Spicy Turkey and Zucchini Burger

Middle EasternGluten-FreeHealthyBurger

Turkey burger patties with grated zucchini, herbs, cumin, and cayenne, served with lemony sour cream sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Come July and our refrigerator starts to overflow with zucchinis from the garden. It really is the land of plenty during these summer months!

My zucchini radar bursts into action, homing in on any recipe with zucchini in it that sounds palatable.

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So when my friend Katie told me about the turkey zucchini burger recipe she makes from the drop-dead-gorgeous cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi I couldn’t wait to try it!

All I can say is WOW. This really is one of the best burger recipes I’ve ever encountered.

You know how turkey burgers can sometimes be on the dry side?

The shredded zucchini added to the mix makes these turkey burgers incredibly moist.

Both turkey and zucchini can be a little dull flavor-wise, but you when boost them with herbs and spices like mint, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and cayenne, they are anything but dull.

I’ve made a few changes to the recipe in the cookbook. The original makes burgers that are more like slider-sized, small, only 1 1/2 ounces each (that’s about a third of a quarter-pounder). This is fine for appetizers, but I rather have burger sized burgers, so I make the patties bigger.

Spicy Turkey and Zucchini Burger

The original recipe calls for including an egg in the mix. The turkey and zucchini mixture together is already pretty wet, and it holds together fine; I find I get better results without the added egg.

The original finishes the burgers in the oven, I cook them entirely on the stove-top.

The recipe’s sour cream sauce is spectacular with these burgers, but the original recipe makes at least twice as much as is needed for one batch of patties. Also, the original sauce includes sumac, a lemony spice many here do not have easy access to. So I halved the sour cream sauce amounts and used a little more lemon juice in place of the sumac.

Spicy Turkey and Zucchini Burger Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Recipe adapted from the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • Just under 2 cups, lightly packed, coarsely grated zucchini (from about 2 to 3 small zucchinis or one medium zucchini)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, onion greens included
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (spearmint)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (tender stems included)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sour cream sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Make the sour cream sauce by placing all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stirring until combined. Chill until ready to use.

2 Mix the turkey zucchini mixture: In a large bowl place the grated zucchini, sliced green onions, chopped mint, cilantro, and garlic, ground cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir to combine.

With your hands, mix in the ground turkey until the zucchini mixture is well distributed through the ground turkey.

3 Form patties: Use your hands to form 3 to 4 inch wide patties, placing them on a baking sheet. Note that the patties will be rather wet, so they may be a little tricky to handle.

4 Fry gently: Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium.

Working in batches, place the patties in the pan. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then flip the patties over and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes.

You want them to brown and to gently cook all the way through. If the temperature is too high, they'll get browned on the outside but the inside will still be raw. So, cook them gently.

If the outsides are browned and the insides still aren't done, lower the heat and cook longer.

5 Remove to paper-towel lined plate: Once the first batch of patties are done, remove to a paper towel-lined plate while you cook the second batch. Or you can keep the patties warm in a 200°F oven.

Makes 8 large patties or up to 18 small ones. Serve with the sour cream sauce.

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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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101 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Rhonda

    Love these burgers. My husband hunts turkey and I’ve never had a good recipe for wild turkey until now.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Teresa

    These burgers were moist and delicious. Had all the ingredients on hand, plus added a little fish sauce. Only change I made was in the sauce. I made a sauce with yogurt, avocado, lime juice, garlic & cilantro.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Melissa

    These were great! I do not like cilantro so I substituted with parsley and kept everything else the same. Everyone liked them.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Holly

    This is in my top 5 favorite recipes of all time. We make it the way the recipe calls for and we also occasionally modify by adding spinach or changing spices. I have shared this recipe with so many friends and they all LOVE IT. Thank you heaps!! Healthy and easy and absolutely delicious. Thank you @ Elise Bauer!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Heather

    I omitted the cayenne, because my kids refuse to eat anything with heat. As some others tried, I made meatballs. I also added 1 t of za’atar. I think next time, I’d add some bread crumbs and 1 egg to bind it all together and cut down on residual moisture after cooking. I absolutely LOVED the yogurt sauce! This recipe was great – the kids loved it – we all loved it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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