Barbecue Cheddar Turkey Burger

By Updated on

Tasty Barbecue Turkey Burgers topped with cheddar cheese are an easy weeknight meal that is anything but boring. Quick to make and full of flavor.

262 CAL 16g CARBS 4g FAT 40g PROTEIN 4

These turkey burgers are anything but boring! By infusing the lean ground turkey with barbecue sauce and spices and topping everything with melted cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and grilled onions - you get a meal everyone will love.  

To be honest, in the past I had been ordering and making more beef burgers than other kinds of burgers. Although I certainly like the taste of turkey burgers, sometimes I find they can get a bit dry or bland if not done correctly.

My friend changed all that for me when she served these delicious Barbecue Cheddar Turkey Burgers. Her secret? Add some of the barbecue sauce to the patty to keep everything nice and moist. Trust me on this, it's a game-changer, 

She also makes sure that the meat is really well seasoned with Worcestershire, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Everything is topped with some grilled onions and cheddar cheese and — voila! — not only did we eat a really delicious meal, but she made a turkey burger convert out of me!

Turkey burgers with barbecue and cheddar cheese on a roll with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

What ingredients do you need to make Barbecue Turkey Burgers?

You don't need much, ingredients-wise to make these burgers. In fact, most of the ingredients you'll find right in your pantry!

You'll need:

  • Lean, ground turkey: There are some different options here and you can use 99% lean ground turkey or opt for 93% lean or 85% lean ground turkey. They will all work and the percentage refers to the fat content of the meat. The 99% lean is typically made with turkey breast while the higher fat ground turkey will be a combination of breast meat and darker meat. Choose what works for you. 
  • Worcestershire sauce: This is one of my favorite burger ingredients since it adds umami flavor and makes the burger more complex. It can be salty, so season accordingly.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic adds another layer of flvaor to these turkey burgers. Garlic powder would also work if you don't have fresh on hand. 
  • Paprika and cumin: Paprika and cumin bring out the flavors in the barbecue sauce with some sweetness and smoke.
  • BBQ sauce: There are lots of options when it comes to barbecue sauce. Choose one that first your taste preferences whether it be sweet, spicy, or smoky. Also if possible, look for a sauce that is lower in sugar or uses more natural sugars. 
  • Onion: The bite of a red onion breaks up the sweetness of the barbecue sauce and adds a nice texture to the burger. 
  • Cheddar cheese: I am someone who needs cheese on a burger and the sharpness of the cheddar can stand up to all the flavor of the BBQ sauce. 

How do you make these burgers?

First, mix together the turkey with the Worcestershire, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and half of the BBQ sauce into a bowl. Mix to form into 4 patties.

Next, heat a griddle, skillet, or grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the onions and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until they tenderize and start to turn brown.

Take the onions out and add the burgers to the same pan. Cook the turkey burgers for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until they are completely cooked through.

To melt the cheese, add during the last 3 minutes of cooking, or assemble the burgers with the onions and BBQ sauce, then top with cheese and put the burgers under the broiler until the cheese melts.

Otherwise, assemble by putting the burger on a bun half then adding onions, BBQ sauce, cheese, and any of your other favorite toppings on the burger before adding the top of the bun and diving in.

What is a turkey burger made of?

For the meat itself, ground turkey is made of a mixture of light and dark meat, that's all ground (or minced) together. There is also fat and sometimes skin mixed in with the ground meat, plus additives to keep the meat fresh before you purchase it.

Is barbecue sauce healthy?

Barbecue sauce contains a lot of sugar, there's no doubt about it. However, for this recipe, we are only using 8 tablespoons total, and that's both in and on top of the turkey burgers. Spread out that way means a little sugar sure, but not nearly as much as if you were eating ribs smothered in the stuff or another dish covered in BBQ sauce.

Ideas for Customizing Turkey Burgers

  • If you don't have barbecue sauce, you could use a substitute of ¾ cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of mustard, and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix that all together and then take the 8 tablespoons needed for the recipe from that mixture.
  • Other great toppings on this burger include mushrooms, diced green peppers, jalapeno slices (fresh or pickled), lettuce, and tomato.
  • I like to use red onion slices for these burgers, but you can also use sweet onions like Vidalias, yellow onions, white onions, or even shallots if you like.

Barbecue turkey burgers with cheddar cheese placed on top of each other with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Tips & Tricks for Making Turkey Burgers

  • Don't make your patties too thin or the turkey burgers will cook too quickly and dry out.
  • Try to only mix in the seasonings and BBQ sauce till combined before making patties, you don't want to work the meat too much or it can fall apart.
  • If your patties aren't sticking together well, you can add one whole egg to the ground mixture and mix in before making patties.
  • Cook your burgers completely to avoid food poisoning. Turkey isn't a meat that is acceptable as anything other than "well done." To make sure your burgers are done, use a meat thermometer. If it reads 165, you're good to go.
  • Slicing the onion rings a little on the thinner side will help them cook down and caramelize easier. On the other hand, if you want thicker rings and to really taste the bite of the onion and have it stay in a ring shape on top of your burger, cut them a little thicker.

More Turkey Burger Recipes

The Recipe
Barbecue cheddar turkey burgers made with lean ground turkey on a roll with lettuce. red onion, and tomato.

Barbecue Cheddar Turkey Burger

262 CAL 16g CARBS 4g FAT 40g PROTEIN 4
  • Print
  • Download
  • Send to your inbox


  • 1.33 lb. 99% lean ground turkey
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 8 tbsp. BBQ sauce, divided (I used low sugar)
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Like this Recipe? Try our Meal Plans!

Slender Kitchen Meal Plans
  • Weekly Meal Plans
  • Easy Shopping List
  • Healthy, Low Carb, & Vegetarian
  • Nutritional Information


(Hide Media)

Switch to prevent your screen from going dark.


Mix together the turkey, Worcestershire sauce, half the barbecue sauce, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Form into patties.


Heat a griddle, skillet, or grill pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add the sliced onions and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender and beginning to brown. Remove and add the burgers and cook for 5 minutes on each side or to desired doneness.


For melted cheese, add the cheese in the last 3 minutes of cooking.


To assemble place each burger on a bun and top with onion slices, 1 tbsp. BBQ sauce, and your other favorite toppings – lettuce, tomato, etc.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1 patty
Amount Per Serving
Calories 262
Calories from Fat 39
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 87mg
Sodium 768mg
Total Carbohydrate 16g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 10g
Protein 40g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

user image
About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Barbecue Cheddar Turkey Burger
user image
user image
Jim H
May 16, 2023 - 13:38
Add a Rating:
No binder in recipe - thought you might of known something I overlooked but maybe not? Burgers hold together like they are made of sand.
Delicious though
user image
September 19, 2023 - 10:49
In our experience, the burgers stayed together well without the addition of any breadcrumbs or egg. You can definitely add that if you prefer.
Instagram Icon
Did you make this?

Snap a picture and show us what you made on Instagram or Facebook. Tag us using @SlenderKitchen or #slenderkitchen.