Turkey is an iconic and traditional holiday entrée that requires a great deal of preparation and cooking time. I do enjoy setting aside an entire day, or even 2, to focus on all the work that goes into cooking a whole turkey. The smell of a roasting turkey is intoxicating. I especially enjoy the rewards of leftovers for sandwiches and a whole carcass for making a batch of bone broth to fill my freezer for the winter. Alas, I generally only put the effort into cooking a whole turkey once a year.
Sometimes I just want some turkey without all of the effort associated with preparing it. I will make meatloaf from ground turkey, but it just isn’t the same. My new go-to turkey meal is grilled turkey cutlets.
Turkey cutlets are thin, lean steaks sliced from fresh turkey breasts. They are delicious and healthy when quickly marinated or spice rubbed and then grilled. Grilled cutlets take only minutes to prepare. Cooking cutlets on a George Foreman Grill takes just minutes and they tend to remain moist. I like to serve grilled turkey cutlets with some traditional side dishes, such as mashed potatoes and grilled Brussels sprouts (a recipe follows).
Tips for Grilling Turkey Cutlets
Turkey cutlets are sliced from the very lean breast portion of the bird. There is no skin and almost zero fat or carbohydrates. Cooking this delicate cut can be tricky.
Turkey in general is a protein that should not be undercooked or overcooked. It is not safe to consume undercooked poultry. And, overcooked turkey becomes dry and chewy. It is important that you be mindful of the timing and the temperature while grilling turkey. I advise using a reliable meat thermometer when cooking turkey cutlets. The internal temperature of the meat should be between 165°F and 170°F.
Don’t lose sleep if you accidentally overcook the turkey. If in fact you cook the meat a bit too long, try the suggestions outlined here. Remove the turkey from the grill to a clean cutting board and tent it with aluminum foil for 5 to 10 minutes. The foil tent will allow the meat to slightly steam and the moisture will not escape. Resting the meat allows for the juices to be reabsorbed. If you cut the turkey immediately after being removed from the grill the juices will run out and the muscle will seize and become tough.
As in the first recipe here for lightly dressed grilled turkey cutlets, I like to reserve some of the dressing to add more moisture back into the cutlets after cooking. Another way to do this is to heat up a few spoonfuls of broth or stock in a pan. Slice the cutlets very thinly against the muscle grain. Then, place the slices of meat in the stock, toss just to coat (only seconds) and serve the moist meat with your sides or in a tortilla with toppings. You can also do this with leftover turkey cutlets to rehydrate them.
Lightly Dressed Grilled Turkey Cutlets
- 2 thinly sliced turkey cutlets
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Total time:8 min – Prep time:5 min – Cook time:3 min – Serves:2 people
1. Place the cutlets on a plate. In a small bowl, whisk together the EVOO and lemon juice. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste. Coat both sides of the turkey with 2/3rds of the dressing. Reserve the remaining dressing. Set the cutlets aside while you prepare your grill.
2. Preheat a Foreman contact grill to high with the top closed. Place the drip tray at the end of the grill.
3. Put the cutlets on the grill and close the top. Cook the cutlets for 2 to 4 minutes. You are looking for an internal temperature of 165°F. Check with a digital meat thermometer. Remove the cutlets to a clean cutting board and coat with the rest of the dressing. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4. Serve the turkey cutlets over mashed potatoes, polenta, or cauliflower purée with a green vegetable. You can slice the turkey before serving, if desired.
Dry Rubbed and Grilled Turkey Cutlets
- 4 thinly sliced turkey cutlets
- 2 tsps paprika
- 1/2 tsp turbinado or brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper (black is okay)
- EVOO for grilling
Total time: 8 min – Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 3 min – Serves: 4 people
1. Place the cutlets on a plate. In a small bowl, mix together all of the herbs, spices, and sugar. Rub all sides of the cutlets with the spice mixture. Set the turkey aside while you prepare your grill. If desired, you can cover the cutlets with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours to allow for the rub to penetrate the meat. If you do this, take the turkey out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before grilling so that it comes close to room temperature.
2. Preheat the contact grill to high with the top closed. Place the drip tray at the end of the grill.
3. Generously coat both grill plates with EVOO. Put the cutlets on the grill and close the top. (You may have to grill in 2 batches). Cook the cutlets for 2 to 4 minutes. You are looking for an internal temperature of 165°F. Check with a digital meat thermometer. Remove the cutlets to a clean cutting board and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes.
4. Serve the turkey cutlets with steaming hot jasmine rice and a salad of spring or baby greens.
Grilled Brussels Sprouts Recipe
- 1/2 lb whole Brussels sprouts, trimmed & cut in half
- 1-1/2 tsps water
- 1 TBS EVOO
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Total time: 16 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 6 min – Serves: 2 people
1. Place the sprouts in a glass bowl. Add the water and toss. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Set the bowl aside while you heat your Foreman grill. Preheat the contact grill to high with the top closed.
2. Add the EVOO, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the sprouts and toss with your hands to coat evenly.
3. Grill the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, for 5 or 6 minutes until they have char marks and feel tender when pierced with a fork.
4. Serve with your grilled turkey cutlets.