Easy Duck Carnitas, Plus a Giveaway

If you crave the meltingly-tender meat with crispy edges that you get with classic pork carnitas, you are going to love this easy recipe for duck carnitas.  This is my one-pot method that braises the meat until it is falling apart and then crisps up the skin and edges to give you some crunchy texture.  Once you try this you may never go back to pork carnitas.  I layered in some smokey spices and the juice of an orange for some sweetness and tang, and I made a batch of quick, pickled onions as a crunchy topping.  I am a brand ambassador for Maple Leaf Farms, and they not only provided the duck for this recipe, they are also providing a really generous collection of their duck products to be given away to one lucky reader–details on that at the end of this post.

Easy Paleo Duck Carnitas recipe

I used two pounds of duck legs that I slow-roasted in my Le Creuset French oven (like a Dutch oven, but oval).  Any heavy, oven-safe pot with a lid will work.  There are just a few basic ingredients:

Ingredients for Duck Carnitas

You place everything in your heavy pot and do a slow braise, then remove the lid to cook off the liquid and crisp up the skin and the undersides of the legs.  This is seriously irresistible.  All of the fat renders out, leaving moist, unctuous meat and lots of crispy skin and edges. The quick, pickled onions are ready after fifteen minutes in their bath of vinegar and honey, and they are a little sweet, a little tart, and nice and crunchy.

Easy Duck Carnitas
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 pounds fresh duck legs (four legs)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 cup water
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the duck legs in a single layer in your heavy, oven-safe pot, with the skin sides up. It is o.k. if they overlap a little bit but try to keep them in a single layer. Sprinkle on all of the spices, and then juice the orange over the duck, getting out as much juice as possible. Pour in the water and put the lid on the pot.
  3. Braise the duck for an hour and a half, then remove the lid from the pot and roast for another hour, or until the skin has crisped up. Let the meat cool enough to handle, and then shred the meat and the skin and discard the bones. Serve with quick pickled onions, fresh cilantro, and some lime wedges.

Easy Duck Carnitas Recipe with Quick Pickled Onions
Quick Pickled Onions
Recipe type: Condiment, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Stir together all of the ingredients until the honey has dissolved. Toss a few more times before serving. These are ready after they have "steeped" for fifteen minutes.

Easy Duck Carnitas recipe

Now, on to the giveaway!  Maple Leaf Farms has put together a wonderful gift pack of their products for the giveaway, including all of the following items:

  • 2 Roast Half Ducks with Orange Sauce
  • 2 All Natural Boneless Duck Breasts
  • 2 Packages All Natural Duck Legs
  • 1 package DUCK BACON

Retail value of the package, with shipping, is approximately $75.

In addition to making some of these delicious duck carnitas, the giveaway winner might also want to experiment with developing some recipes for Maple Leaf Farms’ Strut Your Duck recipe contest–the top prize is $4000!

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

Giveaway has ended!  Congratulations to Danielle, who won the Maple Leaf Farms duck package, and thanks to everyone who entered.

  • In the comment section below, tell me which Maple Leaf Farms duck product you would like to try and/or your favorite way to cook duck.
  • For a second entry, share this giveaway on Twitter or Pinterest, and leave a second comment saying that you shared and including the URL of the tweet or the pin.
  • Entry period ends on Sunday, August 17th, at 5 p.m. M.S.T.  I will select a winner using Random.org and will contact the winner via the email associated with their comment.  If the person selected does not respond within 48 hours, I will select an alternative winner using the same method.
  • U.S. mailing addresses only, please.

It’s just that simple!

Thanks for reading,


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81 Responses to Easy Duck Carnitas, Plus a Giveaway

  1. Karen Harris August 3, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    These duck carnitas look delicious. I really love duck and miss cooking with it because it is hard to find then when I do, it is super expensive. I would love to try the duck bacon. Great giveaway. Count me in please!

    • Angela August 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      I would love to see it more widely available–especially the bacon. Costco, are you listening?

  2. Nicole Hood August 3, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    I would love to try duck bacon! Usually I just roast a whole duck and serve with a raspberry sauce! These carnitas sound amazing!

    • Angela August 3, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

      Nicole, the bacon is amazing!

  3. Nicole Hood August 3, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Shared on Twitter! Great giveaway 🙂

  4. Bill August 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    Thanks for the idea, I often make cochinillo pibil similar to this, can’t wait to try it with duck instead. Really want to use the legs & duck bacon in a cassoulet.

