• Heather Bainbridge EdM, MA, RDN

A Turkey Burger Actually CAN be Perfect!

Aside from passing on this scrumptious recipe, I can't take credit for discovering this one. Our friends (she finds the recipes, he cooks-great teamwork) turned us on to The Food Network's Perfect Turkey Burger and it is phenomenal. If you don't trust a dietitian's taste buds, my husband (who loves red meat) and 3 year old son (who is so-so about protein these days) will attest to this statement. In fact, I've never seen my son devour a burger like he did that day (and it happened again when I made them this week).

They are DELISH! Second bonus they are NUTRITISH-okay, not a word, but wanted to rhyme. What makes them so healthy? They are made with 93% lean ground turkey and, wait for it...mushrooms!

How does this recipe benefit your health and waistline? Contrary to popular belief, ground turkey isn't always as low calorie as you may think (see chart below), so if your goal is to consume less calories always buy the >90% lean ground meats. This recipe calls for 7% fat (or 93% lean) ground turkey, so the it contains less saturated fat and calories than most burgers (let me know if you try 99% lean ground turkey). For variety's sake, feel free to try >90% lean ground beef--you can compare the two options below. From a health standpoint, it's best if you can enjoy burgers at home because restaurants typically use 80% lean and fast food places 75%. Plus from a portion awareness perspective, few restaurants serve 4 oz portions so calories will be higher. Moving on to the 2nd main ingredient: the mighty mushroom...

Mushrooms are known to benefit the heart and immune system, which is good news for anyone with high cholesterol, blood pressure or at risk for cancer. The fun fact about adding mushrooms to meat-based dishes, is that food scientists discovered mushrooms give the taste perception as if more salt and meat are included, so in addition to the natural benefits of mushrooms, you'll be able to also reduce the salt and calories. This is because out of the 5 taste bud sensations (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umani), your taste buds classify mushrooms as umami, the word to describe savory. Talk about getting more bang for your nutritional buck! The Worchestire sauce helps too, which adds lots of flavor for a small amount of sodium.

Lastly, this recipe uses a food processor. I highly recommend purchasing a mini-chop food processor if you don't already own one. It makes clean-up 100x's easier due to its small size and light weight. This time-saving kitchen tool is invaluable when you're in a rush (or if you have dull knives) and want to dice/chop veggies, especially onions (no tears!) in seconds. It also makes any vegetable very tiny when you want to boost the nutritional value of dishes in a discreet way to encourage vegetable adverse peeps to acclimate to the taste of veggies-it can take at least 7-21 times tasting a food to start accepting it. So don't give up on your loved ones, keep introducing the food in different ways.

I only made a few modifications (used different mushrooms, onions and bread) to the original recipe because I didn't have the EXACT ingredients on hand. We didn't enjoy the burgers with the avocado, but I'm sure it's yummy!

In Good Health & Happiness,


Photo credit: Kana Okada

The Perfect Turkey Burger

Adapted from the Food Network


  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap or 1 cup sliced white/baby bella mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped shallot or onion

  • 3 tablespoons lightly packed fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

  • 20 ounces 93% lean ground turkey

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • Kosher salt (optional) and freshly ground pepper

  • 8 thin slices manchego or white cheddar cheese like Cooper Sharp Cheese at the deli counter

  • 4 English muffins, split, whole wheat bun or wheat sandwich thin/flat

  • Dijon mustard and sliced avocado, for topping


1. Use a spoon to scrape out the gills from the underside of the mushroom cap. Cut the cap into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a food processor (or simply add the pre-sliced mushrooms). Add the shallot (or onion) and parsley and pulse until diced.

2. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Add the turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt (optional), and pepper to taste; gently mix with your hands until just combined. Divide into 4 balls, then lightly press into 4-inch-wide, 1-inch-thick patties. Put on a large plate, cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat a grill to medium. Brush the grates with olive oil. Grill the patties, undisturbed, until marked on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Give the patties a quarter turn and cook until marked again, 4 to 5 more minutes. Flip the patties and grill until cooked through, 6 to 7 more minutes; top each with 2 slices cheese during the last 3 minutes of cooking and cover with a disposable aluminum pan to melt.

4.Toast the English muffins on the grill or toaster, then spread with mustard. Serve the patties on the English muffins or buns; top with avocado.

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