Frequently asked questions about duck

Quick Tip
Duck, like all meats and poultry, should rest after cooking to allow the juices to settle in the meat, so make sure you allow time for this in your cooking and serving schedule.
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Visit our Duck Cooking Tips page for more information.

Duck Cooking FAQs

- Is duck hard to prepare?
- What is the proper way to defrost duck?
- What is the best way to store duck?
- How long will thawed duck last in the refrigerator?
- How long are fresh duck products good? Can I freeze fresh duck products?
- Can I cook two whole ducks at the same time? Are the cooking
  instructions the same?

- Can I cook a whole duck with stuffing?
- What do I do with the giblets from a whole duck?
- How do I get crispy skin when cooking a whole duck?
- What do I do with the orange sauce provided with the product?
- Can I cook a whole duck on a rotisserie?

Miscellaneous Duck FAQs

- If duck is poultry, why does it look more like red meat?
- How nutritional is duck? Is it healthy to eat?
- What is the difference between “duck” and “duckling”?
- What is White Pekin duck?
- What’s the difference between Pekin duck and Peking Duck?
- Are your duck products gluten free?
- What are your ducks fed?
- Do you give your ducks hormones?
- How popular is duck?
- Where can I buy Maple Leaf Farms duck products?

Duck Cooking FAQs

Q.     Is duck hard to prepare?   [Back to top]
A.     No. Although Maple Leaf Farms duck is popular among America's finest chefs, you don't need culinary training to prepare it. With a few instructions and recipes from our website or hotline, you'll be able to prepare savory duck dishes sure to please and impress your guests.

In fact, we've made it easy to create the meals you'll remember by providing video instruction on our cooking tips page. Whether you're interested in learning how to properly cut up a whole body duck or score a duck breast, our corporate chef can show you how. For step-by-step cooking instructions, please visit our duck cooking tips page or call our duck hotline at 1-800-348-2812.

With a number of convenient, fully cooked items in the marketplace, Maple Leaf Farms has made preparing duck even easier. Whether you're serving our precooked roasted duck half or pre-seasoned duck breasts, you'll find that preparation of these premium items can take just minutes.

Q.     What is the proper way to defrost duck?   [Back to top]
A.     Never let duck thaw on the counter. Instead defrost the duck in the refrigerator. A breast will thaw overnight; a whole bird can take two days or more. For faster thawing, submerge the duck in its unopened original packaging in COLD water, changing water every 30 minutes.

Q.     What is the best way to store duck?   [Back to top]
A.     Keep duck in a freezer at 0 degrees F. Duck maintains good texture when frozen--better than any other poultry. Defrosted duck should be refrigerated at no higher than 40 degrees F and used within 3-4 days (if not in its vac pack). See below. Once you have thawed raw duck, do not refreeze it, unless you have cooked it.

Q.     How long will thawed duck last in the refrigerator?  [Back to top]
A.     Our duck products will last 14 days thawed (in the fridge) as long as the vac pack hasn't been compromised. If there is a hole in the vac pack, for instance, or the product has been taken out of the vac pack, the product will last about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Q.     How long are fresh duck products good? Can I freeze fresh duck products?  [Back to top]
A.     According to USDA, consumers should use fresh poultry products within 1-2 days of the sell by our best if used by date.  Consumers may freeze fresh duck products if before the sell by date. These products may be good for up to 2 years.

Q.     Can I cook two whole ducks at the same time? Are the cooking instructions the same?   [Back to top]
A.     You can cook two ducks at once. Follow the directions for cooking the larger of the two ducks and add 15 minutes cooking time.

Q.     Can I cook a whole duck with stuffing?   [Back to top]
A.     We do not recommend cooking a raw duck with traditional stuffing inside because the raw juices drip down into the stuffing. This requires longer cooking time to get the stuffing up to 165 degrees F and will result in over cooking the duck. We recommend cooking dressing (stuffing) on the side.  If you want to place the cooked dressing inside the cooked duck for presentation, go right ahead.

Q.     What do I do with the giblets from a whole duck?  [Back to top]
A.     Whole ducks come with giblets (one liver, one heart and two gizzard pieces) and a neck stuffed inside. Remove the giblets and neck before cooking the duck. Reserve to make broth for soup or gravy. You can also pan fry them to use in a variety of recipes.

Q.     How do I get crispy skin when cooking a whole duck?   [Back to top]
A.     Follow our basic recipe for Roasted Whole Duck to create a crispy skin and moist meat. Or try putting the duck under the broiler for the last few minutes -- but watch it closely so it does not burn/char.

Q.     What do I do with the orange sauce provided with the product?  [Back to top]
A.     If you want to use the sauce as is, heat it according to package instructions. Then pour the heated sauce over the roasted duck or glaze the duck in the last 15 minutes of cooking time. You can also use the packet of sauce as a base, and add other ingredients (spices, liqueur, etc.) to make your own sauce and serve it on the side.

