This Smoked Duck with Orange Maple Glaze is perfect for a show-stopping dinner. The duck is first dry brined, then rubbed with flavorful spices and smoked to perfection, then topped off with a delicious orange and maple glaze. The result is incredibly juicy duck meat with an amazing smoke flavor that will have your guests begging for seconds.
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Smoked Whole Duck
My dad was an avid goose and duck hunter, so we always had Christmas Goose and Christmas Duck. I love dark meat, so duck was always one of my favorites. While I love roast duck in the oven with bacon, the pellet grill takes the flavor to a whole new level. I think this recipe is the best duck I have ever made.
Because everyone loves crispy skin, I dry brined the duck first to help draw moisture out of the skin. I also made my own dry rub that adds so much flavor and crisps up nicely when the smoker is turned up to a higher temperature. And the best part is the orange maple glaze finish. Not too sweet but full of flavor, it adds the perfect finishing touch.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Whole duck. I used a 5-pound whole duck. You can use a fresh duck or a farmed duck. If using a frozen duck, make sure to defrost it in the refrigerator for 48 hours first.
- Dry brine. I made a dry brine out of kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, dried thyme leaves, and dried rosemary leaves.
- Dry rub. I made a homemade dry rub for duck out of brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. You could also use my Best Dry Rub For Smoked Chicken or Best Turkey Rub For Smoking.
- Orange glaze. This is the 'icing on the cake,' so to speak. I used orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, soy sauce, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic. You could use honey instead of maple syrup.
See the printable recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and quantities.
How to make smoked duck with glaze
This duck was made on my Pit Boss pellet grill and has also been tested on my Traeger grill. I have not tested it on my electric smoker yet.
Prep the duck
The first step is to cut off the excess skin by the neck of the duck. Remove the neck from inside the cavity of the duck and remove the kidneys, if any. Rinse the body cavity inside and out and remove any pin feathers. Place the duck on a baking sheet and pat it dry with paper towels.
Dry brine the duck
This next step will help draw moisture from the skin of the duck so the skin gets nice and crispy. Combine the kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, thyme, and rosemary in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the outside of the duck. Use your hands to rub it in. Place the duck in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 12-24 hours. Rinse the brine off under cold water and dry the duck well with paper towels.
Prick the skin
Because duck skin is very thick and you want the fat underneath to render, it is important to prick the skin. You can use the tip of a sharp knife or a skewer or the tip of a temperature probe. Use your hand to lift the skin off the meat and poke holes over the entire duck. Be careful not to puncture into the meat of the duck breasts.
Dry rub the duck
This step adds amazing flavor to the duck, and the rub crisps up perfectly. Combine brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the rub over the entire duck, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Stuff the duck cavity with the quartered orange, onion, and garlic cloves. Let the duck sit at room temperature while your pellet grill heats up.
Smoke the duck
Preheat your pellet grill to 225 degrees F. Place the duck directly on the grill grates, breast side up. Place a drip pan underneath the grill grates to catch the rendered duck fat if you like. Smoke the duck for about an hour and a half, until the internal temperature of the duck in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 145 degrees F.
Glaze the duck
Prepare the orange glaze when the internal temperature starts to near 145 degrees F. Heat orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, soy sauce, grated ginger, and minced garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, then simmer, uncovered, until ready to use. Set aside half of the glaze for serving.
Brush the glaze over the top of the whole bird, and again 30 minutes later. This will add an extra layer of flavor.
Finishing the duck
Turn the smoker to 300 degrees F, and continue to smoke the duck until it reaches 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to touch the bone. This will take about 15-20 minutes. This step will crisp up the skin nicely.
Once the duck reaches 165 degrees F, remove it from the pellet grill, brush with the glaze again, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve with the extra glaze on the side.
On my Pit Boss pellet grill, it took 2 hours and 45 minutes to smoke a duck.
No, it is not necessary to baste the duck as the thick layer of fat under the skin will naturally keep it moist. However, the glaze applied at the end adds extra flavor and a beautiful finish.
Fruit woods like apple wood and cherry wood are great for duck. I also like to use pecan or hickory.
Leftover duck can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
More smoked poultry recipes
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Smoked Whole Duck with Orange Maple Glaze
- Pellet grill
- 5-6 pound whole duck
- 1 whole orange quartered
- 1 whole onion quartered
- 6 whole garlic cloves
For the dry brine
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
For the dry rub
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the orange glaze
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger grated
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- Remove the neck and giblets inside the internal cavity of the duck, and rinse inside and out with cold water. Place the duck on a baking sheet and pat dry with a paper towel.5-6 pound whole duck
- Combine kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, thyme, and rosemary in a small bowl.¼ cup kosher salt, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, ½ tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
- Apply the dry brine evenly over the entire surface of the duck. Make sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies. Place the duck, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The longer it brines, the more moisture will be removed from the skin. Before smoking, rinse the duck under cold water to remove the brine and pat it dry.
- Use the tip of a knife or sharp fork to gently prick the skin of the duck. Be careful not to pierce into the meat itself; just the skin and the fat layer. Do this over the entire surface of the duck. Duck skin is very fatty and pricking helps to render out the fat, leading to crispier skin.
- Place orange, onion, and whole garlic cloves inside the cavity of the duck.
- Make the dry rub by combining brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Generously sprinkle the dry rub over the entire duck. Again, make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Let the duck sit with the rub at room temperature for an hour before smoking.2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat your pellet grill to 225°F (107°C).
- Place the duck directly on the grill grates, breast side up. Place a pan underneath the grill grates to catch the rendered fat if you like. Smoke for about 1½ hours until the internal temperature of the duck in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 145 degrees F.1 whole orange, 6 whole garlic cloves, 1 whole onion
- When the internal temperature of the duck starts to near 145 degrees, prepare the glaze. Mix orange juice, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, grated ginger, orange zest, and minced garlic in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer, uncovered, until ready to use. Set aside half of the glaze for serving.1 cup orange juice, ½ cup maple syrup, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, 4 cloves garlic
- Brush the glaze over the duck and again 30 minutes later to add an extra layer of flavor.
- Turn the smoker to 300 degrees F, and continue to smoke the duck until it reaches 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast. This will take 15-20 minutes. This step will also crisp up the skin.
- Once the duck reaches 165 degrees F, remove it from the grill, brush with glaze again, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve with extra glaze on the side.
- Use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking the duck. Cook by temperature, not by time.
- Resist the urge to open the grill lid frequently.