Dove Recipes

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

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Dove recipes are a specialized thing: You can’t buy doves in a store. You must hunt them. Pigeons are a little different. You can buy squab in stores, and wood pigeon in many European markets. And yes, you can eat the common pigeons you see everywhere — only I’d avoid those city birds…

For those of you who hunt doves, I get it: Most people just pop the breasts off, wrap them in bacon with a jalapeno and grill. The venerable dove popper, as this recipe is called, is fine food — but it isn’t the only thing you can do with a dove. This recipe page will help you with more ideas on how to cook doves.

Doves and pigeons are dark meat birds with very little fat on them. You can use small ducks such as teal with these recipes, but they will often have a layer of fat that a pigeon or dove will not. Ptarmigans, snipe and rails are excellent alternatives, though.

One dove is a good portion for an appetizer, three to four for a main course. Pigeons are larger, so one pigeon makes a light dinner main course — two is a bit much because the meat is so dense. Squabs are the same as pigeons: One to two per person.

I did a podcast episode all about doves and dove hunting, if you’re interested in listening to it.
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Plucking vs. Breasting

If you hunt your own doves and pigeons, I urge you to consider plucking them. They are the easiest birds to pluck, taking less than 2 minutes, once you get the hang of it.

In return for your efforts, you get a pretty little bird on the plate, the breast meat won’t overcook as easily, and you get those little legs, which are so very tasty! I tend to keep the first wing digit, the drumette, on the carcass because it helps protect the breast meat.

Here’s a video on how to pluck a dove, done by Holly. You’ll see plenty of dove recipes for the whole bird below.

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Grilled or Barbecued Dove Recipes

Grilling is by far the best way to cook doves. It’s the only way to get the skin crispy without overcooking the breast meat, which should be eaten medium, i.e., still pink. Same goes for young pigeons. Older pigeons are better braised.

grilled doves recipe

Grilled Doves a la Mancha

By far my favorite recipe for grilled doves. Stuffed with fresh herbs, painted with bacon fat and dusted with smoked paprika.

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A tray of finished dove poppers.

Hank’s Dove Poppers

I can’t really call myself a dove cook without a popper recipe, right? Here’s my take on the classic.

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Three bacon wrapped dove breasts on a plate.

Bacon Wrapped Dove

Here’s another take on a popper I came up with after hunting in Yuma, Arizona. Doves, a Middle Eastern marinade and a date, wrapped in bacon and grilled.

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Slow barbecued doves on a platter.

Barbecued Doves

Slow and low barbecued doves. Sticky, smoky, spicy, sweet. What’s not to love?

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prickly pear BBQ sauce recipe

Doves with Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce

Doves grilled with a BBQ sauce made from prickly pears, tequila, agave nectar and chiles. 

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A bowl of smoked doves with guajillo sauce.

Smoked Doves

This is a true smoked dove recipe, where you salt cure the doves before smoking them slow and low. Serve with a guajillo sauce.

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Cajun grilled doves cooking.

Cajun Grilled Doves

Doves rubbed with Cajun seasonings and grilled hot and fast. 

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Teriyaki doves recipe

Grilled Teriyaki Doves

Who doesn’t love teriyaki? In my version you make your own teriyaki sauce, which is a little less sweet and gloppy than the store-bought versions.

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huckleberry BBQ doves recipe

Grilled Doves with Blueberry BBQ Sauce

Doves basted with a huckleberry (or blueberry) BBQ sauce, then grilled until they are medium-rare. Serve it with grilled potatoes and a salad.

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A plate of grilled pigeon with rice pilaf.

Grilled Pigeons Egyptian Style

The Egyptians love their pigeons, and this is a riff off a classic way they eat them, which is stuffed with a hearty green wheat stuffing. Do this with squab, doves or actual pigeons if you can find them.

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When the weather cools, roasting is your next best bet for doves and pigeons. Get your oven hot for this one...

A platter of roast pigeons.

Roast Pigeon

The English eat a lot of pigeons, and this is a British-style recipe for roasted pigeon. Simple. Traditional. Lovely.

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Turkish Roast Pigeon with Bulgur

Pigeons are also eaten a lot in the Middle East, so here is a Turkish roast pigeon, stuffed with bulgur wheat.

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More Dove Recipes

Here are some other dove recipes that aren’t barbecue, grilling or roasting.

A plate of peppered doves, a simple dove breast recipe.

Peppered Dove Breasts

This French classic is simple, fast, and tasty.

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fried dove breast recipe

Fried Doves and What They Eat

Dove breasts, fried and served with a pilaf of grains and seeds doves are known to eat. Easy and delicious!

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Southern tomato gravy on a plate with chicken fried doves

Southern Tomato Gravy

Dove breasts, fried and served with an old school Appalachian tomato gravy. One of the best recipes on this website!

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sugo di piccione

Pigeon, Dove or Duck Ragu

An intensely flavored pasta sauce made with ground doves or pigeons.

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Two green chile enchiladas on a plate

Green Enchiladas

Oh yeah, baby. Got lots of dove breasts? Go all New Mexico on ’em with these enchiladas.

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Chile poblano rellenos with tomato sauce

Chile Poblano Rellenos

A classic Mexican picadillo, in this case spiced, ground dove or pigeon meat, served in a roasted pepper with a simple tomato sauce.

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band-tailed pigeon recipe

Fancy Pigeon

A very special dish created for wild band-tailed pigeons of the American West. Every bird is a trophy at the table!

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Fried doves recipe

Deep Fried Doves

Doves, dusted with spices, and deep fried. Oh yeah, it’s awesome.

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Close up of crispy fried duck tongues on a platter.

Jesse’s Fried Snipe

Another take on fried little birds, doused with a mix of hot sauce, butter and honey. Damn good.

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Pigeon or Dove Tortellini

Braised pigeon, squab or dove, ground into a rich ravioli filling and made into tortellini.

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dove breast recipe

Dove Breast Jagerschnitzel

Dove breasts pounded thin, dusted in flour and served with a mushroom gravy. A riff of the German classic jägerschnitzel.

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Chinese lettuce cups with minced meat

Chinese Lettuce Cups with Minced Meat Stir Fry

Diced dove meat in Chinese lettuce cups. Great for hot weather!

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