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Recipe for quinoa turkey meatloaf {gluten-free}

Quinoa turkey meatloaf

When you have a few cookbooks (okay, a few hundred cookbooks), only a few of your friends and family will chance giving you cookbooks for the holidays. My lovely friend Laura gave me Nirmala's Edible Diary, and right away I marked a dozen recipes to try. This Peruvian-inspired quinoa turkey meatloaf called for ingredients in my pantry, plus some basil, which I happened to have on hand for another dish. The original recipe includes chives, which are dead as can be in my garden at this time of year, and it doesn't call for ketchup, which really rounds out the flavor.

Quinoa turkey meatloaf, easy and healthy.

Quinoa turkey meatloaf

From the pantry, you'll need: quinoa, onions, extra-virgin olive oil, ground cumin, ground turkey, tomato paste, egg, cooking spray, ketchup, sea salt and fresh black pepper.

Adapted slightly from Nirmala's Edible Diary: A Hungry Traveler's Cookbook with Recipes from 14 Countries, this recipe serves 4-6.


Canola spray
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup quinoa cooked with 1 cup of water)*
1 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp tomato ketchup
1 large egg
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper


Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat an 8-1/2x4-1/2x2-1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño to the pan, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is soft. Stir in the cumin, and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion mixture and the remaining ingredients. (*I'm a total convert to Karina's method of cooking quinoa in a rice cooker.) Mix thoroughly, and transfer to the loaf pan. Bake for one hour. Turn the oven off, and let the meatloaf sit in it for 10 minutes. Then, remove from the oven, and let the meatloaf cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes for turkey and quinoa, sometimes together:
Turkey meatloaf with fig gravy, from The Perfect Pantry
Black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad with honey-lime vinaigrette, from The Perfect Pantry
Turkey mole chili, from The Perfect Pantry
Quinoa stuffed portobello mushrooms with pine nuts and raisins, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Quinoa and turkey taco stew, from Green Lite Bites
Turkey adobo quinoa chili, from Culinary Adventures of a New Wife

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love the idea of quinoa in a turkey meatloaf. Brilliant. I imagine it is delicious!

Wow, this looks absolutely delicious; I would have never thought to put quinoa in meatloaf, but I can just imagine how amazing it must be! Bookmarked!

Bravo, Lydia, I love this. I must put it on this weeks menu plan.
Do you think it would freeze well?

I am always wondering about new ways to use up some left over turkey. This meat loaf will be a great option a tasty way to eat left overs.

Karina, this was one of the most interesting meatloaf variations I've tried in ages. The quinoa gives it a great texture.

Kamran, I'd never tried it before, but now I'm going to use it more often, especially when gluten-free guests come for dinner.

Aimee, I think it would freeze just fine, but I have to tell you that it's not as firm a meatloaf as a traditional recipe is. If you try it, let me know. In our house, it doesn't last long enough to freeze!

VL, yes, it would!

I tried this recipe today. It was very tasty and I will make it again. However, it needed more binder. When I was trying to form it into a loaf, it wouldn’t stay together. Didn’t look great, but tasted good. Not sure what to try next time to make it sturdier.
Happy New Year! I'm eager to read your delicious recipes in 2011.

This looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

Happy New Year :)

Sounds and looks good to me! I really like quinoa, not only for taste and texture, but all the nutrition it offers, too---win, win, win in my book. :-)

Yes, that would be tough to give a cookbook when the recipient has so many cookbooks already. ;-) Glad you got a new one that you like though!

Happy New Year!

This sounds delicious. I need to find more ways to incorporate quinoa into my diet, and this is one of the only recipes I've seen that isn't "salad-based." Since I'm from the suburbs, meatloaf is in my DNA.

This looks like a great way to hide both quinoa and turkey in a dinner my husband will eat!
I suspect if I cooked it in a loaf pan the "holding together issues" will be less and my meatloaf tends to be a little loose anyway - so he is used to that!

Hi Lydia,
Thanks for this great recipe! Agree with the previous commenter that it's also an ingenious way to sneak in some quinoa for those who aren't too keen on it alone (case in point my BF). I'm new to your blog; looking forward to exploring more of your recipes!

This is such an original way to use quinoa. I am trying to increase my fiber intake and working whole grains into dishes like this is an easy way to do that.

Traduceri, I formed mine in a loaf pan and it held together, though it's definitely not as sturdy as traditional meatloaf. Did you use turkey with some fat in it? I use the 93% ground turkey, which gave it enough moisture. Another idea is to add a bit of additional egg white.

Mari, thanks. We loved this meatloaf.

Shirley, I'm determined to add more quinoa to my diet this year. It is definitely a win-win-win. (And yes, my friend Laura always manages to find books I don't already own. I love her for that.)

TW, I'll bet you could serve this at a dinner party and nobody would mind that it has quinoa in it, as long as it's shaped like a meatloaf!

Carol, I used a loaf pan and didn't have any problems with the shape holding together. My husband loved this; I hope yours will, too.

Nancy, I'm so glad you found your way here, and I hope you enjoy the recipes that use ingredients from the pantry (even "sneaky" recipes like this quinoa turkey meatloaf!).

Cookin' Canuck, same here, trying to work more grains into my everyday dishes.

Sounds great, just did a little inventory and I seem to have all of this on hand. Think we'll give it a try tonight. Thanks for dinner!

My husband, 2 year old and myself ate 50 pounds of quinoa last year! Costco has organic quinoa 5 pounds for $10 - the savings on the cost of quinoa alone has paid for our membership fees. We love it and use it in place of rice, frequently with beans and salsa. Looking forward to trying out this recipe - thanks!

Thanks for posting this. As a gluten-free eater, I'm a huge quinoa fan, but I never thought of using it with ground meat. The recipe looks great!

I made a turkey quinoa meatloaf myself with a ketchup glaze and loved it! healthy and delicious! (Recipe on my blog.)

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