Michelle’s Turkey Burgers with Lemon Mayonnaise

For Christmas my parents and Ty Hoad gave Claire and I a gas grill, which has been great as I love to grill, but fooling around with charcoal takes a lot of time. Since Christmas, I have been wanting to make some homemade burgers, which Claire was all for, save for one caveat: “Make them healthy.”

So much for the burger idea, I thought, as the key to a great beef burger is a meat to fat ratio of around 80-20, which will keep the burger moist and flavorful. My dilemma was solved thanks to Food & Wine and a slide show of burger recipes. When I saw Spike Mendelsohn’s turkey burger recipe, I knew that this was my opportunity.

To be honest, I had never thought about using lean ground turkey (a meat to fat ratio of 93:7), as I feared that the patty would be too dry. I figured that this recipe had a few things going for it that might produce a flavorful, moist burger: 1) The recipe comes courtesy of Chef Spike Mendelsohn who is currently on Top Chef All-Stars, and owns his own burger restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery, in Washington, D.C. 2) The recipe was served to the Obamas, in which the First Lady obviously enjoyed it enough for Chef Mendelsohn to name the burger after her. 3) Finally the addition of celery and apples, I thought, probably helped to keep the burger moist.

I asked Claire what she thought of the recipe, wanting to make sure it sounded appetizing to her. As it turns out, she grew up on ground turkey, and thought the recipe sounded intriguing enough. Therefore, last Tuesday, I went ahead and made the burgers, and the finished product could not have been better.

The burger was still really moist and tender. In fact, since the recipe makes four patties, we reheated the patties the next night for dinner, and they were still really moist. The patty was bursting with flavor—citrusy, sweet, spicy, yet the turkey was not over powered in the least.

I made my own homemade lemon mayonnaise to go with the burger. Making homemade mayonnaise is super easy if you have a food processor. Plus it tastes a lot better than the store bought stuff, and is made with ingredients that most people already have on hand.

We topped the burgers with mild cheddar slices, fresh green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, sautéed onions, and the homemade mayonnaise. I also bought some sweet potato fries to bake off in the oven. Were they as good as deep-fried? No, but the idea was to be healthy.

Food & Wine suggested serving a Chianti with the burger, and thankfully, I had a bottle. We enjoyed la MaiaLina Chianti 2008, which I bought from Wine Exchange for only $7.99. The wine was dry and slightly earthy yet still had some nice fruit flavors as well.

After the meal, Claire and I were both satiated, yet did not feel gross, like I sometimes do after eating a burger and fries. This burger is definitely a recipe that will be featured at the Camp’s house again.

Here is the recipe from Food & Wine’s website:

Michelle’s Turkey Burgers with Lemon Mayonnaise

Recipe by Spike Mendelsohn


SERVINGS: 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 small canned chipotle in adobo, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • 4 iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 4 tomato slices


  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. Add the sliced onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 25 minutes. Transfer the onion to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in the skillet. Add the celery, apple and scallions and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the chipotle; let cool. Stir in the turkey, parsley, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Shape the mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  3. In the skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the burgers and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until no longer pink inside, 10 minutes. (You can also grill your burgers, which is what I did.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, the lemon juice and chopped thyme and season with salt and pepper. Spread the lemon mayonnaise on the top halves of the buns; set the burgers on the bottom halves and top with the caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato. Close the burgers and serve.


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