Can You Eat Duck Rare or Medium Rare

If you love eating chicken, then you’ll love eating duck. Duck is prevalent in Chinese cuisine. Among the famous dishes is the Peking duck. When it comes to some meats, you can eat chicken rare or medium-rare, but what about duck?

Can you eat duck rare or medium rare?

Duck meat color is typically darker than that of chicken and even turkey. Hence, some people cook duck as red meat. And like red meat, they also prepare duck rare or medium rare. Unlike the chicken, duck is safer to eat rare and medium-rare. Duck breast in particular is best-served medium-rare.

The reason duck meat is also eaten rare or medium rare is that it has lower risks for food poisoning.

But the risk isn’t zero. There’s still a chance that ducks can have harmful microorganisms and toxins. Keep reading to learn more about duck meat and how to properly prepare it rare or medium-rare.

duck medim rare
duck medim rare

Duck Meat Vs. Other Poultry

Below are the main differences between duck meat and other poultry.


Technically duck meat is still white meat because it’s poultry. But compared to other poultry, like chicken and turkey meats, duck meat is darker. Duck breast is particularly darker than chicken and turkey breast.

The reason is that ducks fly. Hence, they use their breast muscles mores, resulting in more myoglobin. Myoglobin is the compound that makes meats like beef red. While duck breast is darker than chicken or turkey breast, it isn’t as dark as real red meats like beef.

In contrast, if you take other duck body parts, like the legs, they are visibly white. Whereas chicken and turkey legs are darker. The reason is that chickens and turkeys stand and walk more than ducks do. Hence, chicken and turkey legs have more myoglobin and, thus, darker.


Duck meat generally has more calories, fats, and vitamins than chicken meat. But chicken meat generally has more protein.

Below is the nutritional data for typical duck meat and chicken breast. Roasting is a common duck cooking method. Hence, the data below are for roasted duck and chicken rotisserie.

The data are from the US Department of Agriculture.

Duck, cooked (100 g)

  • Calories: 337 kcal
  • Total Fat: 28 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10 g
  • Cholesterol: 84 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Protein 19 g
  • Chicken rotisserie breast (100 g)
  • Calories: 184 kcal
  • Total Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 96 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Protein: 27 g


While the fat in duck meat gives it more calories, it also gives it more flavor. The flavor is stronger and denser and even closer to red meat. The fat is also the reason you don’t want to overcook duck meat. Preparing the meat medium-rare at most keeps it juicy, like steak.

This quality is what sets it apart from chicken meat, which can taste bland. You might be having duck for the first time. If you expect it to taste like chicken or turkey, you’ll be delightfully mistaken.

Cooking Duck

Like with chicken and steak, there are many ways to cook duck. Here we’ll talk about 3 main cooking methods: Pan-searing, grilling, and roasting. For the examples, we’ll use duck breasts. All the doneness will be rare or medium-rare.


The first step is to score the meat.

Scoring increases the surface area to make rendering the fat easier. Be careful not to cut too deep because you don’t want to reach into the flesh. The top fat layer protects the flesh from overcooking. Make diamond shape cuts.

After scoring, season the duck with salt and pepper. Some of the salt will be carried away as the fat melts, so you may want to add a little more than usual.

Now comes heating. Lay the duck breast with the skin down on the pan. Heating will be done at low to medium heat.

The reason is to give the duck fat time to render. It will also give the heat time to penetrate into the flesh without burning the top layers. How hot it should be will depend on the fat content of your duck meat, which also varies.

So getting this method right will take trial and error. But you’ll know you have the right pan temperature if you hear fat bubbles gently popping. To make the method accurate, use a thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 120-130°F (49-54°C).

Maintain that heat for 10 to 15 minutes. After that time, flip the duck on the flesh side. Continue cooking for another minute or two, or until the temperature reaches 120-130°F.

After that time, remove the duck from the heat and let it rest. The doneness should be between rare and medium-rare. If you want it to be rarer, reduce the temperature or cooking times.

You can also deglaze the pan and use the resulting liquid as a sauce.

roasted duck
roasted duck


For this step, can also pre-sear the duck. While pre-searing, preheat the oven to 320-355°F (160-180°C). After pre-searing and when the oven is preheated, place the duck inside with the flesh up. Roast for 5-6 minutes. Less time means rarer.

If you don’t pre-sear, you’ll have to put the duck on a dish that can catch the fat that will melt off. You can try a rack in a roasting tin. Place the duck with the skin up and roast for about 8 minutes.

If it’s still too raw, continue roasting until you get the desired doneness. But since ovens vary in performance, the main goal is still an internal temperature is still 120-130°F. When you reach that, remove the duck and let it rest.


Besides seasoning, there is a step you can do before grilling, which is to pan-sear the skin side. This step is optional but preferred. Doing this will remove some of the fat.

If you don’t do this, you may want to put something on your grill to catch the fat as you grill. You can use a drip pan. This is important because the fat that will drip into the heat source can cause a big fire.

If you pre-sear, you can do so on the grill itself with a skillet. Pan-sear until you get a light golden brown. After that, place the duck on the grill with the flesh side down. Grill until you get an internal temperature of 120-130°F. When you do, remove the duck from the grill and let it rest.

If you don’t pre-sear, prepare the drip catcher and grill with the skin side down first. Grill until you get an internal temperature of 120-130°F (49-54°C). When you do, flip the duck and grill the flesh side for 15 to 60 seconds or just enough to get the sear marks.

Related Questions

What happens if you eat raw duck?

There is a high risk of food poisoning for eating raw meats like raw duck. Raw duck meat can carry the same dangerous bacteria as Salmonella and Campylobacter. Symptoms of infection can appear within hours or days. So if you ate raw duck meat, be observant of symptoms like fever and diarrhea.

Can you eat duck with blood?

If the blood is from a duck that was cooked rare, then it is safer than consuming it from a raw duck. However, as with all rare meats, there is still some risk of food poisoning.

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