Teal is one of Britain’s smallest wild ducks and belongs to the dabbling species. They are characterised by their short necks and the males’ brightly coloured markings and distinctive plumage.

Teal are known for their small size, their fast flying speeds and delicious meat. Classic recipes for duck such as the French, duck l’orange, can also be made using a quality wild duck such as teal. A popular roasted duck recipe is served with game chips, (thinly sliced and deep fried potatoes, a classic for game meat), steamed vegetables, gravy, and rice among many others.

Where are teal found?


The wild species lives and feeds in shallow fresh water, feeding on the surface of the water. There are several subspecies of teal all around the world and they can all be cooked in the same way. In the UK, the birds generally moved from the high ground to low in winter and vice versa in summer. There is often a large influx of birds from further north during the winter period.

How to cook wild ducks 


Wild ducks are sometimes a bit risky in terms of flavour. Mallard, the largest and most common of the wild ducks, is more reliable when it comes to a good flavour and can feed about two to three people. However, Mallards lack the sought-after gamey taste of the smaller teal ducks. At best, wild ducks are wonderful when roasted or stewed but can unfortunately, due to the unpredictability of the birds, sometimes be tough with an odd fishy flavour.

What to look for when buying teal


The wild duck season runs from the 1st of September to the 31st of January. The birds can be purchased from reliable game meat providers and mail order services who should be able to provide information about the duck and where it’s from as well as advice on how to cook and prepare the bird. The bird should have fresh looking flesh with few blemishes. Look out for stray feathers on the body and any tears in the flesh. Like all game, for a fuller, richer flavour, the meat should be allowed to hang for around 2-3 days.

How to cook and serve teal


Duck meat is considered a delicacy in many cultures around the world. Due to the size of the bird, one whole teal per person is an adequate portion for a serving. As the birds are fairly lean, they can dry out and become dull when cooked so should never be overcooked. Duck is best served pink to avoid it from becoming overcooked. It is much closer in meat type to a beef steak than it is to chicken; the juices of the teal should not run clear, they should be red like rare beef. Additionally, a good marinade put onto the skin for around 4-24 hours can keep the duck moist and succulent; this is also improved by cutting the skin to help the marinade penetrate further.

As the season for teal is in the autumn and beginning of winter, fresh, hearty, robust flavours accompany it well. Also, so the carcase isn’t wasted, the bones make a great stock for future dishes. 

Teal Recipes: