For the past year or so I’ve been working on the side making step by step photo tutorials for Food.com. Ever since I made this basic meatloaf tutorial, I’ve wanted to make it again and again. I always feel bad for meatloaf because I don’t think its reputation lives up to just how comforting, filling, and delicious it is. Meatloaf may not be pretty, but it’s pretty damn good. And that’s just basic meatloaf. When you go and add all sorts of goodies, like in these Mini Garden Turkey Loaves, it gets even better.
Because even ground meat is super expensive these days, I decided to use my favorite “meat extending” trick for this meatloaf. I like to add equal parts shredded vegetables, beans, or lentils to double the volume of ground meat without doubling the price (see Sloppy Joes Plus). Vegetables, beans, and lentils are not only less expensive than meat, but they also add a considerable amount of flavor, fiber, and other nutrients to the mix. For these Mini Garden Turkey Loaves, I went the vegetable route, and added a medley of sautéed onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms. SO much flavor!
I also opted to make this loaf into single serving sized muffins instead of a whole loaf. Why? A) Automatic portion control and B) they bake faster. One of the only things I dislike about normal meatloaf is that it takes so long to bake. Breaking it up into smaller pieces helps it bake in about half the time. The only down side is that unlike baking it open on a sheet pan, the little muffin tins hold in the juices and that can make them extra moist and delicate. Extra moisture is great for flavor, but bad for keeping them in one piece. So, we just have to be extra careful and cook out most of the vegetable moisture beforehand. As long as you make sure to do that, you’ll have tasty little garden turkey loaves that you can keep in the freezer for a quick re-heatable dinner later. Win!
See this recipe used in my weekly meal prep.
Mini Garden Turkey Loaves
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 1 small onion ($0.36)
- 1 clove garlic ($0.16)
- 2 medium carrots ($0.27)
- 1 small zucchini ($0.73)
- 8 oz button mushrooms ($1.79)
- 3/4 tsp salt ($0.05)
- Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.06)
- 1/4 cup ketchup ($0.20)
- 1 large egg ($0.18)
- 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs ($0.36)
- 19 oz package ground turkey 93% lean* ($4.59)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté both in a large skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until soft and transparent. Peel the carrots, then use a large holed cheese grater to shred them into the skillet. Cut the ends off the zucchini and shred it into the skillet as well. Continue to sauté over medium heat.
- While the onion, garlic, carrots, and zucchini are sautéing, roughly chop the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and season with 3/4 tsp salt and a generous dose of freshly cracked pepper. Continue to sauté the vegetables over medium heat until they release all of their moisture and it has evaporated from the bottom of the skillet (there should be no juices pooling on the bottom of the skillet).
- After the vegetables have sautéed and are mostly dry, transfer them to a bowl and let them cool for 5-10 minutes. Begin to preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
- Once the vegetables have cooled some, add the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, egg, and breadcrumbs to the bowl. Mix these ingredients well until they are evenly combined. Add the ground turkey and use your hands to gently mix it into the vegetable mixture. Try to avoid over mixing.
- Evenly divide the meat mixture between the 12 cups of a muffin tin. Bake the mini loaves in the preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- While the loaves are baking, mix the tomato glaze. Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Once the loaves have baked for 15 minutes, spoon the glaze over the muffins and let them bake with the glaze for the remaining 15 minutes.
- Allow the loaves to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carefully running a knife around their outer edges and lifting out of the tin with a fork. The rest time will help solidify the loaves and keep them in one piece.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
Step by Step Photos
Start with this mix of vegetables: one small onion, one clove of garlic, two carrots, one small zucchini, and an 8 oz. package of mushrooms. I bought these baby portobellos because they were on sale for $1.79, but white button mushrooms, which are generally less expensive than portobellos, would do just as well.
Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Begin to sauté them in a large skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Sauté them until the onion are soft and transparent.
Peel the two carrots, then use a large holed cheese grater to grate them right into the skillet. Cut the ends from the zucchini, then grate it into the skillet as well. Continue to sauté the vegetables over medium heat.
Roughly chop the mushrooms into small-ish pieces. Smaller pieces will also help the meat loaves hold together.
Add the chopped mushrooms to the skillet, then season with 3/4 tsp salt and some freshly cracked pepper. The salt will help draw the moisture out of the vegetables and you’ll begin to see it pooling on the bottom of the skillet. Keep sautéing until that moisture evaporates away and the skillet becomes dry. This is very important to keep the meat loaves holding together in one piece.
Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a large bowl and let them cool off slightly. It’s okay for them to be warm, just not so hot that they cook the egg. Once they’ve cooled a bit and stopped steaming, add 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 large egg, and 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs.
Also, begin to preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
Mix all the ingredients together very, very well. This is your opportunity to get the egg and seasoning evenly distributed before adding the meat (because you don’t want to over mix the ground meat).
Finally, add a 19oz. package of 93% lean ground turkey to the bowl. If you use a higher fat content ground meat it may affect how well the loaves hold together because that fat will be trapped in the muffin tins instead of draining away like meatloaves that are cooked on a baking sheet.
Use your hands to gently mix the ground meat into the vegetable mixture until everything is even and no large chunks of ground meat remain. Divide the mixture between the 12 cups of a muffin tin. Pop the filled muffin tin in the preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes (glaze will be added at the 15 minute mark).
While the loaves are baking, mix together the tomato glaze. Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in a small bowl until smooth.
When the loaves are 15 minutes into their 30 minute baking time, pull them out and spoon the glaze over each one.
Like this. Just a little on top of each one. Then pop them back in the oven for the remaining 15 minutes of the cook time.
And after about 30 minutes of total baking, the mini garden turkey loaves will be cooked through, juicy, and delicious! Let them rest for 5-10 minutes before trying to remove them from the tin. Run a knife around the outside of each one to loosen it, then use a fork to carefully lift it out of the tin.
And then enjoy your healthier and delicious “comfort” food! (recipe for the mashed potatoes coming SOON!)