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Meatloaf Makeover: Putting My Own Twist on an Old Favorite.

Updated on August 12, 2012
anglnwu profile image

A certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits and how to keep weight in check,


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Call it comfort food, traditional fare, an old-time favorite or a “tireless chameleon” (name given to it by Nadia Arumugan, author of Chop, Sizzle & Stir), the meatloaf has the ability to change and adapt to the ebb of time and place. It is never boring, unless you want it to be. The nature of its constituent parts lends itself to culinary expressions and experimentations. And why not? Just change one component and you’ve added a twist to this old favorite. Consider the possibilities—change the meat used, the binders, the spices, the fillers and the toppings—there is no limit to what you can do to crank up the flavor or play it down. From the use of Worcestershire sauce to turmeric to prunes to bacon to variety meats, there is no one way to create a meatloaf. Every generation, place and culture adds its own spin on this versatile invention. Its capacity for re-invention is what made meatloaf so enduring, earning a permanent place on our dinner tables.

I had my first meatloaf when I came to America in the 90s. It is not difficult to fall in love with a good slice of meatloaf. After all, it remotely resembles a steamed version of meat with eggs that my mother used to make. Still, the traditional meatloaf, dutifully baked in a loaf pan was foreign to me. My husband showed me how to make a traditional American meatloaf with a tomato sauce on top but that was possibly also the last time, he eats one like that in our house. From the first basic meatloaf, I had inevitably added my own spin, one borne out of culture and upbringing—an Asian meatloaf.

Who invented Meatloaf?

It’s hard to pinpoint but it bears European ancestry. It was first mentioned by Roman gastronome Apicius and it featured chopped meat seasoned with spices, pine nuts and bread soaked in wine, shaped into a patty. As you can see, these features endure the passage of time and are still the mainstay of meatloaf.

Meatloaf is also a traditional German and Belgium dish, which is closely related to the Dutch meatball. As for the American meatloaf, it probably evolved from scrapple, a Pennsylvanian Dutch settlers’ concoction of meat scrapped from bones and combined with various organ meats. The combined meat is then seasoned with spices and cornmeal added to thicken it to form loaves. The loaves of compressed meat is left to set, then sliced and pan-fried. The first mention of meatloaf in print was in 1899. From then, meatloaf as we know it has been an open template—open to possibilities without losing its basics.

An Asian Meatloaf—How About That?

I call it my Asian meatloaf. My husband calls it bluff—though in truth, he says he loves it better. As for my kids, they didn’t know any better—they grew up on Asian meatloaf. Wary friends would shake their heads until they had a bite. So far, no complaints but maybe, they are being polite.

So what goes into this Asian meatloaf? Actually, the only Asian thing about it is the seasoning—soya sauce, sugar, chopped green onion, cilantro and a touch of sesame oil. The rest is a culmination of things that work well with the chosen seasoning. I typically line my loaf pan with one whole coarsely chopped onion. Over the meatloaf, I pour about a quarter cup of white wine to allow it to caramelize with the onion for a sweet flavor. There is another advantage to using the white wine—the resulting sauce makes a good gravy for mashed potato or rice. And then for eye appeal, I enlist the help of bright red bell pepper and robust green parsley—so festive and playful, it’s sure to tempt even the most finicky eater.

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 15 min
Yields: 1 loaf of meatloaf, 10 to 12 slices
Click thumbnail to view full-size


  • 1 pkg lean ground turkey, 93% fat free
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 big onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 big onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
  • A bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
  • Half a red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs brown sugar, (more if preferred)
  • 2 tbs soya sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • A handful of oats
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of Chardonney
Click thumbnail to view full-size


  1. Put ground lean turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add finely chopped onion, green onion and cilantro.
  2. Add soya sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Add oats and cornstarch and mix thoroughly.
  4. Spray loaf pan with a non-stick spray. Spread the bottom of pan with coarsely chopped onion.
  5. Divide turkey mixture into two portions. Spread one portion on top of onion.
  6. Put the three hard boiled eggs on top of first layer of turkey mixture. Lay the eggs lengthwise in one straight line in the middle of mixture as shown.
  7. Sprinkle some chopped red bell pepper and parsley for color. Save some for garnishing the top layer of meatloaf.
  8. Add second layer of turkey mixture and packed it well with a fork. Press it down with fork and make sure sides are sealed.
  9. Sprinkle the top layer of meatloaf with chopped red bell pepper and parsley. Gently press down on garnishing.
  10. Pour Chardonney over meatloaf.
  11. Bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until done.
  12. Broil meatloaf for 2 to 3 minutes if desired.
All pretty up and ready to go into the oven.
All pretty up and ready to go into the oven. | Source
The caramelized onion is incredibly tasty.
The caramelized onion is incredibly tasty. | Source

Allow meatloaf to cool but slicing it. You can choose to drizzle sliced meatloaf with the wine sauce, sweetened by onion. Serve with mashed potato, rice pilaf, brown rice or any whole grain. You can also include slices of meatloaf in sandwiches, stuff it in pita bread, break it into pieces to add to chili or soup.

