Herbaceous Thai Turkey Burgers Recipe

If you're looking for a fresh, low-effort weeknight meal, these herbaceous Thai turkey burgers fit the bill. Made with a flavorful paste of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger, the patties take on the flavor of Thai cuisine without the effort of more complex recipes. Prepped in a food processor and easy to freeze and make ahead, they're the dream recipe for a busy home cook who wants to travel the world through their kitchen!

According to Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table, turkey stars in this recipe as a protein base in place of beef, making these burgers easier on the diet and the pocketbook. We love the turn this lean poultry takes when enhanced by aromatic herbs and spices characteristic of Thai cuisine. The result is a light burger packed with flavor — big taste without big time commitment.

In under 90 minutes, you can have four satisfying burgers ready for dinner. Brightened with spicy green sriracha mayonnaise and topped with crisp vegetables, each bite of this bun-wrapped patty offers a blend of herbs, heat, and textures. Best of all, leftovers taste even better for lunch the next day. Give these a try for an easy meal that feels fresh and satisfying without much effort or cost.

Gather the ingredients for Thai turkey burgers

To prepare these aromatic burgers, you will need mostly fresh ingredients. Lemongrass, garlic, shallot, ginger, and jalapeño are needed to create an aromatic paste for the turkey patties. You can use frozen or freeze-dried lemongrass, as well. Ground turkey, fish sauce, and water round out the burger mixture. Green sriracha, mayonnaise, and lime juice combine to make a spicy sauce for topping. Rounding up the ingredients are burger buns, carrot slaw mix, lettuce leaves, and Thai basil to build each sandwich. You can serve the burgers accompanied by chips or rice.

Step 1: Combine ingredients

In a food processor, combine all the burger ingredients except ground turkey.

Step 2: Process

Process until finely mixed into a paste, adding more water as needed.

Step 3: Mix with ground turkey

In a bowl, combine ground turkey with the paste and stir with a wooden spoon, spatula, or your hands.

Step 4: Shape patties

Shape into ¾-inch-thick patties.

Step 5: Chill

Arrange patties on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Step 6: Mix green sriracha mayo

While the patties are in the fridge, make the spicy mayo: In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, green sriracha sauce, and lime juice. Taste and adjust for green sriracha and lime juice.

Step 7: Mix slaw

Make the slaw: Mix carrot slaw with 2 tablespoons of spicy mayo, or more as needed.

Step 8: Fry patties

Cook the patties in a skillet set over medium heat, turning once, for about 10–12 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 180 F.

Step 9: Toast buns

Toast the buns in an oven set to the grill or broil setting for 5 minutes.

Step 10: Spread mayo

Spread a generous amount of spicy green sriracha mayo on both sides of each bun.

Step 11: Add lettuce

Place lettuce leaves on the bottom of each bun.

Step 12: Top with burger

Top lettuce with cooked turkey burger.

Step 13: Top with slaw and basil

Layer each burger with a generous amount of cabbage slaw and 4–5 Thai basil leaves.

Step 14: Seal burger

Place the top half of the bun on top, pressing down slightly to hold the toppings in place. Repeat with remaining burgers.

Step 15: Serve burger

Serve turkey burgers immediately.

Can I use ground chicken or beef in these Thai turkey burgers?

While the recipe calls for ground turkey, you can substitute other ground meats for the protein in these Thai-inspired burgers. Ground chicken or beef would work well and provide flavor when mixed with the aromatic paste. Using chicken would yield a lighter burger similar in texture to the turkey. The flavors of the lemongrass, garlic, and spices would still shine through. Ground beef may make for a richer, heartier patty. The beef's deeper, meatier notes could stand up to the bold herbs and spices in the paste. However, you may want to adjust the cooking time slightly since beef is fattier than turkey. The burgers may also need to be formed into slightly thinner patties to prevent them from becoming dense if using ground beef. In either case, the spicy mayonnaise topping and fresh veggie garnishes would complement the substitute meats nicely.

How long will the Thai turkey burgers last in the fridge or freezer?

Once formed into patties, the uncooked turkey burgers can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a few days. Kept sealed in the fridge, the raw patties should maintain quality for 2 days. Beyond that window, they risk drying out or taking on odors from other foods. For longer storage, the uncooked turkey burgers should be securely wrapped and frozen. When frozen, the patties will generally maintain their quality for 2–3 months. To use frozen patties, simply thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before cooking. The cooked and assembled burgers will only last a few days in the fridge, around 3–4 days. During this time, keep them tightly wrapped to prevent drying out. To reheat leftover burgers, simply pop them in the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes, or warm them up for a couple of minutes in the microwave. 

What can I use in these Thai turkey burgers instead of Thai basil?

The beauty of these burgers is in their use of fresh, aromatic Thai ingredients. However, we know that not everyone has easy access to these specialty ingredients! If you cannot find Thai basil, there are some suitable substitutes you can use instead. Regular or Italian basil will provide a similar, anise-licorice flavor profile, though it may not be quite as floral or minty as Thai basil. Cilantro is another option that lends bright, citrusy notes. You could also try mint, which will contribute a refreshing aroma. If using any of these herbs, use the same amount called for in the recipe. Another alternative is to combine a few different herbs to approximate the complex flavor of Thai basil. A blend of cilantro, mint, and regular basil could work especially well — just be sure not to overpower the other ingredients. Finally, you can simply omit the fresh herb garnish, if needed. The burgers will still taste delicious topped with the carrot slaw and spicy green mayo!

Herbaceous Thai Turkey Burgers Recipe
5 from 20 ratings
These burgers swap out typical beef for lean ground turkey and bolster the flavor of both the patty and the toppings with traditional Thai spices and herbs.
Prep Time
1.25
hours
Cook Time
17
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
Open turkey burger with carrot slaw and Thai basil, second burger in back
Total time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the Thai turkey burgers
  • 2 tablespoons diced lemongrass, dried or fresh
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon sliced ginger
  • ½ jalapeño, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water, or more, as needed
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • For the spicy green mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoons green sriracha, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice, plus more to taste
  • For the toppings
  • 4 burger buns
  • 2 cups carrot slaw mix
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 1 bunch Thai basil leaves
Directions
  1. In a food processor, combine all the burger ingredients except ground turkey.
  2. Process until finely mixed into a paste, adding more water as needed.
  3. In a bowl, combine ground turkey with the paste and stir with a wooden spoon, spatula, or your hands.
  4. Shape into ¾-inch-thick patties.
  5. Arrange patties on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  6. While the patties are in the fridge, make the spicy mayo: In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, green sriracha sauce, and lime juice. Taste and adjust for green sriracha and lime juice.
  7. Make the slaw: Mix carrot slaw with 2 tablespoons of spicy mayo, or more as needed.
  8. Cook the patties in a skillet set over medium heat, turning once, for about 10–12 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 180 F.
  9. Toast the buns in an oven set to the grill or broil setting for 5 minutes.
  10. Spread a generous amount of spicy green sriracha mayo on both sides of each bun.
  11. Place lettuce leaves on the bottom of each bun.
  12. Top lettuce with cooked turkey burger.
  13. Layer each burger with a generous amount of cabbage slaw and 4–5 Thai basil leaves.
  14. Place the top half of the bun on top, pressing down slightly to hold the toppings in place. Repeat with remaining burgers.
  15. Serve turkey burgers immediately.
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