When only a big bowl of comfort food will do, this duck gumbo with andouille sausage will leave you full and satisfied. Featuring a rich, dark roux made from rendered duck fat, this is a next-level gumbo that’s full of cozy Cajun spices with the most silky broth. Serve with a mound of hot white rice and you’re in for one wonderful meal.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Full of authentic flavor: After many trips to Louisiana and growing up in Houston where Cajun influences are found throughout our food scene, I know a good gumbo, and this is it. Thanks to our dark roux, blend of Cajun spices, Holy Trinity of vegetables and savory filè powder, you’ll think you’re enjoying a bowl of duck gumbo in New Orleans.
That rich duck meat with loads of sausage: Andouille sausage adds the best flavor, but we make this gumbo extra delicious by preparing our roux with duck fat. It adds the most wonderful silky texture and richness.
Perfect for a crowd: This gumbo makes enough for 10 good dinner servings, so you can keep everyone full and happy. If you’re serving as an appetizer, you could double that serving size.
Make ahead for easy entertaining: I’m a big believer in making your life easier with some make-ahead recipes when entertaining, and gumbo is perfect for that. We’ll chat through a couple options.
Bonus: If you love this dish, make sure you also plan some time to make my chicken and andouille gumbo and shrimp and crab gumbo! After all, you can’t have too many gumbo recipes. They’re all delicious in their own ways.
Whole duck: Rather than buy separate duck pieces, I recommend using a whole duck. For one reason, it's simply more economical. But I also like to use a whole duck because it gives us more skin to render the fat, and we can simmer the gumbo with the spine and neck for an added depth of flavor.
This does mean we need to cut up our duck before cooking, but don't let this intimidate you. Here's a helpful video tutorial on how to cut a whole duck.
For tools, a sharp knife should do the trick, but if you get into any tricky pieces, I find strong kitchen shears can cut through a lot of bones, especially the spine. I've even used shears to cut around pieces for stubborn areas. Plus, the duck pieces are going in gumbo, and then we're shredding the meat, so it doesn't need to be beautifully carved. You can do it!
Andouille sausage: For that authentic flavor, you want andouille sausage -- not just any old smoked sausage. Fortunately, it's easy to find these days even outside of Louisiana and neighboring areas.
Holy Trinity: This is otherwise known as the trio of vegetables that's a common combination in Cajun cooking. The trio includes celery, onion and green bell pepper.
Cajun seasoning: While you can use store-bought seasoning, I highly recommend preparing my homemade Cajun seasoning, which I use in all my gumbos. It takes only minutes to prepare, and it doesn't have any weird additives. Plus, you don't have to only use it in gumbo -- I especially love sprinkling it on chicken and fish before cooking.
Filé powder: This is also essential to giving our gumbo that authentic flavor. Filé powder is made from ground sassafras tree leaves that not only thickens our gumbo but also adds a distinctive savory note. While it's available on Amazon, you should be able to find it in the spice section of your grocery store.
Chicken stock: If you have homemade chicken stock, that will make a great gumbo. That said, I truly believe Better Than Bouillon makes the best store-bought chicken stock, and that's my recommendation here if you don't have anything homemade. This is a concentrated paste you use to make the stock, and you can find it in the soup section of the grocery store or on Amazon.
Step 1: To start our duck gumbo, we begin by browning that delicious Andouille sausage to give it a nice crust (photo 1). We want to do this in two batches because there will be too many sausage slices to fit in one batch, but this only takes about two to three minutes per side, so the process is quick.
Step 2: Now we render that duck fat. For this step, we set the duck breasts skin-side down and let it cook until most of the fat renders (photo 2).
To ensure we don't unevenly cook the duck, I like to render all the pieces. I start by rendering the duck breasts and then render the thighs along with some extra pieces of trimmed skin. We render until we have ½ cup.
Step 3: Once we have our duck fat, we're ready to make that famous gumbo roux. For this step, we whisk in flour and continue to cook until it goes from a blonde roux to a dark roux (photos 3-6).
Be prepared because this takes time, so turn on some music or Netflix and enjoy the process. To get a dark roux, expect to whisk for at least 45 minutes, but an hour is not uncommon. You might be tempted to stop before it turns dark brown, but that deep roux is what gives gumbo its rich flavor -- this is not designed to be a quick weeknight meal!
Step 4: Once we get that dark roux, we add our Holy Trinity vegetables and cook until they soften (photo 7). At the very end, we add a heap of fresh garlic.
Step 5: Now we're ready to add our chicken stock, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, browned Andouille sausage and duck with the skin removed (photo 8). We bring the mixture to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and let the gumbo keep simmering for about an hour and 20 minutes.
Step 6: After the gumbo simmers and the duck cooks, we pull out the duck pieces and shred the meat with two forks (photo 9).
Step 7: Now we add the shredded duck back to pot along with our filé powder (photo 10).
And that's it! Serve this delicious duck gumbo with a big scoop of hot white rice and finish the meal with a slice of luscious bananas foster cheesecake, and you have yourself a meal that will instantly transport you to the French Quarter.
If you can plan ahead, place the whole duck in a large bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for two to three days. If you need to rush the process or find your duck is taking longer to thaw, place the duck in a large pot in the sink and keep it fully submerged in cold water. Either change the water every 30 minutes or continuously run a small stream of water.
