Duck fat has been used in professional and commercial kitchens around the world for centuries; however, it’s just starting to grow in popularity in stores and homes due to the momentum of the ketogenic diet. With a buttery texture, smooth flavor, and high smoke point, this fat source is perfect for high-heat cooking.
What is duck fat?
Duck fat is just that, the rendered fat from the cooking of duck and its skins. When duck, goose, or other meats are poached in duck or goose fat, they are considered en confit (“in confit“).
We all know that a little fat adds a burst of flavor to any dish. Duck fat is no different. You can add duck fat to any cuisine whether it be a hearty meal of meat and potatoes or a light lunch packed with veggies. Duck fat is easily used in any state it’s in (whether it be solid or liquid) and it can be saved and reused for later.
Difference between duck fat and lard
The main difference between duck fat and lard is that duck fat comes from duck and lard comes from pigs (pork). Lard is the fat taken from any part of the pig, although the fattiest part of the pig is the best (the belly).
Otherwise, these two types of fat are relatively similar and can be used interchangeably in a variety of dishes. If you taste any of these fats, you may taste a hint of variety in flavor, but this won’t deter from the natural flavor of the dish you’re preparing.
Duck fat nutrition and health benefits
If you’re hesitant about adding duck fat to your next meal prep, don’t stress. Research has shown that duck fat is healthy and packs a number of different health benefits [*]. A 100-gram serving of duck fat contains [*]:
- Calories: 882
- Protein: 0 grams
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Fat: 99.8 grams
What are some health benefits of duck fat?
1. Provides healthy fats
Saturated fats used to get a bad rep in the media. However, now we know that’s not the case. Approximately 36% of duck fat is made up of saturated fat along with 51% monounsaturated fat, and 14% polyunsaturated fat [*].
Among these saturated fats are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are digested and absorbed by the body. easily. In fact, once consumed they go directly to the liver to be processed and rapidly used by the brain and body for energy.
- Improve brain health
- Improve immune system function
- Increase athletic performance
- Improve gut health
- Improve HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol that helps prevent the buildup of bad cholesterol in the arteries)
- Improve bone density
- Improve immune system health
- Improve hormone function
Duck fat also contains polyunsaturated fats. One type of polyunsaturated, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), is an important fatty acid found in a variety of different animal products.
2. May improve cardiovascular health
Omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in duck fat have been linked to numerous benefits for heart health [*]. These fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that may help decrease inflammation.
While inflammation is a natural defense mechanism by the body, chronic inflammation can damage your blood vessels and lead to different heart diseases or even stroke [*].
- Decreasing triglycerides
- Helping decrease blood pressure
- Reducing blood clotting
- Decreasing your risk of strokes and other heart diseases
3. Provides you with antioxidants
Duck fat provides antioxidants that help fight against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage to DNA in cells and more [*].
These free radicals are thought to be the cause of premature aging, certain cancers, and the root of most diseases you see today [*].
Duck fat is a strong source of selenium, a key antioxidant that can help prevent cell damage and fight inflammation.
Uses for duck fat
Duck fat is used in a number of different ways. With its subtle flavor and high smoke point, it’s perfect for high-heat cooking (such as pan-searing or broiling). This healthy fat source can enhance any dish, whether it be chicken, potatoes, meat, or veggies.
What are some popular ways to use duck fat?
- Pan-searing meat with duck fat. Using duck fat to sear meats and other protein sources is a great way to execute a well-cooked and flavorful dish.
- Using duck fat as a salad dressing. Duck fat is a great way to add a pop of flavor to a salad. Toss some warm duck fat in with greens and serve immediately.
- Adding duck fat to potatoes or vegetables. Roasted, baked, and sautéed vegetables will come out with an amazing flavor when tossed in duck fat before cooking.
- Frying with duck fat. Think you can’t deep-fry with this healthy fat? Think again. Use it to fry foods and create a satiating flavor everyone will love.
- Baking with duck fat. It may come as a surprise that you can use duck fat when baking. If a baking recipe calls for butter, try using 50/50 duck fat and butter instead for an enhanced flavor.
- Making confit with duck fat. You can use duck fat to cook duck in. In French dishes, it’s used for preserving duck legs in fat
So what are some popular recipes using duck fat?
Duck fat recipes
Need a flavor-filled duck fat recipe? Try one of the recipes listed below.
Duck fat adds incredible texture and flavor to small roasted potatoes. This recipe layers the potatoes and duck fat with fresh thyme and garlic for a satiating dish. Whip these baby potatoes up for your next group gathering in less than 30 minutes.
Instead of rubbing butter under the skin and cavity of a whole chicken, try using duck fat instead. This recipe uses duck fat to rub the poultry for a delicious flavor. It calls for a cast-iron skillet for the potatoes and garlic in addition to the duck fat.
Next, you’ll pat the poussins dry with a paper towel. Then you’ll season the cavity with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then place the lemon wedges and a sprig of thyme in each poussin. Truss the legs with butcher’s string and fold the wing tips under. Brush the outside of each poussin with the remaining duck fat.
This warm duck fat vinaigrette gives you a hefty serving of rendered duck fat along with a powerful punch of nutrients while satiating your taste buds with honey, Dijon mustard, minced shallots, and apple cider vinegar.
Who doesn’t love french fries? These duck fat fries only require four ingredients with simple instructions. This delicious side dish is created by peeling the sides of russet potatoes, cutting them into matchsticks, and placing them in a bowl filled with water.
Next, you’ll prepare a Dutch oven to add in oil and then the matchstick potatoes to turn these potatoes into fries. Then you’ll want to heat the duck fat in a separate saucepan. Finally, carefully transfer the fries from the Dutch oven to the saucepan to let them cook to a nice and crispy texture.
While adding duck fat to potatoes is rather popular, what about adding duck fat to veggies? This recipe uses the same basic cooking techniques as potatoes (roasting the carrots in the duck fat). However, this recipe requires a longer period of time to let the carrots cook (while basting and rotating every 15 minutes or so).
How to store duck fat
The great thing about duck fat is that it has a rather long shelf life after its use. Store your newly rendered or used duck fat covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or in the freezer for a year.
Not only does duck fat last for a long time when refrigerated, but it can be reused over and over again without losing its quality.
Where to buy duck fat
Finding pure duck fat without additives or preservatives is a priority when cooking with high quality, all-natural ingredients. While duck fat may be harder to find in your local grocery store, ordering from a reliable source online is your best bet.
US Wellness Meats provides up to a quart of duck fat (about 1.75 pounds). This duck fat is specifically sourced from ducks living outdoors in the Hudson Valley, New York area.
Don’t be skeptical about using high-quality duck fat in your cooking. Duck fat not only adds a delicious flavor to any dish you add it to, but it also provides you with a number of different health benefits. Duck fat provides you with healthy fats and other key nutrients that your diet may otherwise be lacking.
The next time you’re preparing a chicken, meat, potato, or veggie dish, try adding duck fat to the process for a satiating and delicious spin.
Steph Lodge is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant with a passion for health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and the latest nutritional information on their favorite foods.