Barbecue Turkey Bacon Meatloaf

Give meatloaf a modern makeover with this flavorful recipe for Barbecue Turkey Bacon Meatloaf. It’s dotted with onions, red peppers and turkey bacon and is a crowd favorite!

Barbecue Turkey Bacon Meatloaf Recipe

When my kids and I go out to dinner, the first question my son Will, 9, asks is “Do I have to order off the children’s menu?” It’s said with a grimace, his distaste for the inevitable array of bland pastas, chicken fingers, plain pizzas and too-small plates of sliders abundantly clear.

Most times I say no, allowing him to choose from more flavorful and adventurous offerings. Personally, I don’t like children’s menu’s anymore than he does, although the abbreviated price tags are always alluring. However, ultimately I would rather Will eat food he enjoys and fills him than have a mini plate of dry, flavorless choices that are supposedly kid-food.

But then again, I don’t believe in so-called kid-food at all (or man-food, for that matter). For some kids, there are limitations. For instance, children with food allergies may have to avoid peanuts, tree nuts or other foods and children on the autism spectrum are more apt to have texture and food selectivity issues. Those are different circumstances. But for other kids — the ones without conditions that make them more prone to (or in need of) selective diets — there’s no need to limit their eating to the five dishes someone somewhere decided was “kid-food.”

I mean, sure, my daughter Paige, 7, loves hot dogs. And my son adores burgers. But why should their versions from the children’s menu be plain and boring when the options off the adult menu come with creative toppings, seasonings and more? It’s ridiculous that kids are served dry, bland foods when it would be just as easy to scale down adult dishes … that they would probably like more.

And so it goes. Whether we are at home or at a restaurant, my kids good eaters who enjoy a wide variety of flavorful foods. Food should be enjoyable (and good fuel for the body!), so I aim to make it so for them. And at home, that means trying new things as often as we can.

Barbecue Turkey Bacon Meatloaf

Recently, a traditionally shaped and sliced meatloaf appeared on my table for the first time ever. But that’s where the tradition ends. Truth: this is nothing like the tomato paste covered meatloaf my grandmother made. Instead it’s packed with big flavor and heaping with nuance. It’s a meatloaf for those who believe food should taste good always.

Made with ground turkey, turkey bacon, onion, red pepper and seasonings, it’s a ramped up modern version that both my kids and I loved. Dotted with bits of onion, red pepper and turkey bacon, this rich barbecue flavored meatloaf is a cinch to whip up and a delight to enjoy.

And the fact that it’s a tasty dinner with awesome leftovers perfect for lunches later in the week? That’s smart dinner planning.

As for the children’s menus, if you know of Maine restaurants doing it right — menus for children with a flavorful variety of food that leaps outside the bounds of chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese — I would love to hear about them. Leave a note in the comments below!

Meatloaf ART_WEB

Barbecue Turkey Bacon Meatloaf
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 6 slices turkey bacon, chopped
  • ¾ cup diced onions
  • ¾ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ¾ cup oats
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp barbecue sauce, plus ¼ cup, divided
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray or line with nonstick aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the ground turkey, turkey bacon, onions, red bell pepper, oats, Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and form a loaf, about 1-inch thick.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until well browned on the outside. Brush the meatloaf with the remaining ¼ cup of barbecue sauce. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.


Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is editor of Bangor Metro magazine and senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News. She is the author of "The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook," (Sept. 2018, Rockridge Press) and the co-author of "Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains" (March 2015, DK). Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, and more. She also writes about food at