Inspired by a visit to Disney's Grand Floridian Cafe, this comforting plate of Turkey Meatloaf with Onion Gravy is nearly as delicious as a trip to Walt Disney World. Healthy and easy to make, it will win the dinner game with your entire family.
(This recipe was originally published in November 2019, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
I did not grow up in a household that served meatloaf for dinner. My grandmother and my mom, the two main cooks in our house, made predominantly Armenian food. A lot of my childhood culinary memories include dishes like manti and Armenian meatball soup.
I honestly can't remember the first time I tasted meatloaf. Although I hadn't made or eaten meatloaf in many years, I couldn't resist the appetizing turkey meatloaf on the dinner menu at the Grand Floridian Cafe at Walt Disney World during a visit to Orlando.
Their poultry-based meatloaf is topped with a rich, brown, caramelized onion gravy, and served with smashed red bliss potatoes and broccolini.
From the first bite to the last, I was in heaven. I suddenly remembered that I love meatloaf, but it's just been absent from my life for many years. I knew immediately that I would recreate the turkey meatloaf with gravy in my own kitchen.
Recreating Disney's turkey meatloaf
Disney was unable to provide me with their recipe, so I just came up with my own! It's not an exact replica, but it's extremely juicy and flavorful, the epitome of comfort food on a plate.
I included grated carrot in my meatloaf to provide additional color, vitamins, and moisture. The sautéed onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup add layers upon layers of flavor.
Ketchup is a common topping for meatloaf before baking it. I deliberately left out this step as it was not the way Disney made theirs. Nor would it compliment the onion gravy, which is just as important to the equation as the meatloaf itself in this case.
My onion gravy is a simple pan gravy with a boost of umami flavor from the savory flavor bomb that is Worcestershire sauce. My version is not quite as brown as Disney's.
It's likely that they use some kind of a brown gravy base or demi glace for theirs, but using beef broth gets you pretty close. It's thick enough to hold its own on both the meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
My turkey meatloaf with onion gravy definitely triggers the same delicious memories of dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. But it's cheaper than a flight to Florida, and much quicker too!
How to make it
This turkey meatloaf with gravy recipe is easy and straight-forward. To get started heat a little olive oil in a nonstick skillet and add finely chopped onion, minced garlic, and grated carrot (PHOTO 1). Cook until softened, and set aside to cool (PHOTO 2).
Next, in a mixing bowl add ground turkey, the cooled onion-carrot mixture, an egg, breadcrumbs, milk or broth, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper, and dried thyme (PHOTO 3). Mix until thoroughly combined (PHOTO 4).
Line a baking sheet with foil, and lightly oil. Shape the turkey mixture into a free-form rectangle measuring about 9-by-4-inches (PHOTO 5).
Bake for about 50 minutes or until the turkey meatloaf is cooked through, and an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving (PHOTO 6).
Meanwhile, make the onion gravy!
Heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add sliced onions with a big pinch of salt (PHOTO 1). Cover the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions have sweat down and softened. Cook for a few more minutes until they are slightly caramelized and really soft and translucent (PHOTO 2).
Add flour (PHOTO 3) and mix to coat the onions (PHOTO 4). Little by little, whisk in your broth making sure to mix until smooth to avoid getting lumps in your gravy (PHOTO 5). After all the broth is whisked in, add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings, and then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened and smooth (PHOTO 6).
What to serve with your turkey meatloaf
I definitely recommend serving this healthy turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes!
The onion gravy is fabulous not only over the turkey meatloaf but on the mashed potatoes. You can use red bliss potatoes like they do at Disney, or any kind of potatoes you prefer. If you use red bliss, there's no need to peel them, but make sure you scrub them really well before boiling.
Here's what I usually do: Peel and cube up potatoes, add them to a large pot with salted water, then bring it to a boil.
Lower the heat a bit so it doesn't boil over. Boil until the potatoes are tender, then drain. Mash with butter and milk (or buttermilk) and salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I also boil whole cloves of garlic with my potatoes for garlic mashed potatoes!
I also suggest serving some type of vegetable on the side. At Disney's Grand Floridian Cafe they serve this turkey meatloaf with broccolini. In the past I have served it with sauteed greens, like kale or spinach. I also like serving it with green beans sauteed in garlic.
You can make this turkey meatloaf with gravy gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs and a gluten-free flour or thickener in place of the regular flour in the onion gravy.
This recipe is also dairy-free if you use olive oil (no butter) and broth instead of milk in the meatloaf mix.
How to reheat leftovers
There really isn't a right or wrong way to reheat meatloaf, but I have found that the best way to retain moisture in my turkey meatloaf is to only slice as many pieces as I plan to serve that day, and leave the remaining meatloaf in one whole piece.
Then I reheat that larger piece in the oven or toaster oven until heated through. I usually wrap it in foil to reheat, and then unwrap it partway through. Your reheated meatloaf should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in order to be safe to eat. When it's fully reheated, slice and serve!
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- Browse all the Disney Recipes
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Turkey Meatloaf with Onion Gravy
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ¼ pounds ground turkey (97% lean)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup beef or chicken broth, or milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
- 1 medium onion halved and sliced ¼-inch thick
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef or chicken broth (beef broth will yield a darker brown gravy with a richer flavor)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the onion, carrot, and garlic, and saute for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl add the ground turkey, cooled onion-carrot mixture, egg, breadcrumbs, milk or broth, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix together gently with your hands until ingredients are fully incorporated, but do not over-mix.
- Shape the mixture into a free-from rectangular loaf shape on the prepared pan, measuring approximately 9-by-4-inches. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 165°F. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Meanwhile, make the onion gravy. In a medium saucepan heat the oil or butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Cover the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions sweat and are softened.
- Uncover and continue to cook for another few minutes, then dust with the flour, stirring to coat. Add the broth a little at a time, whisking thoroughly between additions to ensure a smooth gravy without lumps. Raise the heat to high. Add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and salt and pepper.
- When the gravy starts bubbling, lower the heat to medium, and continue to cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until thick and flavorful.
- Serve the meatloaf with mashed potatoes, and gravy drizzled over the top of both the meatloaf and potatoes.
- I suggest only cutting as many slices as you plan to serve (if you expect to have leftovers) and then reheating the remaining turkey meatloaf in a larger, solid piece in the oven or toaster oven. This will help it stay moist when you reheat it. Slice to serve after it's heated through.
- This meatloaf can also yield 6 larger servings (thicker slices) instead of 8 if your family is especially hungry!
- You can easily make this meatloaf gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free flour, and dairy-free by using broth (no milk) and oil (no butter).
- I didn't include a recipe for mashed potatoes here, but here's what I usually do: Peel and cube up potatoes, add them to a large pot with salted water, then bring it to a boil. Lower the heat a bit so it doesn't boil over. Boil until the potatoes are tender, then drain. Mash with butter and milk (or buttermilk) and salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I also boil whole cloves of garlic with my potatoes for garlic mashed potatoes!
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*