Duck Meatballs

Since the creation of my first cookbook, people have been very interested in discussing how to cook wild duck. These duck meatballs are one great answer.

pyramid of duck meatballs on white platter

I have been told time after time, “I can’t make duck taste good for anything!”  This comment always amazes me.  Duck is one of the most highly sought after meats by chefs across the country.  If prepared correctly, this deep red meat is succulent, tender, and extremely tasty.

Our ancestors loved cooking these prized birds. They developed wonderfully deep flavors from mallards, pintails, wood ducks, teal, and ringbills and I have enjoyed experimenting with their ancient recipes using some modern twists.  Harvesting or buying duck is well worth the investment of time and money.

Duck meatballs are a delicious way to cook the meat from wild duck.

Duck Meatballs – the Secret Ingredient

In this recipe, one of the keys to great flavor is the addition of pancetta, also known as pork belly. Although it’s a different meat from bacon, pancetta comes from the same cut of pork that bacon comes from.

This recipe is in Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook. I promise you will love it. Get it HERE!

pyramid of duck meatballs on white platter

Duck Meatballs

Hint: Pancetta adds flavor and keeps the meatballs from drying out.
5 from 5 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for sautéing
  • 1 medium yellow onion minced
  • 1 pear peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pounds duck meat cubed
  • ½ pound pancetta
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup parsley


  • Heat olive oil in a 10 to 12 inch sauté pan. Add onions, pears, ginger, and garlic until completely caramelized and liquid has evaporated. Chill for about an hour.
  • In a medium bowl, combine duck and pancetta along with the remaining ingredients. Chill for an hour.
  • Mix all ingredients together. Feed ingredients through a meat grinder with the medium dye attachment.
  • Form 2 ounces ball from the meat mixture.
  • Heat 1-teaspoon olive oil in cast iron skillet until hot, but not smoking. Brown meatballs in batches. Cook until done all the way through, about 7 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine. Season to taste and pour over meatballs.
  • Sprinkle parsley over the top of meatballs. Serve with wild rice, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, pasta, or orzo. Honey or your favorite barbeque sauce complements it nicely.


You can find this in Stacy Lyn’s cookbook Harvest
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  1. Just a question…do you grind all of this together to make the meatballs? Cubed duck seems odd and possibly to big a piece for a meatball

    1. They are very small cubes. I should have said diced. You could even put the ingredients in a grinder. Thanks for asking!

  2. 5 stars
    I’m wanting to make the dish more accessible to those with dietary restrictions. Instead of using pancetta, how about lamb shoulder? I know it won’t taste the same, but I’m keen not to use either beef or pork fat. Ideally I wouldn’t want to use another animal at all, but it doesn’t sound like duck has the requisite amount of fat to keep the meatballs from drying out.

    1. Sure, James, you could use lamb. It does need a little fat, but you could even keep it all duck and add olive oil, for that matter. Do that. I really think it would be quite good.

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