These duck burgers with cherry ketchup are a delicious alternative to a traditional beef burger. With just 30 minutes of active time and your favorite condiments, you can make juicy duck burger patties that will be your new go-to for a mouthwatering and memorable meal.
This duck burger recipe is a tribute to the fabulous duck burgers from Tilth. Until recently, Tilth was a Seattle restaurant owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Maria Hines. The cherry ketchup, on the other hand, is entirely my own creation.
Ground duck breast has more flavor than ground chicken or turkey. It’s also better for you than eating red meat.
One thing that differentiates burgers from meatballs and meatloaves is burgers don’t have typically use eggs or breadcrumbs. However, because ground duck breast is lower fat than ground beef, this duck burger recipe uses an egg for binding and flavor.
The sweet, tangy flavor of the cherry ketchup pairs perfectly with the duck burgers. Cherries and duck are a classic meat and fruit combination, just like pork and apples, turkey and cranberries, or lamb and raisins.
Variations and substitutions
- Feel free to sub tomato ketchup for the cherry ketchup.
- Grill these duck burgers in a grill pan.
Recipe tips and tricks
Making the cherry ketchup
The cherry ketchup is a simple mixture of cherries, brown sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice simmered for a bit until thickened. It’s best made ahead of time so it can cool. It will keep in the fridge for at least a week.
You can use either fresh or frozen cherries for the ketchup. If you want to use fresh cherries, I recommend buying a handheld cherry pitter for $10 to 15 that pits both cherries and decent sized olives.
Making the duck burgers
Combine the burger ingredients and mix gently until combined, but don’t add the salt yet. Adding salt to the burger mixture supposedly breaks down the meat proteins and makes your burger tough.
Divide the mixture into fourths, shape the duck burgers, and leave them on wax paper at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Common pointers for all burgers:
- Treat your mixtures gently. You don’t need to knead burgers like bread.
- Burger mixtures should sit for a bit before cooking so the meat comes to room temperature. Twenty to thirty minutes should be enough.
- Meat proteins contract when cooked, so your burger will be smaller than your original patty. It will also be convex. One way to get a flat burger patty is to put a thumbprint into the center of the burger. It looks like a red blood cell, for those of you who know what that looks like.
Cooking the duck burgers
Heat a thin layer of oil in your pan, sprinkle on half the salt, and put the burger in the pan salt-side down. Use your thumb to create a concave divot in the center of each burger and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining salt on the up side of the burgers and flip them over. Add your cheese and cook until the internal temperature is at least 165°.
What to serve with duck burgers
In addition to the cherry ketchup, I would recommend serving these duck burgers with:
- a lettuce leaf and slice of Manchego or other mild cheese like Parmesan or a white cheddar.
- homemade hamburger buns like these pretzel rolls from America’s Test Kitchen. Actually, they’re Test Kitchen Kids, which tells you how easy they are to make!
- a steamed or broiled green vegetable like broccoli or asparagus.
- a salad: rainbow salad, peach burrata Caprese, or orzo pesto salad.
- a red wine blend. Even though duck is poultry, it is typically paired with light to medium bodied red wines. Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for duck, but it’s hard to find great Pinot Noir in a reasonable price range.
I found one pound packets of ground duck in the freezer in the meat section of my regular grocery store. Readers have also told me that they bought duck breast and ground it themselves.
All poultry is considered white meat based on myoglobin content in their muscle. However, duck meat has more myoglobin than either chicken or turkey and is definitely dark meat.
It’s all relative. Duck is fattier than either chicken or turkey, which is why it has more flavor. But it’s better than beef and other red meats. In addition, much of the duck fat is associated with the skin and so can be avoided if desired.
Yes, you can freeze the patties either before or after cooking.
Related burger recipes
I’m a huge fan of duck, whether it’s crispy duck or a sauced duck breast or duck confit turned into cassoulet. If you love duck too, check out my Peking Duck-inspired meatloaf or make hoisin duck bao with this pulled duck breast recipe.
Check out other Ugly Duckling Bakery burgers, meatloaves, and meatballs like:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Duck Burgers with Cherry Ketchup
- 1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 pinch black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- water, to cover
- 1 pound ground duck
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 green onion, green parts only, chopped fine
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or other neutral oil for frying
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and add water to barely cover them.1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 pinch black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon salt, water, to cover
- Simmer, uncovered, until the cherries have broken down and the mixture has thickened. You can puree it in a blender or food processor if you want the ketchup to be completely smooth.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the burgers except for the salt and oil in a small bowl and mix gently until combined.1 pound ground duck, 1 egg, ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 green onion, green parts only, chopped fine, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Divide the mixture into fourths, shape the duck burgers, and leave them on wax paper at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle and add the oil.1 tablespoon vegetable or other neutral oil for frying
- When the oil is hot, sprinkle half of the salt onto the patties and put them in the skillet salt side down.½ teaspoon salt
- Use your thumb to create a concave divot in the center of each burger and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Sprinkle the remaining salt on the up side of the burgers and flip them over.
- Add cheese if melted cheese is desired. Cook for another few minutes until the internal temperature is at least 165°F.
This duck burger recipe was first posted on May 18, 2021. It was last updated April 30, 2023.
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