How to tell if a turkey burger is done?

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Last Updated on: 20th October 2022, 12:32 am

A turkey burger is the best way to test your cooking skills without much effort.

These can be extremely done if cooked correctly and generally don’t require much time to cook like a whole turkey or brisket.

In addition to being easy to cook, turkey burgers are also more beneficial for health than beef burgers because beef contains higher fat content, which can lead to various heart problems.

On the other hand, turkey is lean meat and has low fat content, so it is not harmful for heart patients.

It might be easier and quicker to cook turkey burgers, but the real problem is how to tell if turkey burgers are done.

It can require years of experience to tell if the turkey burgers are done by just glancing. So in this article we are going to explain how to check turkey burgers for doneness.

Check to see if the turkey burger is done

You can tell if a turkey burger is done or not by looking at its appearance and analyzing if it’s been exposed to heat or not.

After that, you should consider checking the internal temperature of the burger. If it’s higher than 165°F, then you can decide that it’s done.

But it is easier said than done. It may require you years of experience in cooking to tell if a turkey burger is done or not, just by looking at its appearance.

If you are new to cooking turkey burgers, you should consider several factors before making a final decision.

The most important thing to keep in mind while checking doneness is that the temperature of the turkey burger should be higher than 165°F to make sure that the pathogens have been killed properly.

After that, you can consider other factors to decide doneness.

Check the internal temperature

Now that you have analyzed the appearance of your ground turkey, you should probably already have made up your mind as to whether the turkey is done or not.

But don’t forget to take the temperature of the turkey into account before making your final decision.

The appearance of turkey burgers gives us an overview of if the turkey has been exposed to heat or not, but make sure to check the internal temperature to verify that the temperature was high enough to kill the pathogens.

It is normal for turkey burgers to have pathogens inside them when they’re raw. But after cooking, if the turkey is done, we expect that the pathogens have been killed.

These pathogens are hazardous to health if consumed.

According to industry experts, the turkey burger should have an internal temperature of 165°F to kill pathogens.

You can check the internal temperature by poking the probe of an instant thermometer into your ground turkey.

If you have the turkey burger in the form of patties, then make sure to take the patties from the smoker or grill whatever you are cooking in and insert the probe from the side of the patties into the central area.

You should make sure to take patties off the grill because the rack temperature can affect the measurements and the reading can become faulty.

While cooking the turkey in a pan requires stirring to separate each chunk, you should consider pouring the turkey into a dish and checking the temperature.

But if the turkey burgers are in the form of patties, their temperature is more accurate and easy to measure.

Speaking of accuracy, you should consider using a good quality thermometer to measure the internal temperature, which can provide an accurate reading of the internal temperature.

Moreover, consider calibrating it from time to time to make sure you are getting an accurate reading.

You should keep in mind that there are some cases in which the internal temperature of a turkey will not reach 165°F.

The most common of these is low fat content inside the ground turkey, because of which turkey can dry out if heated to higher temperatures.

In this case, you should consider adding some butter or oil along with the turkey burger to make sure it gets to 165°F.

It’s really important to heat up the turkey burger to higher temperatures because heat can kill the pathogens present inside the ground turkey.

Check the time

If you have examined the turkey burger by its internal temperature and appearance, you should probably have a clear understanding of whether your turkey burger is done yet or not.

If the temperature is below 165°F, then you should place it back into the smoker.

But if the internal temperature of a turkey burger is appropriate for the killing of bacteria and pathogens, then I usually check if it has been smoked for enough time.

In the case of smoking, it’s better for appropriate absorption of smoke.

While in the case of baking or frying, you should make sure that turkey burgers have been cooked for at least 5-6 minutes per side to make sure they have been cooked properly.

By checking the cooking time, you can guess if it has been done yet or not.

Check the color of the meat juices.

After you have checked if enough time has passed for the turkey burger to cook perfectly, you should probably notice that the vagueness is decreasing and you are getting closer to the exact answer.

The next feature to analyze is the meat juices.

Meat juices are the fluids present within the turkey which contribute to the enhancement of flavor.

These fluids also help the turkey avoid drying out during cooking. Although they are present in traces in ground turkey, they can still be useful to decide if the turkey is done or not.

If the turkey burger is cooked in the form of patties, then you have a good chance that you can find some meat juices.

To check, you should take a toothpick and poke the meat patties in the center or thickest part.

It will result in the seeping of some meat juices. If the meat juices are clear, then that’s an aha! At that moment, there is a high chance that your turkey burger is done.

