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3 Killer Duck Recipes Ready in Under 30 Minutes

Here's how to turn wild duck from freezer to food in almost no time at all.

3 Killer Duck Recipes Ready in Under 30 Minutes

Sometimes we just want a duck recipe that tastes incredible but doesn’t require too much time in the kitchen. (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

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With these recipes, my goal is to provide you with three simple ideas for turning the wild fowl in your freezer into an amazing meal. All told, between prep and cooking, these three recipes shouldn’t take you more than 90 minutes to make. For the second and third, yes, there is some deboning and grinding required, as these recipes call for ground waterfowl and, in the case of the meatballs, a mix of ground pork fat and waterfowl.

Tips for Deboning and Grinding Duck Meat

  • Do so when meat is still partially frozen.
  • Don’t worry about deboning technique for legs and thighs—the goal is simply to separate meat from bone.
  • Cut off and discard large leg tendons before grinding.
  • Freeze grinder chute for an hour ahead of grinding.
  • Grind burger meat by itself (only waterfowl) and meatball/spaghetti meat (pork fat and waterfowl meat) together.
  • Use the fine grinding plate.
3 Killer Duck Recipes Ready in Under 30 Minutes
Deboning waterfowl meat and grinding it up is an easy way to make the most of your kill. (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

The whole process should take 25-30 minutes (for prep work for two recipes here) but the cooking steps following this process are much quicker (thus resulting in a 30-minute recipe between prep and cooking). If your waterfowl is already ground, then you’re already way ahead on time.

In terms of pork fat, you don’t need to use it, but it makes your meatballs taste less dry. You really don’t need more than 25 percent pork fat for delicious waterfowl meatballs. And if you don’t want to make meatballs, you don’t have to. Just ignore the step about making balls and just cook ground meat (for loose-meat spaghetti).

The seared duck breast recipe is incredibly easy and requires very minimal prep and cooking. It’ll still wow everyone around the table. Ideally, you plucked your breasts because waterfowl skin is the bacon of wild birds, but you can use skinless breasts nevertheless.

For the grind mix, I used everything from Canada goose breasts to tenderloins from both geese and mallards to legs for both mallards and geese—all very good mixed together.

Lastly, as a reminder, CHEW SLOWLY. My five-year-old daughter reminds her mom of this every time now when we sit down for a waterfowl dinner (after watching a buddy bite into steel shot months ago). You don’t want that dentist bill.

DON'T MISS the author's "Complete Guide to Processing Waterfowl"


Seared Duck Breasts with Limoncello Glaze Recipe

Seared Duck Breasts with Limoncello Glaze
Seared Duck Breasts with Limoncello Glaze (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

Ingredients (makes two servings):

  • Two duck breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Limoncello liquor
  • 1/2 cup honey


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Using fully thawed, dry duck breasts, lightly dust both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. Start with a (preferably cast-iron) cold pan and place breasts skin-side-down (same goes for if breasts were not plucked, still put that side down). Heat pan on medium and flip breasts once skin-side is nice and crispy and brown (should take about 5 minutes).
  3. Sear other side for another 2 minutes then place in oven for 3 minutes (mallard-size duck breasts). For larger breasts, like that of a goose, leave in oven for closer to 10 minutes, until internal temp reads 120 (you may wish to use a meat probe for goose breasts).
  4. During this process, in a separate medium saucepan, heat limoncello on high until it comes to a rolling boil. Add honey and turn heat to medium. Simmer for few minutes then turn off heat and set aside.
  5. Remove breasts from pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving (for duck breasts). For goose breasts, allow to rest for 10 minutes prior to carving. Once carved, top with glaze. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Duck Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti with Duck Meatballs
Spaghetti with Duck Meatballs (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

Ingredients (makes three servings):

  • 12 ounces ice-cold ground waterfowl, 4 ounces ground pork fat
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ice-cold sherry
  • 24-ounce jar spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 16 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese for topping
  • Optional for garnish: freshly minced Italian parsley or basil


  1. Mix ground waterfowl and pork with spices when meat is ice-cold and form into approximate one-ounce balls.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and heat a (preferably cast-iron skillet) on medium-high. Lightly coat skillet with olive oil and sear all meatballs (as many sides as possible) and place in oven for 4 minutes. Upon removal, add spaghetti sauce to skillet along with red wine, stir in thoroughly, and allow to simmer while finishing pasta.
  3. To cook pasta, bring large pot of water to a boil with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt. Once boiling, add spaghetti noodles and cook until al dente (approximately 6-8 minutes). Add about a cup of pasta water to sauce with meatballs and drain rest of water.
  4. To serve, add noodles to plate followed by ample helping of meatballs and sauce and top with parmesan cheese. Feel welcome to garnish with freshly minced Italian parsley or basil. Enjoy!

Ground Duck Cheeseburger Recipe

Ground Duck Cheeseburger
Ground Duck Cheeseburger (Photo By: Jack Hennessy)

Ingredients (makes two servings):

  • 12 ounces ground waterfowl formed into two 6-ounce patties
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Cooking spray

Your favorite burger toppings and condiments which can include:

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Sliced red onions
  • Pickle chips
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Yellow mustard
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Two St. Pierre brioche buns


  1. Form patties and lightly dust both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. Heat a skillet or flat top to 500-550 degrees. (I don’t recommend an open grate for lean-meat burger because meat may crack and fall through grate while cooking. Better to have complete meat-to-cooking-surface contact throughout process.)
  3. Spray both sides of burger patty with cooking oil and sear each side for 2 minutes for closer to medium-rare/rare and 2-1/2 minutes for closer to medium/medium-well. After flipping, if adding cheese, add it then.
  4. After cooking burger, remove it from the skillet or flat top and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before adding to bottom bun. Toast your buns, if you want to, while waiting. Consider adding mayo to the bottom bun as it serves as somewhat of an oily barrier between juices and bun, so the bun doesn’t deteriorate at much while eating. Add other favorite toppings and enjoy!

Click for more duck and goose recipes.

Any questions or comments, please reach out on Instagram: @WildGameJack

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