Q.     Can I cook a whole duck on a rotisserie?   [Back to top]
A.     Yes, you can. A duck is delicious cooked on a rotisserie.  And it's even better if you brine it overnight before cooking it.  All sorts of flavor can be added by brining.  Orange juice, tea, cider, beer, wine, soy sauce and many other liquids can be used to replace the water.  Then add complimentary herbs and spices to create your own special flavor blend.  For directions on how to brine a duck, check out

Typically a 5-pound duck will cook in 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The internal temperature at the leg joint should reach 175 degrees F. Also, check to see if the leg joint is loose and tender and juices run clear.

If using a table top rotisserie, set heat to medium-low. If using a grill, heat grill to medium and place a drip pan under the duck to catch the rendered fat. Check out our Rotisserie Duck on the Grill recipe >


Miscellaneous Duck FAQs

Q.     If duck is poultry, why does it look more like red meat?    [Back to top]
A.     While duck is poultry, it is very different from chicken and turkey, because it's a red meat. There is no white meat on duck. This means that a well-prepared duck breast eats more like steak than chicken and is slightly pink in the center when properly cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Unlike other red meats, however, duck is very lean and low in saturated fat; therefore, better for you.

Q.     How nutritional is duck? Is it healthy to eat?   [Back to top]
A.     White Pekin duck is a healthy and nutritious alternative to other meats, because the fat is almost all in the skin, not in the meat, giving cooks the option of limiting the fat without sacrificing much flavor. Plus, duck fat is low in saturated fats. New research is revealing that duck fat has similar properties to olive oil! A three-ounce serving of skinless White Pekin duck contains only two grams fat and 0.5 grams of saturated fat.

White Pekin duck contains fewer calories than many cuts of beef and comparable amounts of calories to chicken and turkey, underscoring why duck offers a great choice for consumers focused on weight loss and weight management.

Duck contains more iron per serving than many other meats, including chicken, turkey, Cornish game hen and many cuts of beef. Iron serves as an essential part of the body’s blood, helps in brain development and supports a healthy immune system. A duck breast is a good source of iron for pre-menopausal women, providing 10 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake value for this audience. It also serves as an excellent source of iron for men and post-menopausal women, providing 25 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake value.

White Pekin duck provides an excellent source of both niacin and selenium, offering greater than 20 percent of the daily recommended intake for each of these important nutrients. Niacin is essential to energy metabolism and DNA repair. Selenium along with vitamin E, works as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer, heart disease or other heart problems. Selenium also aids in cell growth and boosts immune function. Read more about how duck fits into a healthy lifestyle.

Q.     What is the difference between “duck” and “duckling”?   [Back to top]
A.     Today the words “duck” and “duckling” can be used interchangeably on duck products. Most ducks in the market are young and tender and will be called either duck or duckling. An older duck called a "Mature" will be tougher and will require a longer, tenderizing cooking method like braising or stewing.

Q.     What is White Pekin duck?   [Back to top]
A.     Pekin or White Pekin duck came from China and was introduced to America through Long Island. Today it’s raised throughout the United States, but many people still refer to White Pekin duck as Long Island duck. White Pekin duck is the most popular breed in the United States. It represents about 95 percent of the duck sold in the U.S, typically found in restaurants and grocery stores.

Q.     What’s the difference between Pekin duck and Peking Duck?    [Back to top]
A.     Pekin or White Pekin duck is a breed and should not be confused with Peking Duck, which is a popular Chinese preparation (recipe) for duck.

Q.     Are your duck products gluten free?   [Back to top]
A.     Most of our duck products do not contain gluten as an ingredient. However, many of our products are produced in a facility that is not certified (tested) to be gluten-free, and our appetizer products are formulated with gluten-containing ingredients. This information is not noted on product package labels as it is not required for food labeling. (Learn more by visiting the FDA website.) If you have questions about a specific product, please contact our Service Specialists at 800-348-2812, option 2.

Q.     What are your ducks fed?   [Back to top]
A.     Our ducks eat an all natural diet of corn, wheat and soybeans. We buy the corn and soy used in our duck feeds from local farmers, who may plant both GMO and non-GMO crops that are not kept separate. Our ducks are not fed antibiotics, hormones, steroids or any growth promotants.

Q.     Do you give your ducks hormones?   [Back to top]
A.     Hormones are not allowed to be given to poultry in the United States. We use no hormones or any other growth promotants in our ducks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not permit the use of hormones in raising hogs or poultry (chickens, turkeys, duck, and other fowl). That is why the USDA does not allow the use of the term "no hormones added" on labels of pork or poultry products unless it is followed by a statement explaining that "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."

Q.     How popular is duck? [Back to top]
A.     More Americans are discovering duck than ever before. With its delightful flavor profile, unique versatility, and ease of preparation, duck has become a favorite among consumers looking for an alternative to other meat and poultry. In fact, the consumption of White Pekin duck has increased significantly, growing more than 35 percent between 1995 and 2005.

Q.     Where can I buy Maple Leaf Farms duck products?  [Back to top]
A.     To find stores in your area that carry Maple Leaf Farms duck, please use our product locator. It is always best to call the meat manager at a store to verify if a particular product is in stock. Please note that since our whole ducks are sold by weight in stores, they are not included in the product locator. The locator also features a request form to add stores that are not listed or to suggest that a retailer carry our duck products. All of our retail duck products are also available to purchase online.