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No, You don’t Need to Be Great at Everything. Just the Best Smoked Holiday Duck


No, You don’t Need to Be Great at Everything. Just the Best Smoked Holiday Duck

This is one of my favorite holiday recipes! Smoking the duck brings out the deep and savory natural flavors, and makes the skin crisp and golden brown.


  • 1 (5 – 6 lbs.) Muscovy duck, brined 12-24 hours, (brine recipe here) 
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 organic orange, Quartered
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 2 sprigs parsley,
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 16 ounces cherry wood chips


NOTE:  I like the mild, sweet flavor of apple or cherry wood for duck which is less intense than mesquite or hickory.




SPECIAL TOOLS: Electric Grill

I’ve had a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker for almost 10 years and it’s does a great job. Friends have the new Traegar Pellet Grill/Smokers and love them too. 


Chef Langley Gilman Fall Family Concept 20181020 2986 Edit Edit

  • Preparation
  • Brine the duck for 12-24 hours. Here is my brine recipe.
  • Soak cherry wood chips in a pan of water for at least one hour before placing in the smoker. (skip this step if you are using a pellet grill/smoker)
  • Add a 50/50 mixture of apple juice and water to smoker’s water tray.
  • Preheat your smoker to 250 degree and add soaked wood chips.
  • Trim any loose skin at the neck and remove excess fat from around the central cavity.
  • Remove duck from brine and wash the duck under cold running water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Prick the skin all over with the tip of a knife or the tines of a fork; do not pierce the meat. This helps to render the fat and crisp the skin.
  • Season the bird, inside and out, with a light sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Tuck the onion, orange, and fresh herbs into the cavity.
  • Tie the legs together with butcher’s string.
  • When ready to cook arrange the duck directly rack breast side up.
  • Turn smoker temperature down to 225 degrees F (The initial 250 degrees F was to compensate for heat loss from opening smoker and adding duck.
  • Smoke for about 4 hours, or until the skin is brown and crisp and the internal temperature of the thigh reads 160 degrees F on an instant-read meat thermometer. 
  • Tent the duck loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the butcher’s string and carve. 


ProTip: If you don’t have an electric smoker, smoking on a Webber style charcoal grill is really easy to do. Begin by filling a chimney starter about one-third full with briquettes. When they are fully lit, pour all of the charcoal on one side of the cooking grate (if desired, use a charcoal basket, which holds the coals close together, so they burn more slowly) and place a large disposable foil pan on the other side. Then, carefully add about 2 – 3 cups of 50/50 water/apple juice mixture to the pan. The liquid in the container is essential because it helps to maintain low cooking temperature. It also adds some moisture to the food, which in many cases will cook for hours and hours so it could dry out otherwise. Allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for the coals to burn down to the correct temperature and the water to heat up. Next, drop damp wood chips or dry wood chunks directly onto the coals. Then place your food on top of the cooking grate over the water pan and cover your grill. Expect to add more coals every hour or so to maintain the heat.