When we think of turkey, for most people the word conjures up visions of holiday dinners, a golden-skinned, succulent bird displayed on a festive platter waiting to be skillfully carved by loving hands.
In North America turkey is the definitive bird of choice for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and often for Easter as well.
The domestic turkey is, in fact, native to North America, and there is the famous account of the first Thanksgiving dinner shared between English settlers and the Wampanoag in Plymouth, Massachusetts where many fowl were eaten. Turkey was most certainly among the birds consumed.
While whole and roasted is how turkey has traditionally been consumed, in more recent years, turkey has become a healthy choice for those who are trying to reduce the amount of fat in their diet.
Meat companies have expanded their turkey offerings beyond the roast bird to include turkey bacon and the subject of this article, ground turkey.
Turkey is a healthy meat which offers lots of protein, and is low in saturated fat. In addition, turkey contains vitamins B3, B6, and B12 which are important for things like brain function and the production of red blood cells. As well, turkey has minerals – selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron which is found in the dark meat of the legs and thighs.
Making turkey available in other ways like bacon and ground meat just makes sense. Not only do these offerings allow us to make healthier food choices, but they also provide more options for meal time.
Ground meat is extremely versatile. It can be used on its own or in many different dishes. Traditionally, beef has been the ground meat used in households. Ground beef has always been considered a good source of protein and a relatively unaffordable way to get beef into one’s diet.
Just how do ground beef and ground turkey compare? Ground beef actually contains higher levels of protein and iron than turkey, but where an important difference occurs is in the amount and type of fat that is in ground beef compared to ground turkey.
Ground turkey delivers considerably less saturated fat than ground beef, and that’s an important fact if you’re trying to decrease your intake of saturated fat. A diet that is high in saturated fat means higher cholesterol, that is the bad LDL cholesterol. This can lead to health concerns such as heart disease and stroke.
Healthy, versatile, and popular with kids, ground turkey is a great weeknight choice. Knowing how to cook ground turkey so that it is every bit as juicy and flavorful as ground beef is important to make it a truly great choice to feed your family.
- When you fry ground meat there is always some grease produced. With ground beef there will be considerable fat, but ground turkey is markedly less fatty. In fact, there is so little fat in ground turkey that you need to add some oil to the skillet before you fry it.
After the ground turkey is fully cooked, there will be some grease that you will want to get rid of. The easiest way to deal with the grease is to remove the cooked meat with a slotted spoon.
This is much easier than holding onto a heavy skillet and trying to pour off the grease while not losing any of the meat. It’s easy to burn yourself that way, and you can lose bits of the ground turkey as they fall out of the skillet and into the grease container.
Prepare the plate by placing a paper towel on it. This will soak up the grease that is on the ground turkey.
If you find there is more grease that you want to remove from the meat you can also place a paper towel on the top of the ground turkey, and press lightly.
- Ground turkey is normally packaged as one big chunk of meat. You will need to break this up as it cooks. Be sure to do this. You do not want large clumps of meat as these do not work well in a soup or sauce.
- Using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon will work well to break up the meat, but you need to work at it for a while.
How To Cook Ground Turkey Burgers On The Stove
Burgers are popular with kids and adults alike, and making burgers from ground turkey is quick and easy, plus it produces a great, tasty result!
Mixing up ground turkey for burgers is much like mixing up ground beef. The difference is that you are mixing up a healthier option, something you don’t have to tell your kids, but you’ll feel good about your choice.
Just as with burgers made from beef, turkey burgers need something to make the meat stick together, so that’s where an egg comes in.
Adding some tasty sauce and seasonings will take your turkey burgers to the next level.
For a super quick meal, you can purchase ready-made turkey burgers from the grocery store. What could be simpler?
The amount of ground turkey you use will depend on how many burgers you wish to make. You might also want leftovers which are great to grab out of the fridge for a meal later in the week, or out of the freezer a few months down the road.
Turkey is safe to eat when it has reached an internal temperature of 165 F. This is easily determined by using an instant-read meat thermometer. However, if you do not own one, you may check for doneness by looking for any pink in the burger.
