Southwestern Turkey Burger

Cooking for a Crowd, Recipes, Worknight Dinners
southwestern turkey burger
southwestern turkey burger

Photo: Leigh Loftus

If you like a little bit of spice with your burger, dark green poblano chiles, with mild to moderate heat, are the perfect place to start. Most people here “chiles” and think heat, but as a general rule,  the darker the chile, the more fiery it will be. It’s perfectly possible to pick up a pretty, pale green Poblano that won’t send you running for a glass of water.

If you’re wondering why I would substitute turkey breast for juicy, flavorful ground beef, the answer is simple. Ground turkey breast is versatile, lower in fat than beef and is a great source of protein.

Though the pre-made turkey burgers that you find in the grocery store are generally made with a high proportion of dark meat and even skin, higher quality, lean ground turkey breast is better for you and easy to flavor with spices and seasoning.

Though a turkey burger and a beef burger are not necessarily comparable (I like the analogy: they’re apples and orange, but still fruit), a turkey burger can be a great change of pace and a nice way to eat healthier and still enjoy all the benefits of your usual backyard barbecue.

The key to making a great turkey burger, as I have learned through a great deal of trial and error, is adding plenty of savory seasonings to the turkey. Salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder all add spice and flavor here, while milk-soaked panko breadcrumbs keep the burger moist and juicy. The poblano peppers add just enough heat and if you pile your burger high with creamy avocado slices on a whole grain bun, you’ll have a complete and filling meal.

southwestern turkey burger

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Southwestern Turkey Burger
Recipe type: Cooking for a Crowd, Worknight Dinners
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 poblano chiles (about ½ pound)
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup 1% low-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 4 (1½-ounce) hamburger buns, toasted
  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices tomato
  • 4 green leaf lettuce leaves
  • Preparation
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, cut poblanos in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place skin sides down on the grill rack; let cook 10 minutes or until blackened.
  2. Place poblanos in a small zip-top plastic bag and seal. Let stand 15 minutes as the peppers continue to steam. Peel and dice.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, red pepper and turkey and mix gently until just combined, using either your hands or a wooden spoon.
  4. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions; shape each portion into a ½-inch-thick patty. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done.
  5. Combine remaining ¼ teaspoon chili powder and mayonnaise. Top bottom half of each bun with 1 tomato slice, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 patty, about 1½ teaspoons mayonnaise mixture, and 1 bun top.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Lisa LaRocco
    May 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    You are right! It is hard to make a tasty turkey burger. But it is worth the effort to get the health benefits. But so many are so bland tasting. Sounds like you were successful with just enough spices and heat to make it tasty. Also, the addition of sliced avocadoes on the top is the crowning glory. I think one of the main components to healthy cooking is to cook as much as possible yourself. This can be challenging.

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