    • Angela August 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

      That sounds great, I would love to hear how it turns out.

  5. Carole Resnick August 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    I want to grind some duck meat and make a duck moose.

  6. Carole Resnick August 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    I tweeted

  7. Joan Noyes August 4, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    I love making duck confit with duck legs! Delicious!

  8. Denise Heikinen August 4, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    The duck looks delicious and so easy!

    • Denise Heikinen August 4, 2014 at 6:19 am #

      Just left a tweet but I’m not up on twitter jargon so I’m not sure what the twitter url is! Does @dmheikin work?

  9. Kim August 4, 2014 at 6:26 am #

    I would love, love, love to try the duck bacon. I usually simply roast duck.

  10. Felice August 4, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    I used to be able to just buy duck breasts and can’t get them locally anymore. Would love to see them back.

  11. Felice August 4, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    I tweeted! https://twitter.com/fbogus/status/496272500590776320

  12. Kat August 4, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    i want to try it all. seriously. but, the recipe i want to try most is the duck and cherry stuffed mushrooms. i haven’t ever cooked with duck before. i could start virtually with anything!

  13. Mary Shivers August 4, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    I think the duck bacon would be fabulous! I would also like to try the legs to use in the carnitas recipe – it sounds wonderful. Duck is very expensive here, but I love to roast it. 🙂

  14. Lauren W August 4, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    The duck bacon sounds divine! Crossing my fingers 🙂

  15. Lauren W August 4, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    I pinned it! http://www.pinterest.com/pin/264023596879795396/

  16. Monica G August 4, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Most DEFINITELY gotta try the duck bacon!!!

  17. Stephanie Watson August 4, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    These look amazing! I love duck and would love to try the duck bacon.

  18. Monica G August 4, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Just pinned it! Thank you for doing this! http://www.pinterest.com/pin/174233079309306571/

  19. Sherry Ricci August 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Love all their products that I’ve tried.Haven’t had the whole duck yet though.Also wish more were available in stores here!

  20. Janice E August 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Duck bacon – what’s not to love!

  21. Linda Bonwill August 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Love your giveaway. 5 hanks for the opportunity. I especially love meeting new foodie friends. Oh, and that duck bacon…I have to try. I am in bacon category this year at wfc. I need to spread my wings a bit. Thanks again.

  22. lisa keys August 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Great recipe those carnitas. I love Maple Leaf duck bacon and duck breast. I just tried the duck legs for the first time this week–have to write down my recipe and submit to the Strut Your Duck contest

  23. lisa keys August 4, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Already following you on twitter so I re-tweeted you to my followers:

    Retweeted by Lisa Keys
    Angela @seasonalsavory · 15h
    My recipe for Duck Carnitas with Quick Pickled Onions #easy #Paleo #giveaway http://bit.ly/1ol3CF7

  24. Donna August 4, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    I think I’d like to try the duck breasts- although the bacon sounds good- and your recipe yum!!

  25. Andi | Greenbasket.me August 4, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    That sounds delicious! I love duck legs, and my favorite way to cook duck until now has been a similar cooking method- braised and then roasted to crisp up the skin- but it’s been to top a spicy Chinese noodle soup!

    • Angela August 4, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      That sounds so good!

  26. Kristen August 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I’d like to try the Almond Breaded Duck Tenders.

  27. Kristen August 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm #


  28. Kadija August 5, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    I love Chinese roasted duck! I also make a duck mole that is so delicious! Your recipe looks amazing Angela, I will definitely make this!

  29. Kadija August 5, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    I tweeted!

  30. Nancy August 5, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    Would like to try the duck legs to make those delicious-looking duck legs!

  31. Nancy August 5, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    Oops — I meant delicious-looking carnitas!

  32. Veronica Callaghan August 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    I have never cooked with duck! (I’m ashamed to say!) I have had it in restaurants and love it, but I don’t see it very often in the stores by me. I would love to try duck bacon! Your carnitas look tasty!

  33. Sharon August 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    I would love to try their Duck Bacon… but honestly I’d be happy with any MLF products. This will be my 3rd year of entering and hoping a 3rd berth in the top 10!!

  34. shirley August 5, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    My regular supermarket carries Maple Farm products and we often ‘enjoy’. Tho I’ve never seen duck bacon (will have to inquire as I’d love to try it). Never thought of making carnitas with duck … they sound ‘yummy’.

