Year-round burger night is a favorite in our house. As the cook, I prefer when it’s warm enough to grill but a burger cooked in a cast iron skillet is delicious in those bitterly cold winter months and reminds me that Spring is just a month or two away.
Beef vs. Turkey Burgers
I’ve talked before about my kind of strange pickiness against ground beef. As a result, I have mastered cooking turkey burgers. If you equate turkey with dry, flavorless burgers you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you give this one a try. I have a couple secrets I’ll reveal later that make these burgers juicier than your average beef burger!
Turkey Burger Toppings
A good burger needs good toppings. With the mild flavor of turkey, you can get really creative here. This burger features freshly melted mozzarella cheese, thicky rich balsamic vinegar, and flavorful pesto. Each topping complaints the others and enhances the flavors in the burger itself.
While we are discussing toppings I like to put as much importance on the quality of the bun as the toppings. I feel very lucky to have access to high quality freshly baked local buns and they really make a difference. It takes a homemade burger up to restaurant quality.
My secret is buying them in large quantities straight from the local bakery and freezing them so I don’t have to make a special shopping trip when it’s burger night.
The Secret to a Juicy Burger
I stole this secret from an episode of Rachel Ray. Grate onion and garlic in your burger and drizzle the ground meat with oil. These two steps are crucial to keeping your burger from drying out. I use my microplane so the onion is basically juice and it mixes right into the meat. Unless they see you do it no one (not even your picky toddler) will know there is onion in their burger.
Flavorful Turkey Burgers
This burger has a multitude of flavors from fresh ingredients. I love the bite of the sun-dried tomatoes and the herbs add flavor and freshness (even when using dried).
Italian Turkey Burgers
A flavorful, juicy turkey burger. Herbs, pesto, and balsamic vinegar give a complex flavor you’ll love.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Total Time: 28 minutes
- Yield: 4 burgers
- Category: Lunch, Dinner
- Cuisine: American, Italian
- 1lb ground turkey
- 1/4 onion, grated (microplane)
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1/4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (finely chopped)
- 3 tbsp fresh basil, sliced (if using dried use 1/2 tsp )
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (if using dried use 1/2 tsp )
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Drizzle of oil, I use avocado oil
- Balsamic Vinegar (get a good quality aged vinegar so it’s nice and thick)
- Fresh Mozzarella cheese
- Heat grill to 450 degrees
- In a large bowl mix all of the turkey burger ingredients until just combined (don’t over mix).
- Divide meat into 4 equal portions.
- Roll into a ball and then flatten into a patty about an inch thick.
- Place burger patties on the grill, close grill and cook until you see the edges are browning about 5-6 minutes.
- Flip burgers and continue cooking, checking the temperature after 6 minutes.
- When internal temperature has reached 155 top with cheese.
- Continue cooking with the lid closed until cheese is melted and internal temp is 165.
- Remove cooked patties from the grill and let rest.
- While patties rest toast buns on the grill.
- To assemble burgers, spread a layer of pesto on the bottom of the toasted bun. Top with a cooked burger, drizzle with balsamic vinegar before placing the top of the bun on.
How Long to Grill Turkey Burgers
In the recipe, you’ll notice I note the temp to cook to vs. the time. No one wants to eat a raw turkey burger or even medium rare for that matter! Every grill will run a different temperature and even the best gas grills fluctuate temperate while you’re cooking. Trying to cook off a set time is a recipe for failure.
That being said, the key to a juicy turkey burger is not overcooking it. Trying to “guess” when it is done or assuming it is done then cutting it open to check will typically result in an overdone, dry burger. Checking the temperature is the key to success.
Adding the cheese at 155 ensures it has time to melt without overcooking the burger. Letting the burger “rest” lets it finish cooking and redistributes the juices.
How to Cook Burgers in a Cast Iron Skillet
When it’s too cold to grill I break out my cast iron skillet. A drizzle of oil in the pan will keep the meat from sticking. The trick to getting the perfect cook is using your stove and oven.
I start with the burgers in the pan on the stove. Cook on one side about 6 minutes until there is a nice crust on the bottom, flip and then immediately place in a pre-heated 400-degree oven. Let the burgers finish in the oven. Check the temperature after 5 minutes, once at 155, top with cheese and then remove from the oven when they reached 163-165.
Let rest 3-5 minutes and they are just as delicious as off the grill!