Marinated Duck Recipes

Our best marinated duck recipes

by Great British Chefs 11 May 2015

Discover all the different ways duck can benefit from a good marinade, learn more about how acids and fats can affect the meat, and why ingredients like sake, tamarind and soy work so well with the strong-flavoured meat.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Marinades not only make the meat more tender, they also bring great extra flavour to it. Therefore, it's important to choose the right marinade to complement the type of meat you're cooking. Read on to learn about choosing the right oils, herbs, spices and vinegars, and see what two of our chefs pick as their top dishes.


Most wet marinades will require oil in some form, as a solely acidic or alcoholic liquor would potentially spoil the meat by part-cooking or curing it. When choosing an oil it is important to go for a good quality, flavourless oil such as grapeseed, as you are using this as a carrier of flavour, not just for frying the meat.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices can be added to any marinade to give a real flavour boost. Fresh, woody herbs with a strong flavour, such as rosemary and thyme, are classic accompaniments to duck, and pair nicely with other traditional aromatics like garlic. Dried spices can be used to create a fragrant rub for the meat and the finished flavour can vary greatly depending on the spices used – cinnamon and cloves would add wintry warmth, while juniper and star anise have a punchy aroma. Fresh spices, including ginger, turmeric and tamarind, can be minced to a paste as part of a wet marinade, while ready-made chilli sauces can be used for a quick injection of flavour.


Soy sauce is one of the most widely used seasonings when marinading duck – not only does it season the meat slightly but it also gives an umami savouriness to the rich duck. Alternatively, coarse or flaky sea salt can be used as a dry marinade, just be sure to rub or rinse off the excess salt before cooking.

Citrus and vinegar

Both citrus juices and vinegars can lend an acidity to the flavour of duck when used as a marinade, but again, care is needed so that they don't overpower or start to cure the meat. Orange is the most classic flavour pairing (think duck a l'orange) but you could also try lime or even yuzu juice for more of a kick. Fruity vinegars, such as balsamic or raspberry, are the most suited to marinading duck, as they tend to be sweeter and have a more subtle acidity.


Beers, wines and spirits can be used in marinades for duck, and will impart a different level of flavour to the finished dish. As duck meat tends to be quite strong-flavoured already, opt for smooth drinks such as red wine, brandy or port for rich casseroles or roasts, or try using rum if cooking a brighter, spicier dish. Sake can also be used as a great match for Asian flavours. With all alcohol marinades it is important to remember that the alcohol itself can start to cure the meat, so use sparingly or cook off the alcohol first in a pan.


Not only does sugar balance acidity or sourness in a marinade with sweetness, but it also creates a delicious caramelised exterior when the duck is fried, grilled or even barbecued. As chosen by our chefs, liquid sugars such as honey and maple syrup work well with duck and have the added advantage of being easy to whisk into marinades. Demerara, brown and palm sugars are popular choices, as they add notes of treacle and molasses which complement the rich duck without being overly sweet.

Graham Campbell – Duck and honey

Graham Campbell from The Number One Bar and Grill uses a honey and soy sauce marinade for this light noodle dish. The recipe uses two duck breasts and is easy to prepare for a midweek dinner. To marinate the duck, slice each breast into five or six pieces. Mix together 50g of honey and soy until well combined, add the duck, cover and refrigerate for 50 minutes. If you have more time, leave the duck to marinate for longer as this will improve the flavour of the meat.

James Sommerin – Duck and maple syrup

In this recipe James Sommerin, from the award-winning restaurant of the same name, uses sweeter notes of maple syrup and orange to complement the flavour of duck perfectly. Deep-frying the duck will give the meat a crispy finish and ensure the flavours of the marinade are sealed in.

If time is of the essence, simply coat the duck and leave to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes, or for best results allow 24–48 hours.

Inspired? For many more quick and simple duck recipes visit our How to cook duck page. You'll find helpful videos and other tips on preparing delicious duck dishes for a perfect midweek supper or special occasion.