Waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, are prized game birds for their flavorful meat. However, cooking waterfowl can be tricky, especially for beginners. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to cook waterfowl, from preparing the bird to serving it on the table.

Preparing the Bird

Before cooking the waterfowl, it is essential to prepare the bird properly. This involves cleaning and dressing the bird, removing any feathers, and gutting it.

  1. Dressing the bird involves removing the head, feet, and wings. You can use a sharp knife or poultry shears to do this.
  2. Gutting the bird involves removing the internal organs, such as the liver, heart, and intestines. Make sure to remove all the organs carefully to avoid puncturing the intestines and spoiling the meat.
  3. To clean the bird, rinse it under cold water and remove any dirt or feathers. You can also use a plucking machine to remove the feathers quickly.

Choosing the Cooking Method

There are several cooking methods for waterfowl, such as roasting, grilling, and smoking. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Roasting is the most traditional and straightforward cooking method for waterfowl. You can use an oven or a rotisserie to roast the bird.
  • Grilling is another popular cooking method for waterfowl. You can use a charcoal or gas grill to cook the bird.
  • Smoking is a slow-cooking method that imparts a unique flavor to the meat. You can use a smoker or a smokehouse to smoke the bird.

Seasoning and Marinating

To enhance the flavor of the meat, you can season and marinate the bird before cooking it.

  • Seasoning involves adding salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices to the meat. You can also use a dry rub to season the bird.
  • Marinating involves soaking the bird in a mixture of oil, vinegar, and spices for a few hours before cooking it. This method helps to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor.

Cooking the Bird

After preparing and seasoning the bird, it is time to cook it. The cooking time and temperature depend on the cooking method and the size of the bird.


To roast the bird, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the bird on a roasting pan. Cook the bird for about 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


To grill the bird, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and place the bird on the grill. Cook the bird for about 6-8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


To smoke the bird, preheat the smoker to 225°F and place the bird on the smoker rack. Cook the bird for about 4-5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Waterfowl Recipes

Maybe the best part of the hunt is the fine cuisine, but you need some good recipes, and know how to cook your ducks and geese. Traditional recipes for the waterfowl hunter include simple roasted wild goose, and duck gumbo. Both of these recipes have been popular for generations. Whether you like your duck roasted, seared, grilled, or confit we have a delicious recipe for you.

  • Waterfowl breasts need to be rare to medium. If you overcook them, they’ll taste livery.
  • Legs, thighs and wings, need to be slow cooked so that they’re tender.
  • Diving ducks often need to be brined in 1/4 cup kosher salt to 1 quart of water overnight in the fridge to soften any possible fishy taste.
  • Test the flavor of the fat by cutting off the “Pope’s Nose,” or tail of the duck, and render out the fat in a small frying pan. If the fat smells bad, brine the duck overnight.
  • You can serve the bird with a variety of side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or salad.