Cooking Duck on the Grill?

Cooking Duck on the Grill?

As a professional chef, I have learned the ins and outs of grilling a variety of meats, including duck. One of the most versatile and flavorful meats to grill, duck is a popular choice for outdoor cooking enthusiasts. Whether you are looking to grill duck breasts, legs, or a whole bird, there are a few tips and tricks you need to know to achieve perfectly cooked and delicious results.

Grilling adds a unique smoky flavor and crispy texture to duck, making it a favorite for many grill masters. In this article, we will explore the different cuts of duck that can be grilled, the best grilling techniques for achieving succulent meat and crispy skin, and some delicious recipes to try out on your next grilling adventure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cooking duck on the grill is a popular and flavorful option for outdoor cooking enthusiasts.
  • Grilling adds a unique smoky flavor and crispy texture to duck.
  • Grilled duck can be prepared in various cuts, including breast, legs, or a whole bird.
  • Proper technique and preparation, including selecting the right duck and grilling tools, are essential for achieving delicious grilled duck.
  • Experimentation and trying different recipes and flavors can lead to discovering your perfect grilled duck dish.

Choosing the Right Duck for Grilling

When it comes to grilling duck, choosing the right type of duck is crucial for achieving delicious results. Some duck breeds have a more gamey flavor, while others are milder and more tender.

One popular option for grilling is the Pekin duck, which is the most common breed of duck in the United States. Pekin duck has a mild flavor and tender meat that is perfect for grilling. Other popular breeds for grilling include Muscovy duck and Mallard duck, which have a richer, gamier flavor.

No matter which breed you choose, it is important to select fresh, high-quality duck from a reputable source. Look for plump, firm duck that has a clean, fresh smell. Avoid duck that has a strong odor or feels slimy to the touch.

Properly handling and storing the duck before grilling is also important for achieving great results. Store duck in the refrigerator at 40°F or below, and cook it within 1-2 days of purchase. Make sure to clean the duck thoroughly and pat it dry before seasoning and grilling.

Choosing the Right Cuts of Duck for Grilling

When grilling duck, there are several different cuts to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and texture.

Duck breast is a popular choice for grilling, with its tender, juicy meat and crispy skin. Duck legs are also a great option for grilling, with their rich, flavorful meat and crispy skin. For those looking to try something different, grilling a whole duck can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Whichever cut you choose, make sure to follow proper preparation and grilling techniques for best results.

Preparing the Duck for Grilling

Before grilling duck, it is essential to properly prepare it to ensure flavorful and succulent meat. Here are the necessary steps to take:

  1. Clean the Duck: Remove any giblets, excess fat, or feather remnants from the duck. Rinse it under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Season the Duck: To enhance the flavor of the duck, season it with a dry rub or marinade. A simple mix of salt, pepper, and herbs such as thyme or rosemary can work wonders. For a more complex flavor profile, try a marinade made from soy sauce, honey, and ginger.
  3. Marinate the Duck: Depending on the recipe, you may want to marinate the duck for several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat. Place the duck in a sealed plastic bag or container and refrigerate it while it marinates.
  4. Score the Skin (Optional): To achieve crispy skin, score the skin in a crosshatch pattern using a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut too deeply into the flesh.
  5. Prepare the Grill: Preheat your grill to high heat. Oil the grates to prevent sticking.
  6. Cook the Duck: Depending on the cut of duck and desired doneness, you can either use direct or indirect grilling methods. For duck breast, start by searing it over high heat for a few minutes on each side before transferring it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. For duck legs, use indirect heat and a longer cooking time to ensure the meat is fully cooked and tender.
  7. Let the Duck Rest: Once the duck is cooked to your liking, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures a moist and juicy final product.

By following these steps, you can achieve perfectly grilled duck every time. Don’t forget to experiment with different seasonings and marinades to find your favorite flavor combination.

Grilling Techniques for Perfect Duck

Grilling duck is a delicate process that requires attention to detail and precise technique. Follow these expert grilling techniques to ensure perfectly cooked, succulent duck:

Direct vs. Indirect Grilling

Direct grilling involves placing the duck directly over the heat and cooking it quickly at high heat. This method is best suited for thin cuts of duck, such as duck breast. Indirect grilling involves cooking the duck away from the direct heat and allowing it to cook slowly. This method is ideal for larger cuts, such as whole duck or duck legs.

