Pesto Turkey Burgers

These pesto turkey burgers were originally published in July 2012. The post has been updated as of July 9, 2019 with new photos, text and a revamped recipe!

Fire up your grill because today we talk these juicy and oh-so-flavorful grilled turkey burgers.

Two Pesto Turkey Burgers on a white plate with sweet potato fries and ketchup.

Yes, you read that right. Deliciously wonderful turkey burgers … that aren’t bland, dry or reminiscent of hockey pucks.

No ma’am.

Instead we have a juicy and plenty moist base pumped up with flavor thanks to a little homemade pesto mayonnaise, minced onion and seasonings.

We layer that sucker on a bun of choice, slather with some extra pesto mayo and then top it all off with a pile of sweet sautéed peppers and onions.

The end result? A fantastic grilled dish that is sure to please even the biggest turkey skeptic.

Especially if served up with some crispy fries and a big ol’ fresh salad.

It’s summer eatin’ at its finest.

A glass mixing bowl with peppers and onions, and a plate with several Pesto Burger patties.

How To Make Pesto Turkey Burgers

Now, while these pesto turkey burgers do have a few more steps than your classic run-of-the-mill burger, they are still pretty darn easy to make. Here’s how they go down:

Prepare the pesto mayo. In a food processor, we’ll quickly make a simple pesto with some baby arugula, sunflower seeds, garlic and olive oil. The mixture then gets stirred together with a little mayo until creamy and smooth.

Sauté some veggies for topping. Next, we’ll cook up some sliced onion and bell pepper in a skillet until tender and starting to brown.

Form the burgers. Meanwhile, we’ll mix together our ground turkey, a touch of minced onion, some seasonings and three tablespoons of the pesto mayo in a bowl, before forming into patties.

Grill until cooked through. The burgers then get popped on a heated grill until charred and cooked to a safe temperature.

And finally, we assemble our burgers and chow down!

A glass mixing bowl filled with Pesto Mayo with a spoon in the dish.

Pesto Burger Topping Ideas

Now, in case you aren’t feeling the sautéed peppers and onions that are listed in the recipe, here are a few additional topping ideas that would be equally delicious.

  • sliced fresh tomatoes and lettuce
  • slow cooker caramelized onions and peppers to really take things up a notch
  • sautéed, roasted, or grilled mushrooms
  • fresh sliced mozzarella (if not dairy free)
  • any sliced cheese of choice (again, if not dairy free) – pop the slices on your burgers when they have about 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time left on the second side

Let’s Chat Substitutions

  1. You can absolutely use ground chicken, pork or beef instead of the turkey.
  2. If you don’t dig arugula, use another green in the pesto. Baby spinach, baby kale or fresh basil would all be lovely.
  3. Don’t want to make your own pesto? You can use ½ cup of your favorite store-bought kind instead.
  4. And finally, vegan mayo can be used if you don’t like regular mayo. Greek yogurt may also work but I haven’t tried it myself (and the taste will be a bit different if you go this route).

A Pesto Turkey Burger on a white plate with sweet potato fries.

Tips & Tricks For These Grilled Turkey Burgers

  1. Only buy one large onion for the recipe – mince up the needed 2 tablespoons for your burgers and then use whatever is left to slice for the onion / pepper topping. You’ll have plenty.
  2. Don’t overwork your meat – use your hands to mix until everything is just combined and then gently form into patties.
  3. Now, your patties will be on the wet side once it’s all combined (thanks to the pesto mayo) but just roll with it – it helps keep the finished product nice and juicy. If you find them difficult to pick up once formed, use a spatula to transfer them to the grill.
  4. And finally, be careful not to overcook these as they won’t be as moist / juicy and could possibly dry out. An instant read thermometer really is your best friend as you can cook to temperature and there’s no guessing if the burgers are done.

How To Store

Transfer the pesto mayo, sautéed veggies and cooked burgers to separate airtight containers and place in the fridge (let the burgers and veggies cool to room temp first). They’ll keep like this for about 3 to 4 days.

When ready to enjoy, briefly reheat the burgers and veggie topping, then assemble and dig in.

Two Grilled Turkey Burgers on a white plate with fries and ketchup.

Shop This Recipe

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  • Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer – This is one of my FAVORITE kitchen gadgets. I’ve had mine for years and it’s perfect for ensuring meats and homemade breads cook to the correct temperature. Essential for grilling – no drying anything out.

Additional Grilling Recipes You Might Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.

Pesto Turkey Burgers

Pesto Turkey Burgers

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

These easy and healthy pesto turkey burgers are a perfect simple summer meal! With a juicy turkey base, flavorful pesto mayo and sautéed peppers and onions! 

Ingredients

For the pesto mayonnaise:

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby arugula
  • 3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

For the veggies:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt

For the burgers:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns, english muffins or rolls

Instructions

For the pesto:

  1. Add the arugula, sunflower seeds, garlic and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. 
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, then stir in the mayo until combined. Set aside.

For the veggies:

  1. Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add in the onion, pepper and salt. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the burgers:

  1. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, minced onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and 3 tablespoons of the pesto mayo mixture. Form into four equal sized patties that are about 4 to 4 ½ inches in diameter and place on a wax paper or parchment lined plate (the mixture will be a bit wet).
  2. Set a grill pan over medium high heat and allow to heat up for about 5 minutes (alternatively, heat a charcoal or gas grill over medium high heat). Once heated, add the burgers to the grill (using a spatula to help transfer them) and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature registers 165ºF. Remove the burgers to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. To serve, smear some of the pesto mayo mixture on the bottom of a bun, then top with a turkey patty and some of the onion and peppers! 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 559 Total Fat: 46g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 34g Cholesterol: 126mg Sodium: 1028mg Carbohydrates: 8g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Protein: 31g
Nutrition data shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator and is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for a medical professional’s advice. For these turkey burgers, info does NOT include the buns (as it will vary widely depending on what you use). Additionally, info includes ALL of the pesto mayo, although you'll likely have extra for use in another recipe.