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Turkey Burgers

June 19, 2013 | by Elizabeth Kurtz

The secrets to making great turkey burgers that are nutritious and delicious.

People shy away from turkey burgers because they fear that they lack flavor. Turkey burgers are nutritious and delicious if you make them right.

There are a few secrets to making great turkey burgers. First, use both white and dark meat turkey. Turkey meat is a little like a plain canvas that you need to add some color to. Next, flavor it well. Here are two recipes and lots of tips for fantastic turkey burgers that will never make you miss the beef burger. Don’t forget to serve it with my Creamy Asian Coleslaw. It’s a perfect salad to accompany any burger.

Turkey Burgers

Turkey BurgersMakes 4 – 6 burgers

This recipe uses mustard and mesquite spice (or bbq seasoning) to jazz it up. I love the smoky mesquite flavor but make sure you choose one that is naturally seasoned. The artificial smoke flavor is too intense and tastes unnatural.

  • 1 pound (total) ground white and dark meat turkey combined
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon barbeque sauce
  • 1 – ½ tablespoons mesquite seasoning
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon water (* Here is another crucial tip. Water is an important ingredient in making any burger. It helps keep the burgers moist)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

In a large bowl, mix turkey meat, mustard, egg, ketchup, bbq sauce, mesquite seasoning, onion powder, water and bread crumbs. Mix it gently (* Using your hands works best, they mix well without working the meat too hard) until all the ingredients are fully combined. Divide the meat into about 5 -6 equal parts, about ¾ cup each. Form into a patty. ( * Here is a great burger trick that I learned from the bbq mavens, make the patty thicker on the outside and leave a small indentation on the inside of the patty. Now, when you bbq or cook your burgers the center part rises evening out your burger. No more bloated tops).

Heat a grill pan or a bbq over medium heat( * Don’t worry if you don’t have one just use a regular sauté pan). Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook about 3-4 minutes each side until cooked through. ( PLEASE PLEASE do not press down on the burger while it is cooking. When you press down on meat, all the flavors ooze out of the burger and remain in the pan. We want the flavor to stay in the burger. ).

And last, layer on the flavor. Add cooked onions or mushrooms, or great roasted tomatoes, spicy mayonnaise or my favorite is Creamy Asian Coleslaw. That recipe is below too .

Italian Turkey Burgers

Makes 6 burgers

  • 2 pounds ground turkey, a combination of white and dark meat
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey with red onion, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, basil and oregano.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Beat in the pasta sauce and olive oil. Pour the sauce mixture over the seasoned turkey and mix to combine.

Mix in the sun-dried tomatoes, and bread crumbs, mixing gently by hand until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture and form 6 patties. Set them aside to rest briefly. The patties can be assembled up to one day in advance, covered and refrigerated until ready to grill; remove the burgers from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to cooking to temper slightly.

Heat the grill or a sauté pan over medium high heat. Coat the surface with a little spray oil and gently add the patties. Lower the heat to medium and cook the burgers for 4 minutes, careful not to move them until they are ready to turn. Gently and carefully flip the burgers using a spatula. Cook an additional 4 minutes, and check for doneness; a meat thermometer inserted should read 165 degrees.

These are terrific with some sautéed mushrooms and olives. Make sure to serve some extra tomato-basil sauce as a topping.

Creamy Asian Coleslaw

Serves 8-10

Creamy Asian Coleslaw

Coleslaw is always a great with burgers, grilled chicken or fish but I like to jazz it up a bit. This one is super simple to put together but it seems like it has such complex flavors.

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (see note below)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) package shredded white or green cabbage
  • 1 (10 ounce) package shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chives, chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, mirin, rice vinegar, white vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and oil.

In a large bowl, combine cabbages, cucumber, chives, onion, scallions, jalapeno pepper and cilantro, Pour dressing over vegetables. Chill until ready to serve. This is best served the same day it is prepared.

Note: This coleslaw is super easy to put together and is a great update to the classic recipe. It calls for Mirin, or Japanese rice wine. It’s available in the international aisle in major grocery stores. If you cannot find it, just substitute a sweet white wine.


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