How To Tell If Turkey Burger Is Done? (5 Alternative Ways)

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Be it meat or a juicy piece of burger, turkey meat can provide you with a leaner and healthier alternative. However, if you were ever disappointed by a dry thanksgiving turkey, you may know that cooking this game bird can be very tricky.

Additionally, while an undercooked piece of beef will not pose any threat to your health, an undone turkey burger can make you sick really fast. That is why it is important to know how to tell if a turkey burger is done. 

Let me tell you all about it:

How To Tell If A Turkey Burger Is Done Using A Thermometer?

Why not start with the most straightforward and foolproof way? You will not need anything more than just a simple meat thermometer or kitchen thermometer. 

If you do not have one, don’t worry I will tell you other ways to be sure of the doneness. But you should really invest in a kitchen thermometer. They are cheap, accurate, and will completely change your cooking game.

So in any kitchen/meat thermometer, you will have a pointy end. The sensor is on that end. All you need to do is insert the pointy end into your meat so that it reaches the center of the thickest part and take the temperature.

165 degrees F is the temperature you are looking for. It is the temp where a bird will be safe for consumption without being completely dried out. 

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However, if you are cooking on a stove top or oven, you will want to take the burger out when the temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

This is because once you take the burger (or any meat really) out of the oven or stove top, the remaining heat energy inside the meat will keep on cooking it for a while. 

But just to be sure, you can measure the internal temperature again around 2-3 mins after you take the burger out of the heat.

As for the time required to get this internal temp, it will be different for different methods of cooking. Take a look at the table below to understand better.

Also Read: How to Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad 2 Sings with 5 Tricks

Turkey Burger Temperature and Time Chart – 

Cooking MethodDoneness Temp (Celsius)Cooking Time (Avg.)
Turkey Burger on grill70-73 Degrees5 to 6 mins on each side
Turkey Burger on pan70-73 Degrees5 to 6 mins on each side
Turkey Burger on stove70-73 Degrees5 to 6 mins on each side
Turkey Burger on air fryer70-73 DegreesTotal 15 minutes
Turkey Burger on oven70-73 Degrees10 mins on each side

How To Tell If Turkey Burgers Are Done Without A Thermometer?

No meat thermometer around the kitchen? No worries! There are other, albeit less precise, ways to know if your burgers are done. 

Here are four other methods that you can use to get perfectly cooked patties:

The Juice Color Test

In my years of cooking, I learned this neat little trick about game bird juices and how they change color throughout their cook time. Aside from just using a thermometer, this is probably the best method to check the doneness.

First, you need to start cooking your patties as you normally would. Let the meat cook for a few minutes and after the outside looks “cooked” we can start checking for internal doneness. 

You need to pierce your patty with a sharp knife and press it using a spatula so that some of the internal meat juices flow out. You need to observe the color of this juice. You are looking for a clear liquid. Clear means the burger is ready to be served.

When you do not get clear juices, you will get red or pink. Red means the inside of the patty is still raw and needs a lot more time to fully cook up. While pink means you are almost all the way there, just another couple of minutes more.

While I do love this method, trial and error are a huge part of it. If your burgers are already overcooked, you will be hard-pressed to find any juice at all. So start checking earlier than you think you need to.

The Finger Test

You know how in professional kitchens, chefs know how the steak has been cooked without using any thermometer at all? This is the method they use. Yes, it works for turkey burgers too.

Nevertheless, before I go into the method, let me tell you that it requires a fair bit of experience. You will probably not get it right the first time but hey, we learn as we go.

So again, start cooking your patties as you would normally. Once you think they are done, press the very center of the patty with your index finger. We are looking for a firm piece of meat that will not give in. It will also feel pretty warm to the touch.

If your patty is giving in to a small amount of pressure and feels soft and cool to the touch, it is not done. Keep cooking it, maybe give the burger a flip, and try again in 2 minutes.

Also Read: How To Tell If Chicken Is Undercooked (Cooked Vs Uncooked Chicken)

The Time Test

We are in the approximation territory now. Because the cooking time of any burger varies depending on a lot of things. How you are cooking it, what kind of pan you are using, and the percentage of lean vs fat on the meat, they all will ultimately affect your cooking time.

Regardless, you can follow the table I provided above and abide by that cook time. If you are cooking more than one, let the first one be a test and do the rest of them according to how the test came out. 

I can not guarantee that all your burgers will come out perfect if you just follow the timetable, but I can tell you that they are really good estimates and will be correct more often than not.

The Texture Test

What is the texture of a Turkey burger, you ask? Well, it is different from regular beef burgers. The texture is also a good indicator of if your burger is cooked properly. 

