posted December 30, 2019
Smoked Duck is totally delicious and a foolproof way to pack flavor and moisture into your fresh duck. This post is especially handy for all those duck hunters out there who are looking for a delicious way to smoke your hard-earned catch as it works on both wild or domesticated duck.
Smoked Whole Duck
If you’re looking for a way to branch out from the same old beef and pulled pork on your smoker, I can’t recommend smoking a whole duck enough. Duck meat is an extremely moist, dark meat that tastes great when smoked. Duck meat is also richer and fattier than turkey or chicken, so it packs a massive flavor punch.
One added bonus of smoking a whole duck – the duck is pretty aerodynamic and the breast meat makes up a majority of the duck. That means the whole thing will cook more evenly! You’ll have tender, melt in your mouth duck breast and fully cooked thighs perfect for shredding.
The secret to this smoked duck is in the preparation. It is a simple, preparation, but it does takes some time so plan ahead. This duck starts with a dry brine to season the meat and draw moisture from the skin. Then it is slow smoked to render the fat in between the skin and the breast meat. Finally, it is glazed and broiled to give you juicy meat and crispy duck skin. It’s quite possibly the best duck I’ve ever had in my life.
Smoked Duck Brine
For this recipe, I opted to dry brine my duck prior to smoking. Dry brining is a process that involves salting the entire duck for hours before you smoke to season the meat all the way through. Another perk of dry brining is it removes moisture from the skin of the duck (which will give you much crispier and more edible skin).
To brine your duck, you’ll want to start by piercing the skin of the duck all over (making sure not to pierce the meat itself). You can do this with a sharp skewer or even the end of your meat thermometer probe. This allow the salt to reach the meat. Next, sprinkle the duck on all sides using a good quality coarse Kosher salt (not table salt). I like to use a Kosher flake salt for most of my cooking.
Once you have your duck salted, place it in a baking pan (to catch any liquid released from the duck) and into the refrigerator uncovered. Plan on letting your duck brine for 3 hours per pound of duck. My duck was 5 pounds, so it brined for 15 hours total. Remove the duck right before placing it on the smoker and brush off any excess salt and use a paper towel to pat your duck completely dry. You won’t need any further seasoning or prep for this duck, but I do recommend stuffing the cavity of the duck with small oranges, cut in half.
How to Smoke a Duck
After you have brined your duck in preparation for smoking, you’ll want to create a simple glaze of orange juice and maple syrup and set it aside for use while the duck is smoking. Next, simply follow these steps to get your duck smoked to juicy perfection:
- Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F. For this duck recipe, I recommend using maple wood, but alder, pecan, apple, or cherry would also work.
- Stuff. Fill the cavity of your duck with small oranges, cut in half.
- Smoke. Place the duck directly on the smoker, close the lid, and allow the duck to smoke for approximately 2 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Make sure to use a reliable meat thermometer when smoking this duck to ensure it is fully cooked.
- Baste. Brush your duck with the orange maple glaze after it comes off the smoker.
- Broil. Preheat your oven to broil and transfer your duck to the oven. Allow the duck to broil for 2-3 minutes to finish rendering the fat, caramelize the glaze, and give the skin a nice, crisp exterior.
Once your duck is fully cooked and crisp, remove the duck from the oven to a serving platter and rest for 10 minutes before serving. You can drizzle with additional orange maple glaze after slicing for added moisture and flavor.
How Long to Smoke a Duck
It takes approximately 2-3 hours to fully smoke a duck (depending on the size). When cooking duck, you are aiming for the internal temperature of the breast meat to reach 160 degrees F. I plan on about 30 minutes per pound of duck. I like to finish with a quick broil to further render the fat and get the skin nice and crisp.
Some people prefer their duck breast to be cooked to a medium rare temperature (135 degrees F), but that is really difficult to do with a whole duck. With a whole duck, you also need to be mindful of the legs and thighs, which are much better when finished at a higher temperature. This whole duck is smoked at a lower temperature, so you don’t need to worry about the breasts drying out. They will be totally delicious when finished at 160 degrees F.
Smoked Duck Breast
Speaking of smoked duck breast, you can absolutely adapt this recipe for duck breasts only. Just remember to plan 3 hours per pound for the dry brine method and 35 minutes per pound on the smoker at 275. Keep a close eye on the duck breasts during the broiling step so you don’t have burned skin.
More Smoked Poultry Recipes
Duck isn’t the only bird that tastes amazing on the smoker. Try out more smoked poultry recipes available on the blog today:
Smoked Duck Recipe
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- 1 5 pound duck (neck and giblets removed)
- ⅓ cup Kosher salt
- 2 small oranges (halved)
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup maple syrup
- Dry brine the duck. Pierce the skin all over the duck (not into the meat) using the sharp end of a skewer or your thermometer probe. Sprinkle the duck with Kosher salt all over the skin. Place the duck in a shallow pan and into the refrigerator for 15 hours.
- Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F using maple wood.
- Smoke and baste the duck. Remove the duck from the refrigerator and brush off excess salt. Pat the skin of the duck completely dry. Fill the cavity of the duck with the orange halves. Place the duck directly on the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for about 2.5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the duck reaches 160 degrees F. Baste the duck with the basting liquid after it comes out of the smoker.
- Broil the duck. When your duck has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, transfer it to the oven (on broil) and broil for 2-3 minutes to finish rendering the fat and to crisp the skin. Keep a close eye on the duck to prevent burning.
- Rest. Remove the duck from the oven to a serving platter. Rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Remove the breasts from the carcass and slice before removing the legs and thighs and shredding. Drizzle with additional maple orange glaze, if desired.
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