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How to Smoke a Whole Duck?

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Smoked duck is truly a delicacy to be enjoyed as a flavorful dinner entrée or cold appetizer. For duck enthusiasts, it is often the 5-star central dish for a major holiday meal or important event. The best home chefs know that only plucked birds are fit for smoking at specific duck cooking temperature settings. Some novices make the mistake of selecting a skinned duck. Yet the bird’s skin and fat are what hold that rich, irresistible smoky flavor that everyone strives to achieve.

Actually, domestic geese and ducks are in the category of avian pigs with high fat content. Smoking is a taste-enhancing and tenderizing method of preparing duck. Keep in mind that smoking the whole waterfowl rather than pieces renders the best results. Large White Pekin, Muscovy or Moulard duck are best choices for ensuring a fabulous meal. Large birds smoke more smoothly and evenly than smaller ones. However, you can also smoke a teal (small, dark blue-green freshwater duck) if you like.

The Secret to Smoke Duck Superior Flavor

Duck meat is different from the flesh of other fowl. For this reason, it requires different preparation, grilling and smoking methods. Ducks are very active birds. They can fly several hundred miles per day, which enriches their muscles with myoglobin.

This red protein has a structure much like hemoglobin and supplies extra oxygen to their muscles. Because these birds also swim, their breasts have a dense fat layer to promote buoyancy. Both the myoglobin and this fat layer enhance the rich, full taste and moist consistency of duck meat.

Since ducks have only dark meat, it is easier to roast or grill a holiday duck than either a turkey or chicken. With duck, you have no concerns about keeping the light breast meat moist while browning the darker legs to perfection. The trick to serving tender, flavorful duck meat that is irresistible to the palate is using the best duck cooking temperature. This dissolves the fat for the ultimate superb flavor.

Major Steps for Successfully Smoking Duck

perfect smoked duck

Prepping Your Duck

  1. The day before you smoke your duck, trim back the skin surrounding the bird’s neck. Leave a skin flap of approximately one inch intact, and cut away the wing tips.
  2. After removing the giblets, use paper towels to pat the duck until dry.
  3. Pierce the bird’s skin or slash lightly, penetrating the entire layer of fat. These marks should appear about an inch apart across the skin surface. Avoid piercing the meat beneath the fat so that the fat can escape outward.
  4. Brush the skin surfaces with a mixture of soy sauce (1 tablespoon) and honey (2 tablespoons), then add salt and pepper evenly.
  5. Stuff the cavity of the duck with a mandarin orange cut into quarters and mixed with chopped onion.
  6. Position the duck on a metal cooling rack or grate with a baking sheet beneath. The baking sheet should have 1/4 to 1/2-inch rims.
  7. For optimal tender and juicy duck meat, dry brine the bird. After loosening the skin slightly, rub around one teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat over all meat surfaces. Be sure to keep the salt under the skin.
  8. Refrigerate the uncovered duck overnight in preparation for cooking.
  9. Grilling the Delicious Smoked Duck of Your Dreams

Stoke Up Your Meat Smoker

  1. Fire up your smoker to temperatures of 300 to 325 degrees F (149 to 163 degrees C), adding wood chunks or chips. A favorite wood type to use is cherry wood for a divine fruity touch to the duck flavor.
  2. Produce a humid atmosphere by putting a water pan underneath the grilling grate of the cooker. This pan will also conveniently catch dripping cooking juices.
  3. Position the cooking grate in its place, ensuring that the air probe is secured using a grate clip.
  4. Close the lid of your smoker, allowing smoke to gather for approximately 20 minutes.

Smoking a Delicious Bird at Ideal Duck Cooking Temperature

  1. On the smoker’s meat monitoring controls, set the smoke’s high alarm at 157 degrees F (69 degrees C). The channel that calculates the temperature of the smoker should have the high alarm set at 330 degrees F (166 degrees C) and the low alarm turned to 295 degrees F (146 degrees C).
  2. Insert your ThermoPro Meat Thermometer in the central, warmest part of the bird’s breast meat. This will get an accurate reading of the duck breast temperature.
  3. Place your duck on the smoker cooking grate and close the lid. Attach the probes for pit and meat to the smoke thermometer.
  4. If you have picked a brisk, cold day for smoking, you can now go indoors to get warm and cozy. Simply wear the smoker’s receiver around your neck. This handy device will alert you if the smoker’s temperature varies too much. It will also send an alert when the meat reaches the perfect temperature. An average duck takes approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours to fully smoke for a rich, unbeatable flavor. Extra-large birds may require 4 or 5 hours of slow smoking on lower heat.
  5. After the high temperature alarm rings to alert you that your duck is fully smoked, you can verify this. Just re-insert your advanced-design ThermoPro Meat Thermometer into different areas of the duck meat. In this way, you can check for even smoking to ensure that the duck is completely done.

