Duck burgers with cherry ketchup

Duck burgers with cherry ketchup

It’s a bit surprising that I’ve gotten this far into blogging, and these duck burgers are just the first duck recipe to appear. I’m a huge fan, whether it’s crispy duck, or a sauced duck breast, or duck confit turned into cassoulet.

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.

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.
  • Let burger mixtures sit for a bit (20-30 min) before cooking so the meat comes to room temperature.
  • Meat proteins (and thus your burger) contract when cooked, so your burger will be smaller than your original patty and convex. One way to end up with a flat burger patty is to put a thumbprint into the center of the burger (I’ve seen it said to look like a red blood cell, for those of you who know that image.).

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, but 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.

Frequently asked questions about 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.

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’s more flavorful. 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 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.

Duck burgers with cherry ketchup

Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 burgers
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 lb 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

  • To make the cherry ketchup, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, including water just to cover, and 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.
  • Dividing the mixture into fourths, shape patties and leave them on wax paper at room temperature for 20-30 minutes (Patties can be made the day of and left in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temp before cooking).
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle and add the oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle half of the salt onto the patties and put them in the skillet/griddle salt side down.
  • Use your thumb to create a concave divot in the center of each burger and cook for 3-4 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 165°F.

What next?

If you make these duck burgers or the cherry ketchup, or if you want to see more duck recipes, please comment and/or share a pic!

Check out other uglyducklingbakery burgers, meatloaves, and meatballs.

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a plate with a one half of a bun with cherry ketchup, the other half with lettuce, duck burger, and cheese, and some asparagus spears

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