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56 responses to “How to Make Smoked Duck”

  1. steve

    Just a couple of suggestions: I would lean strongly towards only a half teaspoon of the Pink salt. A little goes a long way, but then I start with a gallon of water. I would also brine it a lot longer if it was a bigger duck.

    Good Lord, I am salivating at my desk! Smoked duck is close to heaven!

    Here in the Midwest, we get a small ‘diver’ that still goes to puddles called a ring-bill. They are obviously coming from north of us; they are well fed, easier to pluck, snowy white skin with no pin feathers, and a consistent layer of fat that makes them a favorite.

    But I will also pluck a teal and be perfectly content. There are not many ducks better than these little morsels!

  2. Rachel B

    My husband and I disagree on the amount of wood you use to smoke with. How much do you use?

  3. Steve

    This sounds wonderful. Could you smoke a turkey? We have a turkey awaiting harvesting and I’ve wanted to smoke it. The last one was 40 pounds and this will push 30. I was thinking the longer smoke would be a nice way to savor this bird.

  4. bob

    I smoke ducks unbrined, salted the day before, left to dry in the fridge overnight, seasoned simply with salt and peppers and some aromatics on the inside. I let them cook until completly tender throughout at about 215-225 for around 5-6 hours. I dont mind eating the overcoked breast because they stay moist. My question is how do the legs come out with your preparation? The breast looks great in your pic though. Cheers

  5. Diana Welsch

    Which smoker do you use? I have never bought one, but a vendor at the farmer’s market sells a whole duck and I’d like to try your recipe.

  6. Lance

    Just finished smoking a mallard and a wood duck with this recipe. I used both cherry wood and pecan hulls for the smoke. Modified the glaze and used about 1/4 maple syrup and the other 3/4 boiled cider. Fantastic! Looking forward to cooking the carcasses down into stock. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Ryan Sabalow

    Great tips, dude. I now know why my skin didn’t get all crispy last couple of times I’ve tried smoking.

    A few nights back, I smoked up a mallard, a cannie and a speck the other day for me and a buddy for dinner. The cannies were heavenly, though the other two were good. The best part, however, was the leftovers. I chopped the meat up cold and mixed it in with red-leaf lettuce, a homemade balsamic vinaigrette and some salty green olives.

    Pure bliss.

  8. Bob Johnson

    When you are smoking for the slower low temperature version, what internal temperature are you trying to achieve? 3-7 hours is a pretty big window.

  9. Bob Johnson

    Thanks. I am just always worried about overcooking and getting the livery taste. I will be smoking a Pintail, Gadwall, and Spoonie today that we got at Sacramento NWR on Wed. for a New Year’s Day party tomorrow.

  10. Dan K

    Hank. Why is it so important to remove the fat? Isn’t fat what holds the smoke flavor?

  11. Paul C

    I love smoked duck … my absolute favourite way to do them though is to brine the breasts exactly how I’d brine pork for ham and hot smoke them with a simple rub of salt and pepper with a drizzle of maple syrup.

  12. 2peasandapot

    That’s killer. Just another thing that makes me wish I lived outside NYC. I’d follow your blog and hunt and smoke stuff. happy new year’s.

  13. Mark L.

    Not only is this smoked duck fantastic (thanks again for the tips on this technique with my wood ducks), the carcasses make amazing stock.

  14. BethBader

    Sweet! We served duck for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner party and I ended up braising them in mulled cider, then roasting a bit for crispy skin. It worked, but I really want to try them smoked next.

  15. Mike Dwyer


    We smoked a bunch of goose yesterday. How long will it keep in the fridge?

    If I freeze it, when we’re ready to eat do I just thaw and serve (I like it chilled or even room temperature).

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  17. Clifton Lemon

    What’s pink salt?

  18. Ben


    Love the website. I am a Navy pilot who was stationed overseas in Japan, and I used to salivate reading your blog while underway. I have used many of your techniques and recipes to serve to friends, including a huge Christmas meal in 2010 for most of our squadron, many of whom had to go out to sea the next day. That meal was a highlight for many of us during a time when 24 hour-notice deployments were a regular occurrence.

    Duck is popular in Japan (think of all the starred French restaurants in Tokyo…) but less common than in China, so whenever I cooked one of your recipes for our Japanese friends, they could not get enough.

    Our neighborhood park in Yamato, JP had a fantastic pond that attracted great waterfowl during the winter, usually making the trek from Hokkaido, Korea, or Siberian Russia; lesser scaup, Eurasian widgeon, pintail, redheads, etc. My wife and I used to love spending Sundays reading books by the pond and throwing old bread to the ducks.

    Now that we are back in the states and have access to a smoker, and easier access to ducks to cook with, its funny that you posted something about smoked ducks. You already posted a great recipe for pheasant carnitas. As a native Iowan, I naturally gravitate towards anything pheasant. I feel you may want to try this idea, as it has worked for me time and time again:

    Smoke your whole duck according the the recipe above, with the added thought that a touch of cherry or persimmon wood to any bbq is a good idea. Serve the breasts as described. Then, take the smoked wings and legs and do a decent carnitas slow cook in duck fat. Serve on heated tortillas with onion and cilantro.

    Oh, and beer. I am an Iowan, and a Navy pilot. Beer must be included.

  19. neville

    i would like to smoke some barbury duck brests i was looking at your method and trought i would ask for you opnion salt the breasts then cold smoke for 12 hours would this be a safe way to do this

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  21. mike samansky

    What great recipes you do. With pheasant season coming fast Iam looking for a smoked phesant recipe. Do you think this would work for pheasant? I plan to try your pheasant sausage this year as well.

