Grilled Dove Poppers

There may be fancier dove recipes out there, but it’s still hard to beat this classic

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
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For a lot of us, early September means dove hunting. There’s no better way to get our entire family afield in a social hunting situation. Good-natured ribbing over missed shots, and the occasional “well done” on a made one, keeps everyone involved.

For a lot of hunters, dove season means days spent afield with family.

For us, dove hunting always means poppers on the grill. Sure, you can use dove in other recipes, but there is a reason the classic popper is so popular. It’s just plain good. 

A platter full of tasty poppers is the perfect payoff after a day spent dove hunting.

If you’ve never made a dove popper, the process is pretty simple. You take one side of a breasted-out dove breast, smear it with a bit of cream cheese, top it with a slice of jalapeño pepper and onion, then you wrap the whole thing up with a half slice of bacon, secure it with a toothpick, and toss it on the grill. 

Dove breast is a lot like duck. It just tastes better when cooked to about medium or even slightly under. To prevent the dove meat from overcooking, I prefer to use relatively thin bacon for the recipe. Thin bacon does two things. First, it gets nice and crisp in a short enough time to prevent the dove breast from overcooking. Second, a single layer of thin bacon complements the flavor without overpowering the dove meat. There is nothing wrong with the taste of grilled bacon, I cook it that way all the time, but when I eat dove, I want to taste the dove.

(Gear Up for Warm Weather Dove Hunts: Realtree Edge Camo Short Sleeve Performance Shirt)


15 doves, breasted out into two pieces of meat for each dove

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of bacon

One 8-ounce block of cream cheese

1 jar of sliced jalapeño peppers

1/2 white onion, cut into bite-sized pieces


Cooking Instructions

Start by seasoning the dove breast well with salt and pepper. Use the thinnest bacon you can find. Cut the bacon down the center to make half slices. 

The classic popper ingredients are simple, but the flavors work perfectly together.

To assemble the poppers, lay out a half strip of bacon (stretch it a little if you need extra length). Lay one side of a boneless dove breast on the bacon. Top the dove with a dollop of cream cheese. I use about a teaspoon per popper. Place a slice of jalapeño pepper atop the cream cheese, then top that with a slice of onion. Rolling up a bunch of poppers can get tedious, but we try to get everyone involved in an assembly line to speed the process. 

Layer the popper ingredients on the bacon, then roll tightly.

Roll the popper tightly with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until all poppers are assembled. 

Secure everything with a toothpick.

Grill over a hot charcoal fire, monitoring closely to move the poppers out of the inevitable flare-ups, until the bacon is cooked through and crisp. Most of our poppers cook in 7 to 10 minutes.

Grill the poppers over hot coals.

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