The Best Turkey Burgers!

The Southern daughter is back at college now (sniffle, sob, deep breath) but while she was home she propelled us all into a pattern of Healthier Eating.  As in, the pasta and chocolate got pushed to the back of the pantry, and we all shared the wonder of snacking on freshly steamed local broccoli with sea salt, ate lots of Skinny Pop, and discovered that turkey burgers were actually as scrumptious as their traditional beef cousins.  Especially when they are topping with nitrate-free bacon and (sorry, I’m still not perfect) American cheese sinking into all the nooks and crannies.  Here’s how it goes.

Get yourself a package of ground turkey.  It’s usually right next to the chicken in the meat section of your supermarket, and don’t be tempted by those pre-made patties.  We are going to make our own, and they are going to be full of delightful nooks and crannies to hold the sauce and the cheese.

Heat the heaviest skillet you have over medium high heat and cook a few slices of bacon until they are the way you like them.  This is not only going to give us a little bacon on our burger, it’s also going to give us some bacon drippings to cook the burgers in.  Turkey burgers are leaner than regular burgers, so they need a little extra bit of help so they don’t stick to the pan.  Now spread your ground turkey over a cutting board or other flat surface, breaking it up gently, and sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper.  Separate it into quarters, and very gently form it into four patties, about 1/2 inch thick.  Don’t pack it tight – you want it just pressed together enough that they won’t fall apart.

Now crank up the heat under the skillet to high and lay them in there gently. Cook them for three minutes on that first side. Don’t touch them until you are ready to flip – that’s going to give them a nice little crust while still cooking the turkey all the way through.  Unlike beef burgers, you absolutely DO want that turkey thoroughly cooked.

Now comes the part that is controversial in my house, because once you flip them you are facing a Very Important Choice.  You can either put the cheese on the cooked side right away…this will result in very melted cheese that soaks down into the nooks and crannies….and yes, spills over the side and chars a bit when it hits the pan.  This is MY personal favorite way to cheese up my turkey burger.

Others in my house who may remain nameless….

…prefer to to place their cheese on their burger during the last minute of cooking so that it is not as gloriously melty, but they get to keep all the cheese on the burger.

And of course there is yet another contingent in my house who is perfectly happy either way…

…but since she is getting kibble it really doesn’t matter. I know, I’m harsh.  I do let her up on the sofa though, so there’s that.

Anyway, whatever cheese road you decide to go down, cook your burger for another 3 minutes with the cover on the pot (this helps the cheese melt).

Now, if you want to take your turkey burger to the very heights of deliciousness you can toast your burger buns in some melted butter until the insides of them are golden and crispy, and I highly recommend this.  One way or the other you are going to assemble them as follows: Bottom bun, mayo and ketchup sauce, lettuce, burger, bacon, pickle, top of bun.

Take a big bite.

Forget for a minute that beef burgers exist in the world because your turkey burger is so dang delicious.


The Best Turkey Burgers!
Serves: 4 servings
  • 4 slices bacon, cut in half
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4 burger rolls
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional for toasting the rolls)
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Lettuce leaves and pickles slices for garnish
  1. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels, leaving drippings in skillet.
  2. If you want to toast the buns (highly recommended!), melt one tablespoon of butter in a separate large skillet over medium high heat. Place two buns cut side down and cook until golden. Repeat with remaining butter and buns and set aside.
  3. Spread the ground turkey out on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties about ½ inch thick, keeping them as loose as possible while still holding together.
  4. Raise bacon skillet to high and place burgers in gently. Cook without moving for 3 minutes. Flip carefully and cook, covered for another three minutes. If you want your cheese totally melted top your burgers as soon as you flip them - if not, add it when you have one minute to go.
  5. While the burgers are cooking, mix the mayo and ketchup together to make a sauce. When the burgers are done, assemble as follows: Bottom bun, sauce, lettuce, burger, bacon, top of bun. Enjoy!


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  1. ColleenB. says

    Never had a turkey burger but willing to give them a try.
    I would have to make these up tho when hubby is outside. If he where to see that I was using turkey meat in place of beef, he would never eat one. He does like his beef.
    thanks for sharing your recipe

      • ColleenB. says

        Finally had the opportunity to prepare our first turkey burgers last night.
        They where Fantastic. I did add some finely chopped flat leaf parsley along with some thyme as well as the salt and pepper.
        I know I will be making these from now on in place of using hamburger.
        This recipe is a keeper for sure.
        Thank you

          • ColleenB. says

            Oh, heck no I didn’t tell him that those where turkey burgers.
            I just asked him what he thought of the burgers and he said they where Good. :} With him, it’s food he will eat it; except when it comes to liver and onions. That he will not eat.
            I know I will be making more turkey burgers now in place of the beef.
            Thanks again for sharing the recipe They where a Big hit.

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