Saturday, June 4, 2011

Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli

Now that it's unofficially summer, and I have a working outside grill, it seems the perfect time to start exploring the wonderful world of burgers.  Growing up, I admit that burgers were not my favorite meal in the world.... sorry mom and dad.  I have changed my opinion though now that I'm older, and have realized the burgers don't just have to mean a ground beef patty on a bun with ketchup and mustard.  I like the kicked up burgers with interesting toppings and lots of cheese far more than the plain burgers, and nowadays they are actually something I crave.  I am personally more a fan of turkey burgers, rather than beef, and so I decided that my first burger of the season would be one made with ground turkey.  After doing a little searching, I came upon a recipe for a grilled turkey burger with cheddar cheese and smoky aioli that originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Bon Appetit.  This burger is seriously one of the best I've ever made- the toppings are awesome- cheddar cheese, grilled peppers and onions, and to top it off a delicious cumin and coriander spiced aioli. Really awesome!

Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smokey Aioli
Serves 4

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing veggies
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
4 red onion slices, 1/3-inch thick
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, quartered
4 slices cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
4 hamburger buns

1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and toast cumin and coriander seeds about 1 1/2 minutes, or until aromatic and slightly darker in color.  Shake skillet often to move seeds around while toasting.  Once toasted, grind spices in a spice grinder, or crush in a mortar with pestle.  In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and spices.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
2. In a medium bowl gently mix turkey with 2 tbsp of the aioli (mayo mixture).  Make 4 3/4-inch patties with the turkey, and make a shallow indentation in the middle of each burger with your thumb.
3. Prepare your grill (should be about medium-high heat).  Sprinkle your burgers with salt and pepper on each side.  Brush the onions and peppers with olive oil.
4. Grill onions and peppers for about 4 minutes per side, until soft and charred.
5. Grill burgers 5 minutes on one side, then flip and grill 4 minutes.  Place cheese on burgers, and grill a minute more.
6. Assemble burgers with desired toppings- onions, peppers, arugula, and a nice dollop of aioli.

Source:, originally from Bon Appetit, August 2009


  • I highly recommend using a grill basket for the veggies in this recipe.  I unfortunately do not have one yet, and about 1/2 my onions ended up falling into the hot coals- luckily I had sliced more that the recipe calls for, and so the survivors were enough.
  • I grilled the burger buns on the grill as well, so if you like toasted buns, place them on the grill while the burgers are cooking, checking them frequently.  Move them around a little too, if some are on a hot or less hot part of the grill, so that they are toasted evenly.
  • I used white meat ground turkey for my burgers and they turned out perfectly fine, and not too dry, but the darker meat will turn out a juicier burger.  Dark meat is harder to find though- it's not carried at the Shop and Stop I go to, but is carried at Whole Foods.
  • The aioli this makes was the best part in my opinion, and you'll probably have some left over after you put it on your burgers.  It makes a great dipping sauce for fries, so I'd say that's a good way to use any extra.

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