Deep Fried Doves

5 from 5 votes
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Whole fried doves on a platter
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Fried doves? Yes, please!

While it’s true I grill most of my doves, frying them is every bit as good and is a nice change of pace.

I initially came up with the idea for this dish after reading a 1940s recipe for deep-fried doves in Roy Wall’s Fish And Game Cookery. His recipe is old school, with the doves fried in shortening and served with a Southern milk gravy. Good, but not my style.

I prefer this Cajun style, and as finger food, with no gravy. All that means is you dredge the little birds in corn flour — basically Louisiana fish fry mix — with some Cajun or Creole seasoning, and fry in peanut oil. Damn good.


Deep fried doves on a platter
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Another alternative is to go Middle Eastern, Turkish, really. I like frying things in chickpea flour, which is available in good supermarkets, Italian and Indian stores. You could substitute in some other earthy-tasting flour: The easiest alternative would be whole wheat. I’ll lace the flour with a typical mixture of Middle Eastern spices: garlic, chile, cumin, sumac and fenugreek.

You could do any kind of spice mix you want. Just don’t go with a thick batter, which gets in the way of enjoying the doves.


I have 25 dove recipes here on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, ranging from Moroccan-inspired bacon-wrapped doves to grilled doves Cajun style. Some great Labor Day grilling or barbecue options include:

Fried doves recipe
5 from 5 votes

Fried Whole Doves

Doves are my usual bird for this recipe, but any small bird will work. Quail is a great choice, would a partridge or young pigeon. What to serve this with? Rice is nice, like a jambalaya or even just white rice. A salad is another good option, like a tomato salad or one with roasted red peppers. But mostly I just eat these as appetizers for a party.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 8 to 12 doves, plucked and gutted
  • Salt


  • 1 1/2 cups of fine cornmeal ("fish fry" mix)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • Remoulade, for Cajun doves


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or chickpea flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sumac (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne, or to your taste
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • Oil for frying


  • Wash the doves and set aside at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Pour the oil — I use canola or peanut or cheap olive oil — into a deep-fryer or heavy, high-sided pot like a Dutch oven. A fryer will have a fill line. Pour no more than 2/3 of a pot’s depth, and half is better. Don’t worry, you can reuse the oil. Heat the oil slowly, over medium heat, to 350°F. If you are using olive oil, keep it at 340°F.
  • Meanwhile, mix the flour or cornmeal and all the spices together in a bowl and coat the doves. Make sure you get it into the cavity, too.
  • When the oil is hot, drop in a couple doves at a time and let them fry for 5 to 7 minutes, turning them to be sure they are golden brown all over. Let drain on a wire rack in an oven set to ‘warm.’ Serve with a bowl for the bones and give your guests plenty of napkins.


Here is the remoulade recipe I use for the Cajun option. 

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

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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.

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  1. Hank, just curious given Dove season is coming up. If I can’t pluck my doves right away, how to handle them? In a bag in the fridge for a day? I think you’ve said on your podcasts, you leave pheasant for 3 days before plucking…

    1. Ted: Yes, you can do that, but make sure the chill out of a bag first, then bag them, otherwise you get weird stinky condensation on the feathers. Doves don’t need to age like other upland birds, so you can pluck them when you get the chance, ideally within a couple days.

  2. I only had 3 doves but cooking them this way was the best presentation to make the most of what we got. I went with the Cajun spices option and didn’t have fish fry mix so I used some fine ground corn flour and corn starch to approximate a gluten-free version. It was fantastic – crunchy, crisp skin on juicy, succulent meat with the subtle tingle of spices; this recipe is how everyone should eat their first doves.

    1. Christina: I have not, actually. If you use it, can you do me a huge favor and let me know how it went? I am betting others might want to use one.

  3. Looks awesome. Probably going to do his with the 6 whole birds I have plucked in the freezer. As far as milk gravy goes, I wholeheartedly agree with you Hank. When I moved to Memphis from Canada 16 years ago, I was taken aback by the white gravy everyone served down here. 16 years later, I still haven’t acquired a taste for it.

  4. Oh, those look delicious and perfect for a few people… or just one 😀
    But I would definitely want to try them with gravy – just a tad bit, a small bowl to dip in. Did you tried the Southern milk gravy? I would love to hear some feedback on it.

    1. Emily: Lots of people like it, but I am not one of them. I really don’t like milk gravy. But go for it. I admit I am in the minority on this one.

  5. Hank,
    I am traveling to Manitoba in a few weeks for ducks. What are your thoughts about teal in this fashion? They are generally lean with very little fat this time of year up there.

  6. Starlings, you mention as a candidate for deep frying. Have you actually eaten starlings, Hank?

    Back when I had a vineyard and was shooting those pests I gave them a try, and vowed never again. Maybe it depends on what they are eating, but if it is syrah grapes, no way.
    My friend Rod had a German wirehair who would eat any bird offered to her (she was good about delivering the ones he shot) and would wolf down any small one. One day he knocked down a starling, offered it to Meg, she took it in her mouth and spit it out. My view. Anyone reading this ever eat starlings? I’d like to know.