Go Back

How to Dry Brine and Smoke a Duck

In this recipe I will show you how easy it is to prepare a duck, dry brine it, season it, cook it up on your smoker and then finish it off with some high heat to render some of that fat in the breast.
Course Entree, Main
Cuisine Barbecue
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 16 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 or more ducks ((mine was 6 lbs))
  • 4 tsp Coarse kosher salt
  • Jeff's original rub
  • Jeff's Texas style rub
  • ¼ lb butter ((1 stick) )


Step 1: Butterfly (spatchcock) the Duck

  • First let's cut off that annoying long piece of extra skin!
  • Cut along both side of the backbone to remove it.
  • Flip the bird over and press down to flatten it out.

Step 2: Dry Brine

  • With meat side facing up, sprinkle about 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt evenly all over. Leave it in this position for about 5 or 10 minutes or until you see the salt starting to dissolve
  • Now flip the bird over the skin side up and place it on a rack inside of a cookie sheet or pan. I used a Bradley rack as usual but a cooling rack or even a Weber grill pan would work great.
  • Sprinkle another 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt evenly all over the wings, legs and breast..
  • Now place the whole pan with the duck into the fridge, uncovered overnight or for 8 to 12 hours.
  • There is no need to rinse the duck after brining.

Step 3: Season Generously

  • Apply my original rub all over the duck, both sides. Then apply a light sprinkling of the Texas rub.

Step 4: Smoke Time

  • Set up your smoker for cooking with indirect heat at about 225°F and if your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  • Use pecan and cherry wood (or a mix) for smoke
  • Once your smoker is ready, place the whole pan into the smoker, with the duck skin side up.
  • Let the duck cook at 225°F for 2 hours for some good smoke flavor.
  • Several times during the cook brush the duck with a mixture of 1 stick of butter and 2 TBS of Jeff's original rub.

Step 5: Sear the Breast

  • Using kitchen shears, make a few snips in the skin over the breast. These are drain holes so the fat can bubble out as it renders.
  • If you have a smoker that will cook at higher temperatures, I recommend turning up the heat to 325°F for about an hour or until it reaches 150°F in the thickest part of the breast. Then you can flip it over and finish it off over a direct flames on the grill or you can leave it skin side up and use the broiler in your oven.
  • If your smoker will not cook this hot, consider moving the pan with the duck to the oven at 325°F for about an hour or until it reaches 150°F in the thickest part of the breast. Then you can finish using the broiler in your oven.

Step 6: Rest and Serve

  • When the duck is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and tent some foil over the top for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the wings and legs then slowly and carefully remove the breast meat by following right along the breast bone with a very sharp knife. Slice the breast into cutlets and call dinner.

The Cranberry Sauce

  • For cranberry sauce, Add1 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of granulated sugar and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries to a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until it thickens to your liking.