Perfectly Smoked Duck Breast

Duck is one of the most decadent types of fowl to prepare. The meat is rich and bold in flavor, making it very different from chicken breast. It’s actually more akin to a beef steak, and it is served medium rare to medium in many recipes.

We admit duck breast can be a little intimidating to prepare. The thick layer of fat can quickly flare up, causing the breast to char and leaving an unpleasant flavor and inconsistent internal temperature in the meat itself. We have found that smoking duck breast is the easiest way to prepare it with the best and most consistent results.

We like to start with a simple brine of apple juice and apple cider vinegar and a few spices to ensure the duck breast stays moist while smoking. It also adds a delicious, sweeter flavor. We recommend keeping the temperature in the smoker between 225 and 245 degrees. If you do not have a true smoker, this can easily be done on a charcoal grill using wood chips. If using a grill, set the coals off to one side, making sure the breasts will cook with an indirect heat and preventing any flare ups from the coals. Depending on the size of the breasts, they may only take a couple of hours to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. We then finish them off in the oven to help the skins crisp up.

Servings: 6



6 (4-to-6-ounce) boneless
duck breasts

4 cups apple juice

¼ cup unfiltered apple
cider vinegar

3 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Chinese Five
Spice Powder

½ teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon onion powder


1. Rinse the duck breasts and place them in a large plastic storage bag.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apple juice and the remaining ingredients together. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

3. Pour the brining mixture into the storage bag over the duck breasts. Press all the air out of the bag and seal it. Place the bag into the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours before smoking.


1. Take the storage bag out of the refrigerator and allow the duck to come up to room temperature. Remove from the brine and pat them dry.

2. Heat a wood smoker to 225 degrees. Place pecan wood pieces into the smoker. Set the duck breasts skin side up on the middle rack of the smoker.

3. Depending on their size, smoke the duck breasts for 2 to 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove the breasts from the smoker.

4. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and place the duck breasts into the oven to continue cooking and crisp up the skin. This will take 7 to 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches between 155 and 165 degrees. Allow the duck to rest
5 minutes before serving.

This article was originally published in the November 2021 issue of 225 magazine.

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