Sweet and Smoky Cured Duck Breast

Curing and smoking duck breast like bacon results in a sweet, savory snack that is perfect with cheese and crackers or even as a sandwich

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
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I’m a big fan of bacon. We cure and smoke our own on a regular basis. You can too by following these steps. Those same flavors are perfect on duck breast. You can do it skin on or skin off, but I prefer the skin-on version. 

Skin-on breasts make a nicer finished product, but skinless will work for the recipe.

While the entire curing process takes a week, most of that is passive waiting time. To figure the cure ingredients, you will have to do some math. I’ll let you in on a secret. Using the metric system for this part is way easier. If you don’t precisely weigh your ingredients, you can end up with an undercured finished product, or one so salty you can barely stand to eat it. A small digital kitchen scale is perfect. 

I prefer sorghum as the sweetener here.

I like a hint of sweetness to balance the salt of my cured duck breast (and bacon) so we added some Uncle Josh’s Sorghum to this recipe. You can also use equal amounts of honey or maple syrup, if desired. This recipe works for any large duck or even geese. For a tasty appetizer, serve thinly sliced duck breast with cheese on a cracker.

Try serving a thin slice with cheese and crackers for an appetizer.

The ingredient formula goes like this:

• Weight of raw duck breast meat

• 2.5% of meat weight in kosher salt

• 0.25% of meat weight in Instacure No. 1 (aka Pink Curing Salt or Prague Powder)

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4 to 6 duck breasts (these 4 weighed 624 grams)

Kosher salt (for 624 grams of meat, 16 grams of kosher salt)

Instacure No. 1 (for 624 grams of meat, 1.6 grams) 

1/2 cup sweet sorghum, honey, or maple syrup (more if doing more than 4 breasts)

Cooking Instructions

Start by weighing your duck or goose breasts, in grams. Then place them in a glass or plastic dish.

You can use skin-on or skinless breasts.

Multiply the weight of the meat by 2.5%. Take care to do this right: The weight of the meat in grams times 0.025 equals the weight of kosher salt in grams. Now, figure the Instacure weight by multiplying the weight of the breasts by 0.25% or 0.0025. Round to the nearest tenth of a gram. Mix the salt and the Instacure and rub into all surfaces of the meat. Pour over the sorghum and cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 to 7 days, turning the breasts once or twice during the curing time. 

Apply the salt, cure, and sorghum to the breasts and refrigerate to cure.

After curing, rinse the breasts well under cold water. Pat dry.

Rinse and pat dry after curing.

Smoke at 180 degrees for 2 to 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.

Smoke at a low temperature.

Remove the meat from the smoker and allow to rest before slicing thinly. Serve by itself, as a sandwich, or stacked on a snack cracker with a slice of your favorite cheese. If you have trouble slicing the warm duck breast, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes, slice, then gently reheat in a skillet before serving.

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