A well-cooked turkey burger will have a light and juicy texture. It will not completely crumble in your mouth nor will it feel dry. It will have enough retained moisture and just a bit of crunch from the properly browned interior.

Also Read: How To Know When Brats Are Done – 8 Ways To Know

How To Tell If Turkey Burger Is Done On A Stove?

On a stovetop, you are looking at around 10 to 12 minutes of total cooking time. With half of that on each side. You can go by this time but the best way to tell if a turkey burger is done is by taking the internal temperature. You are looking for 165 degrees F.

What Do Turkey Burgers Look Like When Done?

Your cooked turkey burgers will look more or less the same regardless of your chosen method of cooking. You are looking at a golden brown and properly seared exterior. 

When cut into, the insides should be almost white with just the slightest hint of pink. The pinkness will not be there at all if your meat was more on the leaner side like a 93/7 lean-to-fat ratio.

However, if you are smoking the burger, you will have a lot more pink in the middle. It might be a bit confusing but this pinkness is only due to the smoke and does not really indicate the cook. 

Also Read: Can You Recook Undercooked Turkey? (Answered & Explanation)

What Does An Undercooked Turkey Burger Look Like?

An undercooked turkey burger will only look different on the inside. If cooking on the stovetop there is still a lot of pink on the inside. Your burger is probably severely undercooked. Always use a meat thermometer. Better safe than sorry!

What Color Should Turkey Burgers Be When Cooked?

If you are using the smoking method, your burgers will be beige-ish brown on the outside with a light pink interior. If you are using any other methods, it depends on the meat.

Generally, 93/7 rationed meat will mostly use white meat, and burgers made from this will be completely light and white in the middle. 

While 85/15 or 90/10 ratios have more dark meat in them so burgers made from them will be more on the pink side. 

How Long Does It Take To Cook A Turkey Burger?

On most cooking methods like stove or grill, a turkey burger will need 5 to 6 minutes on each side to cook properly. In an oven, you are looking at around 20 minutes. An air fryer will get it done in around 15.

How Long To Grill Turkey Burgers On Each Side?

You need to grill turkey burgers on high heat and 5 to 6 minutes on each side for the center to be perfectly cooked at 165 degrees F.

How Long Do I Cook A Turkey Burger On the Stove?

You are looking at a total cooking time of 10 to 12 minutes. That is 5 to 6 minutes on each side on medium to high heat.

Is It Ok If My Turkey Burger Is A Little Pink?

Some methods of cooking (like smoking) and some darker and fattier ground meat will give you a pinkish middle even when cooked properly. That means pink does not necessarily mean undercooked and unsafe. 

But We can never really be sure so the best thing to do is always measure the internal temperature. It must be at 165 degrees F.

Is Slightly Undercooked Turkey OK?

No, Undercooked bird meat is never okay to consume. Unlike beef which can be eaten medium rare or even rare, birds like chicken and turkey must always be cooked at the safe temperature of 165 degrees F. This is due to a certain kind of bacteria found in bird meat that can make you sick.

Does Turkey Burger Need To Be Fully Cooked?

Yes, you should always fully cook a turkey burger. Medium rare or even medium cooks on bird meat are not safe to consume and you might get sick if not careful.

Is It Okay If My Turkey Burger Is Gray?

Gray ground meat usually means it suffered from a lack of oxygen and turned gray. Usually, this does not mean that the meat is bad. 

Always listen to your nose as ground chicken and turkey will not have any smell. And usually, if meat smells bad, it has gone bad.

What Happens If I Eat An Undercooked Turkey Burger?

If you consume turkey burgers cooked to an unsafe temperature, you may get food poisoning. It could also cause Salmonella. The symptoms may arise around 12 to 72 hours later. Fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are all symptoms of Salmonella.

Should Turkey Burgers Be White Inside?

Mostly, white is the sign of a well cooked turkey burger. However, do not be alarmed by a slight pink hint if the burger was cooked at the safe temperature of 165 degrees F.

Are Turkey Burgers Supposed To Be Juicy?

Yes, properly cooked turkey burgers are savory, juicy, and very flavorful. However, since it is super lean meat, cooking a turkey burger properly so that it remains juicy is a difficult task. Overcooked burgers will lose all their juice and turn chewy and tough.


Turkey is not the one trick thanksgiving pony that some think. This delicious bird has a lot of tricks up its sleeves and can be the perfect replacement for beef or pork for anyone who is looking to be health-conscious. With my help, hopefully, all your turkey burgers will turn out juicy and delicious.

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