Spiced Turkey Burgers with Green Olives and Feta

Spiced Turkey Burger Lettuce Wrap

These are by far the most flavorful turkey burgers I’ve ever tasted. The mixture of warm roasted spices, fresh herbs, feta, and olives set these so far apart from the average grilled meat patty that I almost hesitate to call them burgers.  I didn’t even bother with a bun – the crisp cool lettuce wrap served as a perfect balance to the warm spiced turkey burger.

I first made these burgers a couple years ago after reading about them on Kalyn’s Kitchen.  My cousin Corinne was visiting and we grilled the burgers and ate them stuffed into pita.  I followed Kalyn’s variation on the original Fine Cooking recipe but added a twist of my own by adding crumbled feta into the turkey mixture.  They were so delicious that Corinne still talks about them to this day.

When I noticed a package of ground turkey in the fridge, I decided it was time to revisit these delicious burgers.  This time, I made a few more changes.  The original recipe calls for fresh mint and parsley, but when I looked in the fridge, the only herbs I had on hand were dill and cilantro.  It seemed like a perfectly good substitution to me.

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

Next, I started looking through my enormous collection of spices and realized I could use some of my favorite McCormick Gourmet Roasted spices.  If you haven’t yet tried the Roasted Cumin and Roasted Coriander, you’re in for a treat.

The Spices

I also figured I couldn’t go wrong adding a handful of chopped olives along with the feta this time around.

Mixed Olives

Now that I’m done fiddling with the recipe, it’s time to start making the burgers.  The first step is to make a garlic-salt paste.  It might seem fussy to ask you to do this, but it’s really simple to do and I really think that it helps to spread garlic flavor evenly throughout the burger.  I find myself using this paste a lot in my cooking, so I’m hoping you’ll find it to be a useful tip.

Chop Garlic with Kosher Salt

I like to start by smashing the peeled cloves against the cutting board with the side of my chef’s knife.  Then I sprinkle kosher salt over the garlic and mince it all together with the knife.

Smash Garlic and Salt with Side of Knife

Next, use the side of the knife to smash and smear the mixture together against the board.  Do this a couple of times, mince it some more, then repeat the smearing motion.

Making Garlic Salt Paste

You should noticed that it starts to form a uniform paste.  Just keep mashing, smearing, and chopping until the pieces of garlic are no longer visible and it’s turned into a paste.

Garlic Salt Paste

You’ll end up with something like this.  Hint: a little bit of this garlic paste is great for whisking into salad dressings.

Spices for Turkey Burgers

Now measure out all of your ingredients: chopped herbs, chopped olives, crumbled feta, olive oil, and garlic paste.

Ground Turkey

Break the ground turkey into big chunks in a large mixing bowl.

Ground Turkey and Seasonings

Sprinkle all of the ingredients evenly over the meat and mix gently with your (clean) hands.

Turkey Burger Mixture

You want everything to be evenly distributed throughout the meat, but try not to over mix.

Turkey Burgers Ready for Grill

Divide the turkey mixture into six equal pieces and form them into patties.  Arrange the burgers on a sheet pan or platter and put it in the refrigerator while you prepare your grill.  This can be done a few hours in advance.

Grilled Turkey Burgers

Grill the patties, covered, over direct medium heat for about 4 – 6 minutes per side or until just cooked through.


I serve mine with homemade tzatziki.  This batch was made with FAGE Total Greek Yogurt and it was delicious!  Here’s the recipe.

Spiced Turkey Burger Wrap

As I mentioned earlier, I chose to eat the burgers in a lettuce wrap this time and I thought it was a great choice, but these burgers are also delicious wrapped in pita.  You could always go the traditional bun route as well.

I have been chosen by McCormick to participate in the McCormick Real Gourmets program. I have been paid by them and I received a big box full of McCormick Gourmet spices. I have been using McCormick Gourmet for years, and am thrilled for the opportunity to explore more of their spices and blends.  I used McCormick Gourmet Roasted Ground Cumin, Roasted Ground Coriander, and Paprika in this turkey burger recipe.

Spiced Turkey Burgers with Green Olives and Feta
adapted from Fine Cooking and Kalyn’s Kitchen

2 medium cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoons cayenne
1/3 cup crumbled feta (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped green olives
Tzatziki, homemade or store-bought

Make a paste with the garlic and kosher salt: On a cutting board, sprinkle smashed and peeled garlic cloves with the salt. Mince the garlic and salt together then smear and mash to a paste using the flat side of a chef’s knife.  Alternatively, you can mash the garlic and salt to a paste using a mortar and pestle.  If neither of those methods work for you, just press or chop the garlic finely and stir together with the salt.

Gently break the ground turkey into pieces in a large bowl then mix the garlic paste, cilantro, dill, olive oil, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, feta, and olives into the ground turkey (it’s easiest to use your hands for this). Shape the meat into 6 equal 1-inch-thick patties. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours.

While the burgers are chilling, prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Grill the burgers, covered with vents open, over direct medium heat until nicely marked and just cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted in a burger should read 165°F), about 4 to 6 minutes per side.

Top burgers with Tzatziki and serve wrapped in lettuce or your favorite flatbread.

More Grill Recipes:

Turkey Burgers around the Web:

  1. Olga @ MangoTomato

    these look so much better than the turkey burger I had for lunch from a food court 😉
    Love the addition of olives.

    As far as the garlic goes, I usually just use a microplane.

