Bacon Wrapped Dove

5 from 13 votes
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I normally don’t much care for bacon wrapped dove. But once I realized I didn’t have to follow the standard jalapeno-cream cheese-bacon wrapped dove popper recipe everyone seems to do, I was set free. After some experimentation, I can share with you a recipe for bacon wrapped dove I can really get behind.

Three bacon wrapped dove breasts on a plate.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

It all started with Hank’s Dove Poppers, my version of the standard that uses a roasted green chile instead of the jalapeno, and roasted garlic instead of cheese. Then, after a great dove hunt in Yuma, Arizona, Holly and I stopped at Dateland, a little roadside stop that features date shakes — my favorite kind of milkshake — as well as an array of various date products. I bought some medjool and honey dates.

I did so because I had an idea forming inside my head: A combination of dove and dates. Sweet and meaty.

The dish had to be a bacon wrapped dove popper, but I didn’t want it to be so one-note as just a date, a dove breast and a slice of bacon. It needed something more.

That’s when I remembered something my friend Johnathan O’Dell told me about Dateland: In 1927, it was designated as a place to grow dates by the King of Morocco when his country was threatened by a date blight. So seed stock from the highest quality Moroccan dates was grown there, and since then a small but significant date industry has grown in Arizona and SoCal.

A tray of bacon wrapped dove ready to grill.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Morocco. That led me to my marinade for the doves: chermoula. Chermoula is an herby, citrusy, spicy mixture often used to marinate fish or meats. It has many variations, but any version would add a dimension to this dish. So I buzzed some chermoula together, marinated the dove breasts for a few hours, then built the poppers.

I settled on the small honey dates because they wouldn’t overwhelm the dove. Medjools are too big, so if that’s all you can find, cut them in half. I also left a lot of marinade on the doves, for added flavor. And I half-cooked the bacon, so the dove breasts wouldn’t overcook by the time it crisped on the grill.

The result: Exactly as I’d hoped. Fatty-smoky-crisp bacon, a soft and sweet date, and meaty dove laced with the bright, spicy marinade. Super good, fun to eat — but rich! I ate six and was full. 

Make your bacon wrapped dove for a party as an appetizer. Oh, and if you have leftovers for some reason, they’re actually pretty damn good right out of the fridge!


I have 25 dove recipes here on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, ranging from slow and low barbecued doves to dove enchiladas. Some great Labor Day grilling or barbecue options include:

bacon wrapped dove breasts with dates
5 from 13 votes

Bacon Wrapped Doves with Dates

This is a take on the classic dove popper. A few tips: Make sure to use small dates or cut medjools in half or this will be too sweet. Marinate the dove breasts at least a couple hours, and up to overnight. And par-cook your bacon so the dove meat doesn't overcook; it should be medium to medium-rare. 
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 12 to 16 dove breasts (24 to 32 halves)
  • 12 to 16 small dates
  • 1 pound bacon (not thick cut)
  • 12 to 16 toothpicks, soaked in water


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1 bunch cilantro or parsley, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika, Aleppo pepper or cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 quarter preserved lemon, chopped (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced


  • Put all the ingredients for the chermoula in a food processor or blender and buzz until smooth. Mix with the dove breasts and set in the fridge, covered, for up to 8 hours. 
  • Cook the bacon just until it gives up some fat and is limp. You want it about half-cooked, but not crispy. Set it aside to cool.
  • Slice the dates open vertically to remove the pit. Unfold the date to flatten it out. Take a dove breast, shake off excess marinade, and nestle it into the date. Bend the edges of the date around the breast. 
  • Wrap a piece of bacon around the dove-date tightly and secure with a toothpick. If you want, you can double up on the dove-dates if you want a bigger popper. 
  • Get your grill hot, leaving one side with no coals or with no burners turned on. Set your poppers on the grill with the seam side of the bacon facing down. Grill with the cover up, turning the poppers frequently to crisp the bacon on all sides. If you are worried the dove might not be fully cooked, set the poppers on the cool side of the grill when the bacon crisps, then cover the grill and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes. 


Note that prep time does not include marinating time. 

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

5 from 13 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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  1. This recipe is very good and worth the little Xtra effort. Thanks you for all the hints and tips. I would like to try it with wild goose chunks. Next up wild goose chunks!
    Thanks for your expertise.

  2. Most excellent! My family loved it! The amount cilantro in the marinade was a bit concerning, but once wrapped with bacon and a date, then grilled, the overall flavor is just wonderful. Thank you.

  3. This could be an appetizer at any high end tapas or med restaurant. More sophisticated version of the all too familiar jalapeño dove popper. Yet still easy to make and familiar to anyone apprehensive about trying dove for the first time

  4. Excellent flavors!
    BTW my favorite date usage is chopped with cream cheese in a bagel with perhaps a drizzle of honey, simple and delicious.

  5. not at all hard to make and super tasty. the date is a very good contrast to the bacon, dove and chermoula . The men had a good morning of hunting and we totally feasted this evening.

  6. This is the recipe that brought me to this site after I read it in Wyoming Wildlife.

    And I’ll hopefully be trying these this weekend, after the dove opener.

  7. We had these last night and they were amazing. This must be what rich people eat when they are relaxing on their yachts. Seriously, do yourself a favor and make these now!