Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers

As a "boy mom," I'm the only girl in my house. That means I'm surrounded by a lot of Ninja Turtle toys, costumes and t-shirts on a daily basis. (And half of them belong to my husband.)

So I just couldn't pass up this kid-friendly and fun recipe for Turtle Burgers, featured in Tastefully Simple's Family Faves 10-Meal Kit. I mean, who says you can't play with your food, right? And it didn't disappoint.

Now I must admit: while I love to cook and bake, I'm not exactly the crafty type, so I was a little concerned this would turn into a #PinterestFAIL. And while most of us don't exactly have the time (or inclination) to make dinner into animal shapes on a regular basis, this is a fantastic family meal for a Saturday night.

My five-year-old and seven-year-old boys both kept laughing over dinner, saying, "Mom, these are so cool!" Plus, the burgers were delicious – juicy and smoky with melty cheese, savory garlic and subtle BBQ spices.

Ready to give them a try?

Here's the lowdown. See the full recipe here »

Step 1: The Meat
Heat your grill to medium. Combine 1½ pounds lean ground beef, 1 packet Smoky BBQ Cheese Ball Mix and 1½' teaspoon Garlic Garlic™ Seasoning. Shape into 6 patties. (Tip: indent the middle of each patty with your thumb, so the burgers keep their shape while grilling.)

Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers - Prep 1

Grill, turning once, about 8-10 minutes. During the last few minutes, add 8 beef franks to your grill. Grill the hot dogs about 3-5 minutes, turning occasionally.

Step 2: The Cheese
Now grab 6 slices of American cheese, and cut each slice into 6 strips.

Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers - Prep 2

Ok, real mom confession: the recipe says to basket weave the strips together and place them on the burgers. Continue grilling until melted, and remove the burgers from grill. However, I was not actually coordinated enough to pull off the "basket weave" thing – the strips slid around when I tried to transfer the cheese off a plate or spatula, and I burned myself trying to fix them. Twice. My recommendation: just lay the cheese strips on your patties like you're making a tic-tac-toe board (three strips horizontally, then three strips vertically). The cheese melts anyway, and you get the same shape – without cursing like a sailor.

Step 3: The Fun Stuff
Now … onto the fun part! Slice 6 hot dogs in half; then slice each half in half lengthwise, creating 4 sections each. Cut 2 small triangles in the rounded end of each section to create turtle toes, like so:

Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers - Prep 3

(I know. It will look – and feel – a little weird. But keep going!) Cut the remaining 2 hot dogs into thirds. Then cut a slit into one side of each segment to create a smile.

Step 4: The Assembly
Place lettuce leaves on the bottom of 6 toasted buns. Top each bun with 4 hot dog "legs" cut-side-down, and 1 "head." Top with burgers. And ta-da … you've got "turtle" burgers!

Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers - Turtle Burger

Serve with Vidalia Onion Broccoli Slaw for the grown-ups and sweet potato fries for the kids.

Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers - Prep 4

Dinner's done! And no matter how old your kiddos may be, I guarantee everyone around the table will smile and feel a little younger at heart.


- Jen

P.S. Quick bonus tip: if you don't want to deal with slicing cheese strips at all, serve the burgers topped with pretzel slider buns for the "shell" instead. Super cute and super simple!

Kid-Approved Turtle Burgers - Meal

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