The turkey meat will be fully cooked when there is no longer any pink on the inside. Check for the absence of any pink by removing one of the patties toward the end of the 12 minutes of cooking time, and cutting into the middle of the patty with a knife.
You will be able to see if there is still some pink. If this is the case, return the patty to the frying pan and cook the turkey patties for another minute, checking again for doneness after that minute.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I safely Store Leftover Ground Turkey?
Leftover turkey meat, whether raw or cooked, can be safely stored in either the fridge or the freezer.
For raw ground turkey, place the leftover meat in an airtight container or a freezer bag with a zipper closure, and put in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
For cooked ground turkey, place the leftover meat in an airtight container or a freezer bag with a zipper closure, and put in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What Seasonings Are Best With Ground Turkey?
Ground turkey is not as flavorful as ground beef and is a reason that some people do not like it, but the fact that it tastes a little on the bland side is something you can fix with seasonings, sauces and herbs. There are a lot of great options. Use seasonings that you and your family like. Here are some ideas to try.
Turkey and sage go well together as we know from roast turkey dinners. Rosemary is another good complement as are basil and oregano.
Other seasonings that work well with ground turkey are Italian seasoning, chili powder or flakes, and cumin. Flavoring ground turkey with smoky paprika lends a pleasant smoked essence, and Garam Masala provides a lot of flavor interest.
When making turkey burgers, try different sauces. You might try Worcestershire, A1 sauce, Diana sauces in different flavors, a honey/garlic sauce.
If you are looking for cheese for turkey burgers, Swiss is a good choice and pairs really well with pineapple rings if you want to create a Hawaiian burger.
What Are Some Things That You Can Make With Ground Turkey?
Ground turkey is wonderful for pasta sauce as a healthier change from ground beef. It is also great in soup, stews, tagines or casseroles. Turkey kabobs and turkey meatballs are fun
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Cooking oil
- Salt and pepper
- Other seasonings as desired
- 10-12 inch skillet
- Large spoon or spatula
- Slotted spoon
- Large plate or platter
- Paper towel
- Put about a tablespoon of oil in the skillet and heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the ground turkey to the skillet and move it around with your wooden spoon or spatula to break it up, and turn it over.
- Continue to cook the ground turkey, stirring it around the pan, turning it, and breaking it up until all of the meat is fully cooked. There should be no sign of pink in the ground turkey.
- When the ground turkey is close to being fully cooked, sprinkle salt and pepper, and any other seasonings you wish to use, over the meat, stirring it into the ground turkey.
- Remove the ground turkey to a large plate that has been lined with a paper towel, and place a second paper towel on the top of the ground turkey to soak up any excess grease.
- Pour off the grease from the skillet, but reserve some to fry onions or mushrooms if you are adding them to the ground turkey.
- 1-2 pounds of ground turkey meat
- 1 beaten egg
- Chicken and rib sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Cooking oil
- Tomatoes, sliced
- Other condiments such as mustard, ketchup, relish
- Hamburger buns
- Large bowl for mixing the ground turkey and other ingredients together
- Large wooden spoon
- 10-12 inch frying pan
- Large plate or platter
- Paper towel
- Put two tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan and turn the heat to medium.
- In a large mixing bowl, break one egg, and mix this with a whisk.
- To the egg add the ground turkey.
- Mix the ground turkey with the egg, then add the sauce, salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, mixing them together thoroughly with the ground turkey.
- Pick up some of the mixture with your hands and form a patty. The amount of the mixture you use will depend on how large and how thick you want your burgers to be.
- Put the patty carefully into the hot oil in the frying pan and cook for about six minutes, then turn the patties and cook for another six minutes.
- Test for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer into the burger. The internal temperature should be 165 F.
- Once the turkey burgers are fully cooked, remove them from the frying pan and set them on a plate lined with a paper towel. If there is too much grease, place another paper towel on the top of the burgers.
- Place the burgers in the hamburger buns that have been spread with mayonnaise and/or mustard, and/or ketchup.
- Top the burgers with lettuce and tomato slices, and serve.
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