Everything You Need to Know About Duck Eggs - Modern Farmer

Everything You Need to Know About Duck Eggs

1. Eat them. 2. Definitely eat them. 3. *words muffled because duck eggs are so delicious*

The three major poultry products in the United States—chicken, chicken eggs, and turkey—so thoroughly dominate the economic landscape that the USDA doesn’t even bother tracking the market for ducks, let alone duck eggs.

And that’s a shame, because duck eggs are a phenomenal treat, a ramped-up version of a chicken egg that has a much bigger and richer yolk, a higher concentration of nutrients and more protein than the standard hen’s egg. Here’s everything you need to know about duck eggs.

Duck eggs are typically larger than chicken eggs; they vary a bit in size but are usually around 50 percent larger than your standard jumbo chicken egg. They can come in all sorts of colors, varying mostly by breed. The Cayuga duck, a popular blackish-green duck breed, tends to lay ash-colored eggs in shades of grey, right up to a nearly black egg. Other breeds will lay white eggs, light green eggs or brown eggs.

The shell, too, is significantly thicker than that of a chicken egg. This can make it tricky to crack, but generally duck farmers and enthusiasts report that this thick shell gives a duck egg a longer shelf life than a chicken’s egg.

What really sets them apart is inside. A duck egg’s white tends to be nearly transparent, lacking the slight yellowish tint some chicken eggs have. Its yolk, though, is what’s so prized by chefs: a duck yolk is much bigger than a chicken yolk.

Are they nutritious?


Partly due to the larger yolk, duck eggs are significantly higher in both fat and cholesterol than chicken eggs. But they’re also higher in protein and have a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, making them a favorite of paleo dieters, who seek high-fat foods. Besides that, duck eggs have a nutritional profile similar to chicken eggs.

Are they safe to eat?


Yes, they are as safe as chicken eggs. There have been some salmonella scares over the years, with a recent one in the EU in 2010, but certainly there’s no evidence to suggest duck eggs are empirically more dangerous than chicken eggs.

In terms of inspection, the USDA has the exact same regulations for duck eggs as it does for chicken eggs (and, for that matter, quail eggs and ostrich eggs), so you don’t have to worry about some kind of weird unhealthy loophole.

duck egg fried

Are they good to cook with?


Ah, now this is fun. You can cook duck eggs the same way you’d cook any other egg; there’s nothing a chicken egg can do that a duck egg can’t. But because it’s larger and has a higher fat content, a recipe designed for a chicken egg won’t always work with a duck egg substitution. If you want to bake with them, it’ll take a little playing around before you figure out just how much of a duck egg to use.

But in almost any other case, you can cook a duck egg exactly the same way as a chicken egg. They fry well, poach well and boil well, but because there’s so much fat, a good early experiment is a simple scrambled egg. You’ll find them much creamier and richer than scrambled chicken eggs.

Duck eggs are most popular in various Asian cuisines, especially Chinese and Vietnamese. The most popular way to prepare them there is by salting them: the eggs sit in a brine of some sort and cures, pulling out moisture to preserve them and alter their texture. They’re typically added to stir-fries or sometimes as a filling with rice. Serious Eats has a good recipe if you want to make your own.

 Are they delicious?


Duck eggs taste like chicken eggs, only more so. Their flavor tends to be more reliably intense than a chicken egg because of the duck’s diet. Farmers tend to love ducks because they prefer to eat bugs, snails, slugs, and other high-protein critters over plant matter, and that diet impacts the flavor of their eggs significantly.

Are they expensive?


Duck eggs are quite a bit more than chicken eggs, but still not prohibitively expensive. Whereas the average price for a dozen chicken eggs is somewhere just north of $2 in the U.S., duck eggs will usually run you anywhere from $6 to $12 a dozen.

Are they readily available?


It’s a good bet that you can find duck eggs at your local farmers market. Even if you don’t see them on display, it can’t hurt to ask a duck farmer if he or she can bring a dozen to the market the following week.

Duck eggs are becoming more and more popular in higher-end grocery stores. Whole Foods often stocks them, as do many other similar specialty stores.

Images (from top to bottom) via Flickr users Eugene Kim and Steven Depolo

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

I’m surprised there was no special mention of baking with duck eggs.

Both the yolk and the white are “stiffer” than chicken eggs, which means when you beat them or whip them up, they REALLY whip up!

For baking anything sweet, whip up the duck eggs with the sugar before adding other ingredients. This will cause whatever you bake to be lighter and fluffier.

5 years ago

A friend gave me some fresh duck eggs, are they safe to eat?

5 years ago

I raise ducks and chickens and the duck eggs are without a dought the best tasting! Also, they lay every day and are not bothered by heat or cold weather like chickens are.

5 years ago

Do they often look stained and scratched? Kind of a dirty look?

5 years ago

The only problem we have found with duck eggs, is don’t try to use them in a cheese cake. The result is a much more dense cheese cake than you would expect than the lighter fluffier version you may be used to using chicken eggs.

Jerilynn Davis
5 years ago

when ducks lay eggs how long until you need to get them in an incubator

4 years ago

Check on Facebook to see if you have a Poultry farmer group in your area. I have been eating them for over 5 years as I have a sensitivity to the whites of chicken eggs. No problem with duck eggs and they are yummy!

Jeff hindmarsh
4 years ago

It’s my first time on hear and I found it very interesting I am type 2 diabetic and I love duck eggs I’ve heard they are good for diabetes

Darrell Hasson
5 years ago

Excellent information…thank you !

4 years ago

Hi, i am intolerant to chicken eggs but seem to be okay with duck eggs…i know that chicken eggs have 4 proteins in them and ducks have only 3, but i can’t find out the names of these 3 proteins……any ideas please?

Also of late, where we get our duck eggs from, the yolks have been so tiny (smaller than the chicken yolks my husband’s eating) and they’re very pale yellow…is this normal?