How to add incredible flavor to Grilled Turkey Burgers by adding bacon paste.
Turkey burgers can tend to come out dry and flavorless. Adding bacon paste to ground turkey adds not only flavor but great moisture lacking in most turkey burgers.
I’ll be the first to admit, when I transitioned from a vegetarian back into a meat eater it was a slow process. I went through a phase where I was shy on beef and friendly with poultry. We ate a lot of chicken and turkey during those days!
Granted we still eat our fair share of poultry and I especially like to change it up in our family, providing a variety of proteins throughout the week.
And since one of our kids has proclaimed he’s a pesca-bacon-tarian we’ve been cooking less beef around here. Hence turkey (also see smoked turkey).
But turkey burgers can be so boring and often lack moisture and tenderness. We discovered years ago a magic ingredient that revolutionizes the boring turkey. Okay so it might not revolutionize it, but it jazzes it up for sure. (can I see some jazz hands?!?!?!)
What Is Bacon Paste
This ain’t your typical slice of bacon added to the top of a turkey burger to compensate for the lack of flavor found within the patty. Nor is it some expensive ingredient you have to buy at a specialty food store.
Bacon paste can be made easily, right at home in your food processor.
You just take uncooked bacon and mix it in a food processor until it becomes a paste, and then mix the paste into your ground turkey.
- Our favorite ratio is 2 pieces of thick cut, uncooked bacon, for every 1 pound of ground meat. That’s all you need to add a boatload of delicious flavor to your burgers. Seriously… a boatload.
- Bacon paste becomes the binder and fat that not only keeps the burgers together, but also elevates the flavor of burger beyond your typical boring patty you may buy at the store.
The Best Meat for Turkey Burgers
With any kind of ground meat intended for burgers you want some fat. Ground beef is purchased typically by its fat content, so you’ll see things like 85/15 or 90/10. That means the ratio of meat to fat. And fat is flavor. For ground turkey it’s the same ratio, but turkey is generally a leaner cut of meat.
When buying ground turkey the same ratio rules apply, however something to consider is going to your local butcher and mixing up some white and dark meat ground to the same ratio’s you would expect from a beef burger. 75/25 or 85/15 is fantastic. If you go too lean on a burger, regardless of turkey or beef, the flavor will be muted and it is much more likely to fall apart even with added binding agents.
Even with a good amount of fat in ground turkey it can still be dull tasting and dry. Which brings us to the bacon paste.
Just add the bacon paste into the ground turkey mixture and then form your patties.
And as opposed to adding cooked bacon on top (which you can still do as well. I won’t ever judge for overdoing it on the bacon), adding the raw bacon paste to your burgers adds incredible flavor as well as fat (moisture) to ensure your burgers don’t dry out.
Bacon and Nutrition
Did I mention the nutritional value of adding bacon paste? Did you know pork fat was named the #8 most nutritious food in the world by the BBC. Not lying! They claim Pork fat is more unsaturated and healthier than beef fat. So go add your bacon fat and feel no regret!
(Reminder, I am neither a nutritionist nor doctor, so take this information with a grain of bacon salt).
Mix & Grill Turkey Burgers
Add the rest of your ingredients to the ground meat, and mix to combine everything into patties.
If you want to add cheese to your turkey burgers add it in the final minutes of cooking (see notes).
Wine Pairing for Turkey Burgers
I’ve written at length on what it means to be a good “burger wine”. For these turkey burgers, we kept them simple with basic toppings (tomato, onion, pickle). The bacon adds a great smokiness and savoriness that lends itself to several styles of wine.
If you want something big and powerful look to New World Syrah (California and Washington make excellent examples). For something medium bodied, try Côtes du Rhône (Syrah and Grenache based blends from France). For a refreshing lighter bodied alternative, Spanish Rosé is a nice choice with its bright fresh flavors and strong acidity.
Other Burger Recipes
If you are looking for more burger recipe ideas here are some of our favorites.
- Western Style Burger – This one is loaded with onion rings, BBQ sauce, and packed with flavor.
- Smoked Lamb Burger – Low and slow for a smoky flavor and then finished with a rosemary aioli.
- Classic Cheeseburger – Sometimes simple is best. Pickles, beef, onions, and flavor.
- Smash Burger – Get the comfort food classic with a burger patty that is pressed and served hot with melted cheese and caramelized onions.
Serve this with your favorite French fries or our oven roasted potatoes or our duck fat potatoes with Parmesan and thyme. You could also go big with our smashed potatoes with tarragon cream sauce.
More Recipes using Bacon Paste
Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.
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How many days will these last in the fridge after cooking?
Sean Martin says
Lindsay, I would say 3 days at most. If you want longer, I would freeze them with some type of vacuum sealing option.
Just in case anyone else runs into this issue, don’t skip the bacon! I didn’t have any bacon and tried to use an egg as the binding agent, but my raw patties turned out as piles of meat paste. Luckily I was using a skillet so I didn’t have to worry about them falling through the grate, otherwise they would have just dripped through! Next time I try these I’ll definitely be adding bacon for some more flavor and firmness. I’ll definitely be trying these with bacon next!
Sean Martin says
Garrett great point, we will update the post, and also it will depend on how lean the turkey is you bought. Thanks for sharing!
Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife says
We LOVE turkey burgers in our house, and they’re the only burgers we ever make at home! They’re so flavorful and juicy – if you know how to add that flavor in and moisture like you did here. We have our own “secret sauces” to get that effect but I love your use of bacon paste here! I bet it’s so yummy!
Thank you!!! Are you willing to divulge your secret sauce?? 😉
The addition of bacon paste is so smart! This burger looks so good. I don’t even think I’d miss beef here.
Erin @ Platings and Pairngs says
Oh my gosh – What yumminess!!! Love the idea to mix in some bacon with the ground turkey to make them extra flavorful and juicy!
This burger looks and sounds amazing! Perfect for spring and summer barbecues. Thanks for sharing.
Megan Joy says
You can never go wrong adding bacon 🙂 This looks so good. And I didn’t know bacon paste was so easy to make!