Turkey burgers can end up dry and tasteless, but not these. Dark-meat turkey lends juiciness and flavor, while additions of chili powder, lime zest, and cilantro lend character. A topping of tangy guacamole finishes things off in vivid style.

Game plan: For extra credit, make your own hamburger buns.

  • Yield: 4 burgers
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 35 mins 
  • Active: 20 mins   

Ingredients (13)

  • 1 1/3 pounds ground dark-meat turkey
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 1 small ripe tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Vegetable oil, for the grill
  • 4 slices Monterey or pepper Jack cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns (see Game Plan note)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, onion, chili powder, lime zest, and half the cilantro. Season with the measured salt and some black pepper. Use your hands to gently combine. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and shape each portion into an even 1/2-inch-thick patty. Use your thumb to make a shallow indentation in the center of each patty (this helps the burgers cook more evenly). Transfer the patties to a plate and set aside.
  2. To make the guacamole, place the avocado in a small bowl and, with the back of a fork, mash it until it’s almost smooth. Add the tomato, the remaining cilantro, and the lime juice. Season with salt and stir to combine.
  3. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high, about 375°F to 425°F. When the grill is hot, use tongs to grab several layers of wadded paper towels, dip them in vegetable oil, and smear the grill pan’s ridges or outdoor grill’s grates (you can also apply cooking spray directly to the pan or grates).
  4. Use a metal spatula to transfer the turkey patties to the pan or grill (close the lid if it’s the latter) and cook, undisturbed (don’t be tempted to press down on the patties!), until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the burgers, close the grill (if using), and cook until the patties are cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F, about 6 minutes more. Add the cheese to the top of each patty for the last 4 minutes of cooking time. When the cheese melts, transfer the burgers to a warmed plate and tent loosely with foil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, split and toast the buns on the grill.
  5. Top each bottom bun with a turkey patty, divide the guacamole evenly among the patties, and cover with the bun tops. Serve immediately.