Oprah Winfrey Turned Mindy Kaling on to This Holy Grail Turkey Burger Recipe

Mindy Kaling smiles as a collage of turkey burgers floats behind her head.


Join this scrumptious sandwich’s celebrity cult following.

In idyllic, pre-Pandemic times, Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, and Reese Witherspoon were cast to star in Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. While hanging out in the trailer with her new costars, Winfrey gifted them copies of her cookbook, Food, Health, and Happiness. Winfrey then waxed poetic about a mouth-watering turkey burger recipe included in the book.

Apparently, Winfrey’s stellar advice had quite an impact on Kaling — so much so that the Never Have I Ever creator took to Instagram in late 2022 to show off a demonstration of the recipe. In the video, Kaling raves about the burger: “It has some really unexpected ingredients. There’s apple, cilantro, mango chutney — it’s just delicious and I cannot wait to make it tonight.” That’s right — the recipe calls for chopped apples, aromatics, and the chutney of your choice for a tangy flavor infusion.

If this dish sounds at all familiar, it’s probably because Winfrey’s been singing its praises for years. If you scour the Internet, she apparently started spreading the word in the early 2000s, though that version used a slightly different (and arguably more difficult) method. It turns out Winfrey initially learned this Perfect Burger recipe from Chef Taryn of the Kismet Table and has been obsessed ever since. And if you take a peek at the colorful, fresh food on Chef Taryn’s Instagram you’ll see why one of her dishes has gained a following of A-list devotees.

We should note that we love Kaling’s version in part because she improvises by serving the burger on an English muffin, which is an accessible and delicious alternative to Oprah’s preferred pretzel buns. And we are totally on board with Kaling doing this all in a stunning rainbow Pitusa sweater — because cooking in cute, colorful clothes is sometimes so energizing that it’s worth the mess.

Oprah’s Turkey Burger Recipe

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. mango chutney
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. chipotle chili powder
2 garlic cloves, grated
½ Gala apple, coarsely chopped
1 scallion, coarsely chopped
1½ lbs. ground dark-meat turkey
1 tsp. canola oil
4 pretzel buns, English muffin, or bun of your choice, toasted

Process cilantro, mango chutney, soy sauce, salt, curry powder, chipotle chili powder, garlic, apple and scallion in a food processor until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape sides as needed.

Combine apple mixture and turkey in a large bowl, and mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, and form each into a loose ball. Pat balls lightly to flatten into ¾-inch-thick patties. Let patties stand at room temperature until they have lost their chill, 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium. Add oil, and swirl to coat; add patties. Cook until browned on both sides and a thermometer inserted in center of each patty registers 165°, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, and serve on pretzel buns with your choice of toppings and condiments.