Cowboy Turkey Burger

By Updated on

Turkey Burgers made with jalapenos, red onions, and cheddar cheese are seriously delicious, easy to make, and will quickly become your favorite burger.

249 CAL 10g CARBS 12g FAT 27g PROTEIN 3

Cowboy Turkey Burgers are seriously the most delicious and juicy turkey burgers. Stuffed with cheese, jalapenos, onions, and with a simple spice blend - these are delish. We also love these Fish Burgers, Shrimp Burgers, and Jalapeno Burgers for quick and easy dinners.

I almost never eat turkey burgers. That probably sounds strange coming from me, as I do enjoy all other things made with turkey. But when I think "burger" and crave burgers I usually want the real thing, medium rare, in all of its glory. For me, turkey burgers just don’t compare most of the time to beef burgers and tend to be drier and just have less flavor overall, so I just never really gave them a second thought.

Then came along a day when I was shopping at Whole Foods. They had their samples out, and so I decided to give their Cowboy Turkey Burger a go. You know what? It was surprisingly delicious and full of flavor! I was shocked! I had to double check that this was really a turkey burger. The woman looked at me like I was crazy but still, I had to have it confirmed out loud.

From that moment on, I knew that if Whole Foods could do it, then I could do it too, and set out to make a copycat version at home. I have to say, I pretty much nailed it in the first go-around. These turkey burgers are made special by the presence of chopped onions and jalapenos in the burger, and the tangy sauces, plus who can resist a little low-fat cheddar cheese and mustard — any and all kinds work great here!

Cowboy turkey burgers with vegetables on a hamburger bun.

Ways to Serve Turkey Burgers

Like any burger, this Cowboy Turkey Burger begs to be toyed with. There are so many ways to make this flavorful burger even more delicious.

  • You can serve it up with your favorite condiments, it’s especially good with barbecue sauce.
  • Slide it between the top and bottom of your favorite low-calorie roll.
  • Serve it on top of a bed of greens.
  • Crisp up two slices of bacon and then crumble and add to the turkey burger mixture. Yum.
  • Slice it in half lengthwise and add it to a low-carb tortilla, cuz you can.
  • Dollop some chipotle hummus on top along with thin-sliced bell peppers and a thick slice of a meaty tomato.
  • Roll the meat into meatballs instead of burgers and serve with low-carb pasta, a veggie pasta alternative, or veggie noodles.
  • If you love bread but don't want too much of it (like just about everyone, right?) try an open-faced Cowboy Turkey Burger. Use only one part of the bun, add the burger, and pile high with all the good stuff.
  • Use a cut up burger or the meatball version to add to a lettuce wrap with all your most favorite toppings.

Is a turkey burger healthier than a hamburger?

The answer is that yes, turkey can be healthier than ground beef, if you choose the right kind. You have to check the package and make sure it's made from almost all white (breast) meat. How would you know? Well, it'll be marked 80/20, 97/3, or 99/1 which refers to the white/dark meat mix in the package. The more dark meat, the fattier the turkey will be, and in that case, it's really not much healthier than ground beef.

Leaner options (99% lean) tend to be drier when cooked (because there's no fat), and that probably had a lot to do with my initial turkey burger aversion. BUT if you engineer the ground turkey just right — by adding moisture back to the lean meat — what you end up with is a delicious burger that you'll come back to time and time again.

And, if you're not cool with purchasing ground turkey or aren't sure if it's low in fat, you can always grind fresh turkey breasts. It's a little more work, but you'll for sure know what's in your meat that way.

What makes Cowboy Turkey Burgers Healthy?

