I’m not gonna lie – these are the very best paleo turkey burgers! Packed with veggies, pan seared to perfection, then topped with guacamole or a fried egg (or both!), this is an epic bun free burger experience you really don’t want to miss. You’ll be reaching for this paleo, Whole30, and keto turkey burger recipe for all of your summer dinners and cookouts!
I’ve been meaning to share the recipe for these veggie-packed paleo turkey burgers for a long time, but I was dragging my feet bigly. I want to say it’s because I’m selfish and I didn’t want to share (that’s partly true), but to be honest it’s because photographing burgers to make them look as good as they taste is really, really hard. How’s that for some hard food blogger truth?
Then a few weeks ago a reader asked if my paleo turkey meatballs would convert well into burgers. I didn’t know for sure (I ended up testing them – they do!) and it felt like the universe was dropping me a giant, not-to-subtle hint. So I pulled on my big girl pants, and here we are. Which is good for us all because you get a new recipe, and I got to step outside my comfort zone, and we ALL get to eat these noshtastic burgers.
I’ve been making this basic recipe for paleo turkey burgers for a long time. It was well over 10 years ago that I first threw these guys together and impressed the hell out of my roommates. Heck, I impressed the hell out myself if we’re being honest.
They’re incredibly juicy, with a crispy crust, tender interior and tons of flavor. Buh-bye bland, mealy, dried out turkey burgers. Hello moist, flavor-packed patties of awesome.
My secret? LOADS of veggies. So many veggies. Veggies for the win! They add moisture, texture, and flavor for the perfect paleo burger experience.
Pin it now! Click here to save this paleo turkey burger recipe to your Paleo, Keto, Whole30, or Low Carb Recipes Board on Pinterest!
TIPS FOR PERFECT PALEO BURGERS
Dark ground turkey meat is boss
Use dark ground turkey meat for added flavor. Dark meat has more fat than white meat. Fat = flavor. Plus you’ll have less pan stickage.
Stovetop or griddle wins
Skip the grill. I know. I’m a grilling devotee all summer long, but cooking paleo turkey burgers on the grill is a terrible user-experience if you happen to be a fan of tender burgers that don’t fall apart. I prefer my patties in one piece, so it’s cast iron skillet or griddle all the way!
If you’re so not into cooking on the stove, I feel you sister. Go ahead and put that griddle or skillet directly onto the grill plates and win at life. If you’re feeling fancy, go ahead and call that griddle a plancha. I won’t judge (but I might giggle a little). Or be a pro and get an actual plancha or carbon steel skillet. I’m not gonna lie, that skillet’s been calling my name all summer so it’s probably time to cave. But I digress as typical.
Oil is your friend
Make sure you’re adding enough extra fat throughout the cooking process, but especially when forming the burgers and oiling your cooking pan. Add a bit of oil to your hands before you go to form the turkey burgers. The mixture is super wet (which is tasty good), but sticky (which is logistics bad). Grease up your hands and you’ll be able to easily form those patties and transfer them to the skillet with zero problems.
HOW TO MAKE PALEO TURKEY BURGERS
First up – veggie time! These paleo turkey burgers get combined with two whole portobello mushrooms, a bell pepper, and half a sweet onion to create a flavor-packed, moist and tender burger experience.
Mushrooms are up first. Dice two portobello mushroom caps into tiny pieces and then toss them into a hot skillet with a couple glugs of oil or avocado oil. Let them cook down, stirring every now and then, until they’re crispy and all of their juices have been released.
That last bit is important! Mushrooms have a very high water content, and their role here is flavor enhancer, not moisture control (that’s next). If you lazily sauté them you’ll have a hot, wet mess on your hands.
While the mushrooms are cooking, prep the pepper and onion. If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and dice them by hand. If you’re feeling not, go ahead and toss them into a food processor and pulse a couple times until they’re diced for you. I’ve done this both ways, and both results are equally good.
Once the mushrooms are nice and crispy, add the onions and peppers to the skillet and sauté until they’re just barely soft. Don’t cook them all the way down, just get that crisp edge off. Remove the skillet from heat and allow the veggies to cool until you can handle them.
