All About Duck Eggs

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Duck eggs are highly prized by bakers and gourmet chefs alike, but how are duck eggs different than your standard chicken egg?

For starters, duck eggs are big.  Different breeds of both chickens & ducks lay different size eggs, but generally speaking, ducks eggs are about 50% larger than “medium” grade chicken eggs.  In the above picture, you see the duck egg at the bottom against the standard USDA weight categories for chicken eggs.

Pee Wee eggs (laid by my little bantam Mille Fleur D’Uccle) weigh in at just 1.10 ounces.  Small eggs weigh 1.55 ounces.  Medium are 1.70 ounces.  Large eggs are around 2 ounces (this is the size egg called for in most recipes).  Extra large eggs weigh in around 2.3 ounces and Jumbos at around 2.5 ounces.   The duck egg in the picture weighed in at 3.4 ounces, but I have had some weighing in at close to 4 ounces!  Just like chicken eggs, duck egg shells can come in a range of colors varying from white, brown, cream, blue, grey, and even black!

When you crack open a duck egg, the first thing you will notice is that the shell is significantly thicker than a chicken egg.  The white of a duck egg is nearly transparent where chicken eggs usually have a light yellowish hue.  The duck egg white is firmer with more structure than a chicken egg white.

This firm white is one of the reasons chefs love cooking with duck eggs.   The egg white (or albumen) helps baked goods like cakes, rise higher with a light, fluffy texture. Cookies turn out moist & chewy. The firmer albumen can help bind ingredients & improve texture in gluten free recipes. The other reason chefs love duck eggs lies in the yolk.  Much larger than a chicken yolk, they also have a much higher fat content which lends a rich taste to dishes.  Duck eggs are divine in homemade ice cream and stellar in custard fillings for pastries.

How do they differ nutritionally?

Duck eggs & chicken eggs have very similar nutritional profiles and many of the differences are simply due to the larger size of the duck egg.

Duck eggs are notably higher in both fat & cholesterol compared to chicken eggs.  This is partly due to the difference in the bird’s diets.  Ducks tend to favor eating high protein bugs, snails, and slugs over plant matter.

Each duck egg has about 600 milligrams of cholesterol which is about twice the recommended daily intake level. So duck eggs should not be an everyday indulgence, especially for those who struggle with their cholesterol levels.

The fat content of duck eggs is much higher, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The fat is monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats) and contains a much higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids (72 mg vs 37 mg in chicken eggs), an essential cellular building block that many people struggle to get enough of in their diets.

Duck egg are significantly higher in:
protein (9 g. vs 5 g. for chicken eggs)
iron (2.7 mg. vs 0.9 mg. for chicken eggs)
vitamin A (472 IU vs 244 IU for chicken eggs)
folate (56 mcg. vs 23 mcg. for chicken eggs)
choline (184 mg. vs 126 mg. in chicken eggs)

Another really interesting duck egg nutrition fact is that because duck egg whites contain a different type of protein than chicken eggs, often times people that are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs with no problems (as always run this by your doctor before experimenting though).

How do they taste?

Duck eggs and chicken eggs taste pretty much the same.  If you scramble them up mixed together you certainly won’t notice a difference.  If you were to scramble them up side by side and taste each separately……you will still find they taste similar.  The duck egg has a slightly stronger “egg” flavor thanks to it’s larger yolk vs white ratio, and also because of the duck’s higher protein diet (assuming the ducks were allowed to free range and eat bugs).  Duck eggs also have a creamier, richer texture due to the higher fat content.

How to cook with duck eggs

Cooking with duck eggs is a little bit different than cooking with chicken eggs.  Scrambling them up is going to be the same, and they are great when added to a frittata or omelet. But if you are frying or hard boiling them, a little extra care is needed.  Duck eggs have a lower water content than chicken eggs so overcooking them can give them a rubbery texture.

For great hard boiled duck eggs, place the eggs in a pot of cold, salted water.  Bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 12 minutes.  Carefully remove the eggs