This is the turkey (or chicken!) burger you have been looking for. It is a no-chill recipe that walks you through making healthy turkey burgers. And it is quick and easy enough to throw together at the end of the day. You can add as much chili heat as you like.
Kebabs/kababs/, patties, meatballs, meatloaf, and burgers are all cousins in the world of ground meat. And there are so many ways you can put your stamp on these family favorites. From toppings, spices, and sides.
Ground turkey or chicken needs a lot of help in the flavor department. These patties transform lean ground meat with fresh herbs, aromatics, and spices that you probably already cook with.
And the ground and fresh chili give you a mild hum of heat. If you want your burgers to have more punch, certainly add more!
What makes these turkey burgers the best?
- They are moist and flavorful!
- No breadcrumbs so they are gluten-free and low carb
- Mix all the ingredients together in one go
- Quick and easy enough for weeknight dinners
- A healthy alternative to ground beef
- You get to play with your favorite spice mix, toppings, and sides
Ingredients & Substitutions
Onions, ginger, garlic, fresh herbs, and healthy fat all make for a moist turkey burger. Here are the ingredients:
Spices: Turkey burger seasonings are ground cumin, coriander, Kashmiri chili, and garam masala. If you don't have Kashmiri chili, swap it with 1/3 the amount of cayenne. And your favorite curry powder makes a good stand-in for the garam masala.
Aromatics: The Indian kitchen workhorse of ginger garlic paste adds lots of flavor and moisture. If you don't have a ready-made paste simply grate or finely mince each in equal amounts. And you can make your own ginger garlic paste.
Scallion (or onion), green chili, and fresh herbs bring layers of flavor. If you aren't a cilantro fan, Italian parsley makes a good substitute.
The protein: Really any ground meat will work, but turkey is my preferred choice and it is easy to find. I recommend using ground dark meat turkey or chicken because it is more flavorful than breast meat and won't dry out as quickly.
Binder: One of the things I love about this burger is that is gluten-free. There are no bread crumbs or flour involved. An egg helps pulls everything together, but some yogurt is a good replacement, though the mixture will be softer and harder to work with. I've even forgotten both and it still was a very good turkey burger..
Fats: I like using ghee but your favorite oil is good too. Three tablespoons of oil--1 for sautéing and two for the mixture--adds healthy fat and keeps the burgers moist.
How to Cook
Mix all the ingredients together:
Divide the mixture into 4 portions. You can make the burgers up to six hours ahead.
On the Grill
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Brush the grill clean, generously oil the grate, and brush both sides of the patties with oil to prevent sticking.
Place the burgers on the grill and cook on the first side for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until the meat measures 160°F (70°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cook the patties for 5 minutes resisting the urge to move them until it is time to flip.
Turn them and cook for another 5 minutes or until the temperature is 160°F (70°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
While the meat is cooking, toast the buns using ghee, butter, or oil. Or, if you are going low-carb, pop your burger on top of some greens or my simple cabbage slaw (recipe included). Turkey burgers are best served immediately when they are extra juicy.
Tips & Tricks for Moist Turkey Burgers
- Don't overwork the mixture. If you handle ground meat too much it not only becomes dryer, but it also won't hold together as well.
- Wet your hands with water or coat them with oil. This will help you shape the patties.
- Shape the patties uniformly. These burgers will cook evenly if you make them 1/2-inch thick.
- Try to flip only once. Continually flipping will mean that the burgers will take longer to cook. And the longer they cook the more they will dry out.
- Resist the temptation to press down on the burgers. The juices will escape.
- When the burgers are cooked, let them rest for 5 minutes so the juices will redistribute evenly.
- My biggest tip is not to overcook the burgers. They cook quickly so keep a close eye on them and remove them from the heat just as soon as they come to the proper temperature.
Topping and Sides Ideas
Here are some of my favorites: a slice of cheese (sometimes), potato chips, a cabbage slaw of some sort, tomato, pickles, and raw or caramelized onions.
- My favorite turkey burger sauce is from the vlogger Sam the Cooking Guy. I love watching him because he is fun and he knows how to make flavorful food. His simple but savory sauce for burgers is a mix of mayo (you could use thick yogurt), ketchup, yellow mustard, and chopped dill pickles. See the recipe below.
- Also, my cilantro and mint chutney mixed with thick yogurt or mayo is a good option. Or purée some Indian pickle and add a little yogurt (or not) and spread on the toasted buns. My favorite store-bought Indian pickle is Mother’s Recipe Mild Lime Pickle. Or, have you thought about making a good Indian lime pickle?
- See a quick slaw recipe for a healthy side and some welcome crunch. It just takes olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper. If you want to make a yummy cabbage slaw with coconut and mustard seeds, take a peek at my Indian-Style Red Cabbage with Coconut.
Frequently Asked Questions
While this recipe suggests that you add 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil to the mixture to keep the burgers moist, you are using healthy fats. And these turkey burgers with a bun and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sauce, weigh in at just 438 calories. A beef burger has saturated fat and a much higher calorie count, even before any toppings. AND if you skip the bun you will save another 75+ calories (and carbs).