Baking meatloaf is perhaps the most common way but you can choose to use the microwave oven or the slow cooker. And why stick to the loaf pan? You can use the bundt pan, muffin trays or even a mug. Or use your hands to shape it as they did of old.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 slice of meatloaf
Calories 240
Calories from Fat72
% Daily Value *
Fat 8 g12%
Saturated fat 2 g10%
Unsaturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 3 g1%
Sugar 4 g
Fiber 10 g40%
Protein 30 g60%
Cholesterol 106 mg35%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

If you like the recipe, please give it some stars. Thanks.

5 stars from 5 ratings of Asian Turkey Meatloaf

Tips and Tricks

The criteria for meatloaf is simple—some ground meat, a binder to hold the ground meat together, spices and then a filler, if preferred. With these basic requirements in place, it is then fair game. Allow your creative flair to fly and with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make a delectable juicy meatloaf-- not the run-of-the-mill offering you find at the grocery but your very own signature meatloaf.

  • Meat

Any ground meat choices can be used—beef, pork, veal, lamb, venison, veal or poultry. You may choose to combine two or more kinds of meat. In general, meat with more fats makes the meatloaf juicer. If however, you’re looking to cut down on fat calories, opt for leaner meat choices. They may make the meatloaf drier but you can always offset that with the inclusion of chopped vegetables, herbs and other fillers. If you prefer vegetable protein, subtitute part of the meat for tofu (mashed and add)--just add more eggs to hold the ingredients together.

  • Binders

Binders have a specific purpose—to bind the ground meat together, quite like mortar holding the bricks in place. Choices abound from what you’ve in the pantry to cultural influences. Commonly used binders include eggs, breadcrumbs, bread soaked in wine or beer, wheatgerm, ground almonds, oatmeal and crackers. Ethnic meatloaves may have Japanese panko crumbs, rice, cornstarch, soda crackers or sesame paste.

  • Spices

Stick with salt and pepper or go wild. The pantry is the limit. Allspice, ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, cayenne, cumin, sage, curry powder—you call the shots. The idea is to add flavor and depth to the ground meat at hand.

  • Vegetables and Herbs

Finely chopped vegetables and fresh herbs not only add nutritional value to the meatloaf, they also serve to make the meat less dense and as a result, juicer and more flavorful. I use a variety of fresh herbs in mine but feel free to experiment. Commonly used vegetables include spinach, carrots, celery, potato and parsley. I enjoy chopping my vegetables but you can simply use the food processor.

  • Fillers

You can make a solid slab of meatloaf or you can break the monotony by filling the middle of the meatloaf with interesting surprises. I’ve successfully used cheese, chopped herbs, shrimps and tofu. Other ideas include mushroom, pesto sauce, sun-dried tomato and dried fruits, amongst others.

  • Liquids

The use of liquid adds another dimension to the meatloaf. Not only does it add moisture, the choice of liquid gives it a distinctive character. Wine, beer, tomato juice/paste, apple cider, fruit juice or broth—one more thing to consider when you strive to make a moist meatloaf.

  • Topping

Ahh…the topping is like the icing on the cake—gives it star appeal. Walk down the corridors of culinary creations and you’ll find anything from mashed potato to ketchup to cheese to chopped nuts to bacon. I keep mine simple with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.


Submit a Comment

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Hi Carol, always good to see you. Thanks for reading and voting it up.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

    Great recipe ideas and I make lots of meatloaf but learned some new things...Thanks for sharing all of this. VOted UP.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    vespawoolf, sorry, I took so long to respond. Thanks for dropping by to comment and I'm glad you found the tips and tricks section useful.

  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    I'm not a meatloaf fan, but after reading your hub I'm convinced to try yours. I like the idea of the Asian flavorings and fresh veggies. I love your tips and tricks section, too. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Deborah, thanks for your comments. Enjoy trying!

