Who Said Turkey Burgers Had to Be Bland and Boring?
Alternatives to traditional ground beef hamburgers are nothing new. The only “new” thing on the burger front is that a ground turkey does not mean boring! Wait… what? You read right! No more bland and boring turkey burgers! All kidding aside, here’s how I make my ground turkey patties taste amazing. Consider it a great jumping-off point for your recipe.
Spices – not salt!
First, add some spices for bonus flavor. I’m not talking about a ton of extra salt! Add in your choice of fresh herbs and ground spices that are suited for your taste buds and geared towards the flavors your family enjoys. There’s nothing wrong with an Italian seasoned burger, or Tex-Mex, or even Mediterranean. Avoid seasoning packed with sodium.
My favorite recipe for turkey burgers includes a can of black beans. You can see how I use them in the recipe below. But, adding black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chopped onion, peppers, mushrooms, and more are additional flavor boosters.
One Note: You can use canned beans or freshly prepared. But, try to avoid mashing the beans totally when mixing your ingredients. Black beans, when mashed, essentially act as a food coloring. You don’t want burgers that have a weird purple hue! Also, avoid big chunks of chopped vegetables. You want small pieces, almost minced, so that the burgers hold together when grilling.
Foil Grilling Tip: It’s just a fact of life that forming burgers made from beef is completely different from making turkey burgers! Turkey meat is sticky and forming a burger can be messy! My solution is one of my favorite grilling tips. I had an “aha” moment when grilling my first veggie burger. The things tended to crumble or fall apart. That’s something noted by grilling enthusiasts on sites across the internet. Here’s what I do now for veggie and turkey burgers.
Mix the ingredients in a bowl, chill for several minutes to firm up, and then spoon equal portions onto squares of foil coated with non-stick spray! Then gently spread the mixture into a patty using the back of a wet spoon. Then, chill again if you have time.
Get your grill going, gas or charcoal, and then place the burgers, with their little foil plates, onto an upper rack – then close the lid! Grill for a few minutes and allow the burgers to firm up. Then turn the burgers with the foil side up! Now, peel the foil back – you may need to use your spatula, or a fork or spoon, to help along any spots that stick. Grill for a few minutes to get your perfect grill marks. Total grilling time will be about 10 minutes depending on the temperature of your grill and the thickness of your burgers.
Kent’s Ground Turkey and Black Bean Burgers
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon low sugar ketchup
- 2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic, or garlic powder
- Dashes of pepper
- Dashes of chili powder
- Dashes of onion powder
Mix evenly in a bowl
Chill for a few minutes
Spray squares of foil with non-stick spray
Spoon equal portions onto the foil squares
Smooth and form using a wet spoon
Grill on an upper rack with the lid closed
Turn when bottom edges brown
When turning, move to lower rack and gently peel away the foil.
Serve up your burgers topped with tons of lettuce or greens, low-fat cheese, diabetic-friendly condiments, and more.
Full disclosure – my favorite recipe for a turkey and black bean burger started as one from a .gov website. Over the years, the recipe has morphed some. But, I’ve tried to retain many of the characteristics of the original “healthy recipe” dish.
Kent Whitaker, also known as “The Deck Chef,” is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s also penned Young Reader and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motor-sports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill.