Veggie-Packed Santa Fe Style Turkey Meatloaf

turkey meatloaf

Turkey meatloaf recipes are popular, but many turn out bland and dry. The trick is to add plenty of spice to spike the flavor and plenty of vegetables to pack in moistness.

This recipe for southwestern-style turkey meatloaf includes carrots, celery, onions, leeks, Jalapeno, and plenty of roasted poblano peppers. Besides keeping the meatloaf moist, vegetables add vitamins and fiber.

With so much packed into this recipe, it could serve as a meal in itself (and it has!). But a simple leafy green side salad and sweet potato fries would round out a weeknight meal. (For a true Santa Fe experience, recreating Tomasita’s sopaipillas and honey butter would be a delicious— if not exactly a healthy — addition.)

Peppers Bring the Heat and the Health Benefits

Poblano peppers, like most peppers, contain several health benefits. They are a source of vitamin C and A, along with potassium and iron, and lots of soluble fiber. And, although they are a milder pepper, Poblanos and Jalapeno peppers do contain capsaicin, the compound that produces heat. Capsaicin has many benefits. According to WebMD, “Some studies suggest capsaicin acts as an antioxidant to protect your cells and helps tamp down inflammation.” Hot peppers can also speed up your metabolism, help with migraines and arthritis, clear a stuffy nose, and may extend life expectancy.

Santa Fe Inspiration, Hold the Beef

Santa Fe is famous for serving “red or green” chile sauce from morning ’til night. The inspiration for this turkey meatloaf recipe comes from a long-gone diner in Santa Fe, where I chose the nightly special: southwestern meatloaf made with beef, pork, chorizo sausage, lots of peppers, and, naturally, red and green chile sauce poured over the top. Delicious.

When we returned home from that trip, I began experimenting with a healthier version, of the diner meatloaf, minus the beef and pork. Eventually, I landed on this delicious Santa Fe-style turkey meatloaf. It’s a crowd-pleaser.

Pepper tray
Place Poblanos under the broiler or on the grill until the skin is charred.

saute veggies
Leeks and diced Jalapeno peppers liven up a traditional soffritto.

turkey meatloaf
Red enchilada sauce replaces the sugar-packed ketchup used in most meatloaf recipes.

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turkey meatloaf

Santa Fe Style Turkey Meatloaf With Roasted Poblanos

  • Author: Joan Feldman
  • Prep Time: 1 ½ hours (including chilling time)
  • Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 ½ to 3 hours, including chilling time
  • Yield: 2 medium meatloafs 1x


Roasted poblano peppers elevate the standard turkey meatloaf recipe from blah to brilliant, packed with juicy vegetables and topped with red chile enchilada sauce. The recipe makes two loaves, so you can freeze one for later!



1 Yellow onion, medium, diced

1 Carrot, peeled and diced

1 Leek, white and light green part only, chopped

2 Celery sticks, diced

1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

3 Poblano Peppers, roasted and peeled and seeded*

3 T. Olive oil

3 lb. Ground turkey meat (preferably half thigh meat and half breast meat; all breast will be too dry)

1/3 c. Half and Half or Whole Milk

½ t. Cumin

½ t. Garlic Salt

1/4 t. Aleppo pepper (may substitute cayenne pepper)

½ t. Ground pepper

1 t. Kosher salt

1 egg

1 c. Panko Bread crumbs

1 c. Red enchilada sauce, divided (Frontera brand recommended)

* Place peppers under a broiler or on the grill until blackened on all sides. Place inside a damp towel or paper bag for 10 to 20 minutes. This will help steam off the skins. Peel the skin off each pepper, remove the seeds and dice. Reserve 4 thin strips of pepper to garnish the top of the meatloaf.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add onion, leek, celery, carrot. Saute, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until vegetables are soft but not brown. Set aside to cool, then add the diced Poblano peppers. Refrigerate for about one hour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the spices and salt and pepper, then add the egg and half-and-half and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Mix well.
  3. Add the ground turkey and Panko bread crumbs to the egg mixture. Mix lightly. Then add the cooled vegetables. Mix thoroughly, preferably with your hands.
  4. On the prepared rimmed baking sheet, divide the meatloaf mixture in half and shape it into two loaves approximately 8 x 4 inches.
  5. Top each loaf with the remaining red sauce and garnish with two strips each of Poblano pepper.
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, checking that the temperature reaches 165 degrees until done. Do not overcook.


If the meatloaf mixture seems too wet to shape, add additional Panko 1/4 c. at a time. If it seems to dry, add a tablespoon or two of milk. The mixture should be easy to shape, though it will be a bit sticky.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Southwestern

Keywords: turkey meatloaf, meatloaf, turkey meatloaf recipe

Image © Health Food Radar

Joan Feldman

Joan Feldman is an avid baker with a focus on "kinda healthy" cooking. As partner in the communications firm Feldcomm, she has created and steered myriad association and trade publications. Joan is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Follow her @JoanHFeldman and @JoanBakes.

© 2021 Health Food Radar, Inc. Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Any information or products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not substitute for individual medical advice.