Chicken burgers get a bad rap. There’s an episode of the television show Parks and Recreation where two characters have a contest to see which is better: chicken burgers or beef burgers? The character cooking chicken burgers makes beautiful, elaborate gourmet chicken patties. The other character simply forms some ground beef into patties and cooks it with almost no effort. And, of course, the judges all choose beef burgers as the contest winners.
Poor chicken burgers, it’s not their fault that they’re not beef! I think the blame lies in expecting chicken burgers to taste like beef burgers in the first place, rather than considering them their own delicious thing. So I think of chicken burgers as chicken sandwiches, deserving of their own special place in my culinary heart. After all, it can be tough to add extra flavor to a beef burger while chicken burgers are ready and willing to take you to a hundred different (and exciting!) versions of flavor town.
That’s why I love this recipe for Quick Garlic Chicken Burgers. They have incredible garlicky flavor with lots of umami notes from the Worcestershire sauce. We often eat them on a bun like a traditional burger, but sometimes I just serve them as a simple protein beside some veggies or as a topper to a rice bowl. I have even split them in to and packed them into pita bread before. They’re very versatile and they cook up fast.
For me, the key to these burgers is the flour dusting. Depending on how moist the chicken is, it sometimes turns into a bit of a flour sludge, but however it looks, it creates a crispy finish on the first cooked side that helps build the wonderfully golden-brown caramelized flavor that we expect from pan-fried meat. Usually, I dust the other side of the patties once I have them in the skillet cooking on the first side, but this can be messy and is by no means required — a flour dusting on just one side is more than enough to give these burgers delicious flavor.
Mayonnaise is an important component of this recipe. It takes the place of a raw egg and works as a binder while also adding both moisture and flavor. That’s why I prefer it to a raw egg for chicken burgers. Sometimes a whipped condiment that is similar to mayonnaise and is often labeled to as “salad dressing” is referred to as mayonnaise, but they aren’t the same and the salad dressing is not a good substitute for mayo in this recipe as it contains a lot of sugar and affects both the flavor and the sear on the burgers. If you need a mayo substitute in this recipe, I would suggest one raw egg and a teaspoon (or more) of mustard.