Lemon Basil Chicken Burgers

Tips for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Lemon Basil Chicken Burgers are a great option for easy outdoor entertaining. Serve them with a side salad, chips or raw veggies to keep it simple.

Dining al fresco is a habit of ours. If the weather is nice, we eat outside every chance we get.  With recent COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions in place for indoor gatherings, you might be thinking of hosting family and friends outdoors.

Whether you’re having a weeknight family dinner, or you’re entertaining friends on the weekend, burgers made with ground Manitoba chicken are a versatile and nutritious option and are sure to be well-received. 

Getting Organized

As always, I’m a huge fan of planning ahead, even more so when I’m entertaining outdoors. There are a few steps you can take to get organized before your meal. 

  • Prepare your food
  • Assemble a tray for grilling
  • Prepare a tray for serving

Prepare your food

Manitobachicken.ca has a great Basic Chicken Burger recipe that can be adapted in many ways.  This recipe makes four burgers.  The base is:

  • 1 ½ lbs ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (use gluten-free panko to make these gluten-free)

The other ingredients listed in this recipe are for flavour, so feel free to follow the recipe as is or to customize it as you like, by adding different spices, toppings and using different styles of buns.  Today I’m sharing a Lemon Basil Chicken Burger, which is a variation of this. I’m doubling the recipe to freeze some of the mix as meatballs for another meal.

Meal prep tip: Double or triple the recipe and freeze half for another meal.  When freezing chicken burgers, freeze them on a sheet pan first, then store in a container or freezer bag so they don’t stick together.

You can also use your prep time to cut any toppings you’ll be using, prepare condiments, and slice the buns.

Assemble a tray for grilling

Here I made two regular sized burgers and four minis for the kids.

When you’re getting ready to grill, you’ll want to bring out a tray to keep everything organized.  I like to use a cookie sheet for this, so I can transfer the cooked food onto it once it’s grilled.  It’s important to bring out the raw burgers on a different tray or in a container to avoid cross-contamination.

Food safety tip: Always use separate utensils and trays for raw and cooked chicken.

This is what I like to put on our grilling tray:

  • Cookie sheet
  • Meat thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Oven mitt or potholder
  • BBQ sauce or any condiments going on the burgers while on the grill
  • Sides that also need to be grilled

Food safety tip:  The safe internal temperature of cooked ground chicken is 165ºF or 74ºC. Always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Prepare a tray for serving

Use a tray to carry out plates, cutlery, toppings and sides. Prepare it in advance so that you can serve dinner quickly and spend time with your guests instead of in the kitchen.

Using a serving tray to carry items outside is helpful especially helpful for us, because one parent can supervise the kids, while the other is tending to the grill, keeping the curious little ones safe. Having the tray ready ahead of time allows us to run in and grab it when we’re ready to eat.

On the serving tray I like to include:

  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Utensils
  • Condiments
  • Side dishes

If you’re having a regular weeknight meal, the kids can help assemble the tray before your meal.  If you’re entertaining a crowd, your tray can be prepared ahead of time. 

We also keep a bin on the deck with some essentials that we always use outside. You can read more about in my How to Pack a Summer Deck Bin to Save Time blog post.

Lemon Basil Chicken Burgers

Course Main Course
Keyword basil, burger, chicken, lemon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 burgers

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs Can substitute with panko or crushed crackers
  • 1 zest of one lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Topping ideas

  • roasted garlic aioli
  • arugula or lettuce
  • tomato slices
  • tzatziki
  • bruchetta mix (diced tomatoes, balsamic, garlic, fresh basil)

Instructions

  1. Zest the lemon, grate the garlic and chop the basil.

  2. Combine ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, lemon, garlic and basil.

  3. Form mixture into 8 patties. For easy portioning, flatten mixture on a sheet pan and use a knife to divide in 8 sections.

  4. Once the patties are formed, use your thumb to make a dent in the centre of each patty. This helps the centre cook faster.

  5. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat.

  6. Grill patties with the lid closed for approximately 7-9 minutes per side.

  7. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. It should read 165 degrees F.

