Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers {with yogurt + cucumber sauce}


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Turkey Burger 4

Since moving to California about 3 years ago, my husband and I have slowly phased out the red meat from our diet, just for personal health reasons, and have really tried to incorporate more lean meats and fish.  Though it was it difficult to give up our favorite sausage & pepperoni Chicago-style pizza or the gyros and fries we loved so much, it’s actually tough to find those things where we live (however, we do have an In ‘n Out burger directly across the street from our house…so there’s that).

It’s not very often that I eat burgers or sausage, but when I do I tend to stick to lean meats like turkey or chicken so more often than not, we’ll have something hidden at the bottom of our freezer from all our trips to Costco.  *Side note: we probably shop at Costco more often than we should for a family of 2 1/2.

Instead of our usual pasta with ground turkey and marinara, I switched it up a bit and made Middle Eastern turkey burgers.  These yummy burgers are packed with kale, herbs and a touch of Ras el Hanout and are meant to be served with a cooling yogurt sauce.

If you’re not familiar with Ras el Hanout, it is Moroccan spice blend including (but not limited to): coriander seeds, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cumin seeds, spearmint, chili, ginger, allspice, long pepper, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, cloves, mace, and rose petals.  It’s an interesting combination of flavors and packs a punch in these burgers.  This spice blend is understandably not something everyone has on hand and you can certainly leave it out or play around with other flavors.  I purchased mine at Trader Joe’s along with pilpelchuma, zhoug and sumac as part of a spice 4-pack.  For a little more info on Ras el Hanout, check out The Kitchn!

I served my turkey burger protein style: atop a bed of crunchy Romaine lettuce with cucumbers, Kalamata olives, Feta and an amazing, but simple, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette from The Fauxmartha– and I didn’t even miss the bun!


middle eastern turkey burgers {with yogurt + cucumber sauce}


  • 1 large shallot, chopped (yielding ∼ 1/2 cup)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp Ras el Hanout, optional**
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 4 cups Tuscan kale, stems removed & coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Combine the shallots, garlic, oregano, Ras el Hanout (if using), basil, kale, lemon zest, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped.

Place herb mixture with turkey in a large bowl and mix with your hands or a rubber spatula to combine.  Form the mixture into 4 patties; about 3/4 cup per patty works pretty well.  Refrigerate the burgers for at least an hour or overnight if possible to let the flavors develop.  At this point you can also opt to individually wrap and freeze the patties to save for a later date.

Heat a grill pan (or grill) over medium-high heat and brush the burgers with olive oil.  I also sprayed the pan with cooking spray to be on the safe side.  Cook until firm to the touch and nicely browned, about 7-8 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and serve with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, finely diced
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until blended.


(adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good)



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