turkey burger
turkey burger

Turkey Burgers with Jalapeno Sauce and Apple Kale Slaw

Simply seasoned ground turkey and a bright and creamy jalapeno slaw is all you need for a healthy, yet satisfying turkey burger. This recipe makes more slaw than you'll need for the burgers so use whatever you have leftover for a side salad or cook more turkey burgers – you can always store the leftovers.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

grilled turkey burger with jalapeno lemon aioli, tomato, and kale coleslaw on a brioche bun

Subtly seasoned with fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper, these tender turkey burgers get a creamy boost from bright-tasting coleslaw made with kale instead of cabbage.

I simply cannot find the words to express the love-at-first-bite situation going on with this turkey burger. Question: Do you need a light meal that leaves you feeling energized midday? YES. That’s the power of this turkey burger. Not to mention the way it commands your mouth’s full attention. Thank you jalapeno sauce.

jalapeno and mayo in a bowl

Let’s talk more about the sauce for these burgers.

All you need is mayo, jalapeno, garlic and lemon (or lime). A spoon and a bowl and the flick of your wrist and your sauce is D.O.N.E.

We’ll toss it with some shredded kale (see below), and also to hit those burgers with some MAJOR flavor, shower extra sauce on too. Because there’s no such thing as too much jalapeno sauce, especially when it comes to turkey burgers.

kale, apple, and celery coleslaw

1 bunch of kale yields enough slaw for 8 burgers, but if you want to cook 4 burgers, then you’ll have plenty of kale slaw to eat on the side.

Build A Better Turkey Burger

To make great turkey burgers, start with good quality ground turkey — 85% protein to fat works best. Due to its lean and mild flavor, turkey begs for an equally bright and fat-rich sauce, so be generous with the citrusy, jalapeno flecked mayo. As you’ll see with this recipe, turkey also benefits from simple seasoning, such as salt, pepper, and fresh cilantro.

  1. Forming Turkey Patties: Use the size of your buns to guide the overall size of your patties. Keep in mind, they will shrink so aim for larger than what you want to end up with. Press into patties, each about 1″ thick.
  2. Grilling Tips: Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or use a gas grill. Clean the grates and coat both the grates and the burgers with oil to prevent sticking. Cook until charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Avoid moving the burgers, flipping just the once.
  3. Toast the Buns: A toasted bun is better at absorbing juices and sauce and is less likely to get soggy. Throw the buns on the grill for 2 minutes.
  4. Other Ways to Cook the Burgers: These are made on the grill because I’m a sucker for sunshine and a good char, but if you want the convenience of an indoor meal, who am I to stop you? Go ahead and sear those babies to your heart’s content in a hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Jalapeno Sauce Alternatives: There is hardly any spiciness to my palate with this jalapeno sauce. If the mere suggestion of something spicy causes you to sweat, then you could swap cilantro for brightness. For an egg-free alternative, use the creaminess of an avocado in place of the mayo or a good guacamole.
turkey burger with smoked gouda

When I’m craving a burger but need something that’s not going to weigh me down, this is my kind of meal. Not only is it healthy, it’s a balanced meal between a bun that’s ready in less than 30 minutes.

I also love that you can blitz the sauce by hand thanks to the magic of garlic paste (see how below).

smashing garlic on a cutting board with salt

Channel Your Inner Chef: Fast Garlic Paste

Use a scraping motion at a 45° angle until the garlic forms a paste. Salt provides friction, helping to break up the garlic. Use garlic paste in sauces to infuse flavor quickly and easily.

P.S. Ok, for people who are grilling fanatics, this portable cast iron grill will make it easy to take grilling with you anywhere and they are worth a browse if you’re moved to tears by durable kitchen tools (I am).

Did you devour this turkey burger? Rate the recipe and comment below!

Turkey Burger with Jalapeno Sauce and Apple Kale Slaw

Simply seasoned ground turkey and a bright and creamy jalapeno slaw is all you need for a healthy, yet satisfying turkey burger. This recipe makes more slaw than you'll need for the burgers so use whatever you have leftover for a side salad or cook more turkey burgers – you can always store the leftovers.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: aioli, burger, coleslaw, gluten free, jalapeno, kale, sauce, slaw, turkey
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 burgers
Calories: 625kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


Jalapeno Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or 1 smashed avocado
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large jalapeno minced with seeds included
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic smashed into paste

Creamy Kale, Apple, and Celery Slaw

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale de-stemmed, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 2 stalks celery ends trimmed, sliced very thinly
  • 1 green apple shredded
  • jalapeno sauce (from above) only use enough to coat

Stuff for the Turkey Burgers

  • 1 pound ground turkey meat for 4 (4-oz) patties*
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon (or lime) zest
  • 4 oz smoked gouda
  • 4 brioche hamburger buns
  • 4 slices tomato



  • Stir all the sauce ingredients in small bowl until mostly smooth.


  • Toss some of the sauce (not all) with the kale. You'll use the leftover sauce to top the burgers.


  • Season the turkey meat with the cilantro, salt, pepper, and citrus zest. Form into equal size patties approximately the size of your buns (they will shrink once cooked). Preheat the grill over high for at least 10 minutes. Use tongs to coat the grate with paper towel dipped in olive oil. Apply a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper to the burgers. Add the burgers to the hot grill and sear over medium-high heat 5 minutes each side.


  • Top the hot burgers with thin slices of cheese and allow to rest for several minutes. For the most flavorful and easy-to-eat assembly, go in this order: bun, jalapeno sauce, burger, tomato, kale slaw, and extra sauce.


Quick Tips About Scaling This Recipe

There will be enough kale slaw for 8 burgers so you could use 2-3 pounds ground turkey and refrigerate extra burgers for meal prep. Note though that the kale slaw will break down, releasing moisture over time (best enjoyed same day or next day).

Gluten Free Burgers

You can enjoy these turkey burgers sans the bun or substitute your favorite gluten free bun.


Serving: 1burger plus extra side coleslaw | Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 1552mg | Potassium: 847mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 7341IU | Vitamin C: 96mg | Calcium: 330mg | Iron: 4mg

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