  8. Serve in toasted ciabatta buns with your favorite burger toppings.

Recipe makes 4 burgers and 24 meatballs.

If Lemon Basil isn’t your thing, try these other chicken burger variations from manitobachicken.ca

Thai Burgers with Spicy Sauce

Jamaican Burgers with Mango Chutney  

Share your variations with us by tagging @manitobachicken & @toobusylivin204 on Instagram!

Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three ways

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Something we all tend to struggle with now and again is trying to get out of a food rut.  Trying to find new ways to enjoy the foods we already love but eat way too often.  Keeping the same flavors you already enjoy, but changing the way they’re presented is an excellent way to add variety to your menu.

This Asian Grilled Chicken Salad recipe from Manitoba Chicken Producers is a great base for spinning off other recipes.  It serves 4-6 people, so you have the option of serving it family-style for dinner or splitting it up into containers for lunches. You could also make a smaller portion of the salad and use the remaining ingredients to make one of the three completely new meals that I’m sharing today. These three meals use all the same ingredients, along with a few extras:

  • Cashew Chicken Lettuce wraps
  • Asian Chicken Flatbread
  • Chicken Summer Rolls
Photo courtesy of Manitoba Chicken Producers

Why is this a good idea?

If you already have the ingredients on hand, you may as well use them to their full potential. This prevents food waste and allows for flexibility and variety on your menu.  Once you have already purchased some of these ingredients, for example the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and sweet chili sauce, you’re going to have more than enough to use in a few more meals, so you’re going to want some ideas to mix it up a bit. Also, if you make one of these recipes for dinner, you may want to use up the remaining ingredients to make a few lunches for the rest of the week.

Prep strategies

If your life is busy like mine is, you’re going to want to save every minute you can in the kitchen, so you can have more time for relaxing and spending time with your family.  There are many ways you can save time executing this dish. Here are a few:

  • Batch cook your chicken
    • If you plan on using these ingredients in the same week in different ways, grill up all your chicken at the same time.  Slice it up and it’s ready to go for the salad, the summer roll, the flatbread and the lettuce wraps. If it isn’t a nice day, baking the chicken works just fine. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. This chart will help you ensure your chicken is perfectly cooked.
  • Chop all your veggies at the same time
    • This will be especially helpful if you plan on using them in more than one meal in the same week.
  • Double the sauce, as needed.
    • Depending on which of the four recipes you will be making, double up the sauce if necessary. This will save you from having to make a second batch later.

Did you know that you should only store cooked chicken for three to four days in the fridge?

This guide is helpful for storing all cuts of chicken in your fridge and freezer.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I used romaine hearts for these because I love the crunch, but you could definitely use any larger leaf lettuce that could contain the filling. If you don’t have cashews, peanuts would be an excellent substitution.

Jump to Recipe

Asian Chicken Flatbread

chicken flatbread

This recipe is basically a salad on a pizza, minus the cheese. You will be topping it with the ingredients that can be served warm before popping it in the oven, then dressing it with a “salad” of julienned veggies, herbs and a squeeze of lime, once it comes out of the oven.

Jump to Recipe

Chicken Summer Rolls

These Chicken Summer Rolls make a great lunch or appetizer. They are a bit more time-consuming to prepare than the other recipes, so you’ve been warned! You can use any amount of the sliced veggies for these rolls and you don’t really have to measure, which I love. If you don’t have some of the listed vegetables on hand, you could also try avocado and cucumber as substitutes.

These rolls tend to stick together when stored in the fridge, so it’s a good idea to either individually wrap them in plastic wrap, or a greener option is to place a lettuce or cabbage leaf between each roll when storing them in a container.

Jump to Recipe

Chicken is versatile and nutritious

Chicken is an excellent ingredient for deconstructing and reconstructing because it is so versatile. If you’re looking for other ways to reconstruct and make the most out of the ingredients you buy, check out this post called Greek Chicken – Three Ways or head to manitobachicken.ca for more recipes using Manitoba chicken so you can try some reconstructing on your own!

Share your creations with us by tagging @toobusylivin204 and @manitobachicken on Instagram.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These fresh lettuce wraps make a great lunch or dinner.

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword chicken, lettuce wrap
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author SL

Ingredients

  • 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup baby corn, sliced in circles
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • 1 lime

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Grill or pan fry chicken breasts until thermometer reads 170F (about 5-7 minutes per side).

  2. While chicken is cooling, chop the corn, red pepper, mint and cilantro.

  3. Wash and dry romaine leaves, keeping them whole.

  4. Combine sauce ingredients and stir.

  5. Chop chicken.

  6. Heat chicken, red pepper and corn in the frying pan until warm, about 3 minutes.

  7. Add sauce and stir until combined and heated through.

  8. Transfer to a bowl and top with a squeeze of lime, mint, cilantro and cashews.

  9. Serve in romaine leaves.

Asian Chicken Flatbread

A fresh take on a pizza, this flatbread makes a great lunch for one or cut it in triangles for an easy appetizer.

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword asian, chicken, flatbread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 flatbread

Ingredients

  • 1 naan
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken , sliced
  • 1/4 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup snow peas, julienned
  • 1/4 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1/4 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Grill or pan fry chicken breasts until thermometer reads 170F (about 5-7 minutes per side).

  2. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes, then slice thinly.

  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

  4. Combine sauce ingredients and spread on pizza.

  5. Top with sliced chicken and red pepper.

  6. Place in the oven until heated through and crust is lightly browned. (About 5-7 minutes. )

  7. Remove from oven and top with snow peas, carrots, cashews, mint and cilantro.

  8. Finish with a squeeze of lime.

Chicken Summer Rolls

These Chicken Summer Rolls make a great appetizer or lunch and pack a lot of flavor.

Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword chicken, rice paper, summer roll
Servings 6 rolls
Author SL

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, cooked
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned
  • 6 baby corn cobs, julienned
  • 1 handful snow peas, julienned
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups thin rice noodles, cooked
  • 6 rice paper wraps

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime, juiced

Instructions

  1. Grill or pan fry chicken breasts until thermometer reads 170F (about 5-7 minutes per side). Set aside to cool.

  2. Cook noodles according to package directions and run under cold water to cool. Set aside.

  3. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.

  4. Julienne all veggies.

  5. Wash and dry mint and cilantro leaves.

  6. In a bowl of warm water, soak one rice paper wrap at a time, gently moving around until pliable. It should not feel stiff.

  7. Spread out the wrap on a cutting board. As you're working on your first roll, place another wrap in the water to soak, so it is ready to go when you have finished making your roll.

  8. Layer fillings in the following order: mint leaves, 1/4 cup noodles, julienned veggies (small handful), 3 slices of chicken, cilantro.

  9. You don't want to overfill the wraps. It's good to make a test roll, to assess how much filling will fit in your wrap.

  10. Fold over the left and right sides of the wrap, holding in the filling.

  11. Start at the top or bottom end, and continue rolling, tucking the filling into the wrap, like you would a burrito.

  12. Dip in sauce to serve.

Recipe Notes

If you’re making this for several people, you may choose to make extra sauce, so that everyone has their own bowl for dipping.  

When storing prepared summer rolls in the fridge, individually wrap them in plastic wrap, or separate them with a lettuce or cabbage leaf in a container to prevent them from sticking together. 

Other julienned vegetables can be used here such as cucumber, avocado, snap peas, and green onion. 

Greek Chicken Wraps – Three ways

Construction, deconstruction, reconstruction

Deconstruction – Greek Mezze plate. Sometimes simple is best.

One of my favorite strategies when meal planning is to deconstruct or reconstruct to make a favorite meal slightly different. This allows us to keep the flavors that we love but change up the way we consume them, to add variety to our weekly menus.

The key players, a.k.a. what you will need

  • Naan
  • Hummus (Homemade or store bought)
  • Tzatziki (Homemade or store bought)
  • Greek dressing (Homemade or store bought)
  • Lemons
  • Chicken breasts
  • Garlic
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Red onion
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Black olives
  • Feta cheese

Mise en place

The teacher in me loves French words! The foodie in me loves them even more when they refer to food or cooking. Mise en place is a French term used to describe the set up required before cooking. This means, prepping and having everything ready to go for when you start cooking.

