Asian-inspired turkey burgers

Asian-inspired turkey burgers

Here’s a turkey burger that puts a low-fat spin on the traditional beef hamburger but is just as juicy and satisfying. Chopped water chestnuts add crunch, and a dash of sambal oelek, a spicy Southeast Asian chili sauce, gives the burgers a hint of heat. This recipe is based on one from Anne Burrell of the Food Network.

To make the burgers even healthier, use a whole wheat bun, or skip the bun entirely and wrap the burgers in lettuce leaves. You can also leave off the sambal oelek mayonnaise that Burrell recommends as a garnish, but it’s so tasty, you may not be able to resist slathering a little on top.

Servings: 6


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (available in Asian food markets or the Asian section of many grocery stores)
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • Half bunch fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Optional garnishes:

  • 6 whole-wheat burger buns
  • 1/4 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise mixed with 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • 6 slices beefsteak tomato
  • 6 slices raw red onion
  • 6 whole lettuce leaves, washed and dried


  1. Coat a large nonstick saute pan with half of the olive oil. 
  2. Add the onions, season with a pinch of salt, and bring to a medium heat. Cook the onions until they are soft and aromatic, 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the onion and garlic mixture cool. Reserve the pan to cook the burgers in later. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, soy sauce, sambal oelek, ginger, water chestnuts, cilantro, and cooked onions and garlic. Using your hands, blend the ingredients together until well combined. Form the mixture into 6 equal patties. 
  5. You can cook the burgers in the same pan you used for the onions or on a grill tray on an outdoor grill. (Using a tray will ensure that you don’t lose pieces of the burgers through the grill grates.) Coat the pan or tray with the remaining olive oil, and bring to medium-high heat. Place the burgers in the pan or on the grill, being sure not to crowd them. Cook the burgers for 5 to 6 minutes, then flip them, cover the pan or close the grill, and cook 5 more minutes or until cooked through. A meat thermometer should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted inside the burgers.
  6. Serve with the optional garnishes.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 250
  • Total fat: 14 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Cholesterol: 90 mg
  • Sodium: 550 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 9 g
  • Dietary fiber: 1 g
  • Total sugars: 2 g
  • Protein: 21 g