9 Better-for-You Turkey Burgers

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Ladies and gentleman start your grills!  Grilling is an excellent way to cook lean meats and add a lot of flavor without a lot of fat. 
Burgers are the go-to meat for most of us, but to keep your meal healthy, reach for extra lean ground turkey. Turkey burgers are lean enough to grace the grill every night of the week, but their leanness also makes them a little bland on their own. Let's take a closer look at turkey, and talk about ways to keep this bird burger juicy, healthy, and delicious! 

What to buy?  
You can tell by looking at ground turkey how lean it is. Darker pink meat contains more dark meat. It will have more fat than a product that is lighter in color. Ground turkey can range in fat and calories quite drastically. Choose extra lean ground turkey for an almost fat-free protein. Let's compare:
3 ounces raw* Calories Total fat (grams)
Ground turkey 220 17
Lean ground turkey 170 8
Extra lean ground turkey 120 1
*Exact nutrition can vary between brands so read labels before purchasing.
Build a Better (Turkey) Burger  
  • Remove meat from the refrigerator when you are ready to season and shape.  Ground turkey should never be left at room temperature.
  • Once shaped return to the refrigerator.
  • Handle the meat lightly to avoid dense burgers. (Mix as little as possible.)
  • Wet hands with water when shaping the burgers.
  • Don't press down on the patty while on the grill.  When you press down, you are actually pressing out the juices.
  • Grill over a medium heat fire. 
  • Cook to an internal temperate of 165 degrees.
Ground turkey has a very neutral flavor, which means it welcomes low- or no-salt seasonings, added vegetables, and flavorful sauces.  Here are some of my favorites flavor combos:
Portabella Thyme
The mushroom gets first billing in this recipe. The mushroom adds earthy flavor and intensifies the meatiness of the burger without any additional fat. 
Season extra lean ground turkey meat with black pepper and chopped fresh thyme.  Gently combine the spices into the meat.  Remove the stem and inner black gills from the mushroom (use a spoon). Fill with chopped shallots, garlic, and more thyme, then fill in with the turkey. Grill and serve!
Spicy Chipotle
Add chopped cilantro and parsley to your basic turkey burger, then grill.
Combine chopped chipotles with nonfat Greek yogurt and chopped fresh peaches. (Adjust the amounts to suit your tastes.) Serve the burger on a whole-wheat bun with plenty of soft lettuce and the chipotle sauce.
BLT Burger
Tomatoes add flavor and moisture to this burger. Combine equal parts chopped tomatoes and ground turkey seasoned with plenty of black pepper. Grill and top with a slice of crumbled turkey bacon.
Instead of mayo, combine nonfat Greek yogurt, basil, parsley and cilantro. No bun needed--serve atop a pile of greens with more tomatoes.

More great turkey recipes:
Apple Turkey Burger
The Best Turkey Burger-Jeff's Ultimate Recipe
Black Bean Mini Turkey Burger
Greek Turkey Burger
Salsa Turkey Burger
Turkey Spinach Feta Burger

A note on food safety: Turkey is poultry. (Duh, you might say!) But I would need more fingers and toes to count the number of people that I have helped in the kitchen who for some reason think that ground turkey should not be treated the same as raw chicken. 
Ground turkey should be treated with the same precautions as raw chicken.  Ground turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and reheated to the same temperature.  All cutting boards, utensils, work surface areas, hands and yes even the handle to the sink that was exposed while trying to wash your hands should be cleaned and sanitized after coming into contact with ground turkey.
Want more turkey burgers tips and recipes? Check out our grill guide, with 75 hearty, healthy recipes!
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Like this blog? Then you'll love "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight."