Turkey Zucchini Burger with Garlic Mayo

Turkey meat is much leaner than beef or pork, so it can be a challenge to make a burger with ground turkey that still gives you the satisfaction of eating a juicy burger. One trick I use to infuse moisture into ground turkey is to add freshly grated zucchini. (Perfect for summer when those of us who garden have more zucchini than we can possibly use.)

It’s a trick I learned making these spicy turkey zucchini burgers with middle eastern flavors from the Jerusalem cookbook. No, the burgers don’t taste like zucchini, and yes, the grated zucchini works great to keep the burgers from drying out. Just make sure you are using fresh summer zucchini, and not something that’s shipped from thousands of miles away in the dead of winter when they are out of season.

Zucchini doesn’t add much in the way of taste, and ground turkey is mild as well, so we need to bump up our turkey burgers with herbs and spices. In this Italian inspired turkey burger we are including chopped fresh basil and oregano into the burger mix, and serving the burger with a slathering of garlic mayo.

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Turkey Zucchini Burger with Garlic Mayo Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6 turkey burgers.

These turkey burgers don't have a binder in them so are best cooked gently on the stovetop rather than the grill. If you would prefer to grill them, I recommend squeezing out some of the excess moisture from the grated zucchini, and adding some mayonnaise to the burger mix. The egg in the mayonnaise will help bind the burger while it cooks, and the oil in the mayo will help the burgers stay juicy.

I have found that zucchini have a higher water content than patty pan or other types of summer squash, so are the best type of summer squash to use in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey (thigh meat preferred)
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound of zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Garlic Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced

Rest of burger

  • Several leaves of lettuce
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Thinly sliced tomato
  • Burger buns
  • Butter

Method

1 In a large bowl place the ground turkey, green onions, chopped basil and oregano, garlic, black pepper, and salt. Using clean hands mix together thoroughly. Then mix in the grated zucchini until well distributed throughout the ground turkey.

mix ground turkey with spices and shredded zucchini form into patties and place on hot pan

2 Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Carefully form six patties with the turkey zucchini mixture. Working in batches, gently cook the patties for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. You don't want the heat to be too high or the patties may get too browned before they are cooked through.  Remove to a plate to keep warm.

cook until browned on both sides cook buns

3 When you are finished with the pan for the burgers, wipe out any burned bits. Melt a little butter in the pan and place the buns in the pan, cut side down to brown. Increase the heat to medium high. Remove from pan when the edges start to brown.

4 To make the garlic mayo, whisk together the finely minced garlic and the mayonnaise in a small bow.

This is how we recommend to build the burger. Start with the bottom half of the burger bun. Spread a layer of garlic mayo over it. Place a layer of lettuce leaf over the mayo. Place the burger over the lettuce. Place the onion on the burger. Place a slice of tomato on the onion. If you want, place another lettuce leaf on the tomato. Top with the other half of the bun. The lettuce leaf on the bottom of the burger help prevent the juices from the burger from running into the bottom bun and making it soggy.

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Turkey Zucchini Burger with Garlic Mayo

29 Comments

  1. Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    The Jerusalem cookbook is definitely on my “to buy” list. And this burger is on my “to do” list!

  2. Annie

    Hi Elise! These look great! Would I be able to make these with beef? I just got back from the store and only just saw this recipe. I know the point of the zucchini is to add moisture to the burger, and beef has enough fat therefore no added moisture needed, but I do like the idea of adding some sort of veggie. Thanks!

    • Elise

      Hi Annie, great question! You could try it. I don’t think beef burgers really need much help, unless you have extra lean beef, but it would be a good experiment.

      • Lisa

        Hi Elise! I was going to ask you the same thing! We don’t eat a lot of beef, only in the summertime do we splurge for the occasional burger that I like to make with some olive oil mayo and homemade breadcrumbs mixed in then I shape them with my dollar store burger press.

  3. Sues

    What an awesome idea for a healthy burger. Definitely need to try this!!

  4. RD

    This sounds very tasty. Do you use the large openings on a box grater to shred the zucchini? And do you make any effort to squeeze out any of the moisture content of the shredded zucchini before adding it to the ground turkey?

    I like burger patties to weigh in at about 5-6 oz so I will probably make 4 patties out of a standard 1.25 lbs package of ground turkey.

    • RD

      I missed the part about squeezing out some of the moisture if you want to grill them. So for cooking them in a skillet per the recipe no need to get rid of any of the moisture.

  5. JessB

    Great looking recipe. I love your site!

  6. Paula

    Made these last night and they were delicious. BF doesn’t like zucchini – I never told and he never asked. Did zucchini in food processor – so easy. Will be making these again.