We’re going to do a little mise en place here to set you up for constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing Greek Chicken Wraps.

Sauces and dressings

In this case, hummus, tzatziki and greek dressing. You can go store-bought all the way, or homemade. It really doesn’t matter. Use what is convenient, use what you like.

Hummus: I always like to make my hummus from scratch. My go-to for years, has been Real Simple’s 5-Minute Hummus. It never disappoints. Simple ingredients, whips up in five minutes. I love adding a bit of harissa to it for a spicier version.

Tzatziki: Making homemade tzatziki is not difficult and requires few ingredients: Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, salt. Do I love grating and squeezing out the cucumber for this recipe? Not really. Do I have time for that? Not really. I usually go store-bought on this one, because I love the flavor and thickness of PC brand Tzatziki. (Not an ad, it’s just one of my faves!)

Greek Dressing: Whichever dressing you choose to use, use it to its full potential: as the salad dressing and as the marinade for the chicken. Again, the ingredients are so simple that I like to make this one myself. One part lemon juice, two parts olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper and garlic. I like to use a bit of garlic powder in the dressing (maybe 1/4 teaspoon), then add a couple more cloves of fresh garlic to the chicken while in marinates. The fresh garlic is a bit too harsh for the dressing, I find. I also like to zest the lemons before juicing and add that to the chicken marinade as well. This lemon herb marinade also works well, but has a few more ingredients.

Chopping and cooking

Salad: Chop all your veggies, add feta and dressing and you’re done. One thing I like to do is switch up the size of the veggies, depending on what I’m making. A chunkier greek salad is really stands out on the mezze plate, whereas a smaller, diced greek salad works well in a wrap.

Chicken: I went all sheet pan dinner on the chicken, because it’s just too easy not to. I sliced each chicken breast into about five fingers, so they would cook faster, marinated for about half an hour, spread out on a parchment covered baking sheet and baked at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes. So basically while your chicken is cooking, you’ll have time to prep your salad.

Naan: I love how pillowy soft the naan gets when it’s warmed up. I just popped it in the oven on a sheet pan for five minutes while the chicken was cooking, to make it pliable enough to contain the wrap ingredients. For the mezze plate, I brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt, and baked it a little bit longer to give it some color and to hold up to dipping in the thick tzatziki.

Construction – Greek Chicken Wrap

Now that you have your mise en place ready to go, you can build your wrap.

  1. Spread hummus or tzatziki (or both) on your warmed naan.
  2. Fill with chicken, top with salad. (You can also add some lettuce to the wrap for some filler.)
  3. Eat it taco-style.

Variation: Try roasting some of the salad veggies (peppers, red onion and olives) with the chicken. Top with cucumber, tomato and feta and a drizzle of dressing.

Deconstruction – Greek Mezze Platter

Deconstruction is usually the easiest method to use when trying to change up your meal plan because all the ingredients are already ready.

  1. Spread the hummus and tzatziki on a plate or shallow bowl.
  2. Top with chicken pieces, salad, and naan triangles.

Reconstruction – Greek chicken pizza

Reconstruction is probably the most difficult and labour-intensive of the three processes we just covered. You may need a few extra ingredients in order to create something slightly different. In this example, I’ve used most of the same ingredients, but prepared them differently.

  1. Use a piece of naan as your crust and lightly brush it with olive oil.
  2. When cooking the chicken, throw on a couple whole cloves of garlic and some grape tomatoes so they roast up nicely.
  3. Spread the roasted garlic over the naan, the smash some tomatoes over it too.
  4. Top with chopped chicken, peppers, onion, olives and feta. (You could use raw or roasted veggies here.)
  5. Grate a bit of lemon zest over the top.
  6. Add a bit of mozzarella if you like your pizza extra cheesy.

Variation: You can go vegetarian on all of these by simply omitting the chicken.

Apply this method to another meal

Now that you know what to do, try this method with another meal. Check out these dressings, marinades or five things you could make for supper that may fit into your construction/deconstruction/reconstruction plan.

Have you tried this method? I love to hear your ideas! Comment on this post or email me at info@toobusylivin.com