frontal shot of chicken burger with toppings

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Chicken burgers get a bad rap for being dry and boring, but with the right technique and ingredients, a poultry patty can hold its own against its beefy brethren. After some trial and error, we’ve created a juicy chicken burger that’s packed with flavor, thanks to Parmesan cheese, some fresh parsley, and a few smart techniques. A few minutes in a hot skillet makes them golden and crisp on the outside and tender and juicy inside. They’re perfect for kids, great for cookouts, and the topping possibilities are endless. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

The Key to Perfectly Juicy Chicken Burgers That Don’t Fall Apart

The trick to serving the juiciest chicken burgers is a seasoned panade. A panade is a mixture of breadcrumbs and a liquid — usually milk, buttermilk, or yogurt. Here, we use mayonnaise as our liquid to add richness and keep the burger juicy. Mix the panade together thoroughly before adding the ground chicken. Use your fingertips to combine the ground chicken and panade to avoid over-working the meat.

To give the panade time to lock the moisture inside the burgers, you’ll shape the patties in advance and chill them for at least an hour. Chilling also firms up the patties, which makes them easier to handle and prevents them from breaking when flipped.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What’s the Best Chicken for Chicken Burgers?

You’ll want to choose ground chicken (a mixture of light and dark meats) or ground dark meat chicken (if available) to make a chicken burger you really want to eat. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be a staple on your shopping list, but ground chicken breast does not contain enough fat to keep the meat from turning tough and dry. Most grocers carry ground chicken and will gladly grind chicken thighs if you prefer 100% dark meat.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Making Flavorful Chicken Burgers

For maximum flavor in every bite, these chicken burgers are seasoned from the inside out. Because salt can draw moisture out of meat, we mixed salty, savory Parmesan cheese into the ground chicken mixture instead, then season each patty with salt just before they hit the pan.

Recipes for beef burgers often call for adjusting the heat between medium and medium-high, but for a perfectly cooked chicken burger, steady medium heat is key. To develop a crispy, golden crust, heat the oil over medium and make sure it’s hot before adding the patties. As the patties cook, keep the heat at medium to ensure that the burgers cook through before the outside gets too brown. Once they’re done, put them on buns, pile on the toppings, and serve them up asap. These burgers are at their best when served straight from the stovetop.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

The Best Toppings for Chicken Burgers

The patty is the star of this sandwich, so keep the toppings classic. I like to top each one with either provolone, cheddar, or another mild-flavored cheese, then serve on soft buns topped with red onion rings, crisp lettuce leaves, and ripe tomato. A few slices of avocado add a creamy contrast to the crispy seared burger.

How to Make the Best, Juiciest Chicken Burgers

YieldServes 4

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce

    Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4

    medium red onion

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 3/4 cup

    panko or fine, dry breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    ground chicken

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 4 slices

    cheese, such as provolone or cheddar (optional)

  • 4 split

    hamburger buns

  • For serving: lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, mashed or sliced avocado, and/or thinly sliced red onion

Equipment

Instructions

  1. Prepare the cheese, onion, and parsley. Prepare the following, transferring to a large bowl: Grate 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese on the small holes of a box grater until you have lightly packed 1/4 cup. Grate 1/4 medium red onion on the large holes of a box grater until you have 2 tablespoons. Finely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  2. Mix the panade. Add 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, then mix with a silicone spatula until combined.

  3. Mix in the chicken by hand. Add 1 pound ground chicken and use your fingertips to gently combine. Do not overmix.

  4. Form into patties. Divide the mixture into 4 (6-ounce) portions. Form each into a patty that’s about 3/4-inch thick and 4-inches wide. Place on a plate or baking sheet.

  5. Chill the patties. Cover the patties with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

  6. Season the patties. Season the top of the patties with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt.

  7. Cook the chicken burger patties. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the burgers salt side down (cook in 2 batches if needed so as not to crowd the pan). Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and cook undisturbed until a golden-brown crust forms on the bottom, about 6 minutes.

  8. Flip the burgers. Flip the burgers with a thin, flat spatula.

  9. Top with cheese and finish cooking. Top each burger with 1 slice of cheese, if desired. Cook until the burgers are cooked through and register an internal temperature of 160°F, 5 to 6 minutes more.

  10. Assemble the burgers. Assemble the burgers on hamburger buns with desired toppings such as lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, mashed or sliced avocado, and thinly sliced red onion.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The uncooked burger patties can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

Storage: Refrigerate leftover patties, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.

Gilling Instructions: Grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The burgers should reach an internal temperature of 160°F.

 

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