Turkey Pesto Meatloaf

This is summer’s way of allowing us comfort food.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf / Bev Cooks


This is a recipe I’ve had in mind since January. But it had to be basil pesto, and it had to be fresh from the garden, GOSH DARNIT.

And I can honestly say, it was even more spectacular in my face and mouth than it was in my noggin.

Let’s talk about it.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf / Bev Cooks

There are four basic components to this here loaf. And I can’t decide if calling it loaf is saving us or destroying us.

First, ground turkey. NOW – this is a pound and half, because I kind of felt like the pesto and the panko and the onions and garlic would bulk it up a bit more, but next time I’d go with a full 2 pounds. The loaf (<–sorry) is on the small side, so if you have big mouths in your hizz, go with 2 pounds.

Next up – pesto! I made an almost-traditional basil pesto, but instead of pine nuts, I swapped in almonds. I want to say it’s because I’m spontaneous, impulsive and seek pleasure in discovering new flavors in an otherwise familiar and mundane existence, but – I was out of pine nuts. Are you mad? (HOWEVER, the almonds added such depth to my life, I’ll forever owe this newfound cherished pesto my gratitude.)

There’s also sautéed onions and garlic in it, because every decision in life should begin with sautéed onions and garlic.

And finally, panko! Crunch crunch crunch. The end.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf / Bev Cooks

You’ll stir alllllmost all of the beloved basil/almond pesto into the loaf (<–why), and bake it for 30 minutes. Then sling her out of the oven and brush the last little bit on top, and throw her back in for another 30.

While the loaf (<–ugh) bakes, you’ll watch Joey and Pacey try to not completely barf over Dawson and Gretchen.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf / Bev Cooks

Ba da bing!

Now, this next part is crucial – lightly simmer your absolute favorite marinara (go local if you can! I use Cupini’s and I’ll never quit it.), and then drizzle it over the loaf (<–no) slices at the very end.

A bit of freshly grated parmesan on top, uh yes.

Lemon broccoli on the side, without a doubt.

This loafy loaf (<–even worse) will have your eyes and tongue wanting to elope, I tell you. The turkey is the furthest from blah, given its matrimony with the fresh pesto and onion/garlic essence. And I won’t talk about how the loafer (<–can’t stop) is good and moist, because of the pesto. I won’t say moist again, because I can’t do it. And I like you. So I won’t say moist.

I’ll just say it’s marvelous and magical and super summery but comforting and your face beggeth.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf / Bev Cooks

Like, spectacular.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf
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  • 4 cups loose basil leaves
  • 1/4th cup raw almonds
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4th cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (maybe a little more if you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (I used 1 & 1/2 pounds in these photos, but craved a little more)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Parmesan for garnish
  • 1 jar favorite marinara
  • 1 head broccoli, boiled or steamed, then served with a pinch of salt and lemon wedges


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a food processor, combine the basil, almonds, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, garlic, and a pinch of salt. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream, until it becomes a pesto consistency.
  3. Heat the other Tbs. of oil in a large sauté pan. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions soften and begin to brown. Add the minced garlic and sauté another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, most of the pesto (reserve about 1/4 cup), panko and the onion/garlic mixture. Using your bands, press and combine everything together until well incorporated. Make a loaf shape with your hands, either on a baking sheet or a loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and brush the remaining pesto over the top. Bake for 30 more minutes.
  5. In the meantime, simmer your favorite marinara (homemade or store-bought) and drizzle it over the meatloaf slices when serving.
  6. Serve with steamed lemon broccoli, extra lemon wedges and freshly grated parmesan. SO LIGHT! SO GOOD! Sorry to scream.
  7. Serves 4.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf / Bev Cooks

Do it for the children.

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18 Responses to Turkey Pesto Meatloaf

  1. autumn July 18, 2017 at 10:21 am #
    YUMMMM can't wait to try this! Such a different spin on a meatloaf! ... so if I'm using store bought pesto, how much do I need?
    • Bev Weidner July 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm #
      I'd say about 3/4th of a cup total! 1/2 cup IN the loaf (<--sorry), and 1/4th on top. Good luck!
  2. Jenn July 18, 2017 at 11:10 am #
    This looks SO delicious! I remember growing up and hating my Mom's meatloaf. LOL! Sorry Mom! I'm going to give this a try! :) Thank you for the recipe!
  3. Amanda July 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm #
    BEV. This looks so good. I love meatloaf and pesto so this is about the most perfect thing ever, imo. Thoughts on Gretchen and Dawson? At first I was all "uh no" but as time went on I felt like she helped Dawson to grow up a little and really liked her.
    • Bev Weidner July 18, 2017 at 1:07 pm #
      I COMPLETELY AGREE. I actually like her! The sound of her voice, and her calm eyes. She's good for Dawson. I just feel like Joey and Pacey hate it. :)
      • Amanda July 21, 2017 at 11:37 am #
        They most definitely hate it, which makes sense. Pacey has to hate it because that's his sister and Joey, even though she may not want to be with Dawson, would want to keep his attention.
  4. Joelle July 18, 2017 at 9:50 pm #
    Bev, I saw this and immediately made a shopping list. I just finished baking it and ate it right away, it's 10:46pm Now! But ugh, this is to die for. I want more loaf! I did substitute 1/3 cup almond flour for the panko since I can't have gluten and it turned out fantastic! Also, I've never seen Dawson's creek. I loved Gilmore girls, you think I would like dawsons?
  5. Rachel July 19, 2017 at 12:14 pm #
    YUM! If I half the recipe for just 2 of us (and because I only have 1 lb of turkey) do you think I should cut down the baking time a bit?
  6. Kate @ Cooking On Clocks July 19, 2017 at 12:52 pm #
    This reminds me of home! Love this twist on a classic.
  7. Nancy July 19, 2017 at 7:47 pm #
    I loved it when you said loafy loaf :)
  8. Jones July 20, 2017 at 1:39 am #
    Can we talk about the marinara/pesto combo? Can't wrap my mind around it. I was super on board and then the marinara threw me off. Is that a normal combo? Just curious but I guess I'll also see for meself when I make this.
    • Bev Weidner July 20, 2017 at 9:45 am #
      Oh it's wonderful! Instead of the traditional ketchup coating on top, I wanted something more Italian, and more of a drizzle. So it's a bunch of beautiful Italian flavors all mixed together! Truuuust meh - you'll diggeth.
  9. Mel July 20, 2017 at 8:36 am #
    Bev, where have you been all my life? You are hilarious and your food looks amazing - I'm devouring your back catalogue of posts and can't wait to whip up a few of your recipes to devour also. Starting with this one - then your 2015 ricotta & banana pancakes on Sunday morning. I only happened to stumble across your blog via searching "banana pancake flat lay" (of all things - I'm so cliched haha) on Pinterest and am so happy I did! So here's to me striking gold by being cliched and here's to your creative wit & well written recipes! I wonder if you ever found that phone cord ... xx
  10. Amanda Mears July 20, 2017 at 9:58 pm #
    HOLY SMOKES! I made this tonight for my hubby and it's AMAZING! We are the whole thing between the two of us. We love you.
  11. Jackie February 6, 2018 at 6:42 pm #
    I’m making it for dinner tonight! I added fresh chopped spinach so we will see how it turns out! Thanks for a great recipe?
  12. Ana February 11, 2018 at 10:50 pm #
    Finally made this loaf (I’m sorry as well). Ummmm can I get a ‘Delish’! Perfect. Easy to make. Full of flavor. Adding this to my rotation! Thanks Bev!


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