Simple Pesto Chicken Burgers- This burger recipe is a healthy and fresh grilled ground chicken alternative to the traditional hamburger. With the addition of pesto, (store bought or from scratch), fresh mozzarella cheese, juicy tomato, and ciabatta rolls, it's like a caprese style Italian flavor party for your mouth!
We just had these for dinner a couple of nights ago, and my mouth still waters looking at that pic. Using ground chicken in place of beef makes this much lower in saturated fat and healthier. We doubled up on the garlic and basil pesto hit by making a little pesto mayo to sauce this bad boy. Some sweet potato fries would go really well with these.
A couple of things that are essential to success with this recipe: buns and tomatoes. This whole thing will become a soggy mess without a bun that can stand up to the moisture level. This is what brought us to the ciabatta buns. This used to be kind of a specialty item, but they are available pretty much everywhere now. They are also a traditional Italian type of bread, so go figure, using Italian bread with this caprese style sandwich! This brings us to number two; tomatoes. We chose to utilize a nice heirloom that we found at the store, but no matter what, you want a plump, juicy, and fresh flavored tomato.
- Ground Chicken- chicken in place of beef is not only lower in fat and healthier, but it is also so mild in flavor that it doesn't get in the way of the fresh condiments and seasonings used here.
- Pesto- either store bought or our recipe will work just fine here to give this patty and mayo a nice zing.
- Mayonnaise- use your favorite brand, we like Dukes.
- Tomato- this is a recipe that really deserves a ripe, juicy, and fresh tomato.
- Basil leaves- to get the caprese profile, only fresh basil will do, we used some from our garden.
- Mozzarella- it's so convenient that the fresh product is in most stores nowadays, so let's use that.
- Salad Greens- we used a crisp spring mix, iceberg or romaine is just too watery.
- Ciabatta Buns- sturdy enough to hold in all of these juicy ingredients.
Step One-Patties and Mayo
Before any other step, it's important to mix the pesto and some salt and pepper with the meat thoroughly, patty them up, and let them rest in the fridge until right before cooking. Chicken meat is higher in moisture content, and lower in fat than beef. This will cause them to be somewhat loose and prone to falling apart, the above steps help with this.
Stir up you pesto and mayo, slice up the cheese and tomato. Get everything ready so that you can assemble quickly and serve these up quickly. The hot patty with the cool accompaniments is key.
Step Two - Preparing the Buns and Grilling
Slice your buns, grill them until toasty, smear that pesto mayo on.
Grill the patties, seen here with some asparagus in the background. Make sure that your grill is very hot before placing these down, be very careful in moving or flipping them also. Ground chicken falls apart easily, so make sure that they have started to set up a bit before disturbing them.
Making the patties ahead of time and letting them rest in the fridge overnight is best practice for a couple of reasons. One is the obvious, it makes the cooking faster. The other is to let the meat firm up a little. Then it won't fall apart on the grill too much.
- Gluten Free - try making these into lettuce wraps for your gluten sensitive guests.
- Vegetarian - these burgers are also great using impossible or beyond meat alternatives.
- Low Carb - you can follow the gluten free instructions from above, or just omit the hand held form entirely, and eat them with a knife and fork!
- Spicy - add some chili flakes to the burger patties for Italian style spice, or even some sliced pepperoncini.
- Greens - arugula, spinach, or frisee would take this sandwich in a different direction.
- Tapenade - some salty and fruity Kalamata olive tapenade would be delicious.
- Seared - if you don't want to grill, you can sear these in a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet.
- Sandwich - using a whole boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh instead of the ground chicken is another option, just smear some pesto on top after grilling.
As we've mentioned a couple of times already, ground chicken likes to fall apart on the grill. Another way to combat this issue is by letting them sit on the grill without messing with them right away. This is a useful tip for all home cooks, as the tendency at home is to tinker or stir everything incessantly. This is where cooking will teach you patience. Let the burgers cook for a good 3 or 4 minutes before touching them at all
There are some considerations to take into account when working with raw chicken.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for longer than a couple of hours
Pesto Chicken Burgers
- 1 BBQ grill or grill pan
- 2 Mixing Bowl
- 1 Measuring Spoon Set
- 1 grill spatula
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Chef Knife
- 1 Rubber Spatula
- 1 plate for the prepped burgers
- 1 clean plate for the cooked burgers
- 1 probe thermometer
Chicken Pesto Burgers
- 1 lb. chicken ground
- 2 tablespoon basil pesto ( you can use pre-made pesto our make your own)
- salt and black pepper to taste
Basil Pesto Mayonnaise
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon basil pesto
- 3 each slices of fresh ripe tomatoes
- 3 each toasted ciabatta rolls
- 3 1-2 oz cheese fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 3 leaves fresh lettuce your choice
- Heat your grill or grill pan to around 400℉, if you are using a gas grill outside there should be a temperature gauge. If using a grill pan make sure it's smoking.
- Oil the grill or grill pan well with spray pan release
- Place the burgers on the hot oiled grill surface, don't move them for at least 5 minutes
- To make nice grill marks move the burgers ½ turn and leave for another 5 minutes
- Flip the burgers and repeat using a probe thermometer check the internal temperature, for chicken it should be at least 165℉
- Place the sliced mozzarella on the burgers, place the sliced cibatta buns on the grill to toast, or in the toaster or even on the grill pan
- Once the burgers have reached the required temperature, and the cheese is melted you are ready to build your burgers!
- Combine the mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of basil pesto in a small mixing bowl
- Spread the pesto mayonnaise evenly on both sides of the bun
- Place the lettuce and tomato slices on the bottom bun, place the burger on top of them, cap it off with the top of the bun and enjoy!