Lean ground turkey is transformed into juicy, flavorful turkey burgers that will satisfy even the most steadfast beef burger lover. The Best Turkey Burger Recipe is a lighter way to indulge in classic American BBQ fare.
We’ve been grilling these turkey burgers here at our house for well over a decade now and just as we hit our summer stride, I thought I’d get this recipe out to you all.
If you are one of those people that think that turkey is for turkeys when it comes to burgers, I believe you will be convinced otherwise if you give this recipe a try. I’ve watched it happen countless times. Friends we’ve had over for dinner will take a bite and then an incredulous “This is turkey?” is almost guaranteed to follow.
Yep, this is turkey. And, it is amazing!
This is one of those rare recipes that qualifies as both comfort food but is also a healthy choice. I just love that!
Lean ground turkey lacks the fat of higher fat content ground beef. Since fat equals flavor, there are some tricks to ensure a juicy, flavorful result.
Tips for Making the Best Turkey Burgers
Pick up a quality lean ground turkey like Jennie-O 93% lean. This is not a sponsored mention, I’ve just used this brand always and forever with a fantastic result.
Add a few diced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms to the ground turkey mixture for a surprising layer of beefiness. You may not think of mushrooms as beefy but portabella mushrooms and baby bellas (their smaller counterpart) are actually quite meaty in texture. The giant Portabellas make a satisfying vegetarian burger grilled all on their own. The diced baby bella mushrooms also help to bind the mixture and hold in the flavor of the added seasoning. Once the burgers are grilled the mushrooms quietly do their job and no one would ever know they were there.
Add Big Flavor
The big flavor trifecta – diced onion, Cajun seasoning, and a little barbecue sauce.
This recipe is just one more way I make use of my very favorite homemade seasoning blend, my Kickin’ Cajun Seasoning Mix. There are several store-bought Cajun seasoning blends that will work just fine as well. A great benefit to making your own seasoning mix at home – you get to control the amount of salt and heat.
A small amount of bottled BBQ sauce added to the mixture combines with the Cajun seasoning and adds an amped up classic BBQ flavor. My favorite is Kinder’s. Again, not sponsored, just pure love here. They carry it at Costco so I always stock up on my shopping trips. Or, add some fun flavor with my Root Beer BBQ Sauce.
Making the Patties
Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil for easy cleanup and transport of the burgers to the grill. The foil also works as a great non-stick surface to work the mixture into patties and they can easily be covered and refrigerated if you would like to make them in advance.
Divide the mixture into 6 even-sized balls and place them on the foil-lined baking sheet. Use your hands to press each ball down and shape it into a patty about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick.
If you refrigerate the patties it will even further improve their ability to hold together well on the grill. Just cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and pop the whole thing in the fridge. The formed burger patties should be cooked within 24 hours.
Outdoor grilling is my favorite method but you can also cook these burgers indoors in a skillet or on a stove-top grill pan or electric griddle.
Cook the patties over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the patties. You want to be sure you’ve cooked ground turkey to the recommended safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F but you also do not want to cook them too long or they will dry out. I highly recommend using an instant read thermometer so you feel confident knowing they are perfect when you pull them off the grill.
Important note – discard the foil immediately after transferring the raw burger patties to the grill and replace it with a fresh sheet of foil for the cooked burgers.
Baste the burgers with additional BBQ sauce towards the end of the grilling time and just before you add the cheese. The outside of the burger should be seared and you should be at least halfway through the cooking time before basting.
Buns and Toppings
My current favorite bun for burgers are brioche buns which are available at Costco and most grocery stores now. Turkey burgers are also great on King’s Hawaiian Hamburger Buns, deli-style kaiser rolls, onion rolls, and even regular old hamburger buns.
If you want to keep your burgers lean, omit the cheese and load them up with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and avocado. Trying to reduce your carb intake? Make it a burger in a bowl by laying the patty on top of all of your favorite, healthy burger toppings. If you’re in a more indulgent mood, melt your favorite cheese over the patties at the end of the cooking time and whip up a batch of my Awesome Burger Sauce for a seriously killer burger.
What to Serve with Turkey Burgers
All of these make great choices to serve on the side with these delicious burgers:
- Crispy Oven Baked Fries
- Macaroni Coleslaw
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Lemony Tortellini Broccoli Salad
- Old Fashioned Potato Salad
- 5 Minute Broccoli Kale Slaw
- Ramen Cabbage Salad
- Spicy Baked Beans
The Best Turkey Burger Recipe
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey (like Jennie-O 93% Lean)
- ½ cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
- 2 or 3 cremini mushrooms finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce plus additional for basting (I like Kinder's)
- 1 tablespoon Kickin’ Cajun Seasoning Mix (or a store-bought blend)
- 6 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 hamburger buns (I like brioche buns)
Optional Burger Toppings:
- Awesome Burger Sauce
- green leaf lettuce
- thinly sliced red onion
- thinly sliced tomato
- sliced avocado
- Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
- Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl and add the onion, mushrooms, ¼ cup barbecue sauce, and Cajun seasoning. Use clean hands to combine the mixture well.
- Divide the mixture into 6 even-sized balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten them into ½ to ¾-inch patties. If making ahead, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. (Note – refrigerating the patties makes them hold together well. Burgers should be cooked within 24 hours.)
- When ready to cook, preheat your outdoor or indoor grill or place a skillet over MEDIUM HEAT. Gently lift each turkey patty and spray both sides with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer to the grill (or skillet) and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, per side, or until the exterior of the burgers is nicely seared and they register an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Discard the foil from the baking sheet and replace it with a clean sheet of foil for the cooked burgers.
- Baste the tops of the burgers with additional barbecue sauce, if desired. Add cheese, cover the grill, and cook for just a minute or two until the cheese has melted.
- Serve on hamburger buns with Awesome Burger Sauce and your toppings of choice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Inspired by The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley