Southwest Turkey Burgers with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde

As I get older I find myself becoming less and less of a ‘beef’ eater and leaning more towards turkey/fish or veggies.  Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE me one fat juicy burger, a slab of ribs, bacon… well I’ll never divorce bacon but sadly beef doesn’t always agree with my stomach.  But if you’ve ever cooked with ground turkey, due to the low fat content, it can dry out rather fast. Now the best/healthiest ground turkey to buy is the one that is all ground white meat but again it can be dry so what I found is a healthy balance of 80% ground white turkey and 20% ground dark turkey meat.  The dark meat is where you truly get that rich full-bodied flavor and since it’s such a low fat content I don’t have to worry too much.  Plus you know me, everything in moderation.  So when I bought 5 pounds of my ground turkey mixture I knew I had to make me some mean burgers with it.  Since I had just made a batch of my awesome Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde I opted to go with a Southwestern flare.  So today you’re getting my Southwest Turkey Burgers with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde recipe which seriously I ate every single day for a week and never once got tired of them because they are THAT amazing and you need to make these TODAY.  Yes that was a run on sentence.  Yes, it was intentional.  lol

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It’s funny how turkey or chicken burgers, which once were the hottest new thing in food, are now part of the norm like ‘regular’ burgers.  Growing up we had beef burgers, maybe deer (gag – sorry but I grew up in a family that hunted and I hate venison) and turkey was meant for holidays only. There was no thought of ever grinding turkey meat up as a burger but who ever thought of it.. GENIUS!

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Now to me when I think of southwest flavors I think of tangy and full of flavor but not overly spicy. I did kick up the heat a little by adding the green chilies to the burger mixture but if you weren’t feeling the heat you could totally omit.  Though the peppers do add a good bit of moisture to the patties.  Instead add chopped peppers to the mix if you can’t do the chilies. For the brave, think chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I love that stuff and most likely would have added it for me but again it would have been a bit on the spicier side for most.  Plus with the addition of the Salsa Verde, you get quite a bit of heat.

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Into my mixture went obviously the turkey blend then for me you can’t have southwestern without black beans, corn and cumin.  You simply can’t.  To me that’s like the holy trinity of southwestern flavor.  Again I threw in some green chilies and to help balance out/cool it down chopped cilantro. Yeah yeah yeah I know, some of you hate the stuff.  WHY????  It’s sooooooooooo good!  But I *guess* I get it as I am not a huge fan of rosemary and dear God I’d die before I ever ingested a cherry.  Could you use something else?  Well as I’ve said a million (and 7) times before, there is no real/equal substitute for cilantro but a quasi kinda-sorta substitute could be fresh parsley. kinda…

When it comes to mixing your meat albeit for burgers, meatloaf or meatballs you don’t want to overwork the meat.  When you overwork/over mix the meat mixture you cause the muscle fiber to bind together. When this happens you end up with a really tough, TOUGH burger – okay fine, you may as well call it a hockey puck as it’s so tough.  However when you don’t overwork the meat, teeny gaps will remain in between the little pieces of meat. So as you cook the burgers and the fat renders, the fat will go into those teeny little gaps thus making your burger a whole lot juicier.  And I’m sorry but I love it when I bite into a burger and it’s so juicy that it just runs down my chin and the sides of my hands.  Oh yeah, that’s good eats right there!

South West Turkey Burger Collage

Next came shaping the burgers.  If you’ve ever made a burger and sure raw it’s the perfect size, it’s even all the way through only to have it end up like a lopsided ball when you grill or cook it?  Yeah, you’re not shaping them right.  I HIGHLY suggest you read my Tuesday’s Tip on how to properly shape burgers and the tricks that the pros use!

As the burgers were grilling I got super, SUPER hungry so I grabbed some tortilla chips and salsa verde to snack on. Do you do this?  Like you’re cooking dinner/lunch but you’re so hungry that you “pre-eat”? Yeah I don’t do it often as it’s so not healthy.  We tend to then overeat.  However I have to admit, this time I’m kinda happy that I did do it as while I was chopping on some of the chips and salsa those southwestern smells the burgers were giving off were incredible… and then..

yeah, and then… Then I got an idea, why not incorporate the chips and salsa WITH the burger?!

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I know it’s definitely a huge Pittsburgh thing but I’m not sure about the rest of the country/world but we put chips or pretzels on our sandwiches.  I’ve done it ever since I was little.  I think it’s that crunch factor to be honest.  Plus it does add some flavoring.  Like for example in my Grandma’s Pittsburgh Fried Bologna sandwich there are potato chips on the sandwich.  Yes on purpose and yes they make the sandwich! I can remember when Mr. Fantabulous and I started dating a million years ago.  I had made us a quick lunch of sandwiches.  As we sat down and I bit into mine he heard this resounding “CRUNCH!”. Immediately he looked up and said “What in the world do you have on that thing???” Thinking nothing of it I said “potato chips” and took another bite. Folks if you would have seen the look this man gave me you would have thought I said “cat litter” because he was so grossed out by it.  He called me weird and said “You’re not supposed to eat it like that. You’re eating it wrong.”

Um… yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s no wrong way to eat a sandwich.  I just told him to stuff it and this is how we eat our food here in Pittsburgh.  You see he’s from New York and I told him he was the weird one and didn’t know what good food was.  LOL

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Now cheese, lord knows I cannot have a burger without cheese. Actually no, that’s not entirely true. There is one burger that I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE that honestly adding cheese to it would be too much. Yeah I know, I said it – something cheese shouldn’t go on.  I haven’t made it as I it’s difficult to find ground duck where I live but when I used to travel for work a lot, I used to frequent this one restaurant.  They made a KILLER burger that was literally 50% ground duck and 50% ground bacon. Yes, ground bacon! Anyway just from that mixture alone it was flavorful but then they topped it with an onion jam and arugula. Seriously, EPIC! HOWEVER living in countrybumpkinville one cannot simply go into the local market and buy it. And yes we do have a great butcher shop but duck is not something they carry. Heck they won’t even make me short ribs!

So anyway for this, yeah I wanted cheese. Again it’s that southwestern flair. As most of you know I have a full fledged cheese drawer, yes an actual cheese drawer. Now if you don’t have cojita you can easily add any other soft melty cheese or if you want to pack on some more heat, because you’re a rebel like that, go with hot pepper jack.

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Once it was time to assemble the burger down went some chips and salsa, followed by that super juicy burger (seriously I could kick myself for not taking pictures of the juices alone) topped with that melted cheese. I was going to stop there but visually it wasn’t popping for me.  It was too monotone in color.  I needed that burst of color (and flavor).  Thankfully I had leftover “Mexican” corn mixture so I topped it with more of that and a thin spread of sour cream mixed with chives just because (honestly you could omit this if you wanted to as it’s so juicy without it).

And then I took that first bite…

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Dear GOD that first bite…

I had juices flowing down my chin, down the sides of my hand and I didn’t care one stinkin’ bit as this burger was spot on!  It was so ridiculous in flavors from the spices to the beans & corn in it to the cheese and Mexican corn.  And the addition of chips and salsa… WOW!  No seriously.. WOW!!!

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Now the first burger I could only eat half of as I was “pre-eating” on chips and salsa while they were cooking however I had another one for dinner and let’s just say I tore that sucker up!  And of course, as Mr. Fantabulous saw me put chips and salsa on the burger he just shook his head, muttered “there’s something just not right with you” and said “Make mine without the chips please as they are meant to be ON THE SIDE”.  I chuckled, gave him his chipless burger and we both went to town on these.

Normally he’s not a big fan of burger mix-ins, like beans or corn but this he loved.  What’s funny though is as he was eating his burger I noticed him take a bite of the burger followed by a quick shove of the chips and salsa into the same bite in his mouth. I then started to giggle while I was eating. Finally he was like “what???” I just said “Um, you know it’s just easier if you put the chips ON YOUR BURGER instead of trying to shove them into your mouth with the same burger bite.” I got “the look” and told to shush it. LOL Men!

So if you seriously want to rock your taste buds, you need to make this burger!

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Southwest Turkey Burgers with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde


Serving size: 6

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  • 1 pound ground turkey breast (I like 80% ground white and 20% ground dark)
  • 1 cup black beans, canned or cooked, rinsed
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 Tbl minced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup green chilies, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped small
  • Juice 1 lime (~2 Tbl)
  • Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
  • Cojita Cheese (or any soft melty cheese)
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Canola or vegetable oi
  • Sour cream with minced chives
  1. In a bowl mix together the corn, salt, roasted red peppers, jalapeno and lime juice; set aside.
  2. In another large bowl add the turkey, beans, 1 cup of the corn mixture, green chilies, steak seasoning, cumin and cilantro; gently mix to combine. Do not work the mixture too much.
  3. Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 2-3 Tbl of oil to the pan.
  4. While the pan is heating up divide the mixture into 6-8 patties. Make sure to make the burgers even thickness and about 1/2” bigger than the bun (remember shrinkage!). Use your thumb to make a nickel-sized indentation, a little more than 1/4-1/2 inch deep.
  5. Once the oil is shimmering carefully place the patty, imprint side up into the pan making sure to not overcrowd.
  6. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and carefully flip cooking for another 5-8 minutes or until the burger is golden brown and cooked all the way through (temp should be 165F).
  7. If using cheese, add the last 2 minutes of cooking to melt.
  8. To assemble place the bottom of the bun down first followed by a few tortilla chips, 2 Tbl of Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, the burger, top with a few Tbl of the corn mixture, another Tbl of theRoasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde and the top of the bun.
  9. If a sauce is desired mix together some sour cream and chives to spread on the bun.
To amply the flavor, butter the bun and grill it!


16 Responses to “Southwest Turkey Burgers with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde”

  • Dan says:

    This is a game changer! Love how your mind works lady. I ate 3 of these today.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      3 Dan??? OMG forget the stretch pants, I’d have to go no pants if I ate 3! LOL Thank you so much!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Chelsea says:

    I made these for lunch today and they are freaking amazing! LOVE this burger!

    Thank you so much!

  • Carl says:

    This was excellent! We made these tonight and absolutely loved them!


  • Kristie says:

    Thank god I was at the grocery store when you posted this recipe as I literally just bought all of the ingredients to make it for dinner last night. I already had some of your salsa verde in the fridge (love that stuff) so I whipped up the burgers. Man they are incredible! So juicy and packed with flavor! We all went nuts over it; my husband ate 2!

    Love your site!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Talk about timing, huh Kristie?! That’s awesome to hear that you guys loved these! It’s definitely one of my favs!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • jennai says:

    Wooooow THis look incredible amazing and so delicious

  • Thelma says:

    I’m with you on the whole beef burger thing – love them but can’t tolerate them. I’m all about turkey burgers. And that duck bacon burger you commented on sounds incredible! Hurry up and make it so you can share the recipe.

    Can’t wait to try this!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      HAHAHA trust me Thelma! If I can find ground duck or real duck for that matter (I’ll grind it myself) I’ll make the burger and share the recipe!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Jenni says:

    WOW this looks incredible! I love your roasted salsa verde and your other burger recipes. This sounds like a total winner.

    Where do you come up with these things? And hey I’m a Pittsburgh transplant and LOVE the notion of chips on a sandwich too!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hey Jenni!

      Thank you so much! And YEAH… another vote for chips on sandwiches!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Mike says:

    OMG WOW! This looks incredible! Seriously I wanted to throw out my lunch, come to your house and beg you to make this for me! I’m so making this for us tomorrow night!

    Love your site and recipes!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Aw thank you so much Mike! When I open up my bistro I’ll make them for you!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

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