Mix the sautéed vegetables with the turkey meat, one egg, and some seasoning. I stick to just salt and pepper. You can add a little cumin and red pepper for a smoky, spicy kick. About half a teaspoon of each should do it.
Mix until the ingredients just barely come together, and try not to overmix.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal parts (yes, I know there’s only four burgers up there, but I promise this recipe makes six). To do so, oil up your hands before you start forming the patties and have a parchment lined something-or-other (baking sheet, cutting board, the counter) at-the-ready to place the patties onto. The mixture is wet and sticky, and greasing your hands will make the burger forming process way more pleasant.
And now we cook. Place the burgers into a well-oiled cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Saute for five minutes, then attempt to flip. I say attempt with intention. If the burgers give you resistance, give them another minute – they’re not ready! They’ll be ready when they have a good crust formed and you can easily get your spatula underneath to turn them. So, once they’re ready, flip and then sautee on the other side for another five minutes or so.
Unlike beef burgers, turkey burgers cannot be cooked medium rare. They have to be cooked until they’re done, and that’s a minimum of 165*. Use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness, and food safety-ness.
Do not be tempted to cook these at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. You will not be rewarded for your ingenuity – trust me on this one. 😀 They’ll burn on the outside before they’re ready on the inside. A little char is tasty. A lot of char is nasty. Keep it to medium friends.
HOW TO SERVE PALEO TURKEY BURGERS
Let’s build a burger! It’s like build-a-bear for foodies but way cheaper and funner.
If you’re rocking the keto lifestyle, go ahead and slap some cheese on these guys before you take them off the skillet. Havarti is good, sharp cheddar is better.
To build your burger, place some lettuce onto a plate, then top it with a little shredded cabbage and a slice of tomato to create a good solid base. Place a turkey burger on top of the tomato, then top with red onion, guacamole and a slice of jalapeno.
Alternatively, you can get really fancy and slap an egg on top.
I cannot tell a lie – we totally ate these with a fork and a knife. Dreadful, I know. But delicious – oh, so delicious. Honestly, any other way is just too darn messy. If you have a better way to bun-free burgers, share with me in the comments! Otherwise I’ll be rockin’ my knife and fork and feelin’ real fine.
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Paleo Turkey Burgers (Whole30, Keto, Low Carb)Print Recipe Rate This Recipe
- 2 portobello mushrooms finely diced
- 4 tbsp olive or avocado oil divided, plus more for greasing your hands
- 1 bell pepper finely diced
- 1/2 large sweet onion finely diced
- 1 lb ground dark turkey meat
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- lettuce for serving
- sliced tomato for serving
- sliced red onion for serving
- guacamole for serving
- jalapeno slices for serving
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons oil and heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms to the oil and sautee, stirring occasionally, until they've released their water content and are browned and crispy, about 10 minutes.
- Add the diced bell peppers and onions to the skillet and stir to combine. Continue to sautee, stirring occasionally, until the peppers and onions are just barely soft, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables from heat and set aside until they're cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the sautéed vegetables with the ground turkey, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix gently with your hands until the veggies are evenly distributed through the turkey meat.
- Place a piece of parchment paper onto a baking sheet or cutting board large enough to fit 6 burger patties.
- Rub a bit of oil into your hands. Dive the mixture into 6 equal portions, then form into patties. Re-oil your hands as needed so that you can form the patties without the meat sticking to your hands.
- Wipe out the cast iron skillet and place over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until it shimmers. Place three turkey burgers into the cast iron skillet, leaving space in-between. Sautee five minutes, or until a good crust forms and you meet little resistance when attempting to flip. Flip the burgers, then sautee on the remaining side for an additional 5 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reaches at least 165*. Remove the burgers from the skillet and repeat with the remaining patties.
- Build your burger. Place several lettuce slices onto a plate, then place the tomato and a burger on top of the lettuce. Top the burger with red onion, guacamole, and jalapeno slices. Alternatively, place the guacamole under the burger and top with a fried egg. Serve immediately. Leftover burgers keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat by sautéing in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat in a bit of oil.
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