Ground turkey just got so much more exciting with this delicious, moist, and flavorful Smoked Turkey Meatloaf Recipe. The secret is jazzing up the ground meat with some sautéed onions, mushrooms, and garlic, then smoking it low and slow and finishing it with a delicious sweet glaze at the end. Read more to find the best tips for the perfect ground turkey meatloaf recipe on the smoker.
Secrets to Perfect Smoked Turkey Meatloaf
- Most ground turkey is too lean for a classic meatloaf texture, so buy ground white and dark meat from the butcher and make your own blend.
- Sauté onions and garlic with cremini mushrooms for some added richness and flavor.
- Glaze towards the very end to avoid burning the sauce.
- Can be made gluten free with gluten free panko.
While you can buy ground turkey in the one-pound packages, those are commonly 90% to 97% lean. And with turkey that lean, it runs the risk of drying out when smoked. So the best way to purchase ground turkey is to buy it from the bulk section of your butcher. Get 1 ¾ cup of the lean turkey, and then ¼ cup of the dark meat (or the fattier turkey) for the best mixture. This allows you to create a better fat to lean ratio.
In addition to the turkey the following are needed:
- Red Onion
- Cremini Mushrooms
- Fresh Thyme
- Our Ultimate Dry Rub
- Chicken Stock
- Panko (Gluten Free Panko works as well in equal parts)
- Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce
Sauté vegetables: Before forming the meatloaf, sauté the onions, cremini mushrooms, garlic, and fresh thyme over medium heat. This softens the texture and adds more savory flavors to the meatloaf. After the sauté, turn off the heat and add chicken stock and tomato paste right in the pan and stir. This will thicken.
Mix the loaf: Transfer the the sauté mix to a large bowl and add the raw ground turkey. Add the remaining ingredients (except the sauce and ketchup). Combine together with your hands.
On a large baking sheet lined with parchment or butcher paper, form the meatloaf into a rectangular log or foot ball shape. It’s now ready to go on the smoker. The meatloaf will be moist.
Premix the glaze in a small bowl with equal parts Kansas City style BBQ sauce and Ketchup.
How to Make Smoked Turkey Meatloaf
- Start your smoker and set it to 250 degrees F, on indirect heat using fruit wood like apple or cherry.
- Grab the meatloaf by gently lifting the parchment paper and putting directly on the smoker. Leaving it on the paper keeps it from falling into the grates before it firms up. Alternatively, can also place the meatloaf on a baking sheet and cook it on the baking sheet (in the center of the smoker).
- Smoke the meatloaf until the internal temperature reads 150 degrees F, using an instant read thermometer (about 90 minutes). Our favorite is the Thermoworks Thermapen One. Then, using a silicon brush, apply ½ of the glaze over the top and sides of the meatloaf. Continue to smoke, covered, until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reaches 165 degrees F.
- After it hits 165 degrees F, remove from the smoker and apply the remainder of the glaze. Then slice and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions About Turkey Meatloaf
Cook turkey meatloaf until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit using a good instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the meatloaf. While resting off heat, carryover cooking will happen and the internal temperature will rise another 4 – 5 degrees F to the USDA safe temperature of 165 degrees F. Plan roughly one hour per pound of meat.
Ideally buy bulk ground turkey to make your own ratio. We strive for 75/25 when available (75% lean or breast meat to 25% dark meat). This fat ratio helps with binding. The other trick is to make a sauté mix with some liquid that will combine with the turkey and thicken up as we do in this recipe. The vegetables are bound with egg, tomato paste, and panko breadcrumbs and stock to help make it like a thick paste.
USDA recommends all ground poultry to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. We cook ours to 160 degrees when measured at the center of the meatloaf with an instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen, understanding that carry over cooking will occur, bringing the final temperature to 165 degrees.
Sometimes the warm sauté and amount of liquid that is in the mix can cause the loaf to not hold its shape. If this occurs, form the loaf and then place in the refrigerator for 15 – 20 minutes. This will allow it to slightly cool and hold shape while it starts to smoke.
More Ground Turkey and Meatloaf Recipes
- Ground Turkey Burgers
- Smoked and Stuffed Meatloaf
- Smoked Ground Turkey Chili
- Grilled Turkey Burgers with Bacon Pastes
- Turkey Meatballs
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Ron Gaviati says
Wow! The best ever. Super moist and flavorful. Due to my wife’s preferences I substituted 1 lb.of turkey sausage with 1 lb of lean turkey .
I used a food processor to chop the veggies, however it turned into a thick slurry
, which was ok ultimately. In the pan.
Can you use white wine instead of chicken broth?.
I placed The loaf on the parchment and t into the smoker. I used a #meatstick thermometer to monitor the temp. But maybe because it was a cold night and the #campchef smoker temp was 250-260, it took about 2.5 hours, to reach the 160 degrees. But well worth it!
My wife says the best meatloaf she’s tasted, and definitely a “keeper” !
Sean Martin says
Ron thanks for the feedback, and yes – with turkey it may vary in time depending on how thick it is. We’ll make a note to consider up to an added hour of cook time depending on the cooker one may have.