Typical Turkey Burgers have never really been my thing, despite my mom’s best efforts to get me to enjoy them. Save for the rare exception, they usually seem dry and unbelievably boring. I’ll just have a hamburger, thanks.
But I’ve been trying to eat a bit less red meat lately (I’d been downing blue cheese burgers with a vengeance for a few weeks before that), so I decided to give turkey burgers another shot.
With the help of the right spices, jalapenos, and a wonderful condiment I call Cilantro-Lime Pesto, I came up with a recipe that was not just delicious for a turkey burger, but a delicious burger without any qualifiers.
As I mentioned before, turkey burgers can be bland and boring. However, these feature components that add spiciness, smokiness, nuttiness, and earthiness that leave nothing to be missed.
I season the burgers with cumin, smoked paprika, chopped jalapeno, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Talk about south-of-the-border flavors! Sure, these aren’t exactly what I’d expect to find while dining out in Tijuana, but there’s enough spice-overlap to forgive the lack of authenticity.
Still, the real must-have boost comes from the Cilantro Lime Pesto. This pesto is full of nutrients, as well as healthy monosaturated fats which have been shown to release high amounts of cholecystokinin (CCK), an appetite-suppressing hormone. It isn’t low-calorie, but only a small amount will add huge flavor and help fill you up! If we’re doing turkey burgers, we might as well make them as healthy as we can without sacrificing all of the taste.
Fresh cilantro and lime juice add a Mexican-inspired twist to the standard pesto. Parmesan cheese and pine nuts bring that missing umami (or savory) aspect to the burgers.
I top mine with a half-slice of cheddar cheese, lettuce, red onion, and tomato, and serve it on toasted buns or flatbread.
This wound up being one of only two turkey burger recipes I’ve ever liked. (The other is Greek Turkey Burgers, which–admittedly–have a ton of added ingredients that kind of make them more like turkey meatloaf patties than burgers, but que sera, sera.) I’ll definitely be making these again soon!
- Olive oil, to cook
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 3 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Mexican chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Tomato, lettuce, red onion, and/or cheese, to top
- 3 burger buns or flatbreads, toasted
- 1 bunch cilantro
- ¼ cup pine nuts (walnuts or roasted pumpkin seeds also work well)
- ¼ cup parmesan
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Olive oil
- In a food processor, combine the cilantro, pine nuts, parmesan, lime juice, garlic, and salt. Process until blended, and stream in olive oil until slightly grainy but fully incorporated and unified. Transfer the pesto to a small container, and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto to keep it from browning. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high.
- In a large bowl, combine the turkey, jalapenos, garlic, and spices. Shape into 3 equally sized patties.
- Place the burgers in the skillet and cook until the burgers are done, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Place the cheese slices, if using, on the burgers and cook until melted, about 1 more minute.
- Spoon one to two tablespoons of the pesto onto each bottom bun. Place the turkey burgers on top, and then top with tomato, lettuce, and/or red onion. Serve warm.