Grilled Doves a la Mancha

4.98 from 41 votes
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Often imitated, this is the ultimate dove recipe: doves la Mancha, Spanish style grilled doves with herbs and smoked paprika. It has become one of my signature dishes. Easy to make, fast and lip-smacking good!

Holding a platter of the finished dove recipe, grilled doves.
Photo by Holly Heyser

This has been called the ultimate dove recipe by several outdoor magazines over the years, and it very well might be — although dove poppers could give it a run. 

I’ve been making doves la Mancha for nearly 20 years, and it’s still my favorite dove recipe. Super simple, this lets you get all primal with your Labor Day bag of fat, juicy doves. Why? Because you pluck ’em, gut ’em and then grill and eat the birds whole.

Pluck a dove? Seriously. Doves are the easiest bird to pluck, and I can do one in about 90 seconds once I get my groove on. The feathers practically fall off, which is why your dog hates retrieving them. (Here’s a video we did on how to pluck a dove.)

Not only does plucking make the bird look nicer — like a little baby chicken — but you also get to eat the legs, which are fantastic, if a bit small. I normally leave one digit on the wings because it keeps the breast meat moister, but you don’t have to.

How to Make Doves la Mancha

Doves la Mancha is crazy easy. Once you have your plucked doves, you smear melted butter or olive oil all over the birds, then salt them, inside and out. 

Stuff the little cavities with fresh herbs: I use rosemary, thyme, sage — often the native sages that live where I hunt — and sometimes fresh or dried bay leaves. Side note: Don’t use sagebrush for this dove recipe because it’s too bitter, and it’s not actually sage. You can burn some sagebrush while you are grilling, and that lovely aroma will bathe your birds. 

You’ll grill your doves over a very hot fire, ideally charcoal or wood. Gas is OK, if a bit boring. The general idea is to grill them breast side up for most of the time, with the grill cover down. This smoke roasts your birds.

As they grill — and remember this will only be for a few minutes because you want to serve dove meat medium, not well done — you paint the doves with olive oil or bacon fat, and sprinkle with smoky Spanish paprika; regular paprika is OK, too. 

Give this dove recipe a go this dove season. But fair warning: If you do, you might never go back to breasting out your doves again…

Four grilled doves on a platter with tomatoes.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Other Great Dove Recipes

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

No doves? This dove recipe works with pigeons or squab, teal, woodcock, rails, quail, or yes, even Cornish game hens.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

Close up of the finished dove recipe.
4.98 from 41 votes

Grilled Doves a la Mancha

This is a really easy dish to make, but you do need fresh herbs, and Spanish smoked paprika is important to this dish. Many good supermarkets offer it, and you can also buy it online. If you can't find smoked paprika, regular sweet paprika is OK.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 12 doves, or 4 to 8 squab or teal
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 12 to 24 sage leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, cut into short lengths
  • About 1/4 cup melted bacon fat, butter or duck fat
  • Spanish smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Coat the doves with olive oil and salt them well. Stuff each cavity with sage, rosemary and a bay leaf.
  • Get your grill hot and clean the grates. Set the doves breast side up and cook them over medium-high heat, with the grill cover closed, for 6 minutes. Open the grill cover and turn the doves over so the top of the breast is wedged between grill grates. Paint the birds with some bacon fat. Let them cook this way for a minute or two, just to get a little color. Turn the doves on their sides and grill for another minute or two — for each side. Paint with more bacon fat.
  • Dust with the smoked paprika and the black pepper and move the birds to a platter. Let them rest for 5 minutes. Eat with your fingers and serve with a bowl to put the bones in. A simple tomato salad is a good accompaniment, as is a loaf of crusty bread.


Figure on 2 doves per person for a light lunch or an appetizer, or 3 to 6 for a main course.


Calories: 63kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 0.02g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 0.2mg | Potassium: 2mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 13IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Labor Day dove dinners in Pennsylvania is a traditional treat. This recipe was easy and delicious and made “believers” of my friends that have never tasted dove.

  2. This is my go-to dove recipe. Addicted. I now pluck all my doves! We had an extra long dove season in Texas this past year. So I had some frozen back. Doing this again tonight because I have fresh sage in the garden!

  3. This has become my number one recipe for doves. September in Northern Nevada is usually a second summer for us. Nothing like inviting a few friends, grilling a dozen doves, and sharing the hunt.

