Recipe Spotlight

You're 3 Ingredients Away from Crispier, Juicier Turkey Burgers

Many turkey burgers are dry, pebbly, and flavorless. It doesn't have to be that way.

Published Oct. 13, 2021.

A bad turkey burger—dry, crumbly, and flavorless—has all the appeal of wet sand. But a great turkey burger—juicy and savory, with perfectly crisped edges—might just rival your favorite beef burger.

Don’t believe us? Then you’ve never tried our technique for cooking turkey burgers with lacy, crispy edges and tender, flavor-packed interiors. Like a smash burger, the textural contrast heightens the appeal while highlighting the inherent flavor of the base protein.

The key to these supreme turkey burgers is the panade, a combo of starches and liquid that’s mixed into the meat. In this recipe, we use panko bread crumbs and mayonnaise to lock in juiciness and create a crunchy crust and shredded Monterey Jack cheese for light, melty pockets of flavor. You can learn the technique step-by-step in the latest episode of our YouTube series Today's Special, hosted by Ashley Moore.

In this episode, Ashley demonstrates how to make the panko, mayo, and cheese panade and explains why those three ingredients ensure a delicious patty reminiscent of the best beef smash burgers. What all burgers need is the correct fat content. Too little fat, and the patty becomes dry and lifeless. Do the math: Ground turkey can be nearly 99 percent lean, while the best burger patties are made with ground beef that’s 70 to 80 percent lean. It’s no wonder most turkey burgers turn out tough and unsatisfying.

Here’s where the panade comes in to deliver a dose of fat and texture. Monterey Jack cheese mixed into the turkey helps create melty pockets of flavor in each bite. Panko, a Japanese style of bread crumb, is coarser in texture than other bread crumbs and ensures that the patty doesn’t get too dense. Finally, mayonnaise adds fat and aids in the browning of those desirable crispy burger edges. (Remember, a slather of mayonnaise is great for creating a golden-brown crust on grilled cheese sandwiches, too.)

Crispy Skillet Turkey Burger

A little bit of cheese goes a long way in helping these turkey burgers stay moist. Mixing Monterey Jack in with the lean turkey meat created juicy pockets of fat, which yielded a more desirable interior texture, and the cheese crisped around the edges of the burger, creating a crunchy crust.   

“This is like no other turkey burger you have ever had. Promise,” Ashley says. “This is our go-to turkey burger recipe because it is so tender, but the crust gives such a great contrast to the juicy burger.”

Complete the burger with pickled vegetable toppings for added crunch and tang. In the video above, you can watch Ashley quick-pickle red onions and jalapeños, but she guarantees that these burgers are flavorful enough to work with whatever your favorite burger toppings are. How many other turkey burgers can say that?

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