These Air Fryer Turkey Burgers are so flavorful and simple to make. You can even make them up ahead of time and freeze them for later!
I like to make up a batch or two and freeze them before cooking to have a quick and healthy turkey burger that I can put on a salad or a bun for a quick lunch.
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Turkey burgers are one of those things that I always want to like, but just kind of fall short on flavor and tend to be dry. With this recipe, I've bumped up the flavor and the cooking technique leaves the burgers with the perfect outer crust and a juicy, yet fully cooked, center.
To say that I'm in love with these Southwestern Turkey Burgers is an understatement. I always try to keep some in the freezer for a quick lunch when I really don't feel like cooking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, of course! I would skip the egg because the fat in the ground beef will keep them juicy.
Absolutely! I will go over my suggestions for cooking times in various appliances later in the article.
Yes! If you don't like the seasonings I'm using in this recipe, simply switch them up for the ones you like. I do recommend adding in some sort of veggie when using ground turkey to give some added moisture and I think it has a better texture. I'll go over some options below.
Of course! Simply double or triple the ingredients and make up as many turkey burgers as you want. You may not need 3 eggs if you are making up a triple batch, so use your judgement as to the wetness of the mixture.
Yes, you can freeze them either cooked or raw. Directions for both are in the post below.
If you are interested in more healthy recipes, I have put several in one place for easy access.
Variations for Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
After making this recipe several times, I started to think how I could make different variations and here are some ideas I came up with. If you try a different variation, please let me know in the comments!
Mushroom & Swiss Turkey Burgers
I LOVE mushrooms and if you do too, you might like this variation. Skip the green and red peppers and instead add in about ¼ cup of diced mushrooms along with ½ Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, ¼ teaspoon of sea salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
Make up the turkey burgers and cook per recipe. During the last few minutes of cooking, add on a slice of Swiss Cheese.
Traditional Turkey Burger
When you are in the mood for a regular burger, but want to use turkey instead, give this a try.
1 ¼ pounds of ground turkey, 1 egg, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Mix and continue with recipe directions.
Feta & Sundried Tomato Turkey Burger
I've made these before and they are so delicious! Of course, I didn't write down the recipe, but it was pretty simple.
1¼ pounds of ground turkey, ¼ cup of feta crumbles, 1 egg, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ cup of finely diced sun dried tomatoes. Combine the ingredients and continue with recipe directions.
There are so many different ways to make a turkey burger you will love, so, let me know your favorite way in the comments below!
How do I serve Southwest Turkey Burgers?
You can certainly put them on a bun with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a slice of onion and serve just like a regular burger.
One of my favorite ways to serve them is over a salad made of lettuce, black beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes (drained), and cheese. Add the burger on top and it's delicious! You can add some cilantro and a squeeze of lime for a garnish or top it with the Southwestern Mayo!
Another great way to serve the turkey burger, especially if you are eating low carb is to make some cloud bread! I'm working on a recipe for that now and can't wait to share it with you!
How do I Freeze & Cook the Southwest Turkey Burgers?
While you can freeze them cooked or uncooked, I usually make up a bunch and freeze them uncooked.
The best method I've found is to form the turkey burgers as instructed, but instead of refrigerating for 30 minutes, freeze them for several hours on the parchment paper. When they are frozen, you can transfer them into a freezer bag and pull one out at a time to cook.
If you want to freeze them after cooking, allow them to cool completely before freezing. I would still freeze in a single layer on parchment and when frozen, place into freezer bags.
Cooking from Frozen
If your Southwest Turkey Burgers are raw and frozen, you will preheat the Ninja Foodi Indoor Grill on max grill, with the basket in, until it prompts you to add food.
Place the frozen patties in the basket and close the lid. Switch to the air crisp function on 450℉/230℃ and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the temp to 300℉/150℃ and cook for 7 minutes. Check the temp and make sure that it has reached 165℉/74℃. Remove and let rest for a few minutes.
If your turkey burgers are already cooked and frozen, I would preheat on Air Crisp at 300℉/150℃ until it prompts you to add food. Place the frozen burgers in the basket and continue to Air Crisp at 300℉/150℃ for about 8-10 minutes. I haven't done it this way, so I'm not sure about the exact time. Since they are cooked, you only need them to warm through.
If you thaw your burgers (uncooked) prior to cooking, then simply follow the same directions in the recipe.
Always remember that the best way to judge the doneness is not by time, it's by temperature. There are many variables, including thickness of the turkey burgers that will require more or less time. You always want to cook ground meat to an internal temp of 165℉/74℃ before consuming. Also, allow for carryover cooking while resting. This is why I suggest removing the burgers when they hit 160℉/71℃.
