The hamburger is highly regarded as one of the most iconic dishes in American cuisine. There are so many variants on the burger that the possibilities are seemingly endless. The most common beef burger is found on a majority of menus all across the globe. And it’s hard to find a restaurant that isn’t serving one.

But it’s becoming increasingly popular to substitute ground beef for leaner, healthier meats—and ground turkey serves as a tasty alternative because it’s lean and generally has fewer calories than ground beef. Turkey burgers can pack a whole world of flavor between the bun and quell the cravings for a traditional hamburger.

The lean turkey meat can take to the same cooking methods as a traditional burger, though the lesser fat content can lend to a dry burger, so it’s best to add some moisture to the meat prior to cooking. Using any tasty combination of condiments also helps to keep the turkey from drying out too much while cooking. Since turkey is a more delicate flavor compared to beef, the addition of condiments to the patty can really have a strong affect on the overall end result. Cooking technique is key to flavor development as well. A pan-griddled turkey burger develops a crusty brown exterior, while char grilling the patty allows for a more distinct and smoky flavor. It’s best to approach each method with recipes that will compliment the end result nicely.

For the pan griddled turkey burger, the flavor will be a bit more delicate, so it is nicely paired with an herbaceous pesto and a ripe salted tomato. Finish it off with a slice of fresh mozzarella or smoked provolone and a toasted brioche roll or crusty ciabatta bun.

When cooking on open flame, the burger will have a more robust flavor, full of char and smoke. Bolder seasoning will hold up to the flame grill, such as meat loaf or BBQ. Serve glazed on a potato roll or wheat bun with grilled onions and white cheddar.

Try out these recipes or use them as a starting point to create your own. Just remember to add a moisture agent to the meat before it gets portioned into patties, and never forget to enjoy yourself.


Pan Griddled Pesto Turkey Burger

1 pound ground turkey

1 T dijon mustard

2 T mayonnaise

healthy pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 C pesto

1 ripe tomato, sliced into 4 slices, salted

1 oval of fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 slices, or 4 slices smoked provolone

4 brioche or ciabatta rolls, lightly toasted with olive oil

  1. Mix the turkey, dijon and mayo in a mixing bowl with a healthy pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Portion into four ounce patties and set aside.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle pan to medium heat. Add oil to the pan and heat to a shimmer.
  3. Add the patties two at a time, careful not to overcrowd. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  4. Set aside and let the patty rest for about 5 minutes. Once all of the patties are finished, build the burgers by spreading an ounce of pesto on the toasted bun with the tomato and mozzarella. Add the burger patty and enjoy.


Char Grilled Turkey “Loaf” Burger

1 pound ground turkey

1 T ketchup

1/2 C small diced bell pepper and onion, sauteed

1 t Worcestershire sauce

1 clove grated garlic

1/2 t minced fresh Thyme

1 egg, beaten

3/4 C loaf glaze (3 ounces ketchup, 2 ounces sriracha chili sauce, 1 ounce dark brown sugar; mixed well)

1 Medium white onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rings

4 potato rolls or wheat buns

4 slices of white cheddar

  1. Prepare charcoal grill or gas grill for cooking.
  2. Dice and cook the onion and peppers and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  3. Mix the ground turkey, ketchup, sauteed peppers and onions, Worcestershire, garlic, thyme and egg in a bowl until homogenous. Portion into 4 oz burger patties.
  4. Grill on medium high heat, alongside the onion rings until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  5. Apply the glaze to the burger as it gets flipped throughout the cooking process. Once finished, remove from grill and let rest for about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add white cheddar, grilled onions and a little more glaze and serve on a lightly toasted potato or wheat bun. Enjoy.