There’s a lot to like about a well‑made turkey burger, but most people (especially red meat eaters) tend to think of them as subpar, second class, or something they grudgingly eat as a more “healthy” alternative. But if you want perfection, make peace at the start by admitting that ground turkey is NOT ground beef, and should therefore be treated differently.
So let’s get real—to make an extraordinary burger, ground turkey needs, in the words of Joe Cocker, “a little help from my friends.” And one of those friends is Cooks Illustrated’s Annie Petito who notes the key is to choose the right mix-ins and use as little of them as you can get away with.
With three of us for dinner, I shaped the meat mixture into as many patties, which were larger than the indicated four burgers, and required just a touch longer to cook to the appropriate temperature. Please keep in mind, when mixing and shaping the patties, do not overwork the meat, or the burgers may become dense—ours were anything but.
Because The Hubs was going to be home later that evening, I cooked just two of the burgers for me and stepdaughter Julia, who BTW, does not eat red meat and therefore has consumed her fair share of turkey burgers. Well to say we were impressed is an understatement, we absolutely loved them! And they take absolutely no time at all to whip up and cook.
Julia declared they had so much flavor and were surprisingly juicy compared to her experience of past dried-out disappointments. I got to thinking, maybe I could fashion meatballs out of the same mixture (with the addition of a few Italian seasonings said Julia) for a spaghetti and meatballs dinner. Hmmm, food for thought…
Oh, and don’t forget to make them extra-special with a creamy addition that also contributes tang, by topping the burgers with Pickled Avocado Slices. (See recipe below.) It’s just a good idea to mash the avocado onto the top of the burger, otherwise your slices may come squeezing out when you take a bite—as mine did.
What did Pops think when he got home and had his turkey burger? After his first bite he exclaimed “WOW, this IS good! Yes, the BEST turkey burger I’ve ever eaten!” No I know it wasn’t any scientific poll, but 3 out of 3 thought they were indeed THE BEST.
Skillet Turkey Burgers
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon water
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 pound 93 percent lean ground turkey
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- 4 slices cheese (optional)
- 4 soft hamburger buns
- Garnishes such as ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce leaves, etc.
- Place oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet and set aside. (Do NOT preheat the pan.) Combine water and baking soda in small bowl.
- Place turkey in large bowl. Using your hands, break up meat into rough ½-inch pieces. Drizzle baking soda mixture evenly over turkey, followed by soy sauce and melted butter.
- Evenly sprinkle panko, Parmesan, gelatin, pepper, and salt over turkey mixture. Using your hands, gently toss to combine.
- Divide meat into 4 lightly packed portions, about 4 ounces each. Gently flatten 1 portion into patty about ½ inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter. Transfer patty directly to prepared skillet and repeat with remaining portions.
- Heat skillet over medium heat. When patties start to sizzle, cover skillet and cook until patties are well-browned on bottom, about 2½ minutes (if patties are not browned after 2½ minutes, increase heat).
- Carefully flip patties, cover, and continue to cook until second side is well browned and burgers register 160 degrees, 2½ to 3 minutes longer.
- If using cheese, place 1 slice on each burger about 1 minute before burgers finish cooking. Transfer burgers to plate and let rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to buns and serve with your choice of condiments.
Pickled Avocado Slices
Use a ripe-but-firm avocado to ensure that it won’t be too soft to slice for pickling. Pat the avocado dry after pickling to make sure that it doesn’t sog out the burger when added on top. After placing on burger, mash down so slices don’t accidentally pop out when biting down.
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. table salt
- 1 ripe but firm avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced ¼ inch thick
- Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in medium bowl and whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved, about 30 seconds.
- Add avocado (avocado should be submerged) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Drain and pat dry before using.