Spicy Grilled Turkey Burger with Coleslaw

Recently my father announced he had a cunning plan. He found a grilled turkey burger recipe that he wanted to try, but rather than just use any old ground turkey, he would make half the burgers with ground dark meat (his favorite) and half the burgers with ground white meat and see if he preferred one over the other.

I complicated the test further by suggesting that we use regular Tabasco sauce with the white meat turkey burgers and chipotle Tabasco sauce with the dark meat burgers, thinking that the stronger flavor of dark meat would hold up well to the chipotle.

Dad took the test a step further and decided that we would have half as much chili sauce in the white meat burgers. Clearly we weren’t aiming for a perfect scientific study.

Spicy Grilled Turkey Burger

The good news is that both sets of burgers turned out great. With the white meat turkey burgers, since we had less chili sauce, the turkey flavor was more pronounced. With the dark meat burgers, the chipotle sauce added a lot of kick to the meat.

Both burgers were flavorful, filling, and paired very well with the spicy coleslaw, sweet pickles, and tomatoes. 3 thumbs up on this one.

Spicy Grilled Turkey Burger with Coleslaw Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 4 burgers


Turkey burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (white meat, dark meat, or a mixture)
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons of hot chile sauce such as Tabasco sauce (amount depends on how spicy you like your foods), or Tabasco Chipotle sauce
  • 2 green onions, minced, white and green parts
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or more to taste
  • 4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • Sweet pickle slices
  • 1 tomato, cored and sliced


  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup loosely packed arugula, watercress, or just another cup of shredded cabbage
  • 10 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 Prepare your grill (either gas or charcoal) for direct high heat. You can also cook the burgers on the stove-top on a griddle or cast iron frying pan.

2 In a large bowl, gently combine the turkey meat, bread crumbs, chives, basil, green onions, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Work the mixture with your hands until it is just mixed. Don't over mix or your burgers will end up tough. Form four patties, about 1-inch thick.

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3 Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper. Grill them for 5-7 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature of the patties reach 170°F on a meat thermometer. Turkey burgers should be cooked through, not rare. Toward the end of the cooking, put the buns on the grill to toast for about a minute. Remove the burgers from the grill to a platter, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

4 Assemble the coleslaw. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Add to the cabbage, arugula, and basil in a larger bowl right before serving.

5 Assemble the burgers by placing each burger on a bottom bun, and stacking a tomato slice, some pickles, and a bit of coleslaw on top, and then topping with the top bun.

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Adapted from a Sara Foster recipe in House Beautiful magazine.

Spicy Grilled Turkey Burger

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Showing 4 of 16 Comments

  • Lisa B

    We made this recipe exactly as written (using all white meat) and LOVED it. Even my picky, steak-loving husband loved it who originally turned his nose up when I said I was going to try a turkey burger recipe! We are trying to eat a bit more healthy and that’s why i picked the turkey burger, although there is a fair amount of mayo in this recipe. I figure fat in moderation is okay and pretty much necessary if the food is going to taste good!

  • Susan

    We just tried these tonight. Loved the flavor combinations. Used reduced-fat (not light) mayo (Hellmann’s or Best) along with turkey breast (1% fat), minced scallion and no arugula (mine was well-past its prime!). Didn’t even use pickles or tomatoes. These were very moist and had a great texture. I’ve never tried mayo with the ground turkey before, and it’s been years since I used fresh bread crumbs, but I’m glad I did. They were a big hit. Thanks for the great recipe and for your beautiful blog.

  • Julie

    This looks great. I just recently came across your site and I really enjoy it. I actually sometimes even add shredded zucchini to my turkey burgers, especially when my mother brings up a week’s worth of produce from her garden. The key is to squeeze as much moisture out of the zucchini before adding it to the turkey. This is an easy way to sneak additional veggies into a meal. I think it would also work well with a turkey meatloaf too.

  • Patti

    My husband and I made these for dinner the other night and they were delicious. Used all white meat ground turkey (I’m not fond of dark meat taste) and chipolte sauce. Also dried bread crumbs instead of fresh. We used sweet pickle relish and no tomato. They were amazing. We ate two and put two in the freezer which we’ll have soon. The coleslaw was great too – we’ll make that on its own again. Keep the great recipes coming – we are hooked on your blog!

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