Juicy Turkey Burgers

A juicy, moist turkey burger is possible with a couple of secret ingredients and a flavor boost from Italian sausage. On the healthier side, these turkey burgers are easy to throw on the grill or cook in the oven.

open faced turkey burgers on a marble plate with a gray napkin and spinach w

Burger night just became a little more healthy. And if calling things “healthy” in your house doesn’t win any favors, you won’t have to tell anyone…as in the kids or a picky spouse… that these burgers are actually made with turkey. These Juicy Turkey Burgers might just replace pass up cheeseburgers in your house they’re that…well—juicy.

ingredients for turkey burgers in a white bowl with black measuring spoons, an apple and a little bowl of mustard

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The Secrets to Super Moist Turkey Burgers

You’re not going to have to read the whole post to learn the secret to these burgers. That way your mouth can water while you read all the way to the bottom. You’re welcome.

Ready?

These burgers have two secret ingredients.

The first one is apples.

Yup. One whole grated apple. I borrowed that technique from my mom who grates apple in her stuffing every Thanksgiving. In the stuffing, the apple just melts away leaving a moistness that can’t be beaten (there’s that “m” word again but really is there a better one to describe it?)

Note: you can see here, I really didn’t grate it super small – I am not that patient. But it’ll still disappear!

And the second secret ingredient? Olive oil.

That technique I borrowed from Ina Garten. If you haven’t tried her Niman Ranch Burgers, do it (after you make these burgers, of course). They’re my go-to burger recipe when we are craving a classic cheeseburger. SOOO good.

a pan of caramelized onions with a pair of tongs across the pan

Condiments

And now for the topping that takes these burgers to the next level: an easy, caramelized onion compote that is seasoned with sage and thyme.

While the pairing of sage, apples, and onions might have a Thanksgiving-y feel (which I think is allowed all year long, don’t you?), this condiment adds a sweetness that balances these spice of the burgers.

To prepare, you cook the onions loooow and sloooow till they get that gorgeous caramel-color and then you add a little sage, thyme, and black pepper.

Is your mouth is watering yet?

turkey burger on a white marble board with utensils and a bowl of caramelized onions to the side

What temperature should my turkey burger be?

165˚

Need more turkey talk? The USDA is your best bet for all things turkey.

Is a little pink ok?

The color of ground turkey is affected by several factors:

  • the source of the meat – turkey can be light pink or dark pink depending on what part of the bird is the source.
  • how it’s cooked – Turkey cooked on the grill could be at 165˚ and still be a little pink.
  • the age of the bird – a younger bird can be “pinkier” than an older one.
turkey burger on a white marble board with utensils and a bowl of caramelized onions to the side

Best way to cook turkey burgers (without drying them out)

No need to be intimidated about cooking these burgers because you won’t dry them out. [Note that I didn’t say you can’t. Of course, if you left them on the grill, stove, in the oven or air-fryer too long you will dry them out.] However, if you make the recipe as is, you will be successful. I believe!

STOVETOP TO OVEN- for this method you need a good splatter screen (because things will get messy and then you won’t be cleaning burger splatter)

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a cast-iron (or your fav) skillet on medium-high. And I’ve got tips for you on how to care for your cast iron skillet.
  2. Add burgers to the pan, cover with a splatter screen and sear them for about 3 minutes.
  3. Flip burgers and place the pan in the oven to cook until center registers 165˚. This should take about 10 more minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, top with cheese and cover pan with a lid until cheese melts.

GRILL – Grill as you would a normal burger following cooking temp recommendations in the above section.

  1. Recommended cooking time for the grill – 4-5 minutes per side.
  2. Cheese melting tip – During the last minute of cooking, put the cheese on the burgers and then once the minute has passed, turn off all the burners, close the lid for another minute or so until the cheese is melted to your liking.

AIR FRYER

  • When making these burgers in an air fryer, have a thermometer handy as models vary on cooking time and speed.
  • Preheat the air fryer and then cook for approximately 15-20 minutes until the perfect temperature of 165˚ is reached.

Freezing suggestions

You can form these burgers ahead of time and freeze them for up to 3 months [see notes in the recipe below for more information]. To thaw, place in the fridge the night before you plan on eating.

Tips

For a crowd: Make mini burgers for sliders to serve at your next game day party. Have a topping bar for guests to dress their own burgers.

For a few: Make the recipe as is and freeze the extras for another meal.

Serve with:

turkey burger on a white marble board with utensils and a bowl of caramelized onions to the side.
5 from 3 votes

Turkey Burgers

Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:20 minutes
Servings 4 burgers

Equipment

  • gas grill

Ingredients
 

  • 1 ½ lbs ground turkey
  • ½ lb ground Italian sweet or mild sausage, or two links, casings removed
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 slices sharp white cheddar, I use Dubliner Irish Cheddar or Cabot Extra Sharp White Cheddar
  • 6 brioche burger buns, or pretzel or your favorite bun – and of course, buns are optional!

Sweet Caramelized Onion

Topping Ideas

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Shape into 1/3-1/2 lb patties and set aside. Can be frozen at this point. See below.
  • On a medium high grill (400°), cook for approximately 6-8minutes per side or until internal temperature registers 165°. Flip the burgers once during grilling.

For Caramelized Onions

  • Heat butter in medium skillet on medium heat.
  • Add the onions and seasonings and cook slowly until caramelized about 20 minutes. See note below.

Stovetop to Oven Version

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Heat a cast-iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 T of oil to pan and heat until shimmering.
  • Add turkey burgers one at a time and sear for 3 minutes. Cover with a splatter screen to avoid a big mess.
  • Flip burgers and move the pan to preheated oven to finish cooking for up to 7-10 minutes more (depending on your burger's thickness) until burgers reach 165°F.

Grill Instructions

  • Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium high. Grill for 6-7 minutes per side until burgers reach 165°F.
  • Top with cheese for last minute or so of cooking time.

Air Fryer

  • Preheat air fryer according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Set air fryer to 370° and place burgers in air fryer and cook for 13 minutes or until internal temperature of 165°F is reached.

Notes

Freezing Instructions: 
  • Mix burgers and shape into patties.
  • Cut out one 5″ square piece of parchment paper per burger.
  • Spray parchment paper with cooking spray before placing each patty on each piece of parchment.
  • Stack burgers in three’s or four’s (depending on the thickness of your burgers) and place as many stacks as your can fit into freezer bags.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months
Caramelized Onions Tips:
  • Cooking the onions low and slow is an excercise in patience. These can be made a day ahead or the morning of and heated quickly in the microwave for about 15 seconds to loosen them up.
  • 20 minutes is definitely on the shorter side for these onions. Cooking them longer will deepen the color and the flavor. The pictures above were shoot with 20 minutes cooking time because I know how life rolls 😀.
Course: Main Course, Meat
Cuisine: American, Grilling
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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4 Comments

    1. Thank you! You totally could do that! I’ve even eaten them as a burger salad before which is so good too!

  1. Lori these burgers were delicious!! I made them tonight and the whole family LOVED them!!! Adding the Italian sausage really kicked it up a notch and with the grated apple, they were so juicy! Definitely making again and again! ( I would have posted this on Instagram but I gave it up for Lent😩)5 stars

    1. Yay Tracey! So happy to hear it! I too love the sausage in them but even if you don’t include it, they’re still super juicy. And good for you giving up the ‘gram for Lent!🙌🏻 Stay safe, my friend!