You’ll love Caprese turkey burgers, with perfectly seasoned ground turkey and a surprise cheese stuffing. Serve them on a toasted bun with mozzarella, fresh basil, juicy tomato and pesto.
Why you’ll love it: These amped up burgers are quite a few steps above an ordinary burger!
How long it takes: 30 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: broiler, mixing bowl
Servings: 4 burgers
Are you as ready for summer as I am? Here in Michigan, we are finally waving good-bye to rainy spring days and perpetually gloomy skies. What is it with these cloudy days? I want to wear my sunglasses!
And of course, what is summer without the flavors of Caprese? I’ve made more lunches than I can count with just a handful of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil from my garden, an easy Caprese salad. Who needs anything more in the summer?
Well, okay, my husband probably wouldn’t be happy with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil as a meal. Enter these turkey burgers, with all the flavors of Caprese incorporated into a tasty burger. The best of both worlds!
Bonus: The burgers are a high protein meal, with 43 grams per serving, due to the extra cheese.
What Is Caprese?
Caprese refers to a simple Italian salad made with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella, seasoned with salt and pepper, and drizzled with olive oil. The salad reflects the colors of the Italian flag: red, green, and white. It originates from the island of Capri.
Pronounce it: kuh.pray.zay.
Reasons to Love Caprese turkey burgers
What makes this burger special? Lots of reasons, but the simple answer is cheese.
- Fresh mozzarella (inside): It’s such a fun surprise to bite into the burger to find ooey gooey melted mozzarella cheese. You heard right, I stuff a lovely slice of fresh mozzarella inside the burger before cooking it.
- Fresh mozzarella (outside): I can’t leave it there. Creamy fresh mozzarella is so good unmelted, too, so I top the burger with a slice of unmelted cheese, showcasing all of the equally delicious ways to eat fresh mozzarella.
- Seasoned meat: We don’t mess around here. Why not mix the seasoning, which includes fresh basil, right into the meat instead of merely sprinkling it on the outside?
- Amazing toppings: Spread the buns with basil pesto (no ketchup and mustard here). Add fresh basil leaves instead of plain lettuce, and a juicy red tomato! (And of course, a slice of that dreamy mozzarella.)
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground Turkey: For burgers, I like to use a blend of 85/15, which has little more fat than all white meat ground turkey. A little fat is a good thing in burgers because it gives the meat flavor and keeps them from getting too dry. Of course, you can use ground beef if you prefer.
- Fresh Basil: This is a good chance to harvest a few leaves from that prolific basil plant you have growing on your deck. Nothing can replace the taste of fresh basil.
- Panko Bread Crumbs: Panko is simply dry bread crumbs. It’s coarser and airier than regular bread crumbs. Learn how to make bread crumbs, it’s a great way to use stale bread.
- Egg: The bread crumbs and egg are mixed with the ground turkey for a more tender burger. It’s the same idea as meatloaf or meatballs.
- Onion and Garlic: You’ll need half of a small onion and one clove of garlic to subtly flavor the meat.
- Dried Parsley, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper: Simple pantry seasonings are mixed into the burger blend.
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese: Fresh mozzarella cheese is a soft white cheese that hasn’t been aged. It’s usually sold in a container with brine. If you’re not a fan of fresh mozzarella, regular mozzarella cheese can be substituted.
- Basil Pesto: Although this ingredient is optional, I highly recommend it. Spread it on the buns to really amp up the basil flavor. You can use store-bought or homemade pesto.
- Fresh Tomato Slices
- Buns or Ciabatta
How To Make Caprese Burgers
Drain the mozzarella cheese, pat it dry, and evenly cut it into 8 slices. Set it aside for now.
In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the ground turkey, seasonings, chopped basil, and panko. Grate the onion and garlic over the bowl to catch all the juices. If you prefer, you could finely mince the onion and press the garlic.
Blend together the contents of the bowl, using your fingers or a large spoon. Handle the mixture lightly. As soon it starts to hold together, stop mixing.
Divide the mixture into four equal portions.
Form each portion into an evenly sized patty, inserting one slice of cheese into each, making sure it’s completely encased.
Broil until golden brown on each side. Internal temperature should be 165°F when measured with an instant read thermometer.
Serve the burgers on toasted buns, spread with pesto, with all the caprese toppings.
What To Serve With Burgers
Best Cooking Method
I usually broil turkey burgers because they are a little fragile, especially with the cheese stuffing. If you want to grill them, be careful! You might want to do them on foil or a grill pan. If you put these on normal grill grates, they’re likely to break up and fall through.
Tips For Success
- Don’t overmix the meat. Only mix the meat mixture enough to combine all the ingredients. Over-mixing will create a tough burger.
- Carefully form the stuffed burgers. Make sure that the burger is formed completely around the mozzarella so that it doesn’t leak out when it melts.
- Toast the buns. This restaurant trick really makes a difference! A warm, lightly toasted bun, especially if you spread it with butter or oil first, has more flavor and a crisp texture.
- Include the suggested toppings. Although I know y’all have your favorite burger toppings, in this case, stick to the suggested toppings: a schmear of pesto, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a juicy tomato slice. The toppings are really what make this burger “Caprese”.
More Caprese Recipes
Make Ahead Ideas
Prepare the turkey burgers ahead of time so they are ready to cook later on. Here’s how:
- Refrigerated: Make the meat mixture, forming the patties with the cheese stuffing. Arrange them in a single layer on a plate and cover securely with plastic wrap. They can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.
- Frozen: It can be a real timesaver if you make a double or triple batch of the burger mix. Form the patties and arrange them in a single layer on a parchment lined tray or sheet pan. Freeze until solid. Once frozen, the burgers can be stacked with a square of waxed paper or foil between each patty and placed into a freezer safe container or bag. This method works well for taco turkey burgers or pizza burgers, too.
- Thaw: Thaw the burgers overnight in the refrigerator before broiling them as directed.
Storage & Reheating Tips
If you have leftover cooked burgers, wrap them separately from the buns and toppings. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheat in the microwave just until heated through.
- 16 ounces ground turkey (85/15)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil plus about 8 additional leaves for topping
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- ½ small yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 8 oz. log fresh mozzarella cheese
- 4 hamburger buns or ciabatta, for serving
- 4 tablespoons pesto, optional (highly recommended)
- 1 large tomato, sliced, for serving
- Preheat broiler on high, with oven rack 5 to 6 inches from broiler. Line rimmed sheet pan with foil.
- Drain liquid from mozzarella and pat dry with paper towels. Cut log into eight ¼ inch slices. You’ll need 4 slices for the burgers, plus 4 to 8 additional slices for topping the burgers.
- Add ground turkey, basil, panko, egg, salt, pepper, vinegar, and parsley to a large mixing bowl. Grate the onion and garlic over the bowl to catch all the juice. Mix ingredients using your hands until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Divide meat mixture into four equal portions. Form one portion into a patty around a piece of mozzarella, making sure that cheese is completely encased by meat. Each patty should be about 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Repeat process for the remaining meat, forming 4 patties total. Place patties on prepared sheet pan.
- Broil burgers for 8 minutes until golden brown, flip over, cook for another 5 minutes or until burgers are cooked through. Internal temperature should be 165°F.
- If desired, spread pesto on buns. Add burgers to buns, top with sliced mozzarella, tomato slices, and fresh basil. Serve immediately.
- Nutrition information is for burgers and toppings. It does not include buns.
- If desired, omit the cheese stuffing. Serve the turkey burgers with suggested toppings.
- Recipe updated after retesting 12/7/2022.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.