Skillet Suppers: Herb-Filled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar Cheese

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[Photographs: Yasmin Fahr]

We've all probably experienced it at one time or another: terrible turkey burgers. Bland, tough, dry, you name it —they usually don't have a lot going for them, which is unfortunate because I often find myself drawn to them as a healthier alternative to a burger. But then, I ask myself, what are the odds that this burger will stand above the rest? Probably slim to none, and I'm not about to waste a meal on a bet I'll most likely lose—gambling is clearly not my thing.

After my success and minor obsession with chicken burgers, I decided to tackle another lean meat and see what I could do to change its fate. I went with a similar approach: pack it full of flavor boosters. I happen to love strong, fresh herbs, so the idea of combining parsley, mint, dill and cilantro in one fell swoop sounded fantastic. The addition of cheddar, dijon, sauteed onions, and avocado sealed the deal.

I happen to find chopping herbs therapeutic, but I will say that they are the most time-consuming part of this recipe, even though it only took me 20 minutes overall— pretty ideal for a weeknight meal. The leftover herbs can easily go into a salad or marinade for another meal.

I decided to try making this two ways: first by adding milk-soaked breadcrumbs for moisture and to help bind, and again not using them all to see if there was a difference. Yes, the first batch did have more moisture, but the non-breadcrumb burgers held up just fine. In general, when preparing the burgers, it's important not to overhandle the meat as it'll lose moisture and toughen up in the process. (See more of our better burger tips here). The absence of the breadcrumbs also makes it slightly healthier, but not so much so that you should skip it purely for health reasons. Feel free to play around with a small tester burger to see which you prefer, or even try soaking the breadcrumbs in almond milk and skip the cheese if you're dairy-free.

If you're a dairy fan, you can try what my friend refers to as his "fat kid move," aka inserting small cubes of cheese directly into the ground meat so every bite has a burst of cheesiness. While the turkey was resting, I quickly cooked some shallots in the same skillet for extra flavor on top, though sauteed mushrooms or even quick-pickled cucumbers and shallots would work well, too.

Overall, I was incredibly happy with the way the turkey burgers turned out— bright, refreshing and packed with flavor. The cheddar added extra flavor and moisture, while the turkey juice-infused shallots took the flavor even further, and the avocado provided a final touch of creaminess. I'm not exactly rushing to start ordering turkey burgers out, but from now on, I'll be defending them on my home turf.

About the Author: Yasmin Fahr is a food lover, writer, and cook. Follow her @yasminfahr for more updates on her eating adventures and discoveries, which will most likely include tomatoes. And probably feta. Happy eating!

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