  7. Patrick Robbins

    Excellent recipe. We live in the southeast corner in France up in the back hills of the Var. You call it zucchini; we call them courgette and the markets are bursting with lovely deep green courgette. We modified the recipe: used left over grilled turkey leg (tossed in ground dried porcine and tartuffo – Italy is next door) and we mixed the vegetables: basil, onions, garlic … and a slice of red onion) in the robot. Then we pulsed the turkey in the robot and hand mixed the entire recipe with mandolined courgette. The luscious red tomatoes the rats have left us married well. The texture of the ‘burger’ was almost firm; we need more mayonnaise on the next go and maybe even a raw egg. Instead of hamburger buns (COMMERCIAL BUNS ARE AWFUL IN FRANCE) we will use pain de campagne on the next go. Cut them into appropriate sizes with an emporte piece and then toast in the oven. The garlic mayonnaise is a genius idea. Tonight, washed down with a 2009 Haut Medoc … we ate well thanks to you. Whitebeard83

  8. Sarah

    What kind of burger buns are acceptable for this recipe? Can I buy store bought gluten free ones or do you have a recipe to make them?

    • Elise

      I don’t have a recipe for gluten-free buns (these pictured are not gluten-free, they are Rudi’s Bakery). But I’m sure you can find plenty of GF recipes for burger buns online.

  9. CARMELA

    Simply delicious! we’ll have to try it! kisses

  10. Cheri

    Cooked using a cast iron grill pan on the stovetop. Didn’t add anything to the mixture; just made sure that the pan was very hot and didn’t touch the patties until it was time to flip.

  11. Mary Frances

    These look great! I bet the combination of turkey and zucchini make for a great texture!

  12. Deborah

    I wrapped my burger in a large leaf of Bibb lettuce. So good and gluten free.

  13. Lori

    I’m adding this to my must-try soon list!

  14. Megan

    I have such a food crush on Ottolenghi! Everything I try by him is so full of surprising flavor combinations. He was in Oakland last year doing a tasting menu/book signing, but I saw the flyer a day too late. I guess I’ll have to go to London! Or just continue working my way through the recipes in his cookbooks! This is one I haven’t tried. I guess I know what I’m having for dinner tonight! Yum!

  15. Jenny @ The Peachy Pair

    My husband might kill me if I make him eat one more thing with zucchini in it. Worth the risk! These look amazing!

  16. Helene

    These Turkey Zucchini burgers look awesome.Can I freeze them?
    Thank you

  17. L.D. Meyer

    I’ve been using ground turkey in place of hamburger for years, and with the price of red meat now days its a no brainer, I make a 6oz patty with diced onion folded in and season it with taco or fajita flavorings, while this is a bit flimsy I form my patty in a saucepan in sort of an oval rather than round shape for a reason. I then put it in the freezer for 10-15 mins then its easier to transfer to a grill, the burger should sear fast enough before the whole patty thaws and shouldn’t fall apart. I buy the frozen 1lb rolls and I’ve never experienced any dryness. As a matter of fact a couple of times I’ve cooked the burger in a crockpot, and I repurpose a couple of those black tubs from microwave meals. I take one and use a leather punch and make about a dozen 3/8 in holes in the bottom then invert it and place it on top of the other tub and use two binder clips to hold them together. With the crockpot on high it takes 45-60 mins and you’d be amazed at the amount of schmaltz that collects in the bottom tub. The patty comes out nice and moist and towards the end you can melt a slice of your favorite cheese on it. My makeshift method keeps the patty out of schmaltz and the slow cooking keeps the patty moist. Now the reason I make the patty oval is it fits nicely on my makeshift grate and it fits just right on my slices of Jewish rye. The only drawback is you can only cook one patty at a time unless you make smaller ones. Bon Appetite, your zaney and unorthodox western plains makeshift chef.

  18. Lisa

    These were delicious! I served them with a lemon yogurt sauce. It’s great to have more ways to use up zucchini. My husband may kill me if I give him one more zucchini salad :)

  19. Alice

    I made these tonight. Absolutely fantastic! I added an egg to the mixture to help hold it together. I also finely chopped a jalapeno to add to the mayo (an old favorite of mine).

  20. Isaac

    These were great. One modification (albeit minor) on the garlic mayonnaise. I added a few drops of choice vinegar – in my case sherry – to the garlic before mixing in the mayonnaise. It adds a bit of added light to the mayo. Thanks for the great recipe!

  21. Matt Delaplane

    Can you grill these/

    • Elise

      Hello Matt, as I indicated in the notes for the recipe, if you want to grill them, add some mayonnaise to the mixture to help bind the meat together so the burger doesn’t fall apart on the grill.

  22. L.D. Meyer

    When making a burger from ground turkey I fold in diced onion to keep it from drying out and I form my patty in a saucepan and pop it into the freezer for 10-15 minutes then transfer it to the grill or the crockpot. Bon appetit!

  23. Marita Loffredo

    Wow! Delish! Made this recipe for lunch with my parents, and we all agree this is a keeper. The spice is just right and layered with lettuce, onion, and tomato as suggested, perfection! I love this site. . .the banana bread recipe is the best and so easy to make. Tonight, we’re having the sausage and bean soup. Can’t wait. Thanks for making cooking easy and delicious!

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