The Secret Ingredient That Prevents Dry Chicken Burgers

The very thing many people love about chicken — how lean the meat is, especially boneless chicken breast — is also the same reason cooked chicken can wind up being dry. With little to no fat to help baste the meat and hold in moisture, it's frustratingly easy to miss the mark and overcook. This is especially true for ground chicken burgers. On the other hand, nobody wants a rare chicken burger, so your patties must be cooked until no trace of pink is left. Depending on the thickness of the chicken patty, it's almost impossible to achieve a cooked-through burger without getting a dry, tough texture. Unless, of course, you know this trick. 

A burger made out of ground chicken breast can't hold onto moisture unless you add something to your ground meat mixture to do the job. Adding yogurt is one of the best ingredient hacks for juicier chicken burgers. Choose unflavored regular or Greek dairy yogurt, either low- or full-fat. Simply stir a few tablespoons into your seasoned ground chicken mixture before shaping it into burgers. This ingredient acts as a binder to hold the patties together, and yogurt's fat and moisture content keeps burgers juicy once they've fully cooked.  

More ways to guarantee a juicier chicken burger

If there's no yogurt to be found, or you're not a yogurt fan, there are alternative ways to get juicy ground chicken burgers everyone will love. One hack is to make chicken burgers with a hefty dose of mayonnaise. Blend ½ cup of mayo into the ground chicken mixture with garlic and other spices. This trick works because the oil and egg yolks in mayonnaise can keep the burgers moist while cooking. Other ingredients you can add to your meat mixture include diced onion, shredded cheese, and condiments like mustard or Sriracha sauce. Alternatively, you can add olive oil to the ground chicken breast if you want moisture with a more low-key flavor; it's a healthy fat that works well with lean ground meat.  

One more trick for juicy chicken burgers is to replace some or all of the ground chicken breast with ground chicken thighs. Dark meat has more natural fats (9 grams in a serving versus 3 grams in chicken breast) and is less prone to drying out than ground chicken breast. Whether using thigh or breast meat, the USDA recommends cooking chicken burgers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a digital thermometer to check the burgers as they cook, and be sure to get them off the heat before they overcook.