Duck rillettes have some commonalities with duck pate, although they are distinctly different.  The main difference is that duck rillettes use pieces of slow cooked duck. Duck pate starts with raw duck meat pieces before cooking it au-bain-marie. In both cases spices and a brandy are added as well as enough fat. Also, in duck pate we use liver, whereas in duck rillettes we sometimes add foie gras, but this is optional.

Use as an appetizer and on a piece of crusty, warm bread.

the art of making duck rillettes

Cook the herbed meats slowly and reserve the juices and fat. For duck we use an oven for 6 hours at (120 C), and for pork for 3 hours at (160 C), each wrapped in foil.  Thereafter, we let the meats cool down. Subsequently we pull or cut the meat, mix and then emulsify in sufficient fat, mostly duck fat, but some pork fat is fine too.  Also, we add some of the gelled-up meat juices. After filling jars with the mixture, we cool it down. Ensure no air pockets are left, before the mixture is sealed with a layer of melted pork fat.

The taste of the mixture will develop and can be stored for months in the refrigerator.

Special equipment

an oven baking tray

some aluminum foil

glass jars

duck rillettes in jar ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Duck Rillettes

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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Keyword: duck and pork rillettes, duck rillettes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 9 hours
cooling and resting time: 11 hours
Total Time: 20 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 20


the meats

  • 1 whole duck, organs removed
  • 0.7 lb lean pork with fat rim

fillings for the inside of the duck

  • 6 slices fresh ginger
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1 orange, use the zest and cut in stripes
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper (black preferred)

spice rub for the duck

  • 1.5 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp pepper (black preferred)
  • 2 tsp thyme (dried is fine)

spice rub for the pork

  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp thyme

to bring it together

  • 1 tbsp brandy: cognac or Armagnac preferred
  • 1 tsp orange zest grated
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp chopped chives
  • 1 pinch cayenne or Sichuan pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


prepare the meats

  • mix the ingredients of the rub mix
  • mix the spices, herbs and salt for the inner fillings
  • rinse the duck and hang on the neck to dry
  • cut of the head and discard
  • rub the duck on the outside and the inside with the pepper salt rub
  • fill the interior of the duck with the 'inner filings'
  • place the duck on aluminum foil, breast side up
  • fold the foil tight around the duck, such that juices and fat can be trapped inside the wrapped foil
  • For the pork, season with pepper, salt and thyme
  • wrap the pork also in foil and place in an oven baking dish

the slow cook

  • Place the wrapped duck in the oven at 250 F (120 C) for 6 h
  • Thereafter remove the baking dish with the duck and check if the meat comes off, but should not fall from the bone
  • Separately place the pork also in a baking dish in the oven at 320 F (160 C) for 3 h
  • Thereafter remove the baking dish with the pork

the work up of the juices

  • The duck will have generated juices and fat. Collect these and place in a pan and heat up
  • When all is liquid again, strain the mixture and let the mixture cool down. The fat will be visible on top and the lower aqueous phase will become a gel upon cooling. After cooling in the fridge, separate with a spoon the fat from the gel
  • The pork's juices are collected, heated up and let separate as well

the pulling of the meat

  • When the duck has cooled down, pull the meat from the bones, but keep the bones, skin and inner fillings separate to make a delicious broth (the latter is not part of this recipe)
  • Also cut the pork meat in smaller pieces.
  • Mix the meat together and cool down further

making the rillettes

  • When making the rillettes, add all ingredients needed 'to bring it together' into the meats.
  • Then add the melted duck fat, some of the (gelly) duck broth and some pork fat to the meat mixture and mix with a fork. the total amount of fat should be around 30-35% of the weight of the total mixture
  • Fill the mixture in sterile glass jars and compact it. Then refrigerate over night
  • The next day, melt some pork fat and cover the mixture to seal it from the air. This is to keep the rillettes in good condition for a long time in the fridge.


Method: oven baking
Food allergy & intolerance information: none


It is optional how much pork meat to add. leaving out the pork will leave more of the duck taste, but pork makes the taste rounder.

Optionally add duck foie gras up to 20% of the total mixture. It provides for an excellent taste enhancement.

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