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HomeLifestyleFood & RecipesThis is the secret to a perfectly moist chicken burger

This is the secret to a perfectly moist chicken burger

Chicken and turkey have a reputation for making dry burgers, leaving them open and available for futzing with in the hopes of making them not dry – maybe even flavourful. Dare I say delicious? That would be great, wouldn’t it?

These burgers, made with chicken mince, are not only juicy, but they have personality. They have pockets of gooey cheese, as well as browned, crispy cheese. They have singed, tender spring onions. And they even pack a vegetable.

All that’s required of you is to chop up a bunch of broccoli and spring onions, grate some very sharp cheddar, and mix it all into the ground meat. Form into patties, salt and pepper the outsides, and pan-fry until browned and cooked through. The additions thwart any chances of dryness, but also taste so good that you’d want to include them even if they weren’t problem-solvers.

Lean meats need moisture and fat to prevent them from drying out. The vegetable kingdom has lots of options that are full of moisture. Spinach and leafy herbs, cabbage, carrots and broccoli, among other vegetables, are all nearly 90 per cent water. As they cook, they release their flavour and juices into what’s around them. If what’s around them is lean meat, that meat is getting added moisture. Ding ding ding.

This recipe liberates broccoli from the floret and instead has you finely chop both the frilly tops and sturdy stem. That way, in the time it takes the burger to cook, the small broccoli bits on the inside of the burger steam to tender and the bits on the surface of the patty brown as if they were roasted.

Perhaps my favourite part of the broccoli-cheddar chicken burger recipe is the cheese. The grated cheddar trapped inside the burger will melt and goo (like the sliced cheese you normally put on top of the burger), while the shreds on the outside will crisp like frico – or the cheese slice that dribbled down to the pan surface.

The mix of flavours and textures belies just how little you did to get there. It’s the genius idea of food editor Emma Laperruque over at Food52, and follows the same thinking behind why some people add bacon or butter into their patties – fat adds flavour and moisture.

The same idea could be applied to any number of vegetables and dairy. You could mix chicken or turkey mince with grated carrot, garlic, cumin seed; eat that patty in a pita with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Or make one in the spirit of spanakopita with spinach, dill, parsley, spring onions and feta mixed in. And so on.

With broccoli, spring onions and cheddar, we’ve set these burgers up for success, but there’s one last simple, important, but sneaky step: salt. Don’t worry about mixing salt into the meat itself. Instead, only salt the outsides of the patties right before cooking. That way, it doesn’t have a chance of drawing out moisture.

Phew! Dryness averted, yet again.

Broccoli-chicken cheeseburgers

Time: 30 mins

Serves: 6


500g chicken or turkey mince, preferably dark meat

170g finely chopped broccoli head and stem

170g grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

Fine sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

6 buns, for serving

Yellow or stone ground mustard, for serving (optional)

Lettuce leaves, for serving (optional)

Sliced tomato, for serving (optional)

Sliced pickles, for serving (optional)


In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the ground chicken, broccoli, cheddar and spring onions until combined. Form 6 patties that are about a centimetre wider than your buns.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the patties with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan and cook until browned and cooked through to an internal temperature of 75C, about 4 minutes per side.

While the patties are cooking, lightly toast the buns, if desired. Spread mustard on the buns. Transfer the patties to buns and top with lettuce, tomato and pickle, if using.

How to store: Refrigerate leftover patties for up to 4 days.

Nutrition information per serving (1 burger on a bun with 2 teaspoons mustard, lettuce, tomato): calories: 411; total fat: 22g; saturated fat: 8g; cholesterol: 93mg; sodium: 529mg; total carbohydrates: 28g; dietary fibre: 2g; sugar: 5g; protein: 26g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

© The Washington Post

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