Perfect smoked duck, cooked low and slow over maple wood for juicy and tender meat. From barbecue times and temperatures to best meat prep, learn how to smoke a duck with our full meat smoking recipe.
If you’re craving smoked poultry that packs in more punch than chicken or turkey, look no further than duck. The best thing about this beautiful bird is that it has more dark meat and fat than its poultry contemporaries. This gives it an incredible amount of moisture and flavor.
If you cook it right on your backyard smoker, you’ll finish with delicate fall-off-the-bone meat contained in a delicious case of crispy skin.
One of my favorite things about duck is that it’s mostly breast meat. This doesn’t just make it easier to carve, but it also makes it easier to cook more evenly. Your resulting smoked dark will be juicy, tender, and easy to serve up.
What wood is best for smoking duck?
Sweet and fruit hardwoods are best for smoked duck, including apple, pecan, cherry, and alder. For this recipe, we are using maple. It strikes a delicate balance between sweet and smokey without overpowering our meat.
How long does it take to smoke duck?
Smoked duck will need about 4 hours to cook at 225°F (107°C) for it to reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Other factors like smoker setup and meat quantity will affect this, so use a smoker thermometer for the best results.
The good news is that duck is much easier to smoke than it might seem. Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of your smoked meat.
Pierce the duck skin
For this recipe, we’ll penetrate the skin of the bird with, ideally, the sharp end of a skewer, or a sharp chef’s knife. Importantly, we only want to pierce the skin and not the meat. This is important because it allows us to work the seasoning into the duck meat without damaging it.
Rememeber to dry brine
Apply kosher salt to the raw duck, and allow it to rest for at least eight hours in the refrigerator. This is called dry brining, and is a process that helps meat retain flavor and moisture when it’s cooked. This is particularly important with barbecue, where meats are exposed to high temperatures for hours and can be prone to drying out.
Don’t forget to baste
Smoking can be a fine balancing act, where we try to expose meat to low temperatures without allowing it to dry out. Duck is no different. One of the best ways around this is to use a glaze while we smoke. This allows us to keep the meat moist during the cooking process while also enhancing the flavor. For this recipe, we’re going to use simple honey, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice mix. If this sounds too sweet for you, try swapping out the honey for something else. Be creative!
If you struggle to get your meat temperature up to 165°F, try covering it in aluminum foil for the final hour of cooking. This should help to lock in heat and moisture, and speed up the cooking process.