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Ground turkey is a low-fat, healthy alternative to ground beef. Cooked correctly, it has a hearty, satisfying flavor that tastes great by itself or in soups and pasta dishes. Learn how to cook ground turkey by itself, in the form of burgers, or in the form of meatballs.


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Plain Ground Turkey

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  1. 1
    Heat a skillet. Put the skillet over medium heat for at least five minutes before you start, so it gets entirely heated.
  2. 2
    Remove the ground turkey from the packaging and blot it dry with a paper towel. Removing excess surface moisture will help the meat to brown.
  3. 3
    Add two tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil to the skillet.
  4. 4
    Break the meat into bite-size chunks and drop the chunks one at a time into the skillet. Make sure there's some space between the pieces so they aren't crowded together.
  5. 5
    Let the turkey cook. Once all the pieces are in the skillet, leave them alone. Don't stir them, don't jiggle the pan, and don't pick at them with tongs. Letting them cook for a few minutes undisturbed helps create a good crust.
  6. 6
    Flip the turkey pieces. After a few minutes you will see the bottoms of the chunks begin to grey or brown. Let them go another minute or so, then stir to flip the chunks over. Leave them alone again to brown.
  7. 7
    Remove them from heat. When the light pink chunks turn gray/brown remove them from the pan. Add them to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off the oil.
    • Keep in mind that even when you take turkey off off the heat, the meat is still cooking and will continue to cook for a few minutes.
  8. 8
    Finished. The ground turkey is now ready to be used in recipes for turkey chili, lasagna, pasta, and so on.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Grilled Turkey Burgers

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  1. 1
    Mix the ground turkey and spices. Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Pour the spices over top. Use a spoon or your hands to mix the ground turkey and spices thoroughly. Knead the mixture for about 2 minutes to make sure the spices are evenly distributed.
    • Experiment with other spices if you like certain flavors. Add ground sage, oregano, and rosemary to mix things up.
    • You can also add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
  2. 2
    Shape the mixture into patties. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the palm of your hand. Use both hands to shape it into a patty. Place it on a plate, then move on to the next patty. Continue until you've shaped all of the meat into patties.
  3. 3
    Heat oil in a frying pan. Place a pan or a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Pour the oil into the pan and let it heat up for a minute or two. Swirl it around the pan to coat the bottom, so the burgers won't stick.
    • You can also cook these burgers in the oven under the broiler. Turn on the broiler and let the oven heat completely before cooking.
    • Using the grill is another good alternative. Heat up a grill to medium high.
  4. 4
    Cook the burgers. Place the patties into the pan. Fit as many as you can in the pan without the sides touching. Cook the burgers on the first side for 3 minutes, or until a brown crust forms. Flip them over and cook them on the other side for another 3 minutes. Remove the burgers to a plate when they're finished cooking.
    • You can lay slices of cheese on the burgers after they've been flipped. To melt the cheese, cover the pan with a lid.
    • Season the burgers with additional spices to form a "blackened"-style crust.
    • Don't overcook the burgers or they'll get dry pretty quickly, since turkey has a low fat content.
  5. 5
    Serve the burgers. Place them on buns and serve with ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, sliced tomatoes and onions, and other condiments and toppings of your choice.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Baked Turkey Meatballs

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  1. 1
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 2
    Mix the ingredients. Place the meat, the spices, the onion and garlic, the tomato paste, the egg and the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together using clean hands. Knead the mixture for several minutes until everything is thoroughly combined.
  3. 3
    Form the mixture into meatballs. Scoop some of the mixture into your hand and use both hands to roll it into a ball. Place the meatball on a nonstick or greased baking sheet. Continue making balls of the same size until you've finished forming the rest of the mixture into meatballs.
    • To make it easier to create balls of the same size, use a small ice cream scoop or a measuring cup.
    • Use a pan with high sides to prevent the meatballs from rolling off.
  4. 4
    Cook the meatballs. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook the meatballs for 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and serve with marinara sauce.
  5. 5
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Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question
    Is ground turkey meatloaf okay to freeze and reheat later?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    It sure is. Vacuum seal, label, and place it in your freezer for future use. It will probably last up to 3 months.
  • Question
    Can I use tomato sauce?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Yes, depending on what you are making it for. You could use tomato sauce and ground turkey for spaghetti sauce or other pasta sauce.
  • Question
    How long do you cook ground turkey on a skillet?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Cook the ground turkey for 5 minutes over medium heat on each side, then check the temperature with a meat thermometer. If it reads lower than 165°F (74°C), cook the turkey for a couple more minutes.
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About This Article

Linda McNally
Co-authored by:
Personal Chef & Nutritionist
This article was co-authored by Linda McNally. Linda Ingaldson McNally is a Personal Chef & Nutritionist and the Co-Founder of Sage Home Chef based in Portland, Oregon. Linda and her team specialize in personalized meal preparation and create seasonal menus to accommodate various dietary restrictions. She has extensive knowledge in nutrition relating to women's health, mindful eating, and therapeutic diets. Sage Home Chef won the AI Business Excellence Awards for Oregon's Best Healthy Cuisine Personal Chef Services and Best of Portland Personal Chef Services in 2022. Linda has a degree in Journalism, Social Justice, and Family Studies from the University of St. Thomas and earned an MS in Nutrition from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland. This article has been viewed 549,520 times.
3 votes - 100%
Co-authors: 20
Updated: March 17, 2023
Views: 549,520
Article SummaryX

To cook ground turkey, start by heating 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat. Next, remove the turkey from the packaging, break it into bite-sized pieces, and drop the pieces into the skillet. Then, cook the pieces on each side for a few minutes or until they're well browned. Finally, remove the pieces from the skillet, and place them on a paper towel to soak up the oil. For tips on how to cook ground turkey burgers, read on!

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Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 549,520 times.

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