Adding a little basil pesto to this Turkey Pesto meatloaf and topping it with tomato sauce really bumps up the flavor! And I’ve switched out the whole wheat breadcrumbs I used to use for flaxseed meal to make this a low-carb meatloaf recipe! 

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Turkey Pesto Meatloaf finished meatloaf on serving plate.

I’m a huge fan of basil pesto, so this year when my garden had lots of basil I went into pesto-making overdrive. Now I have an abundance of Basil Pesto with Lemon in my freezer, so I’ve been pondering new ways to use pesto. Pesto ideas had been swirling around in my head for a few days when I had the thought of adding some pesto to turkey meatloaf to bump up the flavor.

Of course it’s hard to come up with a recipe that someone hasn’t thought of already, and when I searched for “turkey pesto meatloaf” I found that quite a few other people had the same idea.  The recipe here was adapted from a turkey pesto meatloaf recipe that’s no longer online, and I did change the recipe up a bit for my version.

My Turkey Pesto Meatloaf has a generous amount of pesto, and I used tomato sauce mixed with a little balsamic vinegar to top the meatloaf, a combination that went well with the pesto.  I loved this variation on meatloaf; hope other people will enjoy it too.

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce found on

How to Make Turkey Pesto Meatloaf:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Finely chop an onion and saute it until it’s starting to brown, then add minced garlic and saute about 2 minutes more.
  2. I freeze my pesto in bags that are sealed with a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer (affiliate link), so the pesto stays good all winter.  I freeze it in ice cube trays or mini muffin tins so you can take out a few cubes and reseal the bag. I used 1/4 cup of Basil Pesto with Lemon with 1.5 pounds of lean ground turkey for this recipe.
  3. Put the ground turkey, sauteed onions and garlic, pesto, Parmesan, salt, and Flaxseed Meal (affiliate link) in a bowl that’s big enough you can get your hands in there to mix the ingredients.
  4. Then use clean hands to mix the ingredients together just until they are combined.
  5. I bake my meatloaf on a roasting pan like this one from the thrift store, which lets the extra fat drip down. 
  6. I love to make those diagonal slits in the top of the meatloaf, but they are totally optional!
  7. I cooked the meatloaf for 40 minutes before I started basting with the sauce.
  8. While the meatloaf cooks, mix together some low-sugar marinara sauce with a little balsamic vinegar.
  9. After 40 minutes I brushed on a thick coating of sauce and continued to cook.
  10. It’s best to use a meat thermometer (affiliate link) for ground turkey, because at the time the inspiring recipe said the meatloaf would be done, mine had only reached an internal temperature of 141F, and ground turkey needs to be cooked to 165F/75C to be safe.
  11. I continued to brush the meatloaf with sauce and cook for a total cooking time of 1 hour 20 minutes.

More Delicious Ideas with Basil Pesto:

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen
5 Easy Ways to Use Basil Pesto from Kitchen Gadget Girl
Baked Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Healthy Lasagna with Turkey, Pesto, and Peppers from Cookin’ Canuck
Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Parmesan ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf finished meatloaf on serving plate.
Yield: 6 servings

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes

This Turkey Pesto Meatloaf has a little basil pesto added that really bumps up flavor!


  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 T finely minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto (see notes)
  • 2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup Rao's Marinara sauce
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar


  1. Take the turkey out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prep the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  3. Spray a roasting pan with olive oil or nonstick spray (preferably a pan with some slits to let any extra fat drip out.)
  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onion with medium-high heat until it’s starting to slightly brown, about 7-8 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, lower heat slightly, and saute about 2 minutes more.
  6. Using a bowl that’s large enough to get both hands into it, combine the ground turkey, sauteed onion and garlic, pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt, and flaxseed meal.
  7. Use clean hands to mix the ingredients, just until they are combined.
  8. Form the mixture into a loaf shape and place on the roasting pan.
  9. I like to use a butter knife to make diagonal slits into the top of the meatloaf, but that’s optional.
  10. Bake meatloaf for 40 minutes.
  11. While it bakes, stir together the marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar and after 40 minutes use a pastry brush to brush it onto the meatloaf, until it’s completely covered with sauce.
  12. Continue to bake, brushing with more sauce a few more times if you have some left, until a meat thermometer (affiliate link) shows a temperature of 165F/75C.  I cooked my meatloaf for a total time of one hour and twenty minutes before it got to that temperature.
  13. Serve hot.


I used my homemade Basil Pesto with Lemon, but good quality purchased pesto will be fine. Use a little more pesto if you prefer.

This freezes well. For best results, thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Recipe adapted from a Turkey Pesto Meatloaf recipe that's no longer online.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 402Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 412mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 35g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

Did you make this recipe?

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating (under the PRINT button in the recipe) or share a photo of your results on Instagram! THANKS!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
The updated version of this recipe with flaxseed meal will be great for low-carb diets and for all phases of the original South Beach Diet. For South Beach Dieters, it’s important to use lean ground turkey and low-sugar marinara sauce if you’re making this recipe. I buy Rao’s Pasta Sauce (affiliate link), which is the lowest carb sauce I’ve found.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Oven Dinners to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Pinterest image of Turkey Pesto Meatloaf

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