Duck Burgers with Cherry Ketchup

These duck burgers are a delicious alternative to a traditional beef burger. Ground duck breast has more flavor than ground chicken or turkey. It’s also healthier for you than eating red meat.

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.

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 pulled duck breast recipes.

a duck burger with lettuce on a bun in someone's hand.

Tips and tricks

Making the cherry ketchup

The cherry ketchup is a simple mixture of cherries, brown sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice. 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 a handheld cherry pitter for $10-15 that pits both cherries and decent sized olives.

a small bowl of cherry ketchup with a spoon.

Making the duck burgers

Beef burgers differ from meatballs and meatloaves in that they don’t have eggs or breadcrumbs. Duck burgers, on the other hand, need a little assistance because ground duck is lower in fat than ground beef.

a glass bowl filled with the raw duck burger mixture.

Here are some 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.
two duck burgers cooking in a cast iron frying pan.

What to serve with duck burgers

In addition to the cherry ketchup, I recommend serving these duck burgers with a lettuce leaf and slice of Manchego. Feel free to sub tomato ketchup for the cherry ketchup. And you can use any other mild cheese like Parmesan or a white cheddar.

If you want to make hamburger buns, my favorite recipe is for these pretzel rolls from America’s Test Kitchen. Actually, they’re Test Kitchen Kids, which tells you how easy they are to make!

Even though duck is poultry, it is typically paired with light to medium bodied red wines. Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for duck. I don’t often find Pinot Noir in my price range that I would want to drink, so I might suggest a red blend instead.

a duck burger on a bun with lettuce, cheese, and cherry ketchup on a plate with asparagus spears.


Where did you buy your ground duck?

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.

Is duck considered red meat or white meat?

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.

Is duck meat healthy?

It’s all relative. Duck is fattier than either chicken or turkey, which is why it has more flavor. But it’s healthier 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.

Can I grill these instead of frying?

Yes, but you will probably want to use a grill pan instead of cooking them directly on the grill.

Can you freeze duck burgers?

Yes, you can freeze the patties either before or after cooking.

Related recipes

Check out other uglyducklingbakery burgers, meatloaves, and meatballs including other ground duck recipes like this Peking Duck-inspired meatloaf. Or make hoisin duck bao with this pulled duck breast recipe.

Duck Burgers with Cherry Ketchup

5 from 1 vote
Category: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 burgers
Calories: 188kcal
These duck burgers with cherry ketchup provide a tasty and healthier alternative to your typical cheeseburger.
Print Recipe


Cherry ketchup

  • 1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • tsp salt
  • water, to cover

Duck burgers

  • 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


Cherry ketchup

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and add water to barely cover them.
    1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 pinch black pepper, ⅛ tsp 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.

Duck burgers

  • 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.


The duck burger patties can be made up to a day ahead and left in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temperature before cooking.


Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 218IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 5mg
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What’s next

If you make these duck burgers or the cherry ketchup, please leave a comment or rating here. Let me know if you want to see more ground duck recipes!

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