Duck Burgers with Cherry Ketchup

Duck Burgers with Cherry Ketchup

These duck burgers are just the first duck recipe you will see the blog, but they won’t be the last. I’m a huge fan of duck, whether it’s crispy duck or a sauced duck breast or duck confit turned into cassoulet. Duck provides flavor you won’t find in chicken or turkey, and it’s healthier for you than eating red meat.

This duck burger recipe is an homage to the fabulous duck burgers from Tilth, a Seattle restaurant that was owned and recently closed by James Beard Award-winning chef Maria Hines. The cherry ketchup, on the other hand, is entirely my own creation.

Tips and tricks for this duck burger recipe

Beef burgers differ from meatballs and meatloaves in that they don’t typically require binding from eggs or breadcrumbs. Duck burgers, on the other hand, need a little assistance because they are lower in fat.

There are, however, 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. 20 to 30 minutes should be enough.
  • Meat proteins contract when cooked, so your burger will be smaller than your original patty and 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.
a glass bowl filled with the raw duck burger mixture

The cherry ketchup is essentially just a simple mixture of cherries, brown sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice. I used frozen cherries that were already pitted. If you have fresh cherries, you can get a handheld cherry pitter for $10-15 that pits both cherries and decent sized olives. To me a cherry/olive pitter is an essential kitchen gadget. But it’s not critical.

If you are going to make the cherry ketchup, it’s probably best to do it ahead of time so it can reduce and have time to cool. It will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

a small bowl of cherry ketchup with a spoon

FAQs about these duck burgers

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.

What condiments go best with these duck burgers?

In addition to the cherry ketchup, I served this with a lettuce leaf and slice of Manchego. Feel free to sub a tomato ketchup for the cherry ketchup, and you can use any mild cheese.

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.

What wine should I drink with this?

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

Can you freeze duck burgers?

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

two duck burgers cooking in a cast iron frying pan

Duck burgers with cherry ketchup

Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 burgers
Calories 188kcal
Author uglyducklingbakery


Cherry ketchup

  • 1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp 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 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp 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 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 pinch black pepper, 1/8 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 it completely smooth.

Duck burgers

  • Combine all of the ingredients for the burgers except for the salt in a small bowl and mix gently until combined.
    1 pound ground duck, 1 egg, 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 green onion, green parts only, chopped fine, 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Divide the mixture into fourths, shape the duck burgers, and leave them on wax paper at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle and add the oil.
    1 tbsp 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.
    1/2 tsp 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

What’s next?

If you make these duck burgers or the cherry ketchup, or if you want to see more ground duck recipes, please comment here or share a pic with me on Instagram!

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.

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an open faced duck burger with cheese and cherry ketchup on a plate with aspasagus spears

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