Spicy Grilled Turkey Burger with Coleslaw

DinnerGrillBurgerGround Turkey

Spicy grilled turkey burger served with tomatoes, sweet pickles, and coleslaw. Not your everyday turkey burger, these have fresh chives, bread crumbs, basil and Tabasco sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

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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 Turkey Burger with Coleslaw

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 grill for high direct heat: 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 Combine burger ingredients, form into patties: In a large bowl, gently combine the turkey meat, breadcrumbs, 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.

3 Grill burgers and buns: Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper. Grill them for 5-7 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature of the patties reach 165°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 cole slaw: 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: 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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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17 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Charlene Boydston

    Very tasty!


  2. 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!!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.


  5. 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!

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