Make a juicier burger by grinding your own turkey thighs at home

Most turkey burgers are dry, bland, or loaded up with flavour-blunting fillers. To create juicy, well-textured turkey burgers, we ditched store-bought ground turkey in favour of a home-ground turkey thigh, which boasts more fat and flavour.

To ensure that our turkey burger recipe delivered maximum juiciness, we incorporated a paste made from a portion of the ground turkey, gelatin, soy sauce and baking soda. The gelatin trapped moisture within the burgers while the baking soda helped tenderize the meat by raising its pH, and the soy sauce added savoury umami flavour.

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Finally, we added coarsely chopped raw white mushrooms to keep the meat from binding together too firmly. To top the burgers, we created a variety of sweet and savoury sauces that complemented the rich dark meat of the turkey.

Juicy Grilled Turkey Burgers

Serves: Six

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours

To ensure the best texture, don’t let the burgers stand for more than an hour before cooking. If you like, toast the hamburger buns on the grill while the burgers rest. Serve with one of our burger sauces (recipes follow) or your favourite toppings.

1 (2-lb.) bone-in turkey thigh, skinned, boned, trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 Tbsp unflavoured gelatin

3 Tbsp chicken broth

6 oz. white mushrooms, trimmed

1 Tbsp soy sauce

• pinch baking soda

2 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing

• kosher salt and pepper

6 hamburger buns

Place turkey pieces on large plate in single layer. Freeze meat until very firm and hardened around edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over broth in small bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about five minutes. Pulse mushrooms in food processor until coarsely chopped, about seven pulses, stopping and redistributing mushrooms around bowl as needed to ensure even grinding. Set mushrooms aside.

Pulse one-third of turkey in now-empty food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/8-inch pieces, 18 to 22 pulses, stopping and redistributing turkey around bowl as needed to ensure even grinding. Transfer meat to large bowl and repeat two more times with remaining turkey.

Return 1/2 cup (about 3 oz.) ground turkey to bowl of again-empty food processor and add soy sauce, baking soda, and softened gelatin. Process until smooth, about two minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. With processor running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 10 seconds; leave paste in food processor. Return mushrooms to food processor and pulse to combine with paste, three to five pulses, stopping and redistributing mixture as needed to ensure even mixing. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl with ground turkey and use your hands to evenly combine.

With lightly greased hands, divide meat mixture into six balls. Gently flatten each ball into 3/4-inch-thick patty. Press centre of patties down with your fingertips to create 1/4-inch-deep depression.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (six quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Brush one side of patties with oil and season with salt and pepper. Using spatula, flip patties, brush with oil, and season second side. Place burgers on hotter side of grill and cook until well browned on first side, four to seven minutes. Flip burgers and cook until well browned on second side and meat registers 160 F, 4 to 7 minutes more. (If cooking frozen burgers: After burgers are browned on both sides, transfer to cooler side of grill, cover and continue to cook until burgers register 160 F.)

Transfer burgers to plate and let rest for five minutes. Serve on buns.

Malt Vinegar-Molasses Burger Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup mayonnaise

4 tsp malt vinegar

1/2 tsp molasses

1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

Apricot-Mustard Burger Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup mayonnaise

5 tsp apricot preserves

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard

1/4 tsp sugar

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

Chile-Lime Burger Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp chili-garlic paste

2 tsp lime juice

1 scallion, sliced thin

1/4 tsp fish sauce

1/8 tsp sugar

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

From Master of the Grill by America’s Test Kitchen. For more recipes and product reviews, visit americastestkitchen.com

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