Chilled Turkey Loaf

Rummaging through old magazines, mom and dad have both been finding plenty of recipes to inspire them. Personally, I would never have picked this one out of the bunch, but something in it caught my dad’s eye. Perhaps that it is made from turkey drumsticks (his favorite)? Or perhaps because it jells in its own marrow (a pretty cool feat)? Or perhaps it’s just a midwestern thing (my father is from Minnesota). Anyway, if you like dark meat turkey, you’ll probably love this turkey loaf. Use the slices for sandwiches or eat plain.

Chilled Turkey Loaf Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.


  • 4 lbs turkey drumsticks (about 4 small)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 small jar (2 oz) diced pimento
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 In a 6-quart kettle, combine the turkey, water, bouillon, bay leaf, and salt. Cover and simmer until meat is very tender and begins to fall away from the bone, about 2 1/2 hours. Lift out meat and set aside to cool. Add wine to cooking liquid and boil, uncovered, until reduced to 3 cups.

2 Remove meat from the bones, discarding skin, tendons, and bones. Tear meat into fine shreds and combine with the thyme, sage, garlic, onion, parsley, pimento (drained), and black pepper. Pack meat mixture into a 5x9-inch loaf pan, then pour in the cooking liquid. Cover and chill until set, at least 6 hours.

3 Run a knife around the pan sides to loosen. Dip pan into hot water for 5 seconds, then invert onto a serving plate and slice.

Serve with bread, lettuce, and condiments for sandwiches, or serve plain.

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Adapted from a recipe in a very old issue of Sunset Magazine.


  1. Wendy


    I have been looking for this recipe for years.

    I simply could not find it, and couldn’t remember where I read it.

    I made it for a Christmas carolling party, along with chili, other dishes and a spiced apple non alcholic punch, some years ago.

    I know it’s usually a summer dish, but the guests raved over the loaf. I made it with chicken and decorated it with red and green bell pepper poinsettias.

    You have no idea how I have searched the Net for this unsuccessfully, and then you posted it!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Hi Wendy, You are very welcome. I’ll tell my folks that there is still someone on the planet who likes turkey loaf. :-) ~Elise

  2. Jessy

    Thanks for recipe! I made it – beautiful!

  3. Anna

    Hey, I have NEVER seen anything like this in America. I am from Russia and am used to this type of loaf (usually from chicken) and I love it, its excellent with garlic and we usually decorate the top with carrot (boiled) and egg rounds that jell with the whole thing. Is this really just called a loaf in America, I always think of loaf as in meatloaf, not one with meat jello. I am going to make this with chicken but definatley adding garlic. Thanks so much.

    Hi Anna, I think this kind of jelled loaf used to be much more common in the 50s and 60s. I don’t think you’ll find it anywhere in the US these days. What is interesting to me is that the turkey loaf basically jells in its own gelatin from its own bones. ~Elise

  4. Leila Abu-Saba

    I requested and received a similar recipe for jellied chicken w chow-chow pickle when I was a teen in the South. My mother’s former college professor at a genteel Virginia women’s college had made it for a gala tea party. I liked it a lot and made it a couple of times. However this one, using turkey meat, does not appeal, sorry.

    These gelatin-poultry dishes were indeed popular up through the 1960s in the USA. They died out in the 70s.

    Aspic. Remember aspic? I still love tomato aspic and don’t care who knows it.

    Totally remember aspic. The turkey loaf actually tastes great when sliced and served in a sandwich with bread and mustard. On its own, well to each his own. ~Elise

  5. B.Swetnam

    Elise, just one time I would like to make a recipe from you that I thought was just okay, but it’s not this one. I loved it, it reminds me of a jellied loaf that my grandmother made using pork. I served this to a group of ladies as sandwiches after a meeting the other day, they all wanted the recipe. I’ll keep trying to find that just okay recipe. Thanks again.

  6. Kathy

    Hi, this looks delicious to me. Here in south Louisiana, if this were made with pork we would call it “hogshead cheese”, which is no longer made with the head & is nothing like cheese. A coworker made your version, the turkey version using turkey necks and put them in the disposable mini loaf pans to share. It was delicious, and yes, you would have to visit, say, Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans to find the pork version. My brother-in-law make some every time we do a cochon d’lait (pig roast).

    Hi Kathy, that would be head cheese and it is one of my favorite things to eat! ~Elise

  7. Cheryl Reed

    Hi Elise, Thank you very much for your wonderful recipes. I haven’t tried this turkey loaf yet but will be doing so very soon. Here in South Africa we make a loaf that we call brawn from pork, beef or chicken so will be interesting to compare with your recipe.

  8. Ems

    This sounds delicious however I hate to use chicken bouillon cubes – full of strange ingredients. Do you think if I used home made chicken stock instead of water and left out the bouillon cubes it would work just as well?

    That should work out. You probably will want to add salt, as that is the primary ingredient of the bouillon cubes, and the turkey will need it. ~Elise

  9. Anita

    this is another version of hoghead souse. My grandfather used to make it with a pigs head, now my mom makes it with turkey wings.

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