For the most impressive holiday dinner, serve this deep-fried duck with a fig-orange glaze and watch your family swoon over every mouth-watering bite! Deep frying gives a whole duck crispy skin and makes that succulent meat even juicer and more flavorful. Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas or another special occasion, this duck makes the perfect dinner centerpiece.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Shows off perfectly cooked, rich duck meat every time.
- Cooks even faster than a roast duck to keep everyone full and happy.
- Gets an elegant upgrade with that fig glaze scented with warm holiday spices and fresh orange zest.
- Serves a small family for a quaint holiday dinner or easily fry up more ducks for a larger gathering.
Whole duck: Make sure you remove any giblets and innards from the cavity before frying. And save that liver to make homemade duck pâté.
Dry rub: We use a simple blend of salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to season the duck before frying.
Fig jam: You can typically find this with the rest of the jams and jellies, but it’s also often by the artisanal cheese section.
Orange juice: You’re welcome to use freshly squeezed orange juice or store-bought orange juice.
Ground spices: We use a combination of ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice and grated nutmeg.
Fresh ginger: Ground ginger is lovely, but fresh ginger just adds such a nice flavor to the glaze.
Orange zest: This gives us a zippier touch than just orange juice alone.
How to Deep Fry Duck
Step 1: Before frying, we need to prepare the duck. After removing any gizzards, the neck and other innards from the duck cavity, we pat the skin well with paper towels and cut off excessive pieces of fat (photo 1). Generally, you’ll find extra fat by the neck and cavity.
Step 2: Now we stir together the spices for the dry rub and coat the inside and outside of the duck. Once the duck is nice and coated, we tie together the legs and wings to truss the bird (photo 2).
Pro tip: If you’d like even juicier meat and crispier skin, you can dry brine the bird at this point. To dry brine, place the seasoned duck uncovered in the refrigerator for a minimum of eight hours or up to 24 hours for best results.
Step 3: With our duck prepared, we’re ready to carefully and slowly drop it into a 375-degree F deep fryer until it’s fully submerged (photo 3). You can either use an electric indoor fryer as pictured or a propane-fueled outdoor fryer.
Step 4: When the thigh joint reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F, we remove the duck, place it on a cutting board and brush it with the glaze (photo 4). We let the duck rest for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute to the meat and then carve.
How to Make Fig Glaze
Step 1: In a small saucepan, we bring the fig jam, orange jam, garlic, ginger and ground spices to a boil over medium-high heat and then simmer until it turns syrupy and reduces just a bit (photo 5).
Step 2: We now turn off the heat and stir in some fresh orange zest (photo 6). All it takes is two easy steps, and our glaze is ready to go.
Of course, in addition with our duck, we need some family-favorite side dishes for serving. You’ll love these brown butter mashed potatoes, herbed croissant stuffing, bacon green beans and brandied cranberry sauce. Now enjoy the perfect holiday dinner.
Peanut oil is best. It has a high smoke point of 450 degrees F, and it doesn’t tend to pick up any off flavors during the cooking process.
When frying at 375 degrees F, plan for about four minutes per pound. Of course, this is just a guideline. You’ll still want to check the meat’s internal temperature because every bird cooks a bit differently.
I much prefer an indoor electric fryer to a propane outdoor fryer. An electric fryer is safer, and it takes care of the temperature control for you. If you enjoy deep frying duck, turkey or any other kind of poultry for the holidays, an indoor electric fryer is definitely worth the purchase.
Expect to serve three to four people with one whole duck. If you have more guests, plan to fry another duck or two. Fortunately, the process is fairly quick.
Make sure the duck is fully thawed for safety: If the duck is still frozen, the oil will spill over and create a dangerous situation. Placing the duck in the refrigerator for two to three days ahead of frying should be enough time to thaw. You can speed up the process by submerging the duck in cold water in the refrigerator.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy: If an emergency happens, you don’t want to put out a grease fire with water, which just spreads around the oil.
Remove the duck carefully: Once the duck finishes frying, allow the hot oil to drip back into the fryer.
Save the excess duck skin to make your own duck fat: Duck fat fries, anyone? Here’s a tutorial on how to render duck fat.
Serve the extra glaze for dipping: You’ll definitely have extra glaze. That’s by design. The extras are so good for dipping, or you can use the leftovers for glazing a smoked ham.
A dark Belgian strong ale is always great with duck. This type of beer shows off caramel-like notes with touches of dried fruit that are perfect with the glaze and rich meat.
If you’d like a wine, you’ll love gewurztraminer. As an aromatic wine, it works well with the deep, complex flavor of the duck, and it comes with some floral notes to complement the spices and orange juice in the glaze.
Or maybe you’d like a cocktail. With the fig jam in the glaze, this sage-fig cocktail is your perfect accompaniment.
Enjoy a decadent holiday dinner with this deep-fried duck and that festively flavored fig glaze. This is one meal the whole family will cherish every season.
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Deep-Fried Duck With Fig-Orange Glaze
- Deep fryer
- Kitchen twine
- Kitchen shears
- Meat thermometer
- 1 whole duck fully thawed with giblets and innards removed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Peanut oil
- 1 cup fig jam
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 garlic clove grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- Heat the peanut oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F. As the oil heats, pat the duck dry with paper towels. Trim off excess fat on the side opposite of the duck cavity. If there's excess fat by the cavity, you can trim that too.
- Mix together the salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Rub the spices all over the duck and tie the legs together using kitchen twine. (See notes for dry brining instructions.)
- When the oil reaches temperature, carefully lower the duck into the oil so that it's fully submerged. Cover the fryer and fry the duck until the leg joint reaches 180 degrees F, about four minutes per pound, but use the internal temperature as your ultimate guide. Make sure the oil temperature stays consistently between 350-375 degrees F as the duck fries.
- Remove the duck from the fryer and place on a cutting board. Brush with the glaze and allow the duck to rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute to the meat before carving. Serve with additional glaze on the side. Enjoy!
- In a small saucepan, stir together the fig jam, orange juice, garlic, ginger, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer until it slightly reduces.
- Turn off heat and stir in orange zest. Use to glaze the duck. You'll also have additional glaze leftover to serve on the side. Enjoy!
- If you'd like to dry brine the duck, trim it, add the dry rub, tie the duck and place it uncovered in the refrigerator for at least eight hours but preferably up to 24 hours. This helps make for even juicier meat and crisper skin.
- Do not fry until the duck is fully thawed. If it's still frozen, it can cause the hot oil to overflow. Placing the duck in the refrigerator for two to three days ahead of frying should be enough time to thaw. You can speed up the process by submerging the duck in cold water in the refrigerator.
- For the deep fryer, you can use an indoor turkey fryer, which has a much larger basket than a standard indoor deep fryer, or you can use an outdoor propane fryer. I prefer an indoor turkey fryer for ease of use and better safety controls.
- If using an outdoor fryer, keep a fire extinguisher handy. You do not want to put out a grease fire with water, which just spreads the flames.
- Plan for this duck to serve three to four people. If you need to serve more, simply fry more than one duck.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.