  • DeborahNeyens profile image

    Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

    I love meatloaf. The Asian twist sounds great! I wll have to try this. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Movie Master, always good to hear from you. Thanks for reading and commenting and happy cooking.

    penlady, I agree, the beauty of cooking is that we can create and make food more interesting. Thanks for your comments.

    Om, how can I run away from my Asian roots--they follow me everywhere, even in my food. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    Angeline, I want to eat your Asian meatloaf right now! NOW! It just looks and sounds so awesome. You had me at Chardonney! lol

  • penlady profile image

    penlady 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

    This is an interesting twist to meatloaf. I never seen meatloaf with eggs on it; however that's the beauty of cooking. You can add your own creative touch to every meal - no matter how long it's been around.

    I must say your meatloaf does look tasty. Voted up and interesting.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi anginwu, I love the sound of your meatloaf version and am looking forward to trying it, thank you and voted up.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Thanks, Pamela, for your comments. Give it a try.

    Victoria, thanks for your kind comments and votes up.

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I love all the different suggestions you give. I love meatloaf and will have fun trying different combinations. Thanks. Voted up among others!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Thanks, beingwell, for stopping by to comment.

    Lovedoctor26, thanks for reading and voting it up.

  • profile image

    lovedoctor926 5 years ago

    Wow! this looks very tempting. Voted up awesome!

  • beingwell profile image

    beingwell 5 years ago from Bangkok

    This is how my cousin makes his meatloaf. Yumm yumm!!

    Voted up and shared.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Redberry, haha, obsession with a certain spice? Been there. If you've not tried meatloaf before, give it a try, especially homemade ones--they're especially tasty and way healthier. Thanks for your comments.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Arlene, lucky you--you've a crop of cilantro always waiting in the backyard. I love cilantro too much, I think. I used it whenever a recipe lends itself and it goes really well in the meatloaf. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    medicarribean, thanks for your kind comments. It's always fun to discover new ways to cook an old favorite. Glad you like it and thanks voting it up.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    I have made many different types of meatloaf, but never an Asian one and your recipe sounds delicious. Using turkey would make it healthier also. Thanks for another one of your great recipes.

  • Redberry Sky profile image

    Redberry Sky 5 years ago

    I've never had meatloaf, but you make it look and sound delicious. I too like to add my favourite spices and herbs to dishes they aren't usually associated with - there was a time when everything I ate tasted of nutmeg after I first went to my now-favourite Greek restaurant! Great recipe, and one I'll be trying out very soon :)

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Haha, teaches, when I first came to America, everything is a learning process. The first time I went to an American restaurant, I was surprised/appalled at the size of the salad and I thought--you mean people actually eat that as a meal? Now, I don't even bat an eyelid--it's all good. Thanks for reading and enjoy making the meatloaf.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    Thanks, rebecca, for reading and commenting. Appreciate your vote and sharing.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 5 years ago

    vking, I use turkey a lot in place of pork or beef. I find that it works well in meatloaf. Thanks for your kind comments and thanks for sharing.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

    Thank you for this. Love meatloaf! will have to give this a try

  • profile image

    Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

    These days, I love to try any recipes featuring cilantro since I'm growing it this year. My little crop is so well worth it because I am just now discovering all the interesting dishes that use cilantro. Also I am a fan of ground turkey over any type of beef. 5 Stars and UP!!!

  • medicaribbean profile image

    medicaribbean 5 years ago from Caribbean

    You have written well and presented a very interesting twist to the classic recipe. Must run to my kitchen nopw to try this. Looking forward to more surprises. I just love finding new ways to cook old but well loved dishes. Thank you very much for sharing! It is worth voting all the way up!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

    I like your version and am willing to give it a try. I would have loved to have seen your expression when you first discovered the American version. It is something that is not really found a lot in restaurants these days and rarely made in some homes. I do love a good meatloaf sandwich. Great recipe idea!

  • rebeccamealey profile image

    Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

    Sounds like gourmet meatloaf! I love the ingredients you use. The soy sauce, cilantro and brown sugar sounds tasty together. Voted awesome and shared!

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 5 years ago from Ireland

    I do like turkey so might just give this meat loaf recipe a try. The eggs in the middle of the meat loaf look great.

    Love the idea that we can be creative and add our own topping. I would like to use mashed potatoes with finally chopped onions and parsley mixed in.

    Shared on Twitter. Voted 5 stars. An excellent new recipe I will definitely be trying out.


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