    • Valonda Seward August 6, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

      I can’t wait to try this recipe. I usually roast duck but love how simple and savory this recipe sounds. Bring on the duck legs and bacon … Thanks for a great giveaway. I need to practice to enter the Strut Your Duck contest and it’s not easy to find in the foothills.

  35. Valonda Seward August 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I tweeted with your beautiful photo

  36. Valonda Seward August 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Pinned to my “Must Try” Board

    Easy Paleo Duck Carnitas recipe – http://pinterest.com/pin/3166662213461424/

  37. chef mike August 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of the portion leg package. Brined, then BBQed in pan. Thank you for that lovely recipe. Five stars

    • Angela August 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

      Thanks so much, Chef Mike!

  38. Kelly Hughes August 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    I would love to try the duck breasts wrapped in the duck bacon!

  39. Kelly Hughes August 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    I shared on Pinterest!


  40. sandra August 7, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    The duck bacon would be interesting to try

  41. Laura C. August 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    The duck legs would be amazing for confit! But the bacon sounds interesting too 🙂

  42. Carolsue August 11, 2014 at 12:34 am #

    My favorite product is the Fresh Whole Duck with Orange Sauce
    My favorite way to cook it is to make Chinese Crispy Peking Duck

  43. Carolsue August 11, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    I shared on Pinterest

  44. Kristine E August 11, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    My favorite Maple Leaf Farm duck product is the All Natural Whole Duck
    My favorite way to cook duck is Sherry Roasted Duck

  45. Kristine E August 11, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    Here is where I pinned this giveaway

  46. Susan Bickta August 12, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Would love to try the duck bacon, for sure!!! Maple Leaf Farm Duck products are the best!!!

  47. Susan Bickta August 12, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Here’s my Pinterest URL: http://www.pinterest.com/bicktasw/maple-leaf-farms-duck-giveaway/

  48. Susan Bickta August 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Re-tweeted …… does that count??? https://twitter.com/seasonalsavory/status/497588020049375232 or maybe this is the URL you need? https://twitter.com/SouxieSusan

    • Angela August 12, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      Susan, that works, thanks!

      • Susan Bickta August 12, 2014 at 9:52 am #

        Awesome!!! Hoping there is some duck in my future …… gotta keep it a secret, though, from the ducks that visit our yard every day!!!

  49. Dee August 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    These look delicious!!!! I would love to try Duck bacon!!!

  50. Lynne Laino August 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Your carnitas look amazing! I love duck! I think I would like the legs!

  51. Mary Edwards August 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Quack, quack, quack … I just love all that quackiness!

    • Angela August 12, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      Mary, you quack me up.

  52. Kim Jones August 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    I would love to win some duck legs to make duck confit! YUM!!!!! 🙂

  53. lisa keys August 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I would love to try the duck confit

  54. Debbie R. August 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    Well, I have two things actually!! One for my Dad, which would be any part of the duck!! He loves duck and I would love to prepare a dish for him. For me, I hear so much about duck confit I feel I must try it to see what the hype is about!!

  55. Lori McLain August 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    The carnitas look awesome ! I love duck in asian and mexican foods especially ! I would love to try the duck bacon too…the ground duck is my favorite !

  56. Tiffany August 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Um…kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never tried duck. There’s a first time for everything, right? 🙂 Would love to give these Duck Carnitas a try!

    • Angela August 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

      A perfect time to give it a try!

  57. Tiffany August 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    I tweeted! https://twitter.com/mommababycakes/status/500722582543298560

  58. Lisa August 16, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    I would love to try the duck bacon!

  59. Betsy August 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I don’t like duck, but my husband does, and he would like me to make him Peking duck.

  60. Denise Heikinen August 17, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    After reading this post the first time, I decided to send bacon to my son and family as a birthday and welcome-to-their-new-home-in-Pennsylvania present. They liked it.

    • Angela August 17, 2014 at 7:48 am #

      Glad they liked it, Denise–it’s one of my favorites.

  61. Danielle August 17, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    I’m sorry but who WOULDN’T want to try duck bacon?! OMG.

  62. Danielle August 17, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I tweeted your duck carnitas…which look delicious by the way 🙂


  63. Shana December 15, 2018 at 6:41 pm #

    WOW – those were easy to make and DELICIOUS!!!


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