This Pesto Turkey Meatloaf is the perfect healthy weeknight dinner. (Great for those that don’t like ketchup!) Using a homemade and dairy free pesto sauce for this turkey meatloaf, this easy recipe comes together in one hour. A healthy take on meatloaf that’s low carb, gluten free, paleo and even Whole30®.
Recipe originally posted January 2017. Photos and post updated September 2019. Recipe is the same!
Turkey meatloaf… why don’t I make meatloaf more often? It’s fairly quick, easy and actually makes a great leftover salad topping.
Oh, yes… I probably don’t make meatloaf often because most recipes call for ketchup and I am not a fan of ketchup AT ALL. I’ve actually never liked ketchup. Not even as a kid. Which means yes, I would eat my hotdogs in a bun plain.
Unlike my littlest sister who used to eat JUST ketchup on a bun… I swear we actually ordered ketchup on a bun at McDonald’s for her a couple times.
Anyways, yeah so I was never really into meatloaf recipes. I was actually contemplating trying a ketchup-based turkey meatloaf (disguising it with loads of spices and flavors) until I realized most ketchup brands at the store have added sugar – which is a big no-no for Whole30®.
I searched online for some Whole30 compliant ketchup brands but didn’t feel like paying the steep price for them. At this rate I probably could have made my own Whole30 ketchup, yet of course did not have all the ingredients in my pantry.
But guess what ingredients I DID have in my pantry… Ingredients for homemade PESTO. And I LOVE pesto.
So I bring you:
Paleo Pesto Turkey Meatloaf
The pesto sauce is so simple to make and can be easily modified depending on what ingredients you have on hand. You can go full-on basil, use cilantro, or a mix of the two. For the nuts I used pine nuts but you could also do walnuts, cashews or again, a mix.
Oh I’ve also seen a pumpkin seed pesto! Basically if you have a small food processor, you can make any flavor pesto that works with the ingredients you already have in your pantry.
For me, that was basil, cilantro, pine nuts, olive oil, and nutritional yeast – which you could technically sub the nutritional yeast for parmesan for a more “traditional” pesto flavor if not dairy-free or doing Whole30®, but I actually love the flavor of nutritional yeast in this pesto.
After you make the pesto this turkey meatloaf comes together so easy.
Ingredients needed for Pesto Turkey Meatloaf
- lean ground turkey
- sautéed onions
- minced garlic
- 1/3 cup of the homemade pesto sauce
- almond flour
How to Make Pesto Turkey Meatloaf
Step 1 – Mix all of the meatloaf recipe ingredients into one bowl.
Step 2 – Shape the mixture into a loaf (or press into a loaf pan) and bake for about 35-45 minutes. I used a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature had reached 165F, which took about 35 minutes in my oven.
Using a meat thermometer also prevents you from over-baking and drying out the meatloaf.
After you allow the turkey meatloaf to rest for about 15 minutes, cover with the remaining pesto sauce and serve!
It makes a great salad topping and also still tastes great reheated in the oven.
We did this the other night by reheating the turkey loaf and roasting a fresh batch of potatoes with all the seasonings. A quick, delicious dinner!
for the pesto
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup pine nuts (may sub walnuts or mix of cashews)
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 3 TBS nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp pink salt
- 1/2 TBS oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 1 lb lean ground turkey (94%)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup homemade pesto (could use store-bought if not Paleo)
- 2/3 cup almond meal
- 1/4 tsp pink salt
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or grease with oil. Set aside.
- Make the pesto: In a small food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and process until almost smooth (some nuts can remain in pieces). Using spatula, transfer 1/2 cup of the pesto to measuring cup. Set aside the rest.
- On medium-high heat, add oil to frying pan. Add diced onion and garlic, stirring for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Transfer to large glass mixing bowl and cool for 5 minutes.
- Once onions and garlic have cooled, in same bowl combine turkey burger, egg, 1/2 pesto, almond meal, and salt. Use spatula wooden spoon to combine, then finishing with your hands.
- Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and shape into loaf. Bake meatloaf for 35-45 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165F. Allow meatloaf to rest on pan for 15 minutes before transferring to serving dish. Top with another 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce (or as much as you want) slice, and serve.
Nutrition approximate. Based on 6 servings, includes half of the pesto sauce recipe.
- Serving Size: 1/6
- Calories: 250
- Sugar: 2
- Fat: 18
- Carbohydrates: 4
- Fiber: 2
- Protein: 21
photography by Erin Alvarez