    2:21 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  2. Maria

    Great flavors! Perfect for spring and summer too!

    3:03 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  3. J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

    Yum! They soubd wonderful. I am crazy about olives.

    3:53 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  4. Debby Maugans

    These sound awesome. I’m having it for dinner tomorrow night.

    4:06 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  5. Peter

    Nicole, I’d never guess these were turkey burgers…they look awesome!

    4:27 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  6. Karen @ Forty Cloves

    There are such bright flavors in these turkey burgers, and I bet the feta cheese moistens up the ground turkey nicely. Another one to add to my file – one can never have too many burger recipes…

    4:49 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  7. Gina @ Skinnytaste

    Love your garlic tip! I make something similar but I love your addition of olives and spices!

    6:08 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  8. Kalynskitchen

    I love your version of the turkey burgers, yum! Wish I could pop over for dinner and try them.

    8:20 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  9. Amanda

    mmmm i love the olives worked into the patties! i bet those had soooo much flavor and went awesomely with the tzatziki! (which, btw, i made a batch up after seeing you mention it on facebook the other day and served it with spiced turkey meatball pita sandwiches! great minds think alike!) 😀

    9:23 pm  Apr 11th, 2011
  10. Steve @ HPD

    Turkey seems to lend itself to Mediterranean flavors. Yours look great!

    5:18 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  11. Deborah

    these sound very delish and will be perfect this summer on the deck.. I have been using pesto for years to season my turkey burgers so this seems like a good change.. Thanks

    7:03 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  12. bellini

    They do sound flavouful and delicious and sans bun tney are very carb friendly!!

    7:43 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  13. Ang

    First of all: I am thrilled that they have roasted spices. I didn’t even know they existed. And the Turkey burgers look fantastic. I can’t wait to try this version.

    8:32 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  14. Gwen~healthymamma

    These are putting a big fat smile on my face. I love turkey burgers but have gotten kindof bored with them lately. I usually just add some spices and chopped spinach. I love your additions!

    9:33 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  15. Maris (In Good Taste)

    These pictures are terrific. So vivd and clear.

    9:54 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  16. Jenny (VintageSugarcube)

    Nicole- Don’t know if you remember me, but I met you at Cindy’s Xmas party a while back. I made the *brownies*. Anyway, love your recipes. I can’t remember if I’ve stopped by and commented, but if I haven’t, my apologies! These burgers are right up my alley. 🙂

    10:54 am  Apr 12th, 2011
  17. Barbara

    Great twist on turkey burgers! I love the recipes from Fine Cooking and this recipe gives a nice mid-eastern touch to the burgers.

    8:22 am  Apr 13th, 2011
  18. claudia

    I make turkey burgers just like this- for those who don’t have a grill, I bake mine at 400 F in the oven on top of a cookie drying rack. Beautiful photography!

    10:06 am  Apr 13th, 2011
  19. Jodi

    I can’t wait to try these! I have pretty much switched from ground beef to turkey for everything in my life!! This sounds amazing!

    11:16 am  Apr 13th, 2011
  20. Shannon

    garlic, cilantro, green olives, and feta….all in a turkey burger….you may have won my heart

    3:53 pm  Apr 13th, 2011
  21. Sarah K

    This looked so good, I put the ingredients on my shopping list for today. My husband is currently grilling the patties up & I can’t wait to eat them! Thanks for the recipe.

    7:14 pm  Apr 13th, 2011
  22. The Teacher Cooks

    I think that I have found the perfect turkey burger. I am giving these a try along with this great sauce that I have made before!

    7:51 am  Apr 14th, 2011
  23. Susie

    These look great! All my favs in one….can’t wait to make these! Thanks!

    7:04 pm  Apr 14th, 2011
  24. Rupa

    This recipe was excellent! Tried it today when we grilled burgers and veggies for dinner. No alterations…perfect as is!

    6:55 pm  Apr 17th, 2011
  25. Stephanie

    I am so burned out on my current turkey burger recipe. Thanks for this. It looks so yummy and light. I like to serve my turkey burgers on a salad. Lots of crunch. Btw, how do you keep your turkey burgers from sticking on the grill? I always have trouble with that.

    6:44 pm  Apr 19th, 2011
  26. Evelyn

    These were AMAZING!! I made them last night and it was a HUGE hit with my family!

    Thank you and keep on throwing out these great recipe ideas!!!

    2:46 pm  Apr 27th, 2011
  27. Mary Ann

    I made these last night and they were fantastic. Thanks!

    8:11 am  May 16th, 2011
  28. Aleks

    Incredible flavours!! I added mint to my patties as I didn’t have dill and loved it. Perfect for backyard grilling. Thanks for the recipe!

    8:08 pm  Jun 1st, 2011
  29. Mimi

    This were FABULOUS! I am actually going to feature them on my blog (www.mimisfitfoods.com) tomorrow. I’ll be listing all the nutritional information too. I seriously loved, Loved, LOVED these! Thanks for sharing!

    9:22 pm  Jul 12th, 2011
  30. Ayesha

    Do you think the patties for these burgers can be made ahead and frozen? I’m just not sure how I feel about freezing cheese mixed into meat…

    7:35 pm  Dec 5th, 2012
  31. MSI Sakib

    wow! love this recipe. I must ask my mom to make Turkey burger for me. Thanks for sharing this amazing and delicious recipe.

    6:18 am  Dec 21st, 2014
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