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Cinnamon Spiced Smoked Duck

Kindi Lantz August 22, 2019

Hickory Smoked Duck with Ceylon Cinnamon Spice

Poultry is always good, but when smoked or roasted, it becomes exceptional. The skin and outer meat develop a gorgeous smoke ring and all of the wonderful flavors used to season it deepen and develop a sort of maturity. Cinnamon is no exception!

Brining the duck ensures it is exceptionally tender by somewhat breaking the meat down but that’s not the only reason I chose to brine in this instance. I infused this brine with many flavors so that it also acts as a marinade and penetrates deep into the meat. Then, I utilized that same brine to create a thick sauce to serve alongside the bird. The results are a rich, smoky dish that is extravagant enough for a holiday meal, but simple enough for a small, backyard gathering!

Cinnamon Spiced Hickory Smoked Duck


For the brine: 
  • 14 cups water
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup salt
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 cloves, slightly crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into several pieces each
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the duck: 

  • 1 whole duck
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 apples, cored and sliced into pieces

For the sauce: 

  • 6 cups of leftover brine, including cinnamon and cardamom pieces 
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • Cores from the apples used in the duck
  • 1 cup drippings from duck 
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of jam (amy fruit you desire)
  • ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream

  • Procedure

    Brining the duck: 

    1. Mix all ingredients together in a pot large enough to hold the entire duck. 
    2. Place the duck in the brine, ensuring it is fully covered. If it isn’t quite covered, increase the brine mixture until your duck is fully submerged. 
    3. Place the duck/brine in the fridge and leave for 48 hours. 

    For the duck: 

    1. Preheat the smoker to 200℉ 
    2. In a small dish, mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and ground cinnamon. 
    3. Rub the mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Make sure you lift the wings and legs to get underneath. 
    4. Fill the cavity with the apples. 
    5. Use cooking twine to tie the legs and wings to the body and set the duck, breast-side up, in the smoker, directly above the drip pan. 
    6. Every 20-30 minutes during the cooking process, you’ll want to brush some of the drippings from the pan over the duck to ensure it develops that beautiful golden brown glow and doesn’t dry out.
    7. Smoke for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the duck reaches an internal temperature of 135℉ (for a tender, medium-rare) or 165℉ (to follow USDA guidelines for cooking poultry).
    8. Pull the duck out of the smoker, cover, and let rest for at least 10 minutes. 

    For the sauce: 

    1. Place the brine, cloves, star anise, rosemary, and apple cores in a saucepan and place on the stove. 
    2. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir. 
    3. After about an hour, or when the mixture has reduced to ¼, add in the duck drippings (there should be plenty by this point in the ducks smoking process), the maple syrup, and the jam. 
    4. 10 minutes before the duck is pulled from the smoker, turn the heat of the sauce up to medium heat and stir often. When it has reduced to about 1 cup, strain the sauce to remove everything but the liquid, and stir in the whipping cream. Keep warm until serving the duck.

    Serving Suggestions

    Slice the duck against the grain and drizzle the sauce and a sprinkling of ground Ceylon cinnamon on top. Remove the apples from the body cavity and serve alongside. This dish goes beautifully alongside polenta, mashed sweet potatoes, a simple rice dish, or something else that can sop up plenty of the sauce. 

    For this smoked duck recipe, I used Ceylon Cinnamon and Whole Cloves to create the brine. You can find both of those, plus more of our fantastic ingredients on our spices page.