands. That way, there's less risk of overmixing which makes the meat tough.

*When you're forming your loaf, think of a football cut in half horizontally. That's the shape/thickness we're going for.

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