Because ground poultry is low fat and burgers made with it are often dry and flavorless. Adding herbs, ghee or melted butter, onion, and minced ginger and garlic all help up the moisture quotient.
A beaten egg helps hold everything together. If you don't use eggs, 2 tablespoons of thick yogurt also do the trick, though the mixture will be softer and a bit harder to work with.
No, but you are so much more likely to overcook and dry out the meat without one.
The Best Way to Store and Reheat
- Storing: For any leftover burgers, wrap them tightly and store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: I have frozen uncooked burgers and that works well. If you freeze cooked burgers, you are much more likely to overcook them while reheating. They keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months if tightly wrapped. Allow the patties to defrost before cooking.
- Reheat in a skillet: In a preheated skillet over medium heat, add the burgers and a teaspoon of water. Cover with a lid and reheat to 165°F (75°C).
Besides a welcome change from your usual turkey burger, this recipe makes tender little meatballs that are great in wraps, and sandwiches, stirred into pasta, or even used as a topping for your favorite store-bought pizza crust. I am confident you will enjoy this recipe and find creative ways to use it. Enjoy!
Here are some more yummy ground meat recipes!
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card and/or let me know in the comments below. Thank you! ~Alonna
Recipe Card 📖
Indian Spiced Turkey Burgers
- 1 pound ground turkey ~ Ideally dark meat, ground chicken, or pork
- 1/2 cup scallions ~ Finely minced. Or shallot, onion.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala ~ Or your favorite curry blend
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ To taste, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne; substitutions
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste ~ Or 2 teaspoons each garlic and ginger grated or finely minced
- 2 teaspoons small green chili ~ Finely chopped. More to taste; see Notes
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce ~ Or 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon amchur ~ Optional, also called mango powder
- 1/2 cup cilantro ~ And tender stems chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves ~ Optional but recommended, chopped
- 1 large egg ~ Or two tablespoons of thick plain yogurt
- 1 scant teaspoon sea or table salt ~ To taste. Or 1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons ghee or oil ~ More if toasting the buns
- 1 tablespoon oil ~ For brushing the patties and cooking
- 4 burger buns ~ Optional
Simple Cabbage Slaw - Optional
- 3 cups green or red cabbage ~ Thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 scallions, green part ~ Thinly sliced or 1 tablespoon red onion minced
- salt and pepper ~ To taste
Sam's Burger Sauce - Optional
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons dill pickle ~ Chopped
- 2 teaspoons dill pickle liquid
- salt and pepper ~ To taste
- 1/2 teaspoon green chili ~ Optional, minced. See Notes below
- Gather the burger ingredients.
- In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all the ingredients using 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil. If you would like to double-check the seasonings, fry a small amount of the meat to taste. The burgers can be shaped up to 6 hours ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
- To help you shape the burgers, wet your hands with water or coat them with oil. Divide the mixture into four portions and shape them into 3/4-inch thick burgers. With your thumb make a slight depression in the center of each patty. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.
- For a gas grill preheat to medium-high. Or light charcoal until it is lightly covered in ash—about 10 minutes. Set the grill up for direct heat by spreading the coals evenly over the whole grill.
- Brush the grate clean and using the remaining tablespoon of oil, generously coat with oil. And brush oil on each side of the patties.
- Place the burgers on the grill. Don’t be tempted to press them down or you will lose some of the juices. Cook on the first side for 5 minutes allowing the meat to firm up by not moving it until it is time to flip.
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot enough for a good sizzle it is time to cook the burgers.
- Turn the heat down to medium so the tender meat doesn't burn on the outside before it cooks on the inside. Cook the patties for 5 minutes resisting the urge to move them until it is time to flip onto the other side.
FINISHING THE BURGERS
- Turn the burgers over and cook for another 4 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer and look for 160°F (70°C). As the burgers rest they will increase in temperature by about 5 degrees. Be careful not to overcook turkey burgers or they will dry out. If adding cheese, do so when there are 2 minutes left of grilling time.
- While the meat is cooking, optionally toast the buns using ghee or butter, if you are using. Also, see Notes below on a low-carb option.
- Let the patties rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite accompaniements. See some garnishing ideas below.
Cabbage Slaw - Optional
- Mix all the ingredients together and set aside. If you are not using buns, double to this slaw recipe and use as a bed for the burger.
Sam the Cooking Guy's Simple Burger Sauce - Optional
- Mix all the ingredients together and taste for salt and pepper.
Garnish as You Wish
- Here are my favorites: caramelized onions, green chutney, Sam's burger sauce, tomato, lettuce, masala potato chips, pickles, and cabbage slaw.
- The calorie count: Includes the burger, a bun, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mayo-based sauce.
- Green chili: If you want more heat, add more green chili. Manage the heat by removing the seeds and ribs.
- Toasting the buns is optional but it makes a big difference by creating buttery, crispy edges.
- This healthy turkey burger mixture makes a perfect appetizer. Shape small patties and serve with your favorite chutney. You could also tuck them into little slider buns for additional cuteness. Or shape into meatballs and do anything you would typically do with meatballs!
- If gluten-free, serve the turkey burger on a bed of the simple cabbage salad recipe I’ve included above, or any other salad situation you love.