Can You Eat Duck Medium Rare? (It’s Different From Chicken!)


Do you like your duck meat cooked medium-rare or well done? Whatever your choices, it is good to find out if it is safe to eat. So, can you eat duck medium rare?

Yes, it is fine to eat duck meat medium-rare. Like red meats, you can choose either well-done or medium-rare when it comes to duck. Thus, you can have some tinge of pink on your duck meat.


Whatever your choices, finding out if it is safe to eat is a brilliant idea.

This article will focus on finding out if the duck is safe to cook in medium-rare. We will be discussing these main points:

How Is Duck Meat Different From Other Poultry?

When we talk about meat, ducks are considered to be “white meat” scientifically. They are classified this way because they have similar characteristics to poultry, like chickens. However, when you look at the inside of duck meat, you’ll notice it’s darker in color compared to chicken.

The reason for this color difference is because duck meat has more of a protein called myoglobin and more iron. Myoglobin is responsible for storing oxygen in the muscles. So, the higher amount of myoglobin in duck meat gives it that darker color.

Now, in the culinary world, chefs and cooks often refer to duck meat as “red meat” because of its darker appearance and higher myoglobin content. So, while scientifically it’s considered white meat, in cooking terms, it’s treated as red meat.

In summary, ducks are scientifically classified as white meat, but due to their darker color and higher myoglobin content, they are often called red meat in cooking.

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Why Can You Eat Duck Medium-Rare?

Meat from duck, unlike chicken, is safe to eat in medium-rare, as it has a texture that is similar to red meat.

Yes, you can bring on the pinkness!

Unlike chicken and turkey, the method of cooking red meat differs from white meat poultry.

Food preppers claim that doneness may dry out if you cook duck meat to full. Thus, they would prefer to cook it medium-rare.

Moreover, the good news is that they do not contain Salmonella – a type of bacteria that can cause food-related illness. (*)

Apparently, salmonella is mostly found inside the intestinal tract of a chicken.

There are no other birds that have this harmful microorganism unless cross-contamination happens.

How? It can happen when chicken feces come in contact with duck meat.

As a result, your duck meat becomes a carrier of Salmonella.

Fun fact: Perfectly prepared duck meat is moist and juicy inside with crunchy skin.

Is It Safe To Eat Duck Medium Rare?

Duck is best when you eat it in medium-rare. Again, the duck meat may dry out if you overcook it.

The USDA recommends that it is safe to eat duck meat at medium-rare doneness as long as you cook it the right way. (*)

All you need to make sure is that you reach the right temperature to make it safer for consumption.

Hence, you’d see many restaurants serving meat dishes, in general, have a kitchen thermometer around. This is to ensure that the internal temperature reaches the recommended standard objectively.

Internal Temperature Recommendation for Duck Meat

According to the USDA, well-done duck meat must be cooked from 160°F up to 170°F.

If you aim for medium-rare, you may need to cook it to 135°F or 140°F.

That way, you can achieve that pinkness and the pleasantly juicy and tender meat you prefer to have.

Warning: Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and immuno-compromised individuals must be cautious when eating medium-rare red meat like a duck.

How To Check the Doneness Of Duck Meat Without A Meat Thermometer?

It’s easy. You can use the finger test (palm test), fist test, or face taste to check the doneness of duck meat without a meat thermometer.

Methods On How To Cook Duck Meat

While it is best to have a meat thermometer for cooking a medium-rare duck dish, there are various methods you can explore. Here are a few:

Note that you should aim at 135°F or 140°F for medium-rare doneness.


One of the easiest ways of cooking duck meat is by roasting it in the oven. 

Here are the easy steps to do it:

  1. Clean the whole duck in running water. If you soak the meat in boiling water before seasoning or marinating, it will keep the skin tighter.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425ºF, then season it with salt, pepper, and other herbs of your choice. You can prepare your own marinate as you wish. Marinating the duck meat overnight inside the fridge is good for its taste.
  3. Brush the pan and skin with butter before putting it inside the oven.
  4. Set the time for about 50 minutes. Or as soon as the internal temperature of the meat teaches 135°F or 140°F for medium-rare doneness.
  5. Make sure to baste the skin with its dripping regularly to avoid drying.


Fried duck is a delicious option, but it requires patience and time. Follow these steps:

  1. Season the duck meat with salt, pepper, or herbs.
  2. Put the duck in the pan without any grease. Allow the fat to melt slowly until the skin becomes golden brown for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Flip the duck and fry it again for 5 to 10 minutes according to your liking.


Although not a common method for cooking duck meat, barbecuing can yield a tasty and juicy dish. Here’s what you need to do:

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Marinate the meat in a barbecue sauce overnight for a tasty result.
  2. Prepare your barbecue grill. Whether it is charcoal or an electric griller, it doesn’t matter.
  3. Place the meat directly onto the griller, skin side down. Flip the meat several times for at least 30 minutes to ensure the inside is cooked.
  4. You can check the inside of the duck to achieve medium-rare or pink meat.
  5. The last step is to wrap it with foil to let the steam tenderize the meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Take Away

Duck meat is delicious and offers a distinct flavor compared to chicken. When cooking duck at home, follow the recommended internal temperature for safe consumption. Even without a kitchen thermometer, you can achieve the desired doneness using alternative methods like finger or fist tests.

Enjoy the cooking process and savor the juicy, tender, flavorful meat!

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