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Unfortunately, I've eaten a lot of dry turkey burgers in my day. But I'm on a mission to right all that's wrong in turkeyburgerdom. This recipe was invented out of pure necessity when I was visiting my sister. I had just gotten off a plane and dropped my bags at her house when she said, "We're having turkey burgers for dinner...can you make them?" I looked in her pantry and just grabbed some stuff. She had a can of water chestnuts hanging out in there so I decided to put a crunchy little twist on dinner. I added some soy, sautéed onion, ginger, garlic, and cilantro to the mix, and voila! The killer turkey burger was born.


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped (not too fine-they add GREAT texture)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek or Asian chili paste (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 burger buns (I like the seeded ones)
To garnish (all optional)
  • 4 slices American or Cheddar cheese (American melts better)
  • 4 slices beefsteak tomatoes
  • 4 slices red onion
  • 4 leaves butter lettuce
  • 1/2 cup mayo mixed with 2 teaspoons sambal oelek


Serves: 4


Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and toss in the onion. Season with salt and bring the pan to medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and very aromatic, 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, ginger, water chestnuts, soy sauce, sambal, cilantro and the cooked onions and garlic. (NOTE: Save the onion pan to cook the burgers in later!) Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to the mix--this will keep the burgers really moist! Use your hands to squish the mixture until everything is really well combined.

Make, cook and eat a little tester patty to be sure the turkey is really delicious. If the seasoning isn't just right, add a little more soy or a sprinkey-dink of salt. When you're confident the burger mix is perfectly seasoned, form it into 4 equal patties.
With a paper towel, wipe out the sauté pan you used to cook the onion, coat the pan with fresh olive oil, and bring it to medium-high heat. Add the burgers, being sure not to crowd the pan--if you need to work in batched, knock yourself out. Cook the burgers for 5-6 minutes on each side. The burgers should be browned and cooked through when done. If working in batched, keep the first batch warm in a 200°F oven while cooking the second batch.
Toast the burger buns, top with the burgers, and garnish as desired.

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