Is a Chicken Burger Really Better Than a Beef Burger?

True enough. Almost any chicken or turkey burger is leaner than one made of “regular” (30% fat) ground beef. Regular ground beef has 230 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat—almost a third of a day’s worth—in a 3 oz. cooked patty. Even so-called lean “10% fat” beef burgers have more saturated fat (4 grams) than the same size chicken or turkey burgers (around 2 grams).

It’s not surprising that poultry has proven healthier than red meat in scientific studies, notes Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Poultry has better fats than red meats, and eating poultry hasn’t been linked to a higher risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or diabetes,” he explains.

some good choices

If you want no-added salt, go for Jennie-O Lean Turkey Burger Patties and their surprisingly beef-like flavor. Other mmm-worthy recommendations: Bell & Evans and Weight Watchers Chicken Burgers. We found Applegate’s no-salt-added Organic Turkey Burgers a tad dry.

Chicken Burgers

Jennie-O Extra Lean Seasoned White Turkey Patties and Trader Joe’s Turkey Burgers also deserve a shot on your plate. And Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burgers wowed taste buds with their onions, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.

looking for a breaded burger?

Expect the protein in most patties to drop (from roughly 22 grams to 12 grams) and the carbs to climb to about what you’d get in a small (1 oz.) slice of bread (which wouldn’t matter much if people didn’t eat their patties on a hefty bun). That’s largely because the breading replaces some of the chicken with white flour (or corn and/or rice flour in gluten-free breaded patties).

Our breaded recommendations—Applegate Chicken Patties and Trader Joe’s Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Breasts— are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. Yum.

Find this article about chicken and beef patties interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you’re not already subscribing to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers. doesn’t accept any paid advertising or corporate or government funding. Any products recommended by have been vetted by our staff of nutritionists and are not advertisements by the manufacturers.



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11 Replies to “Is a Chicken Burger Really Better Than a Beef Burger?”

  1. complete waste of time this is for americans only and according to the last paragraph you cannot eat anything with out risk.

  2. It’s disappointing that factory farmed meat such as Jennie-O and Weight Watchers brands are promoted in a so-called progressive, science based publication. Industrial, factory farms impose horrific suffering for animals, preventing them from engaging in natural behaviors and forcing them to live in a toxic bed of their own waste. Factory farms represent one of America’s largest polluting industries, contaminating water, air and soil with substantial amounts of animal waste, antibiotics, and other pollutants. I expect more from Nutriton Action Newsletter and would love to see more advocacy around food sustainability issues and human treatment of animals.

  3. Interesting that you noted what poultry was not linked to yet but you didn’t mention that is was linked to Parkinson’s Disease.

  4. Hi. It would have been nice if you included other common Burger types besides beef and poultry – such as salmon, tuna, cod, ham, to name a few that come to mind at the moment – considering those which are commonly termed ”patties (ham)” and ”cakes (cod)” as ”burgers” (salmon, tuna), of course – all sold commercially prepared as well as being made by hand in homes.

  5. I agree with the “lean”ness of the turkey burgers, but…it is widely reported that the ground turkey is the most contaminated meat!!! More so than beef, pork or chicken. Further , I have had to contact Jenny-O about the excess moisture (like 4 0z. water in a pound of meat) in their burgers – they didn’t deny it, sent me coupons for free products. More research needed!!

  6. The sentence that states, “eating poultry hasn’t been linked to a higher risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or diabetes”, is enough to keep our family eating turkey burgers over red meat. We also use it for spaghetti sauce, chili and sloppy joes.

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