Important note: Do not let the duck thaw in room temperature without being submerged in cold water. This can create a breeding ground for bacteria.
You sure can. Store the roux in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within two to three weeks. The roux will solidify because of the duck fat, but once you heat it up again, it will turn back to a liquid.
You can store gumbo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. In fact, I love making gumbo ahead of time. As it sits in the refrigerator, it gives the flavors time to meld.
Absolutely, gumbo freezes beautifully! Simply portion the gumbo into freezer-safe containers, allow it to cool and then freeze for up to six months. I almost always have a batch of gumbo in our freezer because we love it so much, and then we always have a cozy meal on hand.
Making the perfect gumbo roux: As you’re making the roux, keep an eye on the heat. For most stoves, medium heat tends to work, but if it starts getting too hot, turn the heat to medium-low for a few minutes and then turn it back up. We want the roux to have enough heat to turn dark brown, but we also don’t want to burn it.
Kitchen shears are your friend: To remove the duck skin, kitchen shears are helpful, especially for the duck breasts. The skin is even thicker on those pieces. You can even use strong shears to help with the carving. If I run into a stubborn spot, sometimes you can use those shears to cut around a piece, and it's great for removing the spine.
Don't skip the skin removal step: Duck skin is very fatty, which is why we're able to render all that wonderful duck fat. If you throw the duck in the pot with the skin, the gumbo will come out too greasy.
Efficient time savers: To save some time, you can buy solid duck fat at the store and melt it to get ½ cup. I recommend chopping your Holy Trinity vegetables as the duck fat renders. Once you start the roux, you’ll be too busy stirring.
Wondering what beer goes with gumbo? Try a nice Belgian-style dubbel. This style of beer has a rich maltiness with dried fruit notes that are fabulous with duck. Plus, the dubbel's thicker body stands up nicely to the bold duck and thick roux.
For a wine, you'll love a pinot noir. This wine features some nice earthy notes that complement our duck and pair nicely with our seasoning, especially that filé powder. This wine also shows off some berry notes, and like the dubbel, those are perfect with duck.
Of course, you might also be in the mood for a classic New Orleans cocktail. The Ramos gin fizz is just that. Henry C. Ramos invented this cocktail in the late 1800s at his bar known as the Imperial Cabinet saloon.
For the perfect bowl of Cajun comfort food, I hope you try this duck gumbo with andouille sausage. You'll devour it in no time.
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Duck Gumbo With Andouille Sausage
- Large stock pot
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 24 ounces andouille sausage cut into slices
- 1 whole duck cut into two breasts and two legs, reserve extra skin, spine and neck
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 celery ribs chopped
- 2 green bell peppers chopped
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced or grated
- 9 cups chicken stock or water with 2 heaping tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley optional
- 1 tablespoon filé powder
- White rice for serving
- In a large stockpot, add the canola oil and heat on medium. When the oil is hot, add half the andouille sausage and cook until browned, about two to three minutes. Flip and brown on the other side. Repeat with the other half of the sausage.
- Turn heat down to medium-low. Add the duck breasts skin side down. Cook until the fat renders, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the duck breasts and repeat with the legs and reserved extra skin pieces. Measure out the rendered duck fat so that you have ½ cup. If you have extra duck fat, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for future use.
- Turn the heat to medium. Add the ½ cup duck fat back to the pot and whisk in the flour. This is the roux. Whisk continuously until the roux turns the color of melted chocolate. This should take about an hour, depending on your heat. As it cooks, you may need to reduce the heat to medium-low if it starts to smoke and get too hot. You don't want the heat too high to make the roux cook faster because it could burn.
- Once the roux is ready, stir in the celery, green pepper and onion and cook for about five minutes. Stir the vegetables often. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Slowly stir in the chicken stock or water with Better Than Bouillon. Add in the 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and sausage. Remove the skin from the duck and also add that. If desired, add the reserved duck neck and spine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and simmer for about an hour and 20 minutes, stir occasionally.
- Remove the duck. Discard the spine and neck if using. Using two forks, shred the meat off the bones. Add the shredded meat back to the pot and stir in the filé powder and parsley.
- Taste the gumbo. If it needs more Cajun seasoning, add a little at a time until it suits your taste. If you'd like more heat, you can add cayenne pepper to your desired heat level. Keep in mind the flavors will bolden if you refrigerate it overnight. Serve with a scoop of white rice and additional hot sauce if desired. Enjoy!
- As you’re making the roux, keep an eye on the heat. For most stoves, medium heat tends to work, but if it starts getting too hot, turn the heat to medium-low for a few minutes and then turn it back up.
- To remove the duck skin, kitchen shears are helpful, especially for the duck breasts. The skin is even thicker on those pieces. You can even use strong shears to help with the carving. If I run into a stubborn spot, sometimes you can use those shears to cut around a piece, and it's great for removing the spine.
- Duck skin is very fatty, which is why we're able to render all that wonderful duck fat. If you throw the duck in the pot with the skin, the gumbo will come out too greasy.
- To save some time, you can buy solid duck fat at the store and melt it to get ½ cup. I recommend chopping your Holy Trinity vegetables as the duck fat renders. Once you start the roux, you’ll be too busy stirring.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.