How to Cook Ground Turkey on the Stove

You can limit your red meat consumption, and still enjoy your favorite hamburger comfort foods by opting for ground turkey instead.
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You can limit your red meat consumption, and still enjoy your favorite hamburger comfort foods by opting for ground turkey instead. Cooking ground turkey is similar to hamburger, but because it contains less fat than ground round, it needs added moisture or fat from vegetables or oil.

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Whether you're making ground turkey burgers, or crumbling the meat for sloppy Joes, chili or soups, your meal will satisfy both meat lovers and health-conscious diners.


Read more: How to Cook a 25-Pound Turkey

Try Versatile Turkey Crumbles

Step 1: Sauté and Season

Sauté ground turkey and a little bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it apart with a spatula or spoon in the same way you would ground beef.

Season it to taste. Be aware that many commercially prepared seasonings are high in sodium. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams.


You'll know the turkey is cooked thoroughly when it turns completely white with no pink color.

Step 2: Drain Excess Fat

Drain excess fat from the pan by pouring it off or blotting it in the pan with paper towels.

Step 3: Add Your Sauce

Add the turkey crumbles to chili, tacos and minestrone soup, or use them for the base for sloppy Joes.

For sloppy Joes, add cooked, chopped onions, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of hot sauce to the cooking pan, and heat all the ingredients thoroughly before serving it over hamburger buns.


Make Healthy Burgers

Step 1: Add Some Veggies

Add aromatics and vegetables, if you wish, to give the burgers flavor and additional moisture. Wash and finely chop them, then saute them in a bit of olive oil until they are soft.

Possible additions include sweet or hot peppers, corn, onions or shallots.

Step 2: Add Some Oil

Mix a little olive oil into the turkey to keep your patties moist if you're not using chopped vegetables.


Step 3: Form Your Patties

Form the ground turkey into patties, gently, making them slightly larger than the hamburger buns since they will shrink as they cook. Use no more than a tablespoon of vegetables for each burger you make — too many will keep the burger from holding its shape.

Press a small indentation with your thumb in the center of each patty to help them maintain their shape in the pan. Season each side with salt and pepper.

Step 4: Cook the Burgers

Preheat a skillet to medium-high. Once it's hot, add a coating of olive oil and place the turkey burgers inside. Cook the patties for about five minutes on the first side until the meat's juices begin to run.

Step 5: Flip and Add Cheese

Flip the burgers, then add cheese if you want. Use Monterey Jack with peppers for a Southwest burger or blue cheese crumbles for a more potent flavor.

Cook the patties for another five minutes. The burger should register at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read meat thermometer, as advised by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Read more: What to Look for When Buying Ground Beef — Plus 9 Healthy Recipes


Experiment with adding either raw or cooked vegetables and see which preparation you prefer.


  • Read labels on ground turkey packages carefully if you want a low-fat choice. While ground turkey made with turkey breasts has only 1.5 grams of fat in a 4-ounce serving, ground turkey with both white and dark meat and some skin contains 17 grams of fat, according to USDA FoodData Central.
  • Use a leftover can for the fat instead of pouring it directly into the sink, which can cause clogs or damage septic systems.