Let Your Smoked Duck Rest and Cool

  1. Remove your duck from the smoker after verifying its temperature. Allow it to rest about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. By leaving the thermometer probe in the bird, you can monitor the rising temperature of the duck’s thermal center. This includes carryover cooking. You can monitor the minimum and maximum temperatures as calculated on your smoker’s channel displays. By doing so, you can ensure that the duck meat fully reached the temperature of 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). This is the accepted safe level for healthy smoked duck breast temperature.

Essential Temperature Range for Cooking a Duck

Commonly accepted smoking temperatures for meat and poultry are low, from 200 to 275 degrees F (93 to 135 degrees in roast duck temperature Celsius). However, duck requires a higher cooking temperature for good rendering of its fat content. For this reason, the generally recommended cooking temperature for duck meat is 300 to 325 degrees F (149 to 163 degrees C).

Some home chefs wonder if ducks that have reached 165 degrees F while cooking, but are still pink in the center, are really done. Is it essential for your duck to reach this ideal smoke duck temp and be well browned?

Is pink duck meat safe for eating, even though it has a marvelous aroma, great flavor and is tender and juicy? Experts advise that dark duck meat can be pink even when grilled to a safe temperature.

The light coloring is often due to a feature of the duck prepping, cooking method or seasonings added. If you get a safe reading of the internal duck meat temperature on your accurate thermometer, no need to worry. Your smoked duck is ready as the main course of your festive family dinner or party. Remember that the smoking of your duck also ensures its thorough, even cooking. It has been prepared at the ideal smoke duck breast temperature.

The USDA Time-Temperature Pasteurization Tables reveal that poultry can be safe for consumption at less than 165 degrees F. Duck meat is deemed pasteurized if it remains at 157 degrees F (69 degrees C) for 50.4 seconds. When pasteurized, it is safe for consumption and enjoyment. At a temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C), the meat is safe if the duck breast temperature remains steady for 26.9 seconds.

Now your fabulous duck is ready for carving and serving. You have created the perfect central dish for any holiday dinner or special event.

Desired Duck Doneness Temperatures

smoke duck doneness
Various duck doneness temperature ranges, to suit different individual tastes, are as follows:
  • Rare: Internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees F
  • Medium-rare: Internal temperature of 130 to 140 degrees F
  • Medium: Internal temperature of 140 to 155 degrees F
  • Well-done: Internal temperature of 155 to 170 degrees F
  • Done: Internal temperature of 165 degrees F

Ideal Duck Smoking Time for Excellent Results

Ducks are small birds weighing from 5-1/2 to 6 pounds. For this reason, they can be fully smoked in much less time than an average turkey. You can count on your holiday duck being ready for dinner after 2 to 3 hours of smoking. In fact, your tender, juicy, aromatic and delicious smoked duck may be rested and ready for carving after 2-1/2 hours.

Try using a dual-channel alarm thermometer for monitoring both meat and cooker temperature for a duck done to perfection. This will ensure steady use of the ideal smoke duck breast temperature.

Precautions for Inserting Instant-read Thermometers in Ducks

Today’s instant-read thermometers are compact, lightweight and convenient to use. You may be roasting holiday foods in your indoor or outdoor oven. For special holiday meals and events, you are most likely cooking a tender, juicy duck in your deck-side smoker. In both instances, you can gain major benefits by using an instant-read model like a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer. This device gives accurate smoke duck temp readings.

how to insert thermometer into duck

Helpful tips and precautions for using an instant-read thermometer when smoking your holiday dinner duck include the following:

  • For best results, insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat to get a reading of the true roast duck temperature Celsius or Fahrenheit.
  • When spot-checking your duck for thorough cooking temperatures, be careful not to touch the hot smoker grate or sides.
  • For accurate temperature readings of a smoking duck, insert your thermometer into the center of the meat.
  • Avoid letting your thermometer touch bone as this will give a false reading of internal duck meat temperature. Bone and flesh conduct heat differently.
  • It is best to take your last reading of your smoking duck meat temperature before the smoking is finished. This temp can be calculated in roast duck temperature Celsius or Fahrenheit.


Smoked duck is a delicious treat for holiday meals, cold appetizer plates, party foods and special snack foods. Since duck meat is different from other birds and waterfowl, it calls for different methods of prepping and cooking. Due to their high fat content, ducks smoke very evenly, and their all-dark meat makes them easy to smoke.

Once you master the art of prepping and cooking your holiday duck to perfection, you will enjoy the process. You will know the exact temperature ranges for ensuring different degrees of duck meat doneness. The ideal duck smoking time will be easier for you to determine with each new grilling experience.

In addition, you will practice the necessary precautions for inserting instant-read thermometers into cooking duck meat. You will also realize the value and convenience of using a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer, especially for perfecting your duck smoking. After buying your first instant-read meat thermometer from ThermoPro, you will make it an essential smoking tool.

You will appreciate its great value for producing gourmet smoked duck. This advanced-design, durable and convenient thermometer will ensure that you will smoke duck like an experienced pro-chef. The delicious results will delight one and all who are fortunate to dine at your table.

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