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Smash chicken bacon burgers with jalapeño for a spicy kick

(Photos by Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Bacon Jalapeño Smash Burger
Total time:35 mins
Servings:4
Total time:35 mins
Servings:4

If you love burgers but have been trying to cut back on beef because of health or environmental concerns, you’ve probably experimented with chicken or turkey burgers.

The problem: The patties often are too dry. But not this bacon jalapeño smash burger made with ground chicken.

The technique is from recipe developer Ali Slagle, who won me over to poultry burgers with her Broccoli-Chicken Cheeseburgers. For that one, she mixes grated cheese and chopped broccoli with the meat, so you end up with gooey cheese inside and crisped cheese bits on the outside. Delightful.

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For this chicken smash burger, she cooks the bacon in a skillet, then uses that rendered fat to fry the burger. This adds flavor and keeps the patty moist. As she notes in her cookbook, “I Dream of Dinner, So You Don’t Have To”: “No need for ketchup or mustard when there’s bacon fat.”

The burger gets another flavor boost from very thinly sliced onions and jalapeños. As you smash the burger down with a spatula, you press those slices into the meat. When you flip the burger, the vegetables cook into the meat and crisp up, too. This recipe works with ground turkey as well. (I also tried it with plant-based meat — Beyond Meat brand — and olive oil in place of the bacon. It was fine, but, well, bacon.)

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With this technique, it is best to crisp half the bacon, cook two burgers and then repeat with the rest of the bacon and the two remaining patties. This helps keep the fat to a reasonable level in the skillet and gives you room for smashing.

You can add lettuce, tomato and pickles if you like, but frankly, they were delicious with just the burger and bacon on a bun, as Slagle recommends.

Bacon Jalapeño Smash Burger

Try this burger with ground dark- or white-meat chicken or turkey. Serve with a side of chips, french fries or a green salad.

Storage: Refrigerate the patties in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil, such as vegetable
  • 4 whole-wheat or white burger buns
  • 8 bacon slices, halved across and divided
  • 1 small red onion (3 to 4 ounces), halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced into rounds or strips

Step 1

Working the meat as little as possible, divide the chicken into four 4-ounce portions and roll into large meatballs, then press down slightly to give them flat tops. Generously season two of the patties with salt and pepper on both sides.


Step 2

Place a towel-lined plate and a platter near the stove.

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of oil until shimmering. Add the burger buns, cut side down, then toast until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the buns to the platter.


Step 3

Add half of the bacon to the skillet and cook until crisp, about 2 minutes per side, then transfer to the prepared plate.


Step 4

Transfer the two seasoned chicken patties to the skillet, placing them far apart. Using a spatula, smash the meat down as thin as you can. Top each with a handful of the onion and jalapeño slices and, using the spatula, press them into the meat. Cook, untouched, until browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.


Step 5

Flip the patties and sear until the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and the onions are golden, an additional 3 minutes. Transfer the patties to the platter and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining bacon, chicken patties, salt, pepper, onions and jalapeños.


Step 6

To assemble, place 4 pieces of cooked bacon on the bottom half of each bun, top each with a smash burger and cover with the bun tops.


Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 burger and 2 slices of bacon on a whole-wheat bun)

Calories: 569; Total Fat: 37 g; Saturated Fat: 12 g; Cholesterol: 126 mg; Sodium: 799 mg; Carbohydrates: 25 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 27 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


Adapted from “I Dream of Dinner” by Ali Slagle (Clarkson Potter, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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