During my middle and high school years, my family spent almost every warm 4th of July evening in limbo between the kitchen and backyard. We grilled a huge feast, with Dad as the head chef standing over the barbeque the way I watch my cupcakes in the oven, flipping and moving and prodding every veggie kebab and slice of meat until kissed with the perfect amount of char.
Although the vegetables varied between bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes—or anything else on sale we could skewer—the meat almost always remained the same. As a family of (mostly) die-hard burger fans, Mom would pick up a pound of ground beef at the store and lovingly shape each patty to the perfect height and width for the extra soft buns.
Because my younger brother hated any degree of pink in the center, Dad quickly learned to cook the perfect thick burger—a true art form, for a medium-well doneness without burning the outsides to a crunchy crisp charcoal! Once confident in their color, Dad sometimes topped two with sharp cheddar cheese for him and Mom before flipping them out onto a plate to serve.
And then there was me… The problem child. After my freshman high school health class, where we thoroughly dissected Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation, I basically refused to eat just about any burger. Yes, even the homemade ones cooked in my backyard. After my teacher revealed just how much fat hid inside of the patties, I always requested a chicken breast for our family barbeques, which my wonderful dad grilled every time.
For this year’s 4th of July, I still wanted to partake in the backyard barbeque tradition, but without my plate looking like the black sheep of the family. So I created these Skinny BBQ Bacon Chicken Burgers—thick juicy patties studded with lots of crumbled bacon and topped with sweet BBQ sauce. With their moist texture and well-seasoned flavor, they even satisfied my guy, the pickiest burger connoisseur I know!
Let’s start with the base: chicken breast. It’s possible to buy ground chicken breast at the grocery store, but that basically costs an arm and a leg. Try $6-8 per pound! My supermarket sells a 3-pound pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast for around $2.50-2.99 per pound, so I picked up one of those and ground my own chicken instead.
And I did it in my food processor! That’s right, no fancy equipment necessary. Just chop up the chicken into smaller chunks—about the width of 2-3 fingers—and whiz in the food processor until completely broken up. Once ground, pop the meat into a bowl to add the seasonings.
Chicken and turkey burgers have earned a bad reputation for being overly dry and bland because they’re so low in fat, but not these! I’m letting you in on my 3 secretly to super juicy chicken burgers…
1) Bacon. Turkey bacon, to be exact. It contains a small enough of fat, just enough to add little pockets, and breaks up the monotony of the chicken too. Just make sure to crumble it fairly small; nobody wants a big chunk of chewy bacon in the middle of their burger!
2) Egg. The yolk adds a little fat and tenderness to the patties, and it also helps hold the ground chicken together. With only 1 egg per 4 patties, it doesn’t contribute that much extra fat at all.
3) Salt. Yes, it sounds strange… But after preheating the pan (or grill) and forming the patties, sprinkle each side with a little rock salt. It immediately forms a crust when it hits the hot pan, which seals in the moisture and keeps the burgers tender.
When it comes to burgers, I love the fixings even more than the meat, so I really pile on the lettuce and tomatoes. By the time I’ve finished assembling mine, it practically looks like a salad between the buns! The crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes create the perfect textural complement to the moist burger and soft bread. Don’t forget to slather on the BBQ sauce too!
While typing this blog post, a commercial for Burger King’s BBQ Bacon Whopper popped onto the TV screen. With how similar it sounded, I decided to compare mine and see how it measured up. The results?
Holy cow! Err, I mean, chicken… I’m still in shock!
Hearty and satisfying, these Skinny BBQ Bacon Chicken Burgers taste like summer, in all of their juicy meat glory. They’re a great healthy meal for easy weeknight dinners, backyard barbeques, and of course the 4th of July!
P.S. Don’t forget to enter my CVS Gold Emblem Abound Giveaway by July 9! We’re giving away lots of healthy delicious snacks, so you don’t want to miss it!