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Duck Burgers with Apples and Onions

duck burger with apples and caramelized onions

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This is both a great burger and a great way to eat diver and sea ducks without getting all that fishy flavor — you skin the duck breasts, and it’s the skin and fat that has all the nasty fishiness. Of course you could make these burgers with regular ducks or geese, too.

I added a little smoked salt to the meat mix for a punch of flavor. If you don’t have it, leave it out. Or, if you really want a smoky duck burger, replace the regular salt with more smoked salt. Chinese five spice powder adds an exotic touch without overpowering things.

I also designed everything that goes with this duck burger: caramelized onions, apple slices cooked in duck fat, and a little mustard and a green thing; I like to use sorrel leaves for their tanginess, but lettuce is fine.

Serves 4

  • 2/3 pound skinless duck breast
  • 1/3 pound fatty pork shoulder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Five-Spice Powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 5 tablespoons duck fat, butter or olive oil
  • 1 Fuji or Jonagold (or other firm cooking apple), cored, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices
  • Burger buns
  • Mustard
  • Lettuce or sorrel leaves


  1. Grind the meat. Cut the duck breast and fatty pork shoulder into 1-inch chunks and grind through the coarse die on a meat grinder. Alternately, you can pulse the meat in a food processor until you get a well-chopped mass.
  2. Mix the meat with the salts, black pepper and five spice powder and form into patties. When you make the patties, make sure they have a slight indent in the center of them — this helps the patties keep their shape after the meat contracts when it hits the hot pan.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the duck fat in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and a little more salt. Toss to combine and saute until wilted. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pan and cook until the onions caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Stir from time to time. When the onions are done, set aside.
  4. Heat 2 more tablespoons of duck fat in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and fry the burgers. Or you can grill them. Grill to medium-well, about 150°F in the center.
  5. When you flip your burgers, put the last tablespoon of duck fat in the pan you cooked the onions and set it on medium heat. Cook the apples for 3-4 minutes, turning once. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
  6. To serve, put some mustard and a lettuce or sorrel leaf on a bun, then the burger and top with the caramelized onions and a couple apple slices.

More Duck Recipes

2 responses to “Duck Burgers with Apples and Onions”

  1. Karl Moeller

    I want to sort of make Duck pastrami but instead of traditional juniper, coriander and dry mustard, I want to use Chinese flavoring, like 5 spice powder. If I mixed 5 spice powder with pink salt would that work for my brine and rub?


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