If meat juices are pink, then the turkey burger can be uncooked yet.

Check the size of the turkey

Raw turkey contains a lot of moisture in it, even in the ground form. After the turkey has been cooked, the size of the turkey meat has decreased.

So if the turkey is done, its temperature should be way lower than when you started cooking.

It’s an estimate of doneness and you should not decide the doneness of a turkey burger solely based on this.

When the turkey is heated to higher temperatures, its moisture evaporates while cooling the surface of the bird.

So, if the turkey has lost moisture and shrunk in size,Then we can assume that it has been exposed to enough heat to cook it.

But while cooking turkey burgers, you should consider cooking at higher temperatures to intentionally evaporate moisture.

The reason is that if you cook turkey at higher temperatures to remove the moisture, it can result in the dryness of the turkey.

Due to this, the turkey can become rubbery and tasteless. The moisture found within the turkey is responsible for its tenderness.

Check the color of the burgers

After checking the size of the turkey burger, you should consider checking the color of the turkey burger.

Ideally, the raw turkey has a pink color due to the presence of moisture and proteins, but it changes to a dark or opaque color after cooking.

But if there is still pink color present inside the burger, you can assume that it is not done yet.

If the turkey burger is cooked properly, it should have the same color throughout its texture. The presence of pink can have two forms.

In the first type, the turkey burger should have darkened at the corners and edges, but its center will be still pink.

It means that the turkey is medium rare. You can check the internal temperature. If it’s higher than 165 °F, then it is safe to eat such burgers.

The other type of turkey burger will have a pink color throughout the burger. You should consider checking its temperature with an instant-read thermometer.

If it’s below 165°F, then it may contain pathogens which can be harmful to your health.

So you need to keep in mind that even if the color of the burger is light pink or dark, you should always prefer internal temperature over color.

The color is a depiction of moisture, but the temperature ensures that the pathogens have been killed.

Use your experience

Finally, you should examine turkey burgers with your intuition based on your experience.

You should have made a clear decision based on previous analysis, but I would advise you to re-evaluate everything based on your personal situation and experience.

You can try touching and smelling the turkey to check for doneness. A raw turkey will have a distinct flavor just like a raw chicken.

While If it’s done that, it would have the smell of flavors and doneness.

If you are still unsure, then you can consider placing your patties into the oven to make sure the pathogens are killed before eating to minimize the risk.

Is it safe to eat a turkey burger if it is still pink in the middle?

As discussed above, the issue is not the color but the situation it depicts. If the color of the burger is too pink, then it means that the turkey burger is not cooked yet.

Eating it will result in various disorders like diarrhea, vomiting, and typhoid fever due to the consumption of pathogens.

If the color is only pink in the center, then it’s not that bad because it means that the turkey burger has been exposed to heat for some time, but still you will have to check its temperature to make sure that it’s safe to eat.

There can be situations when the internal temperature can be way above 165°F but the color can be pink.

The most common reason that I observed for this is that the meat might not have enough fat content to be smoked for a longer time to darken the color throughout the burger.

Do we need to add oil along with the turkey burger while cooking?

In my opinion, you should consider adding some oil or butter along with the turkey burger while cooking.

The reason is that turkey is a lean meat and does not contain high fat content, because of which it might not be able to cook properly.

The low fat content can affect both the color and temperature of a turkey burger. If the turkey has a low fat content, it will not reach the desired temperature and will dry out.

So it is better to add some fat manually to allow it to cook properly.

The Final Verdict

There are various factors that can help us determine the doneness of turkey burgers, but the best way is to always check the temperature.

If the temperature is above 165°F, then you can decide that the turkey is done.

But you need to make sure that the temperature measurement is accurate. You should consider measuring the temperature after taking the burger off the grill.

Moreover, you should consider calibrating the thermometer from time to time to increase accuracy.

You should consider taking the temperature in relation to other factors and making the decision accordingly.

Making a decision on the basis of a single factor can lead to a wrong decision while checking the doneness of turkey burgers.

Even making decisions based solely on temperature can lead to poor results because the temperature of the turkey burger can be raised by placing it in an already heated grill for a short period of time, but its internal side will remain uncooked.

So it is better to make sure that the turkey burger has been smoked or fried at the appropriate temperature for the required time.

The turkey burger usually takes 5-6 minutes per side to cook properly.

You should consider avoiding rushing through your process, which can affect the flavor of the turkey burger.

if you are interested in digging deeper into checking doneness of turkey ,then don’t forget read our article on how to tell if turkey breast is done without thermometer

Jakob miller
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