Recipe: Jammin’ burgers

Photo by Lynda Balslev for TasteFood

It's the season for grilling and burgers. This summer, lighten up your double-fisted burgers with ground turkey meat. Turkey burgers are often underrated and dismissed. They have a reputation for being dry and bland, which is unfortunate. These criticisms can be easily remedied and used to your advantage.

Look to turkey's neutral flavor as a canvas. It's an opportunity to mix in a slew of sweet and spicy condiments to develop flavor and umami qualities while providing moisture that ensures juicy, dribbly bites.

This turkey burger relies on favorite pantry items and fresh fruit to provide succulence and flavor. A can of chipotles packed in adobo sauce is a pantry must-have. Not only do the chiles lend smoky heat to the patty, but the sauce in the can is liquid gold; it's a sweet and spicy substitute for ketchup or chili sauce. Grated onion is another easy trick that provides bright, sharp moisture to the patty. To crown it, ripe summer peaches and cherries simmer together in a sweet-and-sour jammy compote. It replaces the standard smear of ketchup on the bun and complements the turkey meat. 

Prepare the burgers on the grill. If you have a griddle, use it to get an even sear on the patties. You can also prepare the patties on the stovetop. Use a cast-iron pan for best results. 

Chipotle Turkey Burgers With Peach and Cherry Jam

Active time: 50 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 4


▶ 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

▶ 1 small shallot, finely chopped

▶ 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

▶ 3 large ripe peaches, skinned, pitted and diced 

▶ 1 cup pitted cherries, coarsely chopped 

▶ 1 tablespoon minced chiles in adobo with juices (or more for extra heat)

▶ 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

▶ 1 packed tablespoon light brown sugar

▶ 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


▶ 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey 

▶ 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chiles in adobo

▶ 2 tablespoons grated onion with juices

▶ 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

▶ 1 teaspoon ground cumin

▶ 1 teaspoon kosher salt

▶ 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

▶ 2 sweet onions (such as Walla Walla), sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick

▶ Olive oil for brushing

▶ Coarse salt

▶ 4 hamburger buns, split

▶ Lettuce leaves

Make the jam. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and ginger and saute until the shallot softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peaches and cook until the juices release, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. (The jam can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to five days.)

Combine the patty ingredients in a bowl. Mix to combine without overworking the meat. Form into four patties. Use your thumb to make a shallow indentation in the center of each patty (this will prevent them from puffing up as they cook). Refrigerate until time to cook.

Heat a griddle over direct medium heat on the grill. Lightly brush the onions with oil and season with salt. Grill the onions on the grill grates or griddle over direct medium heat until tender and charred, about 10 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate.

Grill the turkey patties on the griddle until cooked through the center, turning once, 12 to 14 minutes, depending on thickness. (They should register 165 degrees with an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part.) When the patties are nearly ready, toast the buns, cut side down, on the grill grates.

To assemble, layer the buns with lettuce, the patties, onions and jam.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in northern California. Visit TasteFood at


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