Temperature Control

Controlling the temperature is crucial for grilling duck. For direct grilling, preheat the grill to high heat (around 400°F) before placing the duck on the grates. For indirect grilling, preheat the grill to medium heat (around 350°F) before placing the duck away from the direct heat. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the duck. When the temperature reaches 135°F, remove the duck from the grill and allow it to rest for a few minutes.

Crispy Skin

To achieve crispy skin, score the skin of the duck with a sharp knife before grilling. This allows the fat to render and crisp up. Another trick is to place the duck skin-side down on the grill and allow it to cook for a few minutes before flipping it over.


Basting the duck with a marinade or sauce during grilling adds moisture and enhances the flavor. Use a brush to apply the basting mixture to the duck every 10-15 minutes.


Flip the duck once during grilling to ensure even cooking. Use tongs or a spatula to gently turn the duck over. Be careful not to pierce the skin, which can cause the juices to escape.

By following these grilling techniques, you can achieve perfectly cooked, succulent duck with crispy skin and delicious flavor.

Serving and Enjoying Grilled Duck

Grilled duck is a versatile and delicious dish that can be served in various ways. Here are some serving suggestions and accompaniments that pair well with grilled duck:

  • Sauces: Try serving your grilled duck with a flavorful sauce such as cherry or orange sauce. These sauces not only add flavor but also help to tenderize the meat.
  • Side dishes: Grilled duck pairs well with roasted vegetables like asparagus, carrots, or sweet potatoes. You can also try serving it with a salad or grilled fruit for a sweet and savory combination.
  • Carving: When carving your grilled duck, make sure to slice it against the grain for tender pieces. You can also remove the bones before serving for a more refined presentation.
  • Wine pairings: Red wines like Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Syrah complement the rich flavors of grilled duck. For white wine lovers, try a Chardonnay with buttery notes to balance the gamey flavor of the duck.

Grilled duck is a dish that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger meal. Whether you’re serving it for a special occasion or a weeknight dinner, the possibilities are endless. Experiment with different flavors and textures to discover your favorite way of serving and enjoying grilled duck.


Grilling duck is a delicious and rewarding experience that can bring unique and satisfying flavors to your meals. As I have discussed throughout this article, proper preparation and technique are essential for achieving perfectly cooked and succulent grilled duck.

Remember to choose the right duck for grilling and handle it with care and attention to ensure the highest quality. Experiment with different seasonings and marinades to accentuate the natural flavors of your duck cuts, and utilize different grilling techniques to achieve the desired texture and taste.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s grilled duck breast, legs, or a whole duck, the possibilities for creating mouth-watering dishes are endless. Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore the world of grilling duck.

With patience, practice, and a willingness to learn, anyone can master the art of grilling duck. So, fire up your grill and get ready to impress your friends and family with your delicious grilled duck creations.


Q: Can I cook duck on the grill?

A: Yes, you can definitely cook duck on the grill. Grilling adds unique flavors and enhances the versatility of duck dishes. Whether you want to grill duck breast, legs, or even a whole duck, the grill can produce delicious results.

Q: How do I choose the right duck for grilling?

A: When choosing a duck for grilling, it’s important to select fresh, high-quality duck from a reputable source. Different duck breeds have unique flavor profiles, so consider your preferences. Look for plump and firm ducks with no unpleasant odor. Proper handling and storage are also crucial.

Q: How do I prepare the duck for grilling?

A: To prepare the duck for grilling, start by cleaning it thoroughly and removing any excess fat. You can season it with marinades or dry rubs to enhance the flavor. Marinating times and flavor profiles may vary, so experiment to find what you like. Specific cuts of duck may require additional preparation steps, such as scoring the skin or removing bones.

Q: What are the grilling techniques for perfect duck?

A: To achieve perfectly cooked duck on the grill, you can use both direct and indirect grilling methods. Control the temperature and cooking times according to the recipe or your preference. For crispy skin, consider flipping the duck during grilling and basting it with flavorful liquids. Grilling accessories like grill baskets or rotisseries can be used for grilling whole ducks.

Q: How should I serve and enjoy grilled duck?

A: There are various ways to serve and enjoy grilled duck. Consider pairing it with sauces, glazes, or side dishes that complement its flavors. Carve the grilled duck with care and plate it for an impressive presentation. You can also explore wine or beverage pairings to enhance the overall dining experience. Enjoy the gratification of mastering the art of grilling duck.

Michael Davis
Latest posts by Michael Davis (see all)

Leave a Comment