This recipe for Southwest Ground Chicken Burgers turns lean ground chicken into juicy, flavorful chicken burgers with a Southwest twist. They’re loaded with sautéed onions, diced green chiles and topped with a smoky burger sauce that will knock your socks off!
I typically take lots of notes when testing recipes but I left just one after making these Southwest Chicken Burgers.
“These were insane. We devoured them.”
I’ve made them several times since and my feelings have been confirmed. Everything works with these tasty ground chicken burgers. The flavor is outstanding, the texture is perfection, and the lightened up, Southwest seasoned burger sauce is out of this world.
Table of contents
For the Ground Chicken Burgers
- Olive oil – For sautéing the onion.
- Diced sweet yellow onion
- Lean ground chicken – You want 96% lean ground chicken. I don’t recommend using 99% lean ground chicken breast for these burgers.
- Diced green chiles – A small can, drained well.
- Cilantro – For some fresh, herby flavor. If you’re not a fan, you can substitute parsley.
- Seasoning – Garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Cheese – Pepper jack is a natural choice to complement the Southwest flavors.
- Hamburger buns – I used brioche buns but multigrain buns or any others you love will work well.
- Optional toppings – Avocado, green leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, or any other burger toppings you love!
For the Southwest Burger Sauce
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt – A creamy, delicious way to lighten up burger sauce.
- Mayonnaise – I like to use a healthier fat mayo, like olive oil mayonnaise.
- Fresh lime juice – From half of a lime.
- Seasoning – Onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, freshly ground pepper.
How to Make Southwest Ground Chicken Burgers
This is a quick overview of how to make this recipe. Please refer to the recipe card at the end of this post for detailed instructions and amounts.
- Sauté the onion in the olive oil until tender and lightly browned. Remove the heat and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, add the chicken, green chiles, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. Add the slightly cooled onions and mix just until combined.
- Form the mixture into 6 even-sized balls on a lined baking sheet.
- Flatten and shape the balls into patties.
Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for about 20 minutes, until the chicken patties are firmed up but not frozen solid. This is an important step that helps the tender ground chicken burgers stay intact while cooking.
- Add the Southwest Burger Sauce ingredients to a small bowl.
- Mix until well combined and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
- Spray the same skillet you used to cook the onions with nonstick cooking spray and cook the chicken patties over medium heat until the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F. in the center of the patties. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your skillet.
- Reduce the temperature under the skillet and top each burger with a slice of pepper Jack. Cover the skillet and cook until the cheese has melted.
Alternate Grilling Instructions
Grill the ground chicken burgers on oiled grill grates over indirect heat for about 5 minutes per side. It’s important to use a meat thermometer and pull them off the grill when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
After the burger patties are formed, place them on a baking sheet and transfer them to the freezer for about 20 minutes. They should be firm, but not frozen solid. This will help immensely to keep the tender ground chicken patties intact while they cook in a skillet or on the grill.
Yes! This is an excellent recipe to make a day in advance. Instead of briefly freezing the ground chicken patties, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate them overnight. For longer storage, transfer the baking sheet to the freezer until the patties are frozen solid. Then, stack them with a small piece of parchment paper between each patty and transfer them to a freezer-safe plastic storage bag. Press out as much air as possible, seal and label the bag with the date, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Ground chicken is a very lean, low calorie alternative to ground beef. If you are watching your intake of saturated fat and calories, ground chicken is an excellent choice. It’s also a great source of essential amino acids and is a rich source of Vitamins B6 and B12, niacin and phosphorus.
Because ground chicken is so low in fat, adding a good amount of seasoning is vital. The addition of sautéed onions, diced green chiles and spices in this recipe helps to create a moist ground chicken burger with amazing flavor.
We love these ground chicken burgers on buttery brioche buns with smashed avocado, lettuce, and thick slices of tomato. Any or all of your favorite burger toppings will work here.
Round out your menu with one or more of the recipes listed below for a healthy, delicious meal!
Southwest Ground Chicken Burgers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup diced sweet yellow onion
- 2 pounds 96% lean ground chicken
- 4 ounce can diced green chiles, drained
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 slices pepper jack cheese
- 6 hamburger buns, brioche, multigrain, or your favorite
- Sliced tomato
- Green leaf lettuce
Southwest Burger Sauce
- ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ lime, juiced
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add the onion and saute for several minutes until tender and lightly browned. Remove the heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the chicken, green chiles, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Add the slightly cooled onions and mix just until combined (set the unwashed skillet aside). Form the mixture into 6 even sized balls on a foil-lined baking sheet and then flatten them into patties. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for about 20 minutes, until the burgers are firmed up a little but not frozen solid. This is an important step that helps the tender burgers stay intact while cooking.
For the Southwest Burger Sauce
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cook the Chicken Burgers
- Spray the same skillet you used to cook the onions with nonstick cooking spray and place over MEDIUM heat. Add as many patties as you can fit (you may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your skillet). Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until browned and the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F. in the center of the patties.
- Reduce the temperature under the skillet to low, top each burger with a slice of pepper Jack, cover and cook for another 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Alternate Grilling Instructions
- Grill the ground chicken burgers on oiled grill grates over indirect heat for about 5 minutes per side. It's important to use a meat thermometer and pull them off the grill when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Serve on buns with burger sauce and optional toppings.
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