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.

grilled-spicy-turkey-burg-1.jpg grilled-spicy-turkey-burg-2.jpg
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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


  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. bierwoman

    I made these burgers for a labor day weekend party and they were a hit! Love the spiciness and the coleslaw. Will definitely make them again. My slaw came out a little too “basil-y” so I will cut that back next time. Otherwise they were delicious!

  6. Kelly

    These are THE best. My 15 year old son asks if we can have these Turkey Burgers for dinner. He likes to make up a double batch and make them when he’s hungry. Excellent, Easy recipe!!

  7. floridagal

    We had these again tonight. Both the burgers and the slaw are so tasty and delicious. We cut the mayo in the coleslaw in half – but other than that, no changes. Thanks for this recipe. Prior to this, our turkery burgers were boring.

  8. cpr


    We’ve shut down our grill for the season, and so I was wondering if you could tell me how long to cook the turkey burger (both sides) when cooking in a frying pan.

    About the same amount of time. Depends on how hot your pan is and how thick the turkey burgers. Just make sure they are cooked all the way through. Like chicken, you don’t want rare turkey. ~Elise

  9. floridagal

    Do you think the turkey burgers can be frozen raw to be grilled at a later date? Curious how fresh basil and such hold up to the cold.

    No idea, but if you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  10. sonya

    We used the burger recipe to make meatball subs. Thank you for this recipe! We cooked the meatballs in jarred spaghetti sauce and put them into rolls. Topped it off with sauteed peppers and onions and provolone under the broiler for a minute. This yielded an incredibly unforgettable eating experience. Multo Bene!

  11. LeeAnn

    I have made these 3 times in the last 2 weeks. I cannot get over how delicious they are. I was a little skeptical about the coleslaw and the basil in both, but WOW. The heat and the herb flavors blend beautifully.

  12. jacqueline

    I made your recipe for the spicy turkey burger. It was so good, the only thing that kind off caught me off flavor wise was the basil, but the chives and the scallions are yummy. I just recently gave up pork and red meat, so I was looking for a good turkey burger recipe when I happened ono your website. Thank you, I will be trying more of your turkey recipes.

  13. Jim Price

    Oh yeah! These were so good! I cut down the basil in the coleslaw to 6 big leaves vs. 10. Just perfect. A few dashes of Frank’s Hot Sauce was just perfect for the burgers. Kudos Elise!

  14. Renee

    Finally got around to trying these and they surpassed my expectations and especially my husband’s. Like others, I had my doubts about the coleslaw ingredients but it was very good. Thanks for a new recipe to add to the do-over pile.

  15. Matt

    I have been making these for two years…Every time, people ask for the recipe. I use a burger press for the patty, and I must say, it makes one delicious burger!

  16. Justin Dobso

    My wife and i have made these burgers at least a dozen time and they are THE BEST!!! Just the way the slaw goes with the spiciness of the burgers is delicious. We have recently added a jalapeno pepper to the cole slaw for a little extra kick….we like it spicy. Other than that we haven’t changed a thing. Fantastic!!

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