Southwest Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

I cannot believe I've never posted this recipe for my Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf.  I've made it hundreds, if not thousands of times - because it's a recipe from WholeFoods and I had to make it all the time when I worked there back in 2001-2002.  It's one of their most popular selling items in the prepared foods case.  I made it in 40 pound batches, sometimes daily!  I know this recipe by heart better than any other thing I've ever cooked.  It is one of my favorite things I cooked for the store.

As with many of my recipes, it's been Bicycle-Chef Doctored, with some tweaks and changes to make it easier to make.  I think it's a better and certainly a lighter version of it and it's yours for FREE instead of 7.99 or 8.99 per pound! This is a wonderful recipe to pack in some vegetables, adding to your daily minimum of 5 fruits and veggies and sneaking in a few for the kids.  You can stretch a pound of ground turkey or chicken more than twice as far.  It's got a Southwest/Mexican kind of flavor to it so it's different than most meatloaf.  It freezes well and it tastes great as a sandwich.  There is some prep work to do, chopping vegetables, but by the time the oven preheats, you'll be ready to go.

I made two batches of this meatloaf - one as a whole loaf and the other batch as in mini muffin tins.  I thought that I could get Nate to eat this if I made it in small portions.  Nothing doing.  He's still not into eating many foods yet.  It breaks my heart but what can you do with a picky two year old eater?  The ingredient list is a bit on the long side - so make this when you have some time to devote to shopping and prepping.  It doesn't use anything hard to find, but you'll want to make sure you have everything on hand.  For the glaze, go ahead and use a favorite barbecue sauce or ketchup.  I like to make my own from scratch but if I don't have the time or all the ingredients, I stick with my favorite zesty bbq sauce from Trader Joe's.  It's not full of sugar or corn syrups and it packs a mean spicy punch.

Southwest Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey (93% is perfect)
  • 1 Small Zucchini (about 1/2 Cup)- small dice
  • 1 Small Yellow Squash (about 1/2 Cup) - small dice
  • 1 Small Yellow or White Onion - (1 cup) - small dice
  • 1 Cup Red Bell Pepper - small dice
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Mexican Spice Blend or Chili Powder (or a combination of Cumin, Oregano, Chili Pepper, Thyme, Ground Garlic and Onion Powders)
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 Whole Eggs - lightly beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs (or more as needed)

Suggested Equipment:

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • 1 Pound Loaf Pan - glass or metal
  • Sheet Tray


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Have all your equipment ready- mixing bowls, loaf pan, sheet tray.  
  2. Clean and prepare all the vegetables, chopping them into small dice, no bigger than 1/8 inch big, since you want the vegetables to be easily incorporated into the ground turkey.  As you chop your vegetables add them to a large mixing bowl.  
  3. Add in the ground turkey, seasonings, beaten eggs and the tomato paste.  Thoroughly mix the turkey and the vegetables together to start to form a large "meat-ball".  The mixture will be sticky.  Slowly sprinkle in the whole wheat breadcrumbs until the mixture holds together.  You may need more than one cup of breadcrumbs, but don't over add in the breadcrumbs, just add enough until the mixture binds together.
  4. Place the mixture into a loaf pan and form into a loaf.  If you have too much, you can form small loaves and bake them on a sheet tray or use additional and or smaller loaf tins. 
  5. Place the meatloaf onto a sheet tray and place it into the preheated oven; bake for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear and an instant read thermometer reaches 165 degrees.  About ten minutes before the meatloaf is done, glaze it with barbecue sauce of choice.  Serve hot, over mashed potatoes with extra barbecue sauce.  Makes 8 servings.  Cool the cooked meatloaf before refrigerating or freezing.  This will keep for up to 5 days, covered and refrigerated or up to 3 months cooked & frozen.

Home-Made Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 - 16 ounce can of NO-SALT Tomato Sauce or 1 small can of Tomato Paste, reconstituted with 2 cans of cold water
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 1/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/2 Cup Dark or Amber Beer of Choice (optional!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Light or Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Ground Chili Pepper - such as Chipotle or Ancho
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt

  1. Mix all the ingredients together into a large mixing bowl, the pour the mixture into a 3 or 4 quart sauce pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer the mixture until it reduces down by about 1/4, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  The final mixture will be stronger once it cools and the flavors have a chance to bloom and blend.
  2. The mixture should tighten and when you dip a spoon into it, you it forms a ribbon on the back of the spoon.  Cool the sauce and keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.


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