Turkey Burger

Chef's notes:

Turkey meat has gained popularity over the years as a substitute for other higher fat meats like pork and beef. To me turkey bacon isn’t too bad, but it isn’t the same as real bacon. The manufacturers use flavor modifiers and additives to make it taste like real bacon, and they use a conglomerating machine to make it look like bacon. Whereas turkey bacon is an attempt at full replacement, turkey burgers are more of a variation.

Turkey burgers are made from ground turkey and whatever you decide to add to it. Although they vaguely resemble beef burgers, they definitely don’t taste like them. This is a good thing, as turkey is good and doesn’t need to pretend to be another meat in order to be consumed. You would never eat a “turkey” made of bacon for Thanksgiving. Well, maybe you would, but for the love of God, at the very least don’t deep-fry it.


  • 1½ pounds ground white meat turkey
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp sage
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 4 slices Irish cheddar
  • Horseradish sauce

Turkey Burger Recipe: Thyme, Sage and White Pepper and then Topped with Bacon and Irish Cheddar

  1. Put the ground turkey into a mixing bowl and add the spices. I stuck to known poultry seasonings for my burgers—thyme, parsley, and sage. I also mixed in a handful of minced onion, salt, and white pepper. Turkey on its own is kind of a bland meat, so you can add more spices and flavorings to it than you might expect. Just try to keep the spices complimentary to one another. Chopped fresh cilantro is really good in turkey burgers. So are hot peppers.
  2. Mix the spices and onion into the ground turkey. Ground turkey is a lot stickier than ground beef, so if you have plastic gloves, they would help keep the meat off your fingers while you mix it. A mixing spoon is another option, but it just isn’t as efficient as hand mixing. Don’t over-mix the ground turkey; mix it until its just combined and then stop. Over-mixed meat will be gooey and nasty. Don’t use a machine to mix it either. Stick to hand mixing for this one.
  3. Form patties like you would with beef hamburgers. To keep the meat from sticking to the cutting board, use small squares of plastic wrap or wax paper. To get consistent patties, divide the meat up before forming them. If you have a pretty good eye, you can just wing it like me. If you are going to cook immediately, get the patties ready by putting them on parchment paper or plastic wrap squares so that you can easily put them in the pan to cook. If you are cooking later, cover them with plastic wrap in the fridge.
  4. Heat up a frying pan on the stove. Put a little cooking oil or butter in the pan and heat the pan to just above medium heat. Then put a couple patties into the pan. Try to leave some empty space in the pan to flip the burgers into. If you have twice as much pan as burger, you will be able to flip the burgers onto a hot piece of pan, which helps with consistent and quick cooking. After cooking both sides, use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the burgers,165 degrees F. Put your burger together and enjoy!

Tips & Tricks

  • Turkey burgers are delicate compared to beef burgers, so they won’t grill very easily. But if you are determined to grill them, follow the steps to prepare them here, and when you get to the cooking step, place them on the grill gently over a medium-low flame. Once you set the burgers down, don’t touch, fiddle with ,or even look at them funny until the first side is done. Until that side is firmed up through cooking, the turkey burger will fall apart before you can flip it. Once that side is done (you can tell by looking at the side of the burger), flip and repeat the process.
  • Don’t over-mix the meat. The meat is a finer grain than beef, and it will become very gooey if mixed too much. Mix by hand and not with a mixing machine.
  • A lot of recipes have egg and breadcrumbs in them. I was under the impression we were making burgers, not meatballs. I didn’t use breadcrumbs or eggs in my burgers, and they came out great—and they held together just fine. I would only add breadcrumbs if the mixture gets too moist.
  • Packages labeled :ground turkey” are a combination of dark and white meat. Dark meat has more moisture in it, so that may turn out better for your burgers. Packages labeled ground turkey breast are all white meat.