Jerusalem Turkey Burgers with Zucchini

Moist, flavorful turkey burgers straight from the pages of my favorite cookbook of the summer, Jerusalem from Yotam Ottolenghi. The turkey burgers are specked with grated zucchini and fresh herbs adding moisture, volume and summer flavors. If low-cal burgers have left you hungry for, you know, something "more" – this is your burger!

Weeknight Easy. Fresh & Summer Seasonal. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Cal. Low Carb. High Protein. Gluten Free (without the bun).
Jerusalem Turkey Burgers with Zucchini, another summer burger ♥, moist, flavorful turkey burgers specked with grated zucchini and fresh herbs, adding moisture, volume and summer flavors. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Cal. Low Carb. High Protein.

Guilty As Charged

Here’s the charge: Did I, Alanna Kellogg, order a cookbook as a birthday gift when I really wanted it myself? I didn’t mean to, really I didn’t but turns out, oh dear, yes I did.

Guilty. As. Charged. Said cookbook recipient has permission to find a gift for himself for “my” birthday, tis only fair.

Now that that’s out of the way, know that I am happily poring through Jerusalem, the cookbook that’s taking the food world by storm. It’s filled with inventive Middle Eastern food, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, lots of food for sharing.

Deborah Madison’s back-cover blurb reads, “… filled with passion, color and truly vibrant and fresh ideas”.

Heidi Swanson says that Jerusalem “… makes you want to cook … to eat … to travel.” She is soooo right: every page of Jerusalem makes me hungry, makes me “want” to cook, now!

The Jerusalem Burgers are my first recipe from this brand-new cookbook, I suspect there shall be more to come!

RESOURCES Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Israeli-born Yotam Ottolenghi and Palestinian-born Sami Tamimi My Disclosure Promise

Turkey Burgers Spiced Up

Plain turkey burgers can be a little blah. But not these burgers!

Turkey Burgers with Zucchini are a little spicy – though not “too” spicy, if you know what I mean – so a cold creamy sauce helps balance the experience.

Jerusalem’s recipe calls for a Sour Cream-Greek Yogurt Sauce but alternatives include something like:

But whatever sauce you use, follow the lead of the specified Sour Cream-Greek Yogurt Sauce. It's made with 100% pantry ingredients save one, sumac, a Middle-Eastern spice.

What Is Sumac?

Sumac, the Middle Eastern spice that adds a distinctive sour note ♥

Sumac is a new spice to me, is it to you, too? But I'm learning to love it and maybe you will as well!

Sumac is a red spice made from the ground fruit of sumac trees and shrubs. It adds a distinctive sour note and is common in Middle Eastern food. If you love the "sour" from rhubarb or lemon, you just might love sumac.

There's no real substitute for sumac but if you don't have any for the Sour Cream-Greek Yogurt Sauce, no stress, just substitute any full-flavored spice blend in your spice cupboard. It'll lose a certain Middle-Eastern essence but will still be good eats. FYI we are loving the Weber grill blends this year!

But if you already have sumac (lucky you!) or intend to find some, here's a few recipes that I hope inspire you!

RESOURCES Look for sumac at:


Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes 6 4-ounce burgers

If you can, make the Yogurt Sauce a day ahead of time. Even a few hours will make a difference.
  • 1/4 cup (50g) low-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup (75g) non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Zest and juice (about 1 tablespoon) of half a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon sumac (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions, white & green parts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, skin and flesh, no seeds
  • 1 tablespoon oil, for frying
    TO SERVE, per burger
  • Burger bun, toasted
  • Tomato slice
  • 1 tablespoon Sour Cream-Yogurt Sauce

SOUR CREAM-GREEK YOGURT SAUCE Whisk together all the ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Best made a day or so ahead of time. Makes a generous half cup.

TURKEY BURGERS In a small food processor, chop the garlic, green onion, mint and cilantro until fine. Add the egg, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne and pulse two or three times just until combined.

Transfer the garlic mixture to a large bowl. With your hands, gently work in the turkey and zucchini just until combined. Form six patties and refrigerate to firm up until ready to cook.

Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet until shimmery. Add the burgers and let cook, without moving, until the bottom side browns. Turn over and brown the other side, make sure the centers are cooked through, not pink.

TO SERVE Make your burgers and dig in with gusto!

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS If you can, definitely make the Sour Cream-Greek Yogurt Sauce a day or so ahead of time. To get dinner on the table, faster, later, mix the Turkey Burgers’ garlic-onion-herb mixture a few hours ahead of time. But don’t mix in the turkey and zucchini until almost ready to cook the burgers, however: we’re talkin’ turkey here.

ALANNA’s TIPS These burgers, so-so good! The first round, I used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. It required more oil to prevent sticking and even then, was slightly fussy to flip the delicate burgers. Since then, I've switched to a non-stick skillet and it requires less oil (only about a tablespoon) and the burgers turn more easily. Either way, a gentle touch is recommended when flipping. Go ahead and cook any extra burgers, they’re great cold or warmed up the next day. Or try one with an egg on top! Jerusalem calls this recipe “turkey burgers” but then, in the instructions, refers only to meatballs. Meatballs? Oh yeah, baby, the turkey-zucchini combination would make excellent meatballs! Some time soon, I plan to substitute ground beef or ground elk from the freezer to make meatballs. In fact, while ground turkey is Freestyle Friendly for Weight Watchers, don't hesitate to switch to ground chicken (also Freestyle Friendly) or ground beef.
NUTRITION INFORMATION These recipes have been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat.

Burger Only: 135 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 84mg Cholesterol; 459mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 1g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 18g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3 & WW PointsPlus 3 & WW SmartPoints 3 & WW Freestyle 1 CALORIE COUNTERS Make 8 burgers for 100-calorie burgers.

Sauce Only, Per Tablespoon: 25 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 3mg Cholesterol; 8mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW PointsPlus 1 & WW SmartPoints 1 & WW Freestyle 1

Burger + Sauce: 159 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 87g Cholesterol; 467mg Sodium; 4g Carb; 1g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 20g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW PointsPlus 1 & WW SmartPoints 1 & WW Freestyle 1

Burger + Sauce + Bun: Sorry, I’m not going to calculate this information since buns vary so widely in size and calories.
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, my mostest-favoritest cookbook right now. It’s got a whole chapter on eggplant, my kinda cookbook! My Disclosure Promise

Seasonal Cooking Across the Years During the Burst of Late-Summer Produce

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This Week, Elsewhere

~ Seafood Risotto ~
from Sugo's Spaghetteria
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Weekly Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

~ Creamy Cucumber-Tomato Salsa ~
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables

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~ more burger recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

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~ more veggie burgers ~
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Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ sour cream recipes ~
~ yogurt recipes ~
~ turkey recipes ~
~ zucchini recipes ~
~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite family burger recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2013, 2014 & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I am in love with this cookbook, and love the sound of these burgers with zucchini!

  2. Alanna,
    What a terrific idea, these burgers (or meatballs) sound delicious. And, on your advice a while ago I picked up sumac, and used it earlier this summer for a fattoush, and liked the flavor.


  3. Anonymous9/12/2013

    This just looks so incredible! I love it when people give a new spin to burgers as they're usually in danger of becoming pretty boring, but this one just looks so so delicious!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna