Sandwich Sunday: Turkey Burger with Dill Havarti

Well, my timing could not have been worse on this one, but considering I’m still alive, I wouldn’t go ahead and forsake all your ground turkey quite yet. While I’m an unabashed fan of beef, I actually grew up on turkey burgers, and still use ground turkey in place of beef from time to time.

Turkey Burgers get a bad rap for being dry and flavorless (thanks for dispelling that myth Carl’s Jr…NOT!) but if you cook your burgers right, and pair with the right kinds of cheeses and bun, you’ll find yourself in possession of a worthy substitute for beef.

I actually made this in the broiler, searing it on both sides briefly before turning the oven on and baking the rest of the way. While you don’t get the flavor from the grill, the combination cooking method helps the burger retain its moisture. Unlike some people, I don’t like adding bread crumbs or any kinds of binders to my ground meat, using just salt and pepper after forming the patty.

A pretzel bun adds a great malty flavor and plenty of chew, while some black pepper and fresh basil really round out the mayo. But the burger really get a lift from the melted Dill Havarti cheese. Havarti melts great and has a natural buttery-sweet taste, and the dill adds a great dimension. I also like to add a bit of dill relish and cucumber slices for bite.

This turkey burger has got me thinking. Yeah, turkey gets a bad rap, but I know we’ve got some great home cooks out there who’ve developed their own recipes for making the bird stand out between the bun. Any favorite turkey burger applications out there?

18 comments on “Sandwich Sunday: Turkey Burger with Dill Havarti

  1. Rodzilla says:

    I think the trick is to not use a ground turkey with a decent amount of fat.

    try flattening the patty and pressing down the center with your thumb – it should keep it from turning into the meatball you have pictured above.

    chewiness, chew is tobacco 🙂

    • Adam says:

      I typically use 93/7. I know a lot of places go 85/15, but if you can manage to not fall sleep while cooking, I’ve never found problems with 93/7.

      And I was going for the “meatball” look. Isn’t that the chic thing to do with smaller burger these days (these were more slider size on rolls)

  2. @graciHas says:

    That looks really good

  3. Chefprotoss or dan says:

    Good call on not turning your burger into a meatloaf sandwich.

    Oh, and in response to rod, the easiest trick to making your burger bun sized is to make it bigger than the bun before you cook it. Putting a crater in the middle will make for uneven cooking.

  4. We always used to make ‘rings’ instead of patties… pinching down in the middle like you were making a donut but changed your mind. It ensures the edges cook through without getting dry… and also makes a great little pocket for cheese and/or condiments.

  5. Keith says:

    I would never use any meat for a burger that is leaner than 85/15. I’m really not sure how you could avoid a dry turkey burger and fully cook it at 93/7, although I guess this one is smaller than it looks. But it probably helps a lot that you don’t salt the meat before forming the patties – that cardinal sin is a dried-out-burger culprit found everywhere. Always form the patties, then salt. I sometimes season the beef with some grated onion and garlic powder before forming. I’m sure that would be even better for turkey, which is pretty bland.

    The melted havari looks amazing, I consider it easily one of the most underrated cheeses – dill makes it even better.

    The patty-and-indent method really does work wonders on any ground meat to avoid the “meatball” burger. I’ve been to a lot of backyard barbecues where the burger is a giant mound of meat like this, and I’ve never enjoyed it. Even if it the ‘chic’ thing to do, I prefer my burgers flat and tasty.

    Other than the health advantage though, I don’t see any reason to ever make turkey burgers instead of beef.

  6. Keith says:

    OH, and the pretzel roll – I wanted to go on and on about how awesome pretzel rolls are and that I wish they were more popular.

    A company out of Camp Hill, PA makes some great pretzel rolls we can buy at local supermarket, but I’m not sure they’re easy to come by outside of the Northeast.

    My wife has also made pretzel rolls with great success.

  7. rob says:

    Publix has 93/7 ground beef which is what I buy when I want to go lean.

    But when I want to go EXTRA LEAN I get the ground turkey BREAST, it has so little fat that the fat does not even signify … when you form the patties you have to keep the water running in the sink and a few paper towels handy, because without any fat the meat sticks to everything …. I form the ground turkey breast into three big meatballs and then smash them on the pan.

    When all is said and done I am left with three ground turkey breast burgers that are so dry that they are nearly inedible …. I smother them in spicy brown mustard and force them down my throat … it is the leanest protein you can find.

  8. Rodzilla says:

    @adam – agreed, any leaner with turkey doesn’t work out because you can’t cook it rare it like leaner beef.

    @chefprotoss – no it doesn’t, burgers naturally plump up in the middle during cooking – it actually makes for more even cooking.

    • Chefprotoss or dan says:

      A burger is best cooked like a good steak. A steak with a crater in the middle obvously won’t get a good sear or cook evenly. A steak loses mass while it cooks as well but you don’t see people disfiguring them like you do burgers. Its simple science.

      • Crysta says:

        Steaks don’t plump in the middle like burgers do either, not that it matters since you’re not putting that steak on a bun to eat as a sandwich (at least, most people don’t).

        Burgers also only puff up into the dreaded meatball when you grill or broil them, not in a pan on the stove. It has to do with heat sources and such.

        The burger will still sear nicely as it cooks and plumps to fill the dimple.

  9. J.B. says:

    I don’t know if that tastes good or not, but it looks beautiful.

  10. chuck in chicago says:

    The problem I have with turkey burgers is always with the meat itself: no matter how I cook the burger, it always tastes like dark turkey meat, which isn’t my favorite taste. I can flavor the burger with other additions, like diced onion, diced green pepper, or other seasonings, but that “dark meat” taste always comes through. Although I’ve tried ground turkey breast in burgers, it comes out far too dry to be edible. If I’m making burgers, I usually prefer beef, ground chuck (80/20 fat ratio), or ground round (85/15 fat ratio).

  11. Rodzilla says:

    “Chef” – I didn’t say scoop out the center, I said thumbprint. But hey, let’s fight on the inrawebz.

  12. Mikey says:

    I question if that’s really Havarti on your sandwich? I think you were a little overly happy to eat it…

  13. Bob says:

    There’s no such thing, AS A TURKEY BURGER!!!

  14. Henry says:

    here’s a great trick to making insanely juicy and irresistable turkey burgers: add moisture and flavor.

    the best turkey burgers i can concoct involve first sauteeing onions and garlic and whatever other aromatics and veggies you might want to add. then add that to the turkey with some yummy wetness — i’m talking salsa, picante sauce, chipotle or BBQ sauce. as long as you don’t overload it with sauce, the patties will hang together and just overflow with juice when you bite into it!

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