  • 99% lean ground turkey is better for you than your average package of ground beef. It has less calories and fat and just as much protein as its typical burger counterpart.
  • Seasoned bread crumbs help keep your burger together while it cooks. They also add tons of flavor and seasoning without a ton of fat or calories.
  • Red onions contain high levels of antioxidants. They are also low in calories, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. They contain fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller, longer, as well as folic acid that helps your body regenerate cells.
  • Jalapenos are a vegetable that happens to be spicy. But, no worries — spice can be good for you. In fact, the capsaicin it contains has been shown to fight prostate cancer. It also serves as a powerful antioxidant and protects against damage at the cellular level. Eating one jalapeno will also provide you with your entire day's worth of vitamin C, as well as vitamins A and K.
  • Reduced fat cheddar cheese contains calcium, protein, and other essential vitamins and minerals your body needs without the excess fat that most full-fat cheeses come along with.
  • Mustard (in all its permutations) can help you sleep, can help you fight skin diseases and make your hair and nails healthier. It can also help fight uterine cancer and can help strengthen your heart.
  • Though you generally don't use a lot of Worcestershire sauce in dishes, it still can help boost your immune system, build red blood cells, and keep your nervous system in tip-top shape. Plus, it's great at helping the health of your skin and nails as well.

I hope these burgers can turn you to the lighter side as they did for me — it's nice to change up your burger once in a while!

Ground turkey burger with jalapenos and cheddar cheese on a hamburger bun.

Since originally posting this recipe back in 2012, I have gotten lots of questions about turkey burgers. Here are the most common.

How long does it take to grill turkey burgers?

For a standard size turkey burger, it will take between 4-6 minutes per side on the grill. Same goes for a hot skillet or a really hot oven. The temperature of your burger should reach 165 degrees to know that it is fully cooked.

How to get turkey burgers to stick together?

Some people have trouble with turkey burgers sticking together. The breadcrumbs in this recipe will help hold the burgers together. Another trick, especially if you make burgers without breadcrumbs, is to chill or even freeze your burgers before cooking them. Placing the homemade burger patties in the freezer for 30-60 minutes will firm up the meat and help the patty stay together.

How do you know when a turkey burger is done?

A turkey burger is done when the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees in the thickest part. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can cut into the thickest part of the burger to check. It shouldn't contain any pink and the juice should run clear.  When doing this, try not to cut through the burger completely so that the juices aren't lost. Just make a small slit in the top of the burger.

What is the best turkey to use for turkey burgers?

You can use any type of ground turkey for turkey burgers. For the leanest burgers, you will want to use 99% lean ground turkey. However, with very lean meat, you need to be careful you don't overcook the burgers or they will get dry. For a more moist burger, you will want to choose ground turkey with more fat. Either a 93% blend or ground dark meat turkey.

What side dishes can I serve with turkey burgers?

Turkey burgers are a blank canvas making them the perfect main dish for so many different sides. We love serving our burgers with:

  • Baked fries are a healthy side dish. Some of our favorites include these Crispy Turnip Fries, Zucchini Fries, and Baked Skinny Fries.
  • Salads are another great side dish, especially to add some nice greens to your meal. Try this healthy ranch dressing for a family friendly salad everyone will love.
  • For something quick and easy that you can also cook on the grill, make some corn on the cob and grab some watermelon slices for the side.
The Recipe
Turkey burgers with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cheese, and sprouts on a wheat bun.

Cowboy Turkey Burger

249 CAL 10g CARBS 12g FAT 27g PROTEIN 3
  • Print
  • Download
  • Send to your inbox


  • 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped finely (seeded for less heat)
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

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.


Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined.


Divide into four patties and let rest for 10 minutes.


Cook burgers on the grill for 5-6 minutes each side or until cooked through completely. You can also cook in a skillet for 5-6 minutes on each side.


Serve on your favorite low calorie roll or a bed of greens and add your favorite condiments.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1 burger (189g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 249
Calories from Fat 102
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 88mg
Sodium 694mg
Total Carbohydrate 10g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 27g

* 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 Cowboy Turkey Burger
user image
user image
Stephanie Hindman
August 11, 2021 - 14:15
Add a Rating:
My family loves this recipe!! So hard to find a recipe that actually adds moisture to dry ground turkey breast!!! Thank you!!
user image
Jill Lollie Moran
May 28, 2019 - 21:55
Add a Rating:
This is my husband’s FAVORITE hamburger. It is amazing. Sometimes I make it into meatloaf (add 1 egg) and top with bbq sauce when almost done cooking. It is awesome. Thank you for this recipe!
user image
May 29, 2019 - 08:10
What an awesome idea to turn this into a meatloaf!! Brilliant. And so happy you enjoy the recipe :)
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.