  4. This has become my go-to dove recipe. I want to try some others but this is so quick and delicious. It has so few ingredients, and has great complex flavors that don’t cover up the taste of the bird. It os rough to beat. I pluck my birds in the field while I wait for another to fly by.

  5. yikes – found some dove in the freezer, some breasted, some plucked and put in ziplock freezer bags. what do you think the best method will be to cook old birds?

    1. Chad: Nope. But they are better that way. No biggie, it’s just that here in California they are easy to get fresh.

  6. Hank, think this would work with Sharp-tailed Grouse (adjusting grilling time, obviously? Heading to Colorado in September and looking for recipes I can use in the field as at least some of the birds will have to be eaten during the hunts.

  7. The best way to get great tasting , tender dove is to wrap them in bacon, stuffed with herbs then smoke them for about an hour . I think at about 235° with your favorite wood chips. I’d suggest hickory after being soaked in water for 30 mins. If you cook them on a BBQ wrap them with bacon cook them and when the bacon is fully cooked then so are your dove. I hope this may have help some of you

  8. Im having a wild game dinner tomorrow evening with a few friends. Dove, Quail, then duck. This will be the first course….Ive never done them this way, should be good!

  9. Please continue to tell folks the importance of cooking their wild game to promote the natural wild flavor and quality of their kills. Plucking and gutting whole birds, using off cuts of big game in interesting dishes, and not simply wrapping everything in bacon. Keep on preaching the gospel, Hank.

  10. Interesting. I’ve been cooking my doves in a similar fashion for years but had never heard of “la mancha.” I stuff mine with 2 grapes, a bay leaf and 1/2 fresh thyme or oregano sprig (if the plants are producing). I’m not sure there is a finer game meat than grilled dove….maybe quail?

  11. Great recipie and very easy. Followed it exactly with bacon grease rendered from some apple wood smoked bacon from fresh market. Kids helped pluck and clean the doves and as described it was easy and surprisingly enjoyable. Field to table experience something the entire family really enjoyed. This is now my go to dove recipie!!! Great site and many thankes for offering up something so much more enjoyable than the usual bacon wrapped diove breast–NORFOLK VA.

  12. can’t wait to give “la Mancha” a try by the way, once dove season opens here in the lone star state that is!

  13. I’ve been an occasional peruser of your site for several years now. I just wanted to say that I am impressed and more than a little thankful. A previous recipe for bbq’d dove with homemade sauce impressed more than a few of my friends and family (and I’m from Texas).

    Despite the stereotypes, few people here (or maybe just people in general) will give wild food a chance. Seeing a site like yours really is great because it can allow us to demystify the food that Mother Nature provides us to eat. Hopefully all of us who enjoy this space you’ve got here can use what we read and learn to encourage more people to give “honest” food a chance, for myself I think both us and our hom planet could benefit from the relationship….

  14. Hank,
    Several of the doves we got Monday had lots of pin feathers, some almost completely embedded in the skin. They were a pain to pluck. Ever seen that before? Any tips for dealing with them?

  15. I came home with 10 doves the other day and am hoping for more this weekend. While I like the usual recipe of bacon wrapped dove I really want to try la Mancha style. As far as other dove recipes, could dove breast meat be cured like duck? Yeah smaller portion and less fat but if a hunter has several good days in the field sounds like a good time to test new recipes?

  16. Hank,

    I too shot a lot of Eurasians this opener. I didn’t find them any tougher, though, only bigger with more breast meat? Maybe George just got an old bird? Do note that this year in California they made the Eurasian Doves open all year with no bag limit. Music to my hunting ears, although you have to be careful not to mistake a Mourning dove for a Eurasian after Sept. 15 or you could be fined. They also raised the limit from 10 mourning doves to 15 and possession limit to 45, the first increase in over 60 years since they brought it down from 25 in the 1940s. Pretty sweet! Speaking of which I am going out today after work to bag some more. Good luck this year!


  17. Hank used your recipe last night. Substituted oregano and thyme for the herbs since this is what I had growing fresh in the garden. Turned out fantastic. I was able to shoot a limit of mourning doves and also got a few of the Eurasian Collared doves. In the past these have been rather tough when grilled. Have you prepared the Collared doves in any other manner?