Tips for Making Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
The recipe and cooking technique is pretty straightforward, but I did learn a few things along the way that helped and I'm sharing all those tips with you!
The Turkey Burger Mixture
You can use any kind of ground turkey you want, I've used both the 97/3 and the 85/15 and the recipe works with either kind. I usually make it with the 97/3 though.
I use the finely diced vegetables for flavor, appearance, and for moisture. You can certainly adapt the recipe by omitting some of the veggies and increasing the amounts of the ones you like, but I do recommend using at least 1 kind of veggie for texture and moisture.
Turkey burgers can be dense and rubbery, and these additions help prevent that.
If you want to skip the egg, add in 1-2 Tbsp of another type of liquid. You can use hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or even milk.
Seasonings are very important when using ground turkey, so, at the very least, make sure to season well with salt and pepper if you don't want to use the seasonings I did.
If you aren't sure if your ground turkey is seasoned well enough, pinch a little off and air crisp it for a few minutes (until it's done) and give it a taste. That way you can adjust the seasonings before you cook the burgers and they will be perfect for you.
Forming the Turkey Burgers
Ground turkey is sticky. It sticks to everything, including your fingers. The turkey mixture in this recipe is on the wet side to keep the turkey burgers nice and moist after cooking, so forming the patties can be a pain if you try to do it by hand.
I found, using a scoop and placing the turkey mixture onto a piece of parchment makes it super easy to form and refrigerate these turkey burgers.
What I do is take a sheet of parchment about 6" x 12" and place the scoop of mixture on one side. Fold the parchment over the mixture and press to make a burger patty. I found the Large Scoop from Pampered Chef works great, but you can use any scoop. You want about 3-4 Tablespoons of the turkey mixture for each patty.
Then, fold the parchment over the turkey mixture and gently press to form the patty. Remove the top layer of parchment. You will have some stick, but not enough to worry about. You could spritz the parchment with oil, but I don't bother with that.
Refrigerating the Turkey Burgers
This is probably the most important step because often times your turkey burgers will stick and even fall apart if they are not chilled for at least 30 minutes.
Make sure to remove the top layer of parchment before refrigerating because it may be hard to remove without removing a good amount of the turkey mixture. I simply take scissors and cut it off.
Then I put the 6 patties with parchment on a sheet tray or cooling rack and put them in the fridge for 30 minutes or until I want to use them. If you aren't going to make them the same day, I would probably freeze them.
Preheating Before Cooking
Preheating is also important when making turkey burgers. You want to preheat at the highest setting that your appliance has and let it preheat a good 5-10 minutes WITH the basket or tray or pan inside the appliance.
If you don't preheat well enough, the burgers may stick and can get stuck in the holes of the basket and that makes a mess. So, take the time and preheat, it will save you a bunch of headaches.
Preheating helps get a quick sear on the turkey burger and prevents sticking. Anytime you are cooking meat, you don't want to force it to flip over. If it is sticking, leave it be to cook longer.
You don't have to flip the burgers if you don't want to. I usually do because I flip everything!
Temperature is EVERYTHING!
I see people in various Facebook groups asking for times and temps that someone cooked something and that is fine, but please only use it as a guide and not an absolute.
There are so many variables that can affect the time it takes to cook a piece of meat or, in this case, a turkey burger. My burgers could be smaller or bigger than yours or thicker or flatter. All of it makes a difference. So, going by temperature is always more accurate as long as you have an accurate thermometer!
I have used several thermometers over my lifetime, ranging from $10-$100. In this instance, I can say that I like the $100 thermometer better than any other other I've ever owned. It's fast. It's accurate. It's durable. 3 things that are a must in a thermometer. The thermometer I use the most is the Thermapen MK4 and it's worth every penny. It's a pretty penny though and if you aren't quite ready for that expense, there are other options.
I have tested the dual purpose thermometer from Pampered Chef and it is very accurate. The big bonus with this thermometer is it can be used as an Instant Read OR a probe thermometer and it's around $50.
The only negative I have is the button to turn it on and off is a little difficult in my opinion.
I also have a cheaper Thermopro thermometer in my Amazon Store that runs around $20. I used it for many months and it worked great, but then I started having some issues with it. I think it could be because I got it wet, but it was becoming too frustrating to use. Sometimes it would read quickly and other times it wouldn't work at all. Again, this could be because of me and have nothing to do with the thermometer and the truth is, a $20 thermometer that works is better than no thermometer.
