We’re calling this the best turkey burger recipe for good reason! These tender patties are made up of just the right amount of spice.

Close up shot of stacked turkey burger with greens, tomato slice, melted cheese, onions, and mushrooms.

The juiciest, tastiest turkey burger ever!

The most important part of a good burger? The juicy, tasty patty, of course! Which is exactly why turkey burgers get a bum rap. Turkey is lean, and fat equals flavor, so it’s easy to see the problem here. But believe me when I say this turkey burger defies all odds; it doesn’t dry out and it’s packed with savory smokey goodness.

Is it worth it? How many calories are in a turkey burger?

I don’t normally include calories with my recipes; I believe we should just enjoy food in a smart and balanced way without stress and shame. But many people ask about the calories in a turkey burger because ultimately, they’re curious about whether or not it’s worth giving up all that beefy flavor for less fat content. These particular turkey burger patties are 215 calories each. But there’s more to it than calories! Turkey is lower in saturated fat, making it a heart-healthy choice. As someone with high cholesterol running in her family, heart-healthy options are important. And as someone who isn’t always willing to sacrifice flavor, I knew I needed to figure out a way to create a heart-healthy burger tasty enough to rival a beef burger. And here it is!

Close up shot of stacked turkey burger with greens, tomato slice, melted cheese, onions, and mushrooms.

Here’s how to make a good turkey burger.

Getting the right fat content.

Ground turkey thighs and drumsticks offer up dark meat and a fat content similar to beef, whereas ground turkey breast is quite lean. If you’re buying prepackaged meat, some packages might just be labelled as “ground turkey”, and in this case, it’s usually a mixture of white and dark meat. Dark meat is definitely best when it comes to burgers. If you buy from a butcher, which is always your best bet, you can ask them to create a blend of light and dark meat that suits you.

Don’t be afraid of seasoning!

My rule is always 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of ground meat. But for ground turkey, you also want to add enough bold flavors to the mix, like fresh garlic, onion, spices, herbs, and even liquid smoke! I love using liquid smoke because it really gives the patty that beefy charbroiled flavor we love in a burger.

Add moisture.

Turkey burgers are notorious for being dry, so adding enough moisture is crucial. I use both panko breadcrumbs and an egg. These also work as binders to help keep the patties intact while on the grill.

Don’t over/undercook the patties.

Do yourself a favor and get yourself a Meat Thermometer so that you can cook the patties to a perfect 165º F. Obviously with turkey, you can’t go for a juicy medium rare. But you want to make sure you don’t overcook the patties, because they’ll dry out and won’t be appetizing at all.

My go-to ingredient list.

  • Ground turkey, dark meat preferred or 80-90% lean
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Italian herb mix
  • Garlic
  • Red onion
  • Liquid smoke
  • Egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs

Left: Glass mixing bowl full of ground turkey, an egg, chopped onions, spices, garlic, and breadcrumbs; Right: meat patties on a baking sheet.

And now, the gist on making the best turkey burger recipe, according to me.

There’s no denying that homemade burgers are the best burgers, so I knew I had to tackle turkey burgers and create something worth sharing; something that for you, hopefully, is worth repeating. Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Prep a baking sheet. Before you get your hands dirty, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Blend your ingredients. Place the ground turkey into a large mixing bowl. Add all of the patty ingredients into the bowl and, with clean hands, gently blend everything until the mixture is cohesive.
  3. Form your patties! Divide the mixture into four equal portions and gently form them into patties. Place the patties on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Then with your thumb, gently press a divot into the middle of each patty—this prevents the patty from shrinking on the grill.
  4. Chill. Pop the tray of patties in the fridge and let them sit in there for about 30 minutes. Refrigerating them helps firm them up so they don’t fall apart on the grill.
  5. Time to grill! Preheat your grill to medium-high heat—around 450º F. Once the grill is hot and ready, place the patties on the grill, cover, and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes. Gently flip them (they should have nice grill marks on the cooked side), cover, and let them cook for another 4-5 minutes. At this point, check the internal temperature with a Meat Thermometer. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165º F. If you’re not quite there yet, flip the burgers once more and cover for another minute or two. *Note: If you’re using cheese, place the cheese slices onto the patties about a minute before you think they’ll be done.
  6. Burger assembly. How you assemble your burger is completely up to you! Be sure to let me know how you dress your turkey burger in the comments below.

Distant shot of two turkey burgers on a wooden serving board.

Equipment you’ll need:

Recipe tips + tricks.

  1. Create a thumbprint-sized divot at the center of each raw patty. This will prevent the patty from shrinking into a dry puck on the grill.
  2. Refrigerate the patties for about 30 minutes prior to grilling. Cooling them helps firm them up so they don’t fall apart on the grill.
  3. If you don’t have liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce will do the trick. You won’t get that delicious smokiness, but you’ll still end up with tons of umami flavor.
  4. No panko breadcrumbs? You could easily sub-in Italian breadcrumbs or very finely crushed saltines!
  5. Add dried chili flakes for a spicy version of this patty.

Other ground turkey recipes you’ll love:

Hope you enjoy!

If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme.

Close up shot of stacked turkey burger with greens, tomato slice, melted cheese, onions, and mushrooms.

Get the Recipe:

Best Turkey Burger Recipe

We're calling this the best turkey burger recipe for good reason! These tender patties are made up of just the right amount of spice.
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey, preferably dark meat or between 80-90% lean.
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and grated to a paste (or finely minced)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Serving suggestions:

  • Fresh brioche buns
  • Sliced cheese
  • Your choice of condiments and toppings

Instructions 

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  • With clean hands, mix the ground turkey with all of the patty ingredients in a large mixing bowl with. Gently work the mixture until it's cohesive.
  • Divide the meat mixture into four equal portions and carefully form them into patties. Place the patties onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. With your thumb, press a divot into the middle of each patty; this will prevent the patty from shrinking on the grill.
  • Place the patties in the fridge and let them chill for about 30 minutes. This helps them firm up so they don't fall apart on the grill.
  • When it's go time, preheat your grill to medium-high heat—around 450º F. Clean the grill well. If you need to grease your grill, dip a wad of paper towels in some vegetable oil and glide the soaked towel along the grate with tongs. (I don't normally do this, but if you find that meat sticks easily to your grill, you might want to do this step to play it safe; you know your grill best.)
  • Once the grill is ready, transfer the patties to the grill, cover, and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes. Gently flip them (they should have nicely formed grill marks on the cooked side), cover, and let them cook for another 4-5 minutes. Check the internal temperature with a Meat Thermometer, looking for an internal temperature of 165º F. If you're not quite there yet, flip the burgers once more and cover for another minute or two. (If you're using cheese, place the cheese slices onto the patties about a minute before you think they'll be done.)
  • When the burgers are ready, transfer them to a clean plate or platter and serve them with fresh brioche buns and your choice of toppings.
Calories: 215kcal