These Spanakopita Stuffed Chicken Burgers are zippy, refreshing, and super healthy! All of the ingredients of a classic spanakopita are stuffed inside flavorful chicken patties, and then smothered with homemade tzatziki sauce.
Like any other carnivore, I love to sink my teeth in to a juicy, cheesy, and topping-heavy cheeseburger – I can’t help it, it’s in my blood. I require the meat to be medium-well (just a touch of pink), the cheese to be perfectly gooey, and the toppings to be generous. I wouldn’t say that I eat them often – for obvious reasons – but every once in a while, I find myself going through a phase where I have to have one a few times in one week. In the moment, I have no regrets, and happily inhale every last bite – including the few bits of bacon or cheese that always seem to escape the compact sandwich – but in the next week or two when I’m craving yet a another burger, my guilty conscience kicks in, and I deprive myself of the craving.
This is where chicken burgers come in. Healthier in every way, but still just as versatile as a beef burger, chicken burgers have become a staple in my diet when my stomach says burger, but my head says, you need to watch what you eat.
If you’ve been a longtime reader here, you know my love of chicken burgers knows no bounds, and I’ve shared at least six or seven of them over the past four and half years. Some of my favorites would include this Mozzarella Stick Chicken Burger, this Croque Madame Burger, and this Strawberry, Basil, Bacon and Brie Burger, but all of the others hold a special place in my heart as well.
Today’s Spanakopita Stuffed Chicken Burger is similar to this one I made a few years back, but instead of making a sauce with the ingredients of a classic spanakopita, I basically just made the filling up, and stuffed it inside the chicken patty verus phyllo dough.
Spanakopita is by far my favorite of all the Greek dishes, and the filling couldn’t be simpler to whip up. The classic preparation (at least in my experience) involves frozen spinach, but I decided to use fresh baby spinach instead. The spinach gets wilted in a touch of olive oil, and is then seasoned with a little bit of salt, nutmeg, and black pepper. While the spinach is still hot, a handful of feta cheese is tossed in until it just starts to warm, and then the filling is set aside until the burgers are ready to be stuffed.
When it comes to chicken burgers, you really are left with a blank canvas since chicken breast is notoriously bland. I take advantage of that blank canvas by mixing in plenty of grated onion (for moisture), finely chopped onion (for flavor), grated garlic, oregano, a little bit of olive oil, salt ,and the remaining feta cheese.
A lot of people use egg and breadcrumbs in their chicken burgers to make them a bit sturdier, and while I’ve done that a time or two, I actually prefer to leave it out, it’s a little bit trickier to form the patties since the chicken is so sticky, but if you wet your hands with a little bit of water before forming each patty, it really helps to keep the mess to a minimum.
Also, DON’T buy pre-ground chicken! I always grind my own chicken for two reasons, first, it’s just plain cheaper. Ground chicken is EXPENSIVE, and going the organic route is even worse; you could spend upwards of $13-$14 just for a pound of ground chicken. Second, it just tastes better, trust me. If you buy your own chicken – organic or not – you know what’s going in to that processor, and it really does taste better, and has a much better texture.
Now, once all the patties are formed, the filling get piled in the middle of one patty, and another patty is nestled on top and the meat is enclosed around it. They get fried up in a little bit of olive until they’re golden brown, and then go in to the oven to finish cooking for a few minutes.
While they finish cooking, you whip a quick tzatziki sauce with grated cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, dill, olive oil and a little bit of salt – super easy.
When the burgers come out, they’re transferred to a bun, topped with tomato and red onion, and then slathered in the homemade tzatziki sauce. They’re zippy, refreshing, SO delicious, and healthy. What a win.
- 1 lb. chicken breast
- 8 oz. fresh baby spinach
- 1 + ⅛ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
- Pinch of pepper
- 5 oz. feta cheese, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 small onion, (1/2 grated, ½ finely chopped)
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 Tlbs. +1 tsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 tomato, sliced thin
- Thinly sliced red onion
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 cup grated cucumber, (squeezed of all excess moisture)
- 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Spread on a baking sheet and pop in the freezer. Freeze for 15 minutes while you make the filling.
- Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large (oven-proof) sauté pan over a medium heat. Add spinach. Use a wooden spoon to stir spinach until it wilts. Once it wilts, add 4 oz. feta cheese, ⅛ tsp. salt, nutmeg, and a pinch of pepper. Stir until cheese is warmed through and starting to melt in to the spinach, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and clean pan out.
- Once chicken is very cold and firm (but not frozen), transfer to a food processor. Turn the processor on until chicken is ground.
- Add ground chicken to a medium bowl, add remaining feta and salt, as a well as 1 tsp. of olive oil. oregano, garlic, grated onion and chopped onion. Mix with hands until combined. Form into 8 patties. The ground chicken can be quite sticky, so to prevent all the meat from sticking to your hands, wet them with cold water before you mix and before you form each patty.
- Evenly divide the filling and mound on four of the patties, leaving an edge around the perimeter. Put another patty on top, and use your fingers to seal the edges. Make in to uniform patties.
- Put the same pan you cooked the spinach mixture in over a medium-high flame or burner. One the pan is hot, add remaining olive oil. Add chicken burgers to the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer pan to the oven to finish cooking the patties, it should take another 5-6 minutes. The internal temperature should read
- While the chicken finished cooking, toast buns and make tzatziki. Add cucumber, yogurt,garlic, lemon juice, salt, dill, and olive oil to a small bowl. Mix until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When chicken is cooked through, place on a patty. Top with tomato. red onion and tzatziki sauce.