If you want a lightened-up version of the fast-food classic smash burger, these Turkey Smash Burgers might be just what you’re looking for. Juicy, crispy, and flavorful, they’re amazing topped with some melty, gooey cheddar cheese and served on a toasted potato bun.
Before I moved into the house I live in now, I was living in a small apartment. I had no access to an outdoor grill and the smoke detectors were highly sensitive so, searing anything at high heat was out of the question.
When I moved, my very first purchase (after my chickens) was a propane gas grill. I was beyond excited to grill ALL THE THINGS I had been missing out on for the 7 years I lived in my apartment.
The first meal I made for my fiancé and myself on our new grill was steak tips. Soon after came grilled chicken, beef burgers, pizza, grilled vegetables – pretty much anything you can think of. Anything except for turkey burgers.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of turkey burgers until I came up with this turkey smash burger recipe. Many recipes I’ve tried over the years felt overly complicated. Stuffed with unnecessary ingredients like eggs and breadcrumbs, most turkey burger recipes are closer to meatloaf or meatballs than a juicy burger.
For this recipe, I wanted to keep things simple. A few pantry ingredients to add moisture and flavor, a quick sear in a hot cast iron skillet, and you’ve got yourself a fine contender for the most delicious turkey burger ever.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Perfectly Seared- Smashed into a scorching-hot skillet, these burgers develop the most deliciously crispy crust. The act of smashing the burgers creates more surface area for the meat to come into contact with the hot skillet. Cue the Maillard reaction bringing all the flavor and goodness that comes with seared meat.
- Lightened Up- If you’re craving a fast-food style smash burger, but don’t want all of the saturated fat that comes with it, look no further than these turkey smash burgers. With just 419 calories and 3.3 grams of saturated fat per burger (bun included), you won’t feel overly stuffed after enjoying one of these.
- Quick & Easy- All you have to do is mix everything together in one bowl and, before you know it, you’re smashing your way to the most delicious turkey burger you’ve ever had.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Ground Turkey- For this recipe, I use 93% lean ground turkey as opposed to the 99% lean ground turkey breast. You need a little bit of fat to help the turkey burgers caramelize and develop a deliciously crispy crust.
- Ketchup- Contributing a little sweetness and some moisture, ketchup helps make these turkey smash burgers super flavorful and juicy. Since ketchup contains sugar, it also assists in achieving that beautiful sear we’re going for.
- Soy Sauce- While many turkey burger recipes call for Worcestershire sauce to bring the salty umami factor, I like to go with soy sauce since I’m more likely to have that on hand. Both add moisture and flavor to the turkey burger so, you can use either one in this recipe.
- Mustard- Mustard brings a bit of a vinegar-like acidity to the turkey burger, which balances out the sweetness from the ketchup and the saltiness from the soy sauce.
- Potato Buns- I love potato buns because they’re light, fluffy, a little sweet, and toast up nicely on the grill. You can use whichever hamburger buns you prefer or have on hand.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make these turkey smash burgers.
Step 1: Prepare your skillet. Preheat your cast iron skillet on the grill over high heat, keeping the lid closed to help the skillet get nice and hot. You want the skillet to be scorching hot so that we can create a nice sear on the burgers. Be very careful and DO NOT grab the handle of the skillet without an oven mitt.
Note: You can make these on the stovetop, but you will create a lot of smoke and likely set your smoke detectors off. Just something to keep in mind!
Step 2: Combine all ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, ketchup, dijon mustard, soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Gently mix the ingredients into the turkey until everything is well incorporated, being careful not to overwork the meat.
Step 3: Portion into balls. Split the turkey burger mixture into 6 equal portions and form them into balls. Making balls instead of patties allows us to smash the turkey burgers down into the skillet, which helps create a nice crust.
Step 4: Cook the burgers. Add the oil to the skillet and place one turkey burger ball into the center of it, immediately pressing the burger flat using your spatula. I like to use a wooden rolling pin to help me press the turkey burger down evenly (see image below). Cook the turkey burgers, one at a time, over high heat with the grill lid open for 3-4 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer registers 165°F. Serve on a toasted bun with toppings of choice.
- Fresh Garlic- If you have fresh garlic on hand, grating it up into these burgers really kicks the flavor up a notch. Two cloves of garlic would replace the ½ teaspoon of garlic powder called for in this recipe.
- Grated Onion- While I wanted to keep these burgers as simple as possible, grating up a little raw onion in place of the onion powder would add some more moisture and fresh onion flavor. Replace the onion powder in this recipe with 2-3 tablespoons of grated fresh onion.
- Worcestershire Sauce- Many turkey burger recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, which adds a delicious umami flavor to the ground turkey. I opted for soy sauce in this recipe since I’m more likely to have that in my pantry. However, you can swap the soy sauce out for 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, if desired.
- Potato Buns- While potato buns are my personal favorite, try swapping it out for a brioche roll, a sesame seed bun, a whole wheat bun, or a gluten-free bun, if needed. You could also do a lettuce wrap instead of a bun for a low-carb version.
- Fresh Vegetables- The best fresh vegetable toppings include lettuce, spinach, arugula, tomato, red onion, avocado, and jalapeño.