You want ground turkey to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165℉/74℃, but there is some carryover cooking happening once it's removed from the pan/basket. I usually remove my turkey burgers when they reach about 160℉ and let the temp rise as they rest. I will say that during the video, I overcooked them to 180℉ and they were still delicious!
When it comes to ground turkey, it can dry out if cooked too long or at too high of a heat. This is why I start out at a high temp for a few minutes and then lower it. This temperature adjustment allows a good crust to form and for the middle to cook without the outside getting too done.
How do I make these Turkey Burgers without the Ninja Foodi Indoor Grill?
I chose to use the Ninja Foodi Indoor Grill in this recipe because I could fit 4 burgers perfectly in the basket, but you do not need the Ninja Foodi Indoor Grill or any special appliance to make these.
Here are cooking suggestions for various ways to cook them.
The Southwestern Turkey Burgers will cook up beautifully right on the stove. You can use any type of frying pan, but my first choice would be cast iron. You can easily fit all 6 burgers in this 12" cast iron pan from Pampered Chef. It's the perfect size for both stovetop and oven cooking!
Simply add a little olive oil or oil of your choice and heat the skillet up over medium high heat. When the skillet is nice and hot, add in your turkey burgers and turn the heat down to medium. Cook on one side for 5 minutes, flip and cook another 5-7 minutes or until the internal temp reaches at least 160℉/71℃. Remove from pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes. This resting time will bring the temp up to 165℉/74℃.
Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper
There are a few ways you can make the turkey burgers in the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper, I'll go over both, but I think the easiest way will be to use the crisping basket.
Sear/Sauté: You can follow the stove top directions and cook the burgers in the inner pot using sear/sauté, but it is sometimes difficult to reach into the pot to flip, so my recommended method is air crisping.
Air Crisp: Depending on what size you make your burgers, you will only be able to fit 2-3 burgers in the basket. The technique is going to be the same as in the indoor grill.
Preheat on Broil (Grill in the UK) for a full 10 minutes with the basket in. Add the turkey burgers and close the TenderCrisp lid. Air Crisp on 400℉/200℃ for 5 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350℉/175℃ and air crisp for another 5-8 minutes or until the internal temp is at least 160℉/71℃. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes which will bring the temp up to 165℉/74℃
Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven
Even though the digital air fry oven has a quick preheat, sometimes it is better to allow it to heat longer and this is one of those times.
With the tray in, preheat on Air Fry at 450℉/230℃ for a full 5 minutes. Don't worry if your pan warps, that happens under high heat.
Add the burgers to the tray and Air Fry on 450℉/230℃ for 5 minutes. Flip and decrease the heat to 350℉/175℃ and air fry an additional 5-7 minutes or until the internal temp reaches at least 160℉/71℃. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes which will bring the temp up to 165℉/74℃
You can also make these turkey burgers in any air fryer you have. You may need to adjust the times some, but the basic instructions are the same.
Preheat at the hottest setting with the basket in the air fryer. Add the burgers and air fry at the hottest setting for 5 minutes. Then, decrease the temp to around 350℉ and air fry another 5-7 minutes.
Make sure the internal temp reaches 165℉ before serving. Enjoy!
Air Fryer Southwestern Turkey Burgers
- Ninja Foodi Indoor Grill
- Any Air Fryer
- 1.25 pound ground turkey
- 2 Tbsp onion finely diced
- 2 Tbsp green pepper finely diced
- 2 Tbsp red pepper finely diced
- ¼ cup corn frozen or canned (drained)
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp chipotle powder
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ Tbsp Cholula or favorite hot sauce
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- Combine the ground turkey with the finely diced onion, green & red peppers, corn, egg, and seasonings in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix well to combine all ingredients.
- Form 6 burger patties by placing ⅙ of the mixture between two sheets of parchment (see posts for details) and gently press into a burger shape.
- Leave the burger patties on the parchment, but remove the top layer of parchment and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the Ninja Foodi Grill on the max grill setting with the basket in. If you are using a different air fryer or grill, preheat at the maximum temperature setting for a full 10 minutes.
- Place the burgers in the hot basket (only 4 fit at a time with the Ninja Foodi grill I'm using) and Air Crisp (or Air Fry) at the hottest temperature (450°F/230°C in the NF Indoor Grill) for 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F/175°C and air crisp another 5-7 minutes. Check the temp to make sure the internal temperature is 165°F/74°C. Remove the burgers and let them rest for a few minutes.
- Serve over a salad or on a bun. Enjoy!
- Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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I made these and enjoyed, moist. I mixed everything up and made patties and froze them. And then I pull out what I need to prepare. Thanks Louise
This is a great looking recipe and I will be giving it a try soon. What should the cooking time be if I’m using an air fryer?