turkey meatloaf burgers

The house I grew up in has a door on three of the four sides. Door #1 is off the bottom driveway and requires using a flight of narrow curvy stone stairs. Door #2 is on the “front” of the house, and used only by strangers, such as a solicitor or flower delivery person, since you have to walk through the grass or mud or snow to get to it. And door #3 is off the upper driveway, which was created back in the mid-70’s when an addition was put on the house. Everyone we knew went to door #3 — the back door — which led directly into the kitchen. And hardly anyone ever knocked. I’m one of six children and we (and our neighborhood friends) went in and out that door about a hundred thousand times a day. My mom used to call it Grand Central Station.

the back door … come on in!

I have such fond memories of walking into my mom’s kitchen from that back door and inhaling the tempting smells of whatever she was cooking or baking. In my memory my mom was always in the kitchen. Always. Sorry mom! I’m sure she did other things, but so much of her time was in the kitchen, and we all spent so many hours in that large room, that many of my childhood memories include mom with an apron on in her kitchen.

One of the best smells was that of meatloaf. Now, my mom may have burnt green beans or undercooked the baked potatoes, but she knew how to make meatloaf. Not sure exactly what she put in her version, and knowing her, it was different every time, but it always made the house smell amazing and so welcoming.

I haven’t been able to recreate my mom’s meatloaf aroma, but truthfully, I haven’t really tried. I make meatloaf using ground white meat turkey. And because it’s made of turkey I worry about getting the inside to cook to the correct temperature, without drying out the outside, so I gave up on making loaves. Instead I form the turkey meatloaf mixture into burgers. These have become a favorite in my family. They’re easy to make, not expensive (I love meals that are around $10), and come pretty close to recreating that wonderful meatloaf aroma I remember so well from my mom’s kitchen.

*Note: I made these for a friend the other night, and she and her children loved them! Yahoo!


Turkey Meatloaf Burgers

olive oil

1 pound ground white meat turkey

1 egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or panko)

1 cup pasta sauce (store bought or homemade), divided

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

garlic powder (to taste, I use about 1 teaspoon)



1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350F.

Put meat, egg, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce, oregano, basil, garlic, pepper and salt into a large bowl and stir with a fork (I don’t like to put my hands into raw meat, and have found that stirring with a fork incorporates all the ingredients well).

In a shallow baking dish, coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil. Form the meat mixture into 6 hamburger-sized patties (or 9 mini-burgers if serving young children).  Place them in the baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, then flip each burger and cook another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and top each burger using the remaining 1/2 cup pasta sauce (about 1 tablespoon on each). Then, distribute the mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce. Return to the oven for a final 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted.


One response to “turkey meatloaf burgers

  1. Nice to read your memories of childhood meals….sounds like you had a comforting home. Your stories are as special as your delicious meals. ASM

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