Jerk Turkey Sliders
Inspired by Jamaican culinary traditions, these tasty sandwiches are enhanced by jerk seasoning and presented on soft, buttery buns.
My visit to Jamaica was too brief when my daughter and I were on a cruise that called at Ochos Rios. Although I tasted jerk chicken that day at the beach, I had a limited understanding of what was behind this Jamaican culinary tradition. I thought it was simply a delicious Caribbean spice blend.
Historically there’s nothing simple about jerk, which refers to the way meat is seasoned, smoked, and grilled. In the 18th century, Maroons (people who escaped slavery and settled in the hills of Jamaica) cooked tough cuts of meat in underground smokeless pits (the smoke would have revealed their locations) thus creating this delicious dish. These methods to season, preserve, and cook the meat they hunted were learned through alliances with indigenous inhabitants.
One of America’s most popular and diverse food categories, barbecue, is another culinary tradition rooted in slavery. While it’s hard to pinpoint where American barbecue was “invented,” by the time of the Civil War, enslaved Southern cooks had been slow cooking meat over pits for close to 200 years. Our country's food history would not be the same without African-Americans culinary skill. These methods and recipes help to tell important American stories, and we need to remember the source.
Jerk Turkey Sliders, our final March mashup, utilize these important culinary traditions, and let’s face it; does any protein need a flavor bomb more than turkey? The sliders cook quickly on the grill, perfect for your Final Four March Madness party (or any spring gathering)! Let’s get cooking!
To make this recipe for Jerk Turkey Sliders, which yields 8 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:
1 pound ground turkey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1½ teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices pepper jack cheese
½ cup canned fried onions
8 slider buns
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Directions for Jerk Turkey Sliders
Preheat your grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Combine turkey and all the spices in a bowl and mix gently with your hands until combined.
Form the mixture into eight 2-ounce patties. Press the center of each patty with your thumb to make an indentation. This will help the little patty from puffing up as you grill it.
Coat the grill or grill pan lightly with vegetable oil and grill indent-side up about three minutes or until the internal temperature hits 150 degrees F. Flip the sliders.
Place half of a cheese slice over each slider and cook another two or three minutes with the lid lowered on your grill. If using a pan, place a metal bowl over the sliders to help with melting the cheese. Remove sliders to a plate and loosely tent with foil.
Brush the buns with melted butter and grill until lightly toasted. To serve, place a patty on a bun’s bottom, top with some fried onions and the other half of bun. If you want to add a condiment of your choice, that’s fine, too. I liked eating them plain so all the jerk spices could come through. But if you wanted to make a complimentary condiment, add ½ teaspoon each of all the jerk seasonings plus juice of half a lime to a cup of ketchup.
By the way, did you know the history of the slider? It can be traced to Wichita, Kansas, 1921, when the founders of White Castle—Walter A. Anderson and E.W. Ingram—started their now famous restaurant chain. Anderson sold his shares to his business partner in 1933. (Be honest, you want a Belly Bomber right now, don’t you?)
Now that spring has arrived and grilling/barbecue season is getting started, I hope you’ll try my Jerk Turkey Sliders. The compact size is great to pack for a picnic, too. And the warm, complex spices provide the perfect flavor bomb. I guess every little thing really is all right.
Looking for more slider and burger ideas?
You won’t have to uncover your grill to make these Easy Barbecued Beef Sliders because they cook in your slow cooker. If you’re tired of beef or turkey burgers, try my Easy Grilled Salmon Burgers this spring.
About the blog
Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.