How to make chicken burgers not boring? Stuffing them with gooey, melted cheese and topping them with a sweet and spicy tomato jam is a GREAT start. Learn how to make these stuffed chicken parm burgers with easy tomato jam, and wonder how you lived without them for so long.
This post is sponsored by Cento. All opinions and recipes however are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting brands that I love and that support Jo Eats!
As a kid I didn’t care for burgers. I know, right? What kind of kid doesn’t like burgers? Also what kind of kid says they don’t “care for” things? Fast forward several years, and I’ve come to my senses and think burgers are great. But why did it take me so long to see the light? I think the issue stemmed from the fact that burgers in my house were thick, well-done, and dry as a bone, through and through. Sorry Mom and Dad, but it’s the truth.
If only there had been something in there to break up all the well done meat, and bring some much needed moisture to the party. Maybe my life would be have been very different. I probably would have grown up to be an astronaut – or at least own a hybrid car. Fantasizing aside, my life turned out pretty great. And further to that, it’s my childhood experiences that taught me what I won’t stand for in a burger, and that’s anything dry, flavorless, or boring.
Stuffed Chicken Parm Burgers with Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam
So today I’m going to share something with you that’s the polar opposite of that. These stuffed chicken parm burgers are juicy, flavorful, and literally bursting with melty cheese. Oh and did I mention the spicy tomato jam? Yeah, it’s a thing you don’t want to miss. I totally would have begged for these growing up, because what kid wouldn’t want a crispy, crunchy, mozzarella stuffed chicken burger? Honestly, the only downside I can see here is that you probably can’t eat these in space – so they’re not super astronaut friendly. But the rest of us can totally enjoy!
How to make a flavorful chicken burger
Before we dive into that off the charts tomato jam, let’s chat about chicken. Chicken is one of those foods that can be ethereally, mind-blowingingly delicious, or real real real bad. So what separates a gloriously delicious chicken burger from its sad, dry cousin? Two things – a solid foundation of flavor and a moisture strategy.
Creating a delicious flavor base
This I would argue is the most important part. Because even if you have a juicy, moist burger, if it’s not very exciting in the flavor department – well somebody better order a pizza is all I’m saying. Luckily you just need a few quality ingredients and a little time to get your flavors to sing.
I like to start with a good quality olive oil. Cento’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my everyday go-to for its buttery, and slightly peppery taste. Then come the onions and garlic – and honestly, onions and garlic sautéed in beautiful, green-gold olive oil is something special right there. But to add to the magic, we’ll throw in some simple herbs, salt and pepper, and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.
Tomato paste is often overlooked in my opinion, I think because we usually operate from a “fresh is always best” mentality. But tomato paste is literally concentrated tomato flavor, neatly packaged in a resealable tube no less. Cento’s Organic Tomato Paste is double concentrated, for an even bigger hit of tomato-ey goodness and incredible depth of flavor, which I why I use it both inside the burger and in the spicy tomato jam that is quickly becoming my newest food obsession. So now that we’re all set on the flavor front, let’s tackle the problem of dryness.
How to make a moist and juicy stuffed chicken burger
No one likes a dry burger. It’s just an unpleasant experience. And I’m not going to lie to you, chicken burgers stand a much better chance of being a dry, arid, wasteland of a thing than anything made with beef. But here at Jo Eats we like a challenge. Also you can’t have chicken parm without chicken, it wouldn’t be right, so substitutions are off the table for this one. That being said, there are some things we can do to easily ensure the juiciest chicken burger experience humanly possible.
- Don’t be afraid of a little fat. Ground chicken is usually very, very lean. It’s typically made from all white meat, so there’s no surprise there. If you can get your hands on dark meat ground chicken, go for it (and get ready to be AMAZED). But since most of what you’ll find in the grocery store is white meat, I went with that. Given what you just learned (like three sentences ago), if we want to keep our chicken parm burgers nice and juicy we’ll need to add a little fat back into the equation. Ours will come in the form of both the olive oil we used to sauté our flavorful base AND the happy surprise inside our burger – a melty, gooey, oozy pocket of mozzarella cheese.
- One word: panade. Panade is basically a fancy French term for something extremely unfancy. It’s just some bread (or breadcrumbs in our case) soaked in milk. It sounds a little odd, but just think of it like a security measure against dryness. Mixing those milky breadcrumbs into your burger creates little pockets of moisture throughout that keep everything nice and juicy. You’ll often see the same technique applied when making meatballs, which means that Italian grandmas used to do it, which means it’s definitely a wise decision.
- Ooey, gooey, cheese – on the inside! In this case we’re stuffing our chicken burgers with dramatically melty mozzarella. But the same technique could be applied to any good melting cheese. And because cheese is both delicious and fatty, it pulls double duty by aiding both in the flavor and moisture departments.
So now that we’ve got our burger figured out, what about that next level tomato jam that I won’t shut up about?
How to make tomato jam
First off, what is tomato jam? Well we’re kind of using the term loosely here to be honest. This is not like any jam you’d boil and jar and store away for months (although I’d love to have a jar or two of this just kicking around). The term “jam” applies more to the jammy consistency of this thick, very rich, sweet and spicy tomato sauce. Think of it like the ketchup of the chicken parm world – and what’s a burger without ketchup?
Making this “jam” is incredibly simple. It starts with onions, garlic, herbs, and rich tomato paste sautéed in golden, olive oil. But wait, didn’t we JUST DO THAT? Props to you for paying attention – yes, we most certainly did. And there’s no reason to repeat all that work again – I mean, who’s got the time, right? To break it down, we’re just making our flavorful base pull double duty. You’ll take some out to mix into the burger patties themselves, and leave the rest in the pan to start your jam.
From there it’s as easy as opening a can of diced tomatoes, stirring in some sweet brown sugar and tart Cento Apple Cider Vinegar, and simmering it down until it gets all thick and jammy and delicious. Once it’s done you’ll transfer that rich, red, chunky tomato jam goodness to a bowl to cool down, wipe out your skillet and start cooking those burgers!
A few tips to making perfect stuffed chicken parm burgers
These are pretty straight forward – make patties, stuff them with a hunk of mozzarella, coat them with breadcrumbs and lightly fry them in some more of that beautiful olive oil. But because I want to make extra sure that your first chicken parm burger experience is one for the ages, here’s a couple of helpful tips to get you started.
- Don’t be afraid to get a little messy. Ground chicken can get a bit sticky, and there’s no way around it – you’re going to have to use your hands. If the mixture is just too sticky to handle you have a few options. One, you can throw a tablespoon of extra breadcrumbs into the mix. Two – chuck your mixture in the freezer for about ten minutes to firm up, before shaping your patties. Or three, lightly oil your hands and plow ahead.
- Keep the cheese INSIDE the burger. Don’t form the patties and then just try to push the cheese into the middle – it won’t work. Instead take some of the burger mixture and form a ball. Then lightly push a piece of cheese into the middle and gently form the patty around the cheese, so that none of it is poking through the middle. This is easier if your piece of cheese is already wide and flat, so slice accordingly – think planks instead of cubes.
- Chill then bread. Most of this can be made ahead of time and stashed in the fridge, all the way up to forming the cheese stuffed patties. But don’t bread them ahead of time, as you don’t want the breading to soak up all the moisture from the patty and become a soggy mess.
- Be gentle. Because these are chicken they need to be cooked all the way through – no medium rare chicken burgers please. So avoid cranking the heat too high. You’ll end up burning the outside before the inside is thoroughly cooked. I let mine sizzle entirely on the stove top for about 8-10 minutes per side at medium low. This gave me perfectly golden brown and crispy patties and perfectly cooked, juicy chicken bursting with melty cheese – so basically, heaven. If you’d rather though, you can cook them at medium-high heat until golden brown (about two minutes per side) and finish them in a 350° oven for 5-8 minutes.
Now get those burgers on a bun while they’re still hot, pile on some of that ridiculous tomato jam, and grab multiple napkins, because you’ll definitely need them!
If you made this recipe and loved it as much as I do, feel free to pin it for later by clicking on the red button to the left. And as always, thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. You all are the absolute best!Print
Stuffed Chicken Parm Burgers with Tomato Jam
This recipe takes all the things we love about chicken parm and turns it into an ooey, gooey, stuffed chicken burger with a spicy, sweet, totally easy tomato jam.
- Prep Time: 20 Minutes (plus chilling time)
- Cook Time: 35 Minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 4 Burgers 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Italian American
4 T Cento Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
3 garlic cloves, minced, grated or pressed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried chili flake
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 T Cento double concentrated tomato paste
1/2 C panko style breadcrumbs
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C milk
1 lb ground chicken
2 ounces whole milk mozzarella cut into four, thin pieces
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 T dark brown sugar
2 T Cento apple cider vinegar
Buns, arugula and sliced red onion, to serve
Place half the breadcrumbs and half the cheese in a large bowl. Pour in the milk and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chili flake, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften but don’t take on much color – about five minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Cook the mixture until the tomato paste turns from bright red to more rusty in color, about two minutes.
Remove half of this mixture and put it in the bowl with the breadcrumbs, cheese, and milk. Stir to combine and let cool for a few minutes. Add the ground chicken and use your hands to combine, just until the mixture comes together. Divide into four portions. Place a piece of mozzarella in the middle of each portion and completely surround it with the chicken mixture. Form into a patty 3-4 inches wide, making sure no cheese is showing. Place patties on a lined baking sheet (or plate), cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, brown sugar, and cider vinegar to the remaining onion mixture. Bring to a boil and lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Season to taste and transfer to a bowl to cool. Wipe out the skillet and set aside.
Mix the remaining breadcrumbs and cheese in a shallow dish. Coat each chilled burger patty with the breadcrumb mixture, making sure to press lightly so the crumbs adhere.
Heat remaining oil over medium low heat. Carefully place burger patties into the hot oil. It should sizzle, but not furiously. Let burgers cook about 8 minutes per side. They should be dark golden brown and crispy, and have an internal temperature of at least 160°F. Transfer cooked burgers to a paper towel lined sheet pan to drain and cool for at least five minutes before serving.
Serve on buns dressed with arugula, red onion, and tomato jam.
This recipe makes more tomato jam than you need, but it’s so good, and it’s hard to find diced tomatoes in smaller increments than 14 ounces.
The jam can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days in advance. The burger patties can be formed (but not coated with breadcrumbs) and refrigerated up to 24 hours ahead.
You want to pan fry these at a relatively low heat, because they have to cook through completely before the outside gets too brown. This worked beautifully for me just on the stove top, but if you want you can brown them on both sides and finish them in a 350° oven for 5-8 minutes.
I made these in a regular skillet and they turned out just fine, but I highly recommend using non-stick if you’ve got it.
When checking for doneness, an instant read thermometer is VERY helpful. Just make sure to aim for the chicken and not the melted cheese directly in the middle.
Keywords: stuffed burgers, chicken parm burgers, stuffed chicken parm burgers, cento fine foods, cheese stuffed burgers