If you really want a good homemade turkey burger, you can't simply treat the turkey like ground beef. Even lean cuts of ground beef cook up juicy and flavorful, but ground turkey needs a few sidekicks to make that a reality.
This recipe understands all that and adds a really smart step to make these the juiciest turkey burgers you'll ever make at home. The secret is a breadcrumb-yogurt mixture — seasoned with both Worcestershire and soy sauce, and studded with sweet shallots — that gets gently folded into the meat. The way you cook these burgers is key, too. We're using a two-step cooking process that guarantees a burger with a golden-crisp exterior and juicy center. Now, aren't you intrigued?
Everything You Need to Know About Making Turkey Burgers
My mom was kind of infamous for buying ground chicken and ground turkey throughout our childhood and trying to pass it off as ground beef. She mostly got away with it in things like pasta sauce and tacos, and her chicken meatloaf was actually sublime. The secret was a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs and milk called a panade — a technique you often use when making meatloaf and meatballs or when an egg can't be used as a binder. Here, Greek yogurt is used instead of milk to keep the panade, and the resulting turkey burgers, nice and juicy.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Turkey Burger Patties
- Start with a panade: A panade is a mixture of starch, usually bread pieces or breadcrumbs, with liquid. Typically, panades are made with milk, buttermilk, or stock; they help moisten ground meat and keep it from overcooking. For these turkey burgers, use fresh breadcrumbs instead of bread pieces, as they do a better job soaking up the yogurt.
- Flavor the panade to flavor the burgers: One of the often overlooked benefits of using a panade is that you can flavor that mixture first and then work in the ground turkey, preventing a tough, overworked patty. Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce provide some complexity and amp up the umami flavor in the turkey. If you want even more of a savory punch, you can add a touch of tomato paste.
- Work with your hands, not a mixing spoon: Working the ground turkey into the panade by hand is the best way to prevent overmixing. You can go straight from mixing to shaping, so be sure to have a plate or baking sheet handy to put the finished patties on.
- Refrigerate the burger patties for an hour (or more) before cooking: Refrigerating helps burgers keep their shape. It's a perfect make-ahead dish for a crowd because you actually need these burgers to rest in the fridge.
Sear and Bake for Better Turkey Burgers
A combination of stovetop searing and oven baking gives the turkey burgers an incredible crispy crust on the outside of the burgers while ensuring the interior is cooked to a safe temperature. Sear the turkey burgers in a large cast iron skillet and you can go straight from the stovetop to the oven with ease. Excessive flipping and pressing down on the burgers leaves the meat dry, so once it is in the pan, don't handle it until it is time to flip. Stick to a thin metal spatula for easy flipping.
Grilling Turkey Burgers
To grill these turkey burgers for your next backyard barbecue, heat a grill to medium-high heat. Make sure the grill grates are clean and debris-free, then cook the burgers for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Use a thin metal spatula, such as a fish spatula, for flipping and make sure the burgers reach a final internal temperature of 160°F.
Serving the Turkey Burgers
You can take the flavors of these burgers in quite a few directions since it's so easy to change up the ingredients in the panade. Keep things classic with cheddar or American cheese on a bun with lettuce and tomatoes, or try serving the burger with a dollop of herby Greek yogurt. Eat these patties right after cooking, as they're best when they're hot and juicy.
How To Make Turkey Burgers
What You Need
fresh breadcrumbs, or 2 slices white sandwich bread bread (about 1 ounce)
whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
finely chopped shallot (from 1 large shallot)
low-sodium soy sauce
garlic, grated or minced
1 1/2 teaspoons
freshly ground black pepper
ground turkey (93% lean/7% fat)
Measuring cups and spoons
Cast iron pan
Make the breadcrumbs and make the panade. If using slices of bread, tear into pieces and pulse in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment into coarse breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, add the yogurt, and mix to combine.
Flavor the panade. Add the shallot, Worcestershire, soy sauce, garlic, black pepper, chili powder, cumin, mustard, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine.
Mix in the turkey by hand. Add the turkey and use your fingers to combine the meat and flavorings. Handle the meat gently and do not overmix, as this can make the burger tough.
Form into patties. Divide the mixture into 4 (6-ounce) portions. Form each a patty about 1-inch thick and 3 1/2-inches wide. Place on a plate or baking sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each patty to create a shallow dimple. This will keep the burger from bulging in the center as it cooks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F.
Cook the burgers. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the burgers and cook undisturbed until a golden-brown crust forms on the bottoms, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers with a flat spatula. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 160°F, 5 to 7 minutes more.
Rest the burgers. Top each burger with 1 slice of cheese if desired. Rest for 5 minutes.
Assemble the burgers. Assemble the burgers on hamburger buns with desired toppings.
Storage: Refrigerate leftover patties, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.
Gilling Instructions: Grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The burgers should reach an internal temperature of 160°F.