Versatile turkey tenderloin adds variety to fast weeknight dinners

Chopped turkey tenderloin makes a lean and delicious burger.

If you think you've done nearly everything a cook can with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it might be time to talk turkey.

Other than the big bird at Thanksgiving and ground turkey when they're craving a virtuous burger, most people overlook turkey.

Fair enough. Ground turkey can be dry and tasteless. And who has time to roast a bird (or even a massive breast) most nights of the week?

Latest Video

But the turkey tenderloin - a thick strip of meat cut from between the bird's breasts - turns out to be a convenient, delicious and healthy alternative.

Because the tenderloin doesn't get much of a workout when the bird is alive, the meat is particularly tender. And like chicken breasts, it is incredibly versatile, taking well to the grill, skillet or oven, and working well with any flavor or marinade.

The tenderloins - which average anywhere between 8 ounces and 1 pound - also are agreeable to a variety of cuts. Slice them crosswise into medallions, lengthwise into tenders for breading and baking, or into chunks for stir-fry.

Because of their size, tenderloins also take well to being stuffed. Use a paring to knife to cut a slit along one side into the meat (without going all the way through). This creates a pocket which can be filled with a blend of ricotta cheese, egg, herbs and chopped greens.

The real benefits of turkey tenderloins are the flavor and texture. Though they resemble chicken breasts and can be used in just about any recipe that calls for them, the flavor is more robust and the texture more tender and moist.

You also save a few calories. A 4-ounce serving of turkey tenderloin has 130 calories and 0.5 grams of fat. The same serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast has 144 calories and nearly 6 grams of fat.

Banish all notions of dried out ground turkey burgers. This technique produces truly moist burgers.

In fact, when you form the patties, they will be very moist and messy. Once they hit the grill, they hold together fine.

Chopped Smoky Turkey Burgers with Manchego


•1 large egg

•1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

•1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

•1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

•1/2 teaspoon black pepper

•Pinch kosher salt

•1 1/4 pounds turkey tenderloin, cut into large chunks

•2 ounces prosciutto

•4 hamburger buns

•4 ounces manchego


Heat a grill to medium. Oil the grates, or coat with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, garlic powder, mustard powder, paprika, black pepper and salt.

In a food processor, combine the turkey and prosciutto. Pulse until the meat is well chopped but still chunky, about 10 seconds total. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again if any large pieces remain unchopped.

Add meat to egg mixture, then mix well. Form the meat into 4 loose patties. They will be moist and not hold together well. Use a spatula to carefully grill and cook, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes.

Flip the burgers - they should be firm enough to move easily now - and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until they read 165 degrees at the center.

Top each burger with a quarter of the cheese, then serve on a bun.

Servings: 4

Stay informed! Sign up to receive top headlines delivered to your inbox each morning.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.