Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mesquite Grilled Turkey Burgers

Turkey burgers are healthier than regular burgers, right?

Turkeys tend to disagree with that.  But, as far as nutritional aspects go, it depends.

It is true that a turkey burger patty has about 45% less calories and almost half of the fat of a beef burger.  But a beef burger has more potassium and is significantly lower in sodium and cholesterol.  So it's not cut and dried, it depends on what your dietary needs are.  

For us, we just like them for a change of pace.   Two of my tricks for turkey burgers are:
  • Moisture - You have to cook turkey burgers to an internal temp of 165f.  Turkey is 93% lean so that can end up dry.  Many recipes have you adding eggs or fat to compensate for this.  That kind of defeats the purpose of cutting the fat, doesn't it?  Instead, I like to add a little non-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Talking shiitake - My secret ingredient is finely chopped shiitake mushroom.  It adds texture and has two natural flavor enhancers (organic MSG and guanosine monophosphate) (McGee 9473) that will amplify your other added flavors.

This also uses a lower fat, fire roasted chile ranch dressing to build flavor up without layering on the calories.  

Mesquite Grilled Turkey Burgers

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (4 burgers)
    For the burger patties
    • 20 oz ground turkey
    • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
    • 3 Tbsp finely diced roasted red bell pepper
    • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro
    • 2 Tbsp finely chopped shiitake mushroom
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
    • 1 green onion, finely chopped
    • 1/2 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    Everything else
    • 4 whole wheat burger buns
    • 4 slices pepper jack cheese
    • 1/2 cup fire roasted chile ranch dressing [Link for recipe]
    • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
    • Thin sliced lettuce, tomato, and red onion
    1. Mix together all patty ingredients until thoroughly blended. Divide into 4 equal balls and form into patties (roughly 1/3rd lb each) about 3/4" thick and 4-5 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat a charcoal grill to 400f (medium high). It should be at this heat for at least 5 minutes prior to grilling to get your grates pre-heated. Immediately prior to grilling, add 4-5 Kingsford Smokehouse Style Mesquite Briquetes or 1/2 cup of mesquite wood chips.
    3. Grill the burgers until the bottom cooks through and juices start to pool on top of the patties, about 5 minutes. (Note: I rotate my patties 1/4 turn at 3 minutes to get a cross hatch pattern.)
    4. Flip and cook until the patties reach an internal temperature of 165f, about 3-5 minutes. Top with a slice of pepper jack cheese in the last minute or two.
    5. Remove and rest on a raised rack and meanwhile toast your buns on the grill.
    6. Assemble the burgers with lettuce, tomato, avocado, red onion and some of the spicy ranch dressing.
    Powered by Recipage

    Beef burgers only need salt and pepper.  Turkey burgers need a lot more friends at the party.

    Just tossed a few of these on for smoke while grilling.

    About 5 minutes per side at 400f...

    But don't cook by time, trust your Thermapen instead.

    For me, pepper jack cheese is the best for turkey burgers but use what you like.  Swiss is good too. 
    Order up!

    Those sweet potato fries are Alexia Foods Waffle Cut Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries.  I thought sweet potato fries was a natural for a turkey burger and found these at my Food City .  They are slightly spicy with a blend of chiles and spices and perfect with the ranch dressing for dipping.   They are the best frozen sweet potato fries I've had.  We went back and bought another bag.  I could see using them as the base to a great appetizer too. I don't see them on their website so they are either new or discontinued...I'm hoping new.  

    [Standard Disclaimer]  I have a partnership with Kingsford and write for  I have no affiliation with Alexia and paid full price for the waffle fries.  


    1. People have a tendency to think that turkey is healthier than beef and you are right it is misleading. You did a really nice job of jacking up the flavor of this turkey burger. The pepper jack cheese was a great idea.

      Have a great Sunday.


    2. I love ground turkey and chicken as much for their relative healthy qualities as for their taste. Love the shiitake idea (I use reconstituted dried ones quite often). Another idea: a "panade" of about 1 Tbs unseasoned bread crumbs soaked in milk and then thoroughly mixed with the ground meat. Brings moisture to the party and softens the texture of the burgers.

    3. Oh they look wonderful and love the addition of shiitakes!
      Mary x

    4. I am really tempted with this moist and delicious turkey burger. It looks so moist, flavoursome and delicious.

    5. I have never cared for ground turkey but I have never dolled it up. A good quality lower fat ground beef has been my choice. I will give that turkey a second look now.

    6. This whole thing just looks and sounds fabulous Chris. I really like your idea of chopped mushroom for moisture. Genius! I'm posting a chicken burger tomorrow that uses chorizo to keep things moist. Now that's defeating the purpose. But it was very tasty. And those sweet potato waffle fries make for a gorgeous photo. I like their products. Great post Chris.

    7. I've never been a fan of turkey, but this version appeals to me. Now the Thermapen... THAT is shouting my name.

    8. I too have never been a huge fan of ground turkey for burgers. I would normally prefer to grill up a hunk of turkey breast instead. But your recipe for adding the texture and moisture sounds awesome. I'm going to have to give it a try.

      And it's good to see you're using the Super fast Red Thermapen...the fastest of all Thermapens.

    9. There has never been a turkey burger that looked so good....

    10. And turkey burgers served on whole wheat buns are healthier still! They're so virtuous that they negate any mayo, cheese, or other fatty condiments/add-ons ... :)

    11. I love a good turkey burger, though I agree that you have to bring friends to the party. I love the addition of the Greek yogurt. I can't wait to try this recipe, sweet potato waffle fries and all!

      Kim in MD

    12. now that looks like a turkey burger done right! what great flavors, and an order of those delicious fries also please!

    13. I have never made ground turkey burgers... it's time to change that! They look fantastic. I bet the shiitakes give them so much added flavor!

    14. Very interesting I thought that turkey was healthier than beef ,Chris!Love the idea of adding mushrooms and the final touch"aguacate":)

    15. Looks delicious Chris - hey, how about some of my redneck cheesecake to go with? ;)

    16. Well...I think when you add mushrooms to your turkey burgers they're probably healthier than beef! :P

    17. I'm a skeptic when it comes to ground turkey but open to debates :) The grill marks are awesome btw.

    18. Now that looks downright scrumptious! Can I get mine without the avocado?

    19. Love homemade turkey burgers- and I agree, pepper jack is awesome!

    20. Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter is about burgers. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Have a great week.

    21. I have also mixed guacamole into the burger to add "moisture". Yes I know I am just adding more fat, but it's healthy fat, right? GREG

    22. Do you know I've never had ground anything burger besides ground beef? It just never seemed right, but I will say this definitely looks delicious! You are scaring me a bit though - you aren't going all health foodie on us are you? ;)

    23. I never met a turkey burger I liked. Until now! I could happily wrap my mouth around that! One of the most delicious I've set eyes on!

    24. Talking Shiitake -- your puns are as good as your food!