If you’re looking to grill some burgers this weekend, try turkey burgers as an alterative to beef. This recipe has south-of-the-border flavors with cumin, herbs, garlic, avocado and tomato on whole grain buns. Add ancho chili mayonnaise instead of the usual mustard or ketchup for one great burger.
Although traditional beef burgers may be an American institution, I don’t enjoy them because I’m not a beef-eater. Now a turkey burger is a different thing. Those I enjoy, but there are a few things to understand when buying ground turkey.
When purchasing ground turkey, there are multiple options at the store. The amount of fat in ground turkey varies depending on what goes into the grinder, and fat content controls the flavor and moisture of your burger. You need to read the labels and ask questions if purchasing from a butcher counter.
About Ground Turkey
Ground turkey can be very lean from all ground breast meat with almost no fat, to lean with a mixture of breast and thigh meat, or all thigh meat. Some of these mixes have added turkey skin, which increases fat content. Know what you are working with and you can achieve flavorful, moist turkey burgers that fit your nutritional needs.
If you buy the leanest ground turkey breast with almost no fat, you’ll need to add a little olive oil to the mixture or you risk ending up with dry burgers. Frankly, that’s not what I choose for my burgers. I prefer a breast and thigh meat combination or all thigh meat for more moisture and flavor.
A Better Burger
For a generous burger, I use 6 ounces (168 grams) of ground turkey per person. That much protein in a burger (approximately 34 grams) and a tossed green salad or grilled vegetables make a good meal. If you plan to add other side dishes, you might consider making thinner burgers of 4 ounces each.
To spice up your burgers with south-of-the-border flavor, add ground cumin, garlic, chopped fresh oregano (or cilantro) and chives, salt and pepper. Depending on the turkey mix that you purchase, you may need a little olive oil for healthy fat and flavor.
Now to the rest of the burger. Choose whole grain burger buns for more fiber and better nutrition than white burger buns. Look for smaller organic whole grain buns made by Rudi’s Bakery. Since going gluten-free, we now use Udi’s Whole Grain Hamburger Buns or skip the bun altogether and just enjoy the burger without the extra carbs.
Top off Your Burger with Fresh Flavors
To top off the grilled turkey burger, add a slice of fresh tomato, a thin ring of sweet onion, a few slices of avocado and be sure to make the ancho chili sauce. It’s a combination of reduced fat mayonnaise, lime juice, ancho chili powder, paprika, plus salt and pepper. Want some heat? Add a little ground chipotle, Tabasco or Sriracha.
For mayo, I choose Vegenaise. It has a clean, light taste. Look for it in the refrigerated section of your market, not on the shelf. it’s made by Follow Your Heart. Try their horseradish sauce too. It’s fantastic.
Grill your burgers until done (160-165 in the center) and serve with grilled vegetables or a tossed green salad for a healthy summer dinner.
For perfectly formed burgers, I use a large size round metal ring. You can buy them at kitchen supply and restaurant supply stores and online in single sizes or better yet, in a set for many uses.
Another tool I could not live without is rimmed baking sheets. I have them in full, half, quarter and eighth sizes. The quarter sizes gets constant use. It’s what the burger are on in the above photo. Quarter sheet pans have a million uses!
Spiced Turkey Burgers with Ancho Chili Sauce
Servings: 2 (scales up easily)
- 12 ounces (340 grams) ground turkey (breast and thigh combination or thigh)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 slices ripe tomato
- 2 thin slices red or spring onion
- 2-4 slices of avocado
- A few leaves of green or red lettuce
- 2 gluten-free or whole grain burger buns (optional)
Ancho Chili Sauce
- ½ cup Vegenaise or mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or a chili powder blend)
- 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- For heat, add a little ground chipotle, Tabasco or Sriracha (optional)
- In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, cumin, garlic, parsley or cilantro, oregano, chives, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix well but gently with your hands. Form into patties, cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.
- While the burger patties are setting up, make the ancho chili sauce and refrigerate until serving. The recipe will make more than you need. Extra is good on a sandwich or as dip for raw vegetables.
- Fire up the grill. Make sure the grill is brushed clean, then coated with a grill-safe spray or a little oil on a wad of paper towels with tongs. Turn heat down to medium and add your burgers. Grill on one side until browned and grill marks have formed. Turn the burger and finish cooking until they reach 160-165 in the center with a digital thermometer. They will feel firm but not hard. To speed cooking, cover the burgers with a disposable aluminum pan or lid if using a pan.
- To build your burgers, place lettuce on the bottom of the bun, add the burger, and top with tomato, onion, sauce and avocado.
Alternative Cooking Methods – No grill? No problem. Cook the turkey burgers indoors on your stove top. Use a grill pan or a non-stick saute or fry pan. To speed cooking, cover the burgers with a lid after turning. Cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Oven baked sweet potato fries would be good along side these burgers. Toss them with a little of the chili powder before baking. From Simply Recipes.
- No grill? I’ve made these many times in my grill pan and also in a non-stick saute pan on the stovetop. Two good options, one is from Lodge and Le Creuset makes several. A skinny grill pan, easier to store, or the 10 1/4″ grill pan with deeper sides and a handle
- Add this refreshing cucumber and mint salad or a green quinoa salad
- Nutritional information on ground turkey
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