Smoked Duck Breast

J – I just finished the last piece of smoked duck and cave-aged Gruyere pizza.

Delicious! Can’t get that in any pizza shop. Actually, you can’t get good smoked duck at very many places either. We did smoked duck breasts almost as an after-thought during duck week. It was a pretty successful after-thought.

Done right, the flavor of smoked duck is sublime. The meat is silky and tender with a smokiness that doesn’t overpower. The thin layer of duck fat just melts in your mouth, doing flavor magic as only duck fat can.

When we broke down the ducks for leg and wing confit, we had all these breasts left, along with the rest of the carcass. The carcass was easy. Duck jus, oh my! But, what to do with the breasts?

Luke wanted to experiment with making duck prosciutto. But, being an experiment didn’t allow access to all the breasts. We did cook one up … just to be sure. We had done a bunch of smoked lamb and pork bacon recently. Smoked duck seemed an easy choice … especially because Christina had never had it before.

Smoking brined meat is super easy on a covered grill with a thermometer. Charcoal, wood chips, water and not much time is all you need. While we suggest “a pretty good amount of smoke,” that doesn’t mean all the smoke you can possibly create. Keeping a steady 200-degree temperature is also critical.

Smoked Duck Breast
Recipe type: Mains
Prep time: 96 hours
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 96 hours 45 mins
Serves: 9 smoked duck breasts
  • 9 boneless duck breasts with skin attached
  • ½ bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 heads garlic, cut in half
  • ½ cup salt
  1. Add thyme, sage, wine, bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic and salt into 1½ quarts of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Place duck breasts into a flat baking or hotel pan large enough to allow the breasts to lay flat. Pour brine over until they are covered.
  4. Soak in brine for 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
  5. Remove from pan and wiped dry with paper towel, removing any spice bits.
  6. Prepare smoker or charcoal grill for indirect heat at 200 degrees. It will be covered.
  7. Prepare a smoking chip box or pan with well-soaked wood chips of a desired flavor like hickory, cherry or apple wood. You will also want to place chips directly on the coals to achieve a good amount of smoke. We used cherry wood this time.
  8. Lay the duck breasts on the grate skin-side-up to start. Cover. Control the temperature to a steady 200 degrees. There should be a pretty good amount of smoke.
  9. Flip the breasts after about 15 minutes. After another 15 minutes, return them to skin-side-up. Check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. They are done at 150 degrees.
  10. Remove and let cool completely on a rack. Store individually wrapped breasts in the freezer.
  11. Slice and serve.
  12. Enjoy!


We cut right into a piece just as soon as it cooled. It was delicious.

Thanks, Luke! Now, we just need to think of all the ways we can use smoked duck. Shouldn’t be too hard.

7 thoughts on “Smoked Duck Breast

  1. The picture of ingredients shows a shallot but it is not in the list or instructions. Should it be chopped or left out?

    • I don’t know if your noticed after you asked, but I went back to check and you’re right! It does have the shallot in the pictures below however, in the brine mixture. So I say include it! But good observation!

  2. Use the shallot!! BTW: We just made another 16 smoked duck breasts. Can’t seem to get enough of it.

  3. I tried this recipe for the first time last week and all who tried agreed that it was delicious.

    I used my covered barbeue as a smoker but I could only lower temp. to 230 degrees – just reduced cooking time a little. Worked OK.

    I used oak sawdust which was a bit strong so plan to use apple shavings the next time.

    Question is it really necessary to soak for 4 days?

    • Two days is the minimum. But, it won’t get any “saltier” if you leave it longer. Just keep it very cold the whole time and bring fully up to room temp before smoking.

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