- Cooked Vegetables- Sautéed mushrooms, onions, and peppers can really take your burger to the next level. Fried onion rings or roasted red peppers are also amazing additions.
- Cheese- Cheddar, American, Swiss, muenster, pepper jack, feta, and goat cheese are a few of my favorites.
- Pickles- Think outside of the pickle box and try pickled red onions, carrots, asparagus, or even radishes.
- Condiments- Mayo, mustard, ketchup, relish, BBQ sauce, ranch, and Thousand Island dressing are all delicious on this burger.
- Other Ideas Include- Bacon, guacamole, fried egg, microgreens, fresh herbs, fruit salsas, coleslaw, chili, hummus, hot sauce, pesto, macaroni and cheese, kimchi, and pulled pork.
Want to learn all about choosing the best onion for any burger? Check out my article on the 11 Best Onions for Burgers.
- French Fries- There’s a reason why French fries are the quintessential burger side dish. They’re salty, crispy, and oh-so delicious. Whether you go for regular, sweet potato, waffle fries or even tater tots, they all pair perfectly with these burgers.
- Potato Salad- My Herbed Potato Salad is a lightened-up take on the classic potato salad. It is a fantastic side for these turkey smash burgers.
- Green Salad- If you’re looking for something on the healthier side, your favorite green salad would make for a light and refreshing side dish.
- Grain Salad- Like pasta salad, but filled with whole grains, beans, and plenty of fresh vegetables. My favorite grain salad is this Mediterranean-Style Ancient Grain Salad.
- Other Ideas Include- Fruit salad, roasted or grilled vegetables, baked beans, onion rings, coleslaw, broccoli slaw, corn on the cob, pasta salad, potato chips, chips and salsa, macaroni and cheese, baked potatoes, and pickles.
Storage and Reheating
- Refrigerator- Raw ground turkey or turkey burgers will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Once cooked, the turkey burgers should be stored in an airtight container eaten within 3-4 days.
- Freezer- Raw turkey or turkey burgers can be safely frozen for 3-4 months. Cooked turkey burgers will maintain optimum quality for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat
When it comes to reheating turkey burgers, your best bet is to reheat them separately from any bread and toppings. Store all components separately to make reheating your burger a piece of cake.
- Refrigerated- My favorite method to reheat turkey burgers is on the stove top. Simply heat a bit of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the burgers and a few tablespoons of water, and cover with a lid. Steam the burgers for 2-3 minutes or until warmed through. Of course, you can also use your microwave, oven, or air fryer to reheat the burgers.
- Frozen- Your best bet is to plan ahead and thaw your frozen cooked turkey burgers prior to reheating them. To reheat the patties from frozen, wrap them in aluminum foil with a teaspoon of water and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. I have never tried this method so, I can’t say how well it works.
How to Tell if Your Ground Turkey Has Gone Bad
- Smell- Fresh ground turkey should give off little to no odor. If the turkey has a sour, sulfur-like smell, it’s probably best to throw it out.
- Texture- Touching the ground turkey is another way to tell if it’s still good to eat. An overly slimy or sticky feeling means your turkey may no longer be safe to eat.
- Color- Ground turkey should be light pink in color. Turkey that appears dull or gray has likely gone bad.
Frequently Asked Questions
A smash burger is exactly what it sounds like – a burger that is smashed onto a hot griddle or skillet. Smashing a burger patty into a ripping-hot skillet creates a fantastic crust and a super flavorful, juicy burger. This style of burger has been popularized by the fast-food chain Smashburger.
To prevent the burgers from shrinking, do not close the grill lid while the burgers are cooking. If your skillet seems to be getting too cold, let it heat up again between cooking each burger. You can also smash the burgers larger than you’ll need them and create a small dimple in the middle of the still raw burger with a metal spoon.
Yes, if you use a gluten-free bun, these turkey smash burgers are suitable for those with gluten intolerance or sensitivity because they don’t contain any breadcrumbs. They are also egg-free and dairy-free.
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Turkey Smash Burgers
- 1 ¼ pounds ground turkey 93% lean
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce low sodium
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or high-heat oil of choice
- 6 potato buns
- Preheat a cast iron skillet on the grill over high heat, keeping the lid closed to help the skillet get nice and hot. You want the skillet to be scorching hot so that we can create a nice sear on the burgers. Be very careful and DO NOT grab the handle of the skillet without an oven mitt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, soy sauce, ketchup, dijon mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Gently mix the ingredients into the turkey until everything is well incorporated, being careful not to overwork the meat.1 ¼ pounds ground turkey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons ketchup, ½ tablespoon dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Split the turkey burger mixture into 6 equal portions and form each portion into a ball. Making balls instead of patties allows us to smash the turkey burgers down into the skillet, which helps create a nice crust.
- Add the canola oil to the skillet and place one turkey burger ball into the center of it, immediately pressing the burger flat using your spatula (I like to use a wooden rolling pin to help me press the turkey burger down evenly). Cook the turkey burgers, one at a time, over high heat with the grill lid open for 3-4 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer registers 165°F. Serve on a toasted potato bun with toppings of choice.2 tablespoons canola oil, 6 potato buns
- If the skillet seems to be cooling off too much, reheat it between cooking each burger by closing the grill lid for a few minutes.
- Store cooked turkey burgers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Did you try this recipe?
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