Turkey burgers can be just as satisfying as some people believe a beef burger to be. They are easy, juicy, and best of all healthy. Of the many turkey burger recipes I’ve tried in my lifetime, this one is by far my “old faithful”. Try them for yourself and see if they become the best, healthy turkey burger recipe for you too.
Turkey Burger vs Beef Burger
One obvious benefit of choosing turkey over beef is that turkey is generally lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than beef. This is especially the case for those that tend to purchase ground chuck.
For reference, each 112 gm serving of ground chuck has about 280 calories, 22 gm total fat, 9 gm saturated fat, and 71 mg of cholesterol.
Ground sirloin on the other hand is 200 calories, 11 gm total fat, 4.5 gm saturated fat, and 75 mg cholesterol per the same serving size. The sirloin is the leanest cut of meat however I think we can do better!
Compared to ground chuck and sirloin, a serving of 93% lean, ground turkey has around 140 calories, 6.25 gm of total fat, 1.8 gm of saturated fat, and 80 mg of cholesterol. Which makes lean, ground turkey the best choice for those looking for a heart healthy burger option.
|Type of Meat||Calories||Total Fat (grams)||Saturated Fat (grams)||Cholesterol (milligrams)|
|Ground beef chuck (112 gm)||280||22||9||71|
|Ground beef sirloin (112 gm)||200||11||4.5||75|
|Ground 93% lean turkey (113 gm)||140||6.25||1.8||80|
Recommendations from the AHA
One thing you may notice right away from the table above is that the cholesterol level increases as you compare beef chuck to sirloin to lean turkey meat.
This amount is going to vary depending on the brand and also how much fat present. Additionally, dark meat turkey has more cholesterol than white meat turkey.
In the past, the American Heart Association recommended that we limit out intake of cholesterol to less than 300 mg/day, and less than 200 mg/day for those already with high blood cholesterol. However, when AHA guidelines were updated in 2015, these recommendations were no longer listed. This is because we now know that there is “no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol” (1).
What the AHA does encourage is limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats to less than 6% of total daily calories. This is equivalent to about 13 grams per day if following a 2,000 calorie diet (3).
This is because eating too much saturated fats can lead to increasing cholesterol levels. And as a result, this can increase your risk of heart disease (3).
Furthermore they encourage also limiting or avoiding the consumption of beef products. Instead, they recommend choosing more skinless poultry, fish, or plant-based protein sources like nuts, beans and legumes (2). So, if you choose to continue eating red meat, try to limit your portion size to 3 ounces. For reference, three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.
Long story short, if having to choose between a beef burger or turkey burger, the turkey burger is still the better choice despite the higher cholesterol content.
Ground turkey– I like to use extra lean, white meat ground turkey breast for this recipe. However, you can use any high quality, 100% pure ground turkey.
Egg whites– All you need to do is separate 2 egg whites from 2 large eggs. Either save the yolks for another recipe or toss. See the FAQ section below if you need a good substitute for these.
Whole grain crackers or Italian bread crumbs– I most often use whole grain Wasa Crisp bread for these burgers however if I’m all out of those, plain or Italian bread crumbs are a wonderful substitute.
Onion– I love adding vegetables into burger patties. For these turkey burgers, onion works perfectly. They help to add more flavor along with nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folate, and manganese.
Seasonings– other ingredients needed to make these super quick and delicious burgers are your typical garlic powder, a little salt and some pepper.
The Best Toppings for Your Burger
Remember that when you add toppings, you should be mindful of what you choose. This is because items like pickles, cheese, and many sauces such as BBQ or ketchup can add to the fat or sodium content.
You can never go wrong with adding vegetables such as:
- any type of lettuce or spinach
- tomato slices or compote
- canned or roasted beet slices
- red onion or caramelized onion
- avocado slices
And if you are watching your carbohydrate intake, you can always use a lettuce “bun” instead of a typical burger bun.
For all the carb-lovers out there who aren’t crazy about the idea of a lettuce bun, go ahead and enjoy these low calorie burgers on any type of bun you choose. Some non-lettuce burger bun options include:
- whole grain buns
- pretzel buns
- sesame buns
- tortilla wraps
- pita bread
What to Eat With Turkey Burgers
There are so many different sides you can make that go well with this healthy turkey burger recipe. I feel like you can’t go wrong with French fries. Although if you are like me, they’ve got to be SWEET POTATO FRIES! Check out this list for all my favorite sides to serve with turkey burgers:
- French fries or sweet potato fries
- Pasta salad
- Baked beans
- Zucchini fries
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Best Kale Salad Ever!
- Roasted Vegetable Medley
While they will not taste exactly like beef burgers, you can add seasonings such as steak seasoning, liquid smoke, Worcestershire, onion powder, garlic powder and/or black pepper to give it a more seasoned beef burger flavor.
You can make the turkey burger mixture up to a day ahead of time and store in the refrigerator before cooking. After cooking your burgers, these will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you need a substitute for the egg white in this recipe, try using plain or seasoned breadcrumbs, Panko, wheat germ, or oats and add a little water for moisture. You could also try a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water).
Definitely don’t skimp by purchasing turkey meat in a tubular-shaped log. Stick with good quality, freshly ground, turkey such as Jennie-O, Honeysuckle, or any other 100% freshly, ground turkey.
Absolutely! You can even triple the recipe if you want. I double it every time I make it so we have leftovers the next day.
Tasty Turkey Burgers
- 1 lb. extra lean white meat ground turkey breast
- 2 egg whites
- ½ cup whole grain crackers or Italian bread crumbs crushed
- 1 small onion chopped
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Cooking spray
- In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Form turkey mixture into 4 patties.
- Spray non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
- Place patties in skillet and cover, cooking for 5 minutes.
- Turn patties over and cooking additional 5 minutes or until cooked through. (Internal temperature should reach 165°F).
- Some other add-ins prior to cooking that will up the nutritional value could include nutritional yeast or ground flaxseeds.
- If you’re out of whole grain crackers, try any type of cracker, bread crumb or make your own crumbs by toasting a couple slices of bread, then pulsing in your food processor.
140 calories, 3 gm fat, 0.5 gm sat. fat, 7 gm carbohydrate, 28 gm protein, 1 gm fiber, 144 mg sodium, 15 mg cholesterol
Share with me: What did you think of this healthy turkey burger recipe? Did you make any modifications? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below!🥰
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Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.