Turkey Veggie Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

TAW96760 I happen to think that meatloaf is pretty high up there on the comfort food scale. It’s kind of like mac n’ cheese or mashed potatoes. When you eat it you just feel good. I’ll be the first to admit though that meatloaf can be…well…kind of boring. It’s one of those dishes that I would never order in a restaurant for fear that it might be tasteless, or dry, or just down right bad tasting. At home though, it’s a different story. I consider myself somewhat of a meatloaf aficionado and over the years I’ve perfected my meatloaf recipe to the point where I can now proudly declare this to be the Best Meatloaf Ever. I know it’s a bold claim to make, but I stand by it. What makes this meatloaf so special, besides the topping of gooey cheese and candy-sweet caramelized onions, is the addition of lots of veggies. Sounds weird right? I mean it’s called meatloaf, not vegetable loaf. Stick with me though- I promise this will be good. The veggies in the meatloaf serve three purposes. First, they add moisture, second they add flavor, and third they add the ever important healthy bits. The last part is especially important the next day when your eating a huge slab of meatloaf in between two pieces of thick bread…and oops now you’re too full for salad. No big deal- the veggies are already in the loaf!TAW96614
I’ve tried all sorts of different veggie combinations in my meatloaf. Zucchini, spinach, green beans, peas, corn, you name it, it’s gone in meatloaf. In the end I always come back to the simple pairing of carrot and sweet red pepper.This combo provides just the right amount of moisture and as a bonus it adds a nice punch of color to what would otherwise be just a boring brown loaf. I also add a bit of flat leaf parsley if I have it on hand because I like its mild peppery flavor…it also rounds out the color spectrum quite nicely. I used to cook the veggies before I added them to the meat, but over the years I’ve learned that if you chop them up fairly small (especially the carrots) and add them raw they will cook inside the loaf and infuse the meat with juicy vegetable goodness. TAW96630
The other trick to a winning meatloaf- a free formed loaf. Traditionally meatloaf is cooked inside a bread loaf pan. While this method does yield a perfectly shaped loaf, it also means that you have to cook the meatloaf longer (increasing the chance it could dry out) and it eliminates the delicious extra “crust” that results from the free form method. I’ve found that if you cook your loaf in a baking pan just a bit bigger than loaf itself (about a 1-inch border of space around the edge) the air circulates around the meat allowing it to cook evenly and creating a tasty crisp exterior all around. TAW96659 Now  for the topping. This meatloaf is quite excellent on it’s own. It really doesn’t need a thick layer of melted cheese and sweet onions to be delicious. But let’s face it, good food is almost never about need and almost always about want. And you WANT these onions. If I had my way caramelized onions would be packaged and sold as candy. Sweet, oniony candy that I want to eat by the bowlful. Okay, that’s a little strange I admit, but what I’m trying to say is that even on their own caramelized onions rock and when combined with cheese and meatloaf…well words alone can’t describe the perfection of this combination. Yes, making the caramelized onions is an extra step- a 40 minutes extra step- but totally worth it. I promise.TAW96702 TAW96780

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  • Caramelized onions make everything delicious !


  • Yummy! A hearty and satisfying meal.

  • This sounds fabulous. I love caramelized onions and they would be perfect with meatloaf. This is my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    • Thanks Mary! Glad you stopped by.

  • The caramelized onions are such a great touch! Great re-do for this classic comfort food 🙂

  • I love the onions on top! And I’ve never seen such a good looking meatloaf before! Looks tasty!

  • Thank you for sharing this recipe. Healthy comfort food at it’s best! I have already e-mailed this recipe to myself and cannot wait to try it. Allen.

  • I made your turkey veggie meatloaf for our Sunday supper today. This was the first time I have made carmelized oninons. Your directions were perfect and they tasted delicious, even before they went onto the meatloaf. We really enjoyed the meatloaf – moist and flavorable!

    • So glad you liked the recipe Michele! Caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods for sure. Sometimes I make extra and keep them in the fridge for whenever I feel like throwing them on a sandwich or in scrambled eggs. They are also really good on homemade pizza.

  • I am making this for tomorrow’s dinner. I did make the meatloaf tonight and will cover it and refrigerate it till tomorrow. I will make the onions in the morning and refrigerate those also. All I will do when I get home from work is put it in the oven. Thanks. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Made this last nite,wow was it good! Chopping, not so much. I used a shredder blade, a little to much carrots. The red pepper actually was good. I loved it all put together. It looked amazing! I will chop on and make it again. Thanks for the recipes

  • Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is all about meatloaf. I do hope you link this nice one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

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