  22. Marty

    Great article. I agree, mesquite is weird. I tend to like Red Oak from the California Coastal Mountains (think Santa Maria Tritip), but I’m going to try some of the other woods you talked about. Another wood I love is Olive.

    I always place my birds breast down. That way the fat off the back moves to the breast making it juicier. I’ve done taste test and everyone unanimously preferred breast down(wild and domestic). I never have time to cut the birds, because after I put them out, they are gone in minutes.


  23. Colin Edwards

    Good site…Am bringing the 10 geese . I breased them & took the legs as well….Hope this works…Thanks for the tips.>>>>COLIN

  24. Cabous


    I live in South Africa, we hunt on a regular bases and will try your recipes, it looks greate!

  25. Peter Imle


    Almost exactly my process. I do brine longer as I do larger batches and freeze some after smoking, but I also do a 24-48 hour (depending on the size of the birds) soak in dr. Pepper or coke. The phosphoric acid does a nice little tenderizing. Err on shorter rather than longer as the consistency gets a little like liver if you over do it. Great recipe.


  26. Steven Button

    Hi Hank, I’ve been working on a smoke house out back for a few days now and this will be very helpful. We were given a couple of Muscovy ducklings around Christmas, and told not to kill them or the kids would be upset. Of course they turned out to be drakes, and have become quite aggressive (and randy!). Mother managed to top it off by asking why we hadn’t put them in the pot at 12 weeks! So, I decided on smoking them, which has led me to here, and here I shall stay-Great Blog, keep it up!

    Steve Button, Tasmania

  27. Richard

    I’m a first time smoker, looking to smoke some duck. Your recipe sounds divine! This may be a silly question, but my smoker tray has an area for the wood chips/etc. and an area for brine or other liquid additives. Any recommendations for the liquid portion? Or should I just use the leftover brine?

  28. peter


    Have you ever used a beer brine for duck? If so, how did it turn out? If not can you speculate how it might come out? Thanks!

  29. Anne Marie

    I have several Canada goose breasts to smoke. Should I brine them before smoking? How long should I plan on smoking them? Because they have been skinned should I be concerned about them drying out? I have a Brinkmann smoker without temperature control.

  30. Patrick J. McNamara

    I can’t wait to shoot a plump dabbler so I can try this method on my Traeger smoker. We are seeing mostly divers and shovelers right now in the SF Bay Area, so that fishy “surf & turf” essence comes with the duck, especially the hens, who are packing on the protein. Here’s a way to mitigate that:

    I breast the ducks, sometimes retaining the skin, but not usually. Then, before grilling I par boil them in a 20% vinegar solution for about 3-4 minutes. The breasts retain that deep red color to the meat, despite the boiling (that color cannot be cooked away!). But, much of the fishiness is gone, and the meaty, hint-of-liver taste I love remains.

  31. Erik Argotti

    Love the site and your books. I am always making something off your website and am telling everybody about it..This maybe obvious to you but I just want to be sure.i have a question about a goose. If I wanted to smoke a goose the 4 cup brine is not going to cover the bird.. Do I just double everything in the brine, including the pink salt if I wanted a more watery brine to cover the whole goose?? So 8 cups of water 1 cup of salt and 2 teaspoons of pink salt??

  32. Jeff croci

    Hi Hank, thanks for sharing all the great recipes. I mostly hunt tye SF bay out of Mtn. View Ca.I shoot a few cans and was wondering what your thoughts were on cooking them whole or smoking them?
    Thanks, jeff

  33. Terry

    Hank: I shot some ducks in ND which were breasted. Is there a more abbreviated proces without the whole carcass ?

  34. Pam

    Hank: I am intending to smoke duck breast in few days time. This dish will be used with a salad. Should I pan sear the skin before or after the smoking process?

  35. Tony

    Someone ask about smoking a turkey. I have smoked several. Yes I do brine my turkey with 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, a large handful of fresh tyme, a 6 inch sprig of rosemary, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, 1 tablespoon dry mustard. I put all these in a pot of water and bring to a boil. I let the water cool with ice and make sure it is cool before pouring over my turkey. I set the brined turkey in the fridge for at least 24 hours. I then rinse off and pat dry. Rub with butter and apply your favored rub. Let let again for at least a full day wrapped tight in plastic wrap. Now get the smoker ready. I use an electric smoker. I like oak and pecan wood mixed. I smoke at 200 degrees for 12 hours. I have never had any one not want seconds.

  36. Matt

    I had doubts about the recipe. Boy was I wrong! Simple and delicious.
    I used mostly cherry wood and a couple of chunks of walnut. Reducing the maple is a must. I didn’t brine, but I sprinkled a little salt with each maple syrup application. Great recipe thanks. Oh, did I mention, great recipe?

  37. Diana

    For Thanksgiving tomorrow I’ll be smoking both a duck and a turkey (putting the duck on the upper rack to baste the turkey). I didn’t see any notes here on finished temperature? Would I be correct in assuming 180 for the ‘dinner duck’ and about 160 for the ‘cold duck’? I’ll be doing the dinner version tomorrow, but would be interested in the cold version for later on.

  38. Dylan

    Hi Hank: First of all, I love your website! I wanted to ask, I am smoking a coot, a teal, an Aleutian, a mallard and a turkey for tomorrow over oak and pear wood in my (non-pc) “little chief” charcoal smoker. I am doing it today so I can make your bourbon-maple gravy (with lots of porcinis I picked yesterday) and help with all the other kitchen craziness my family will be up to, tomorrow. I was going to reheat and crisp the skin of the birds tomorrow, but should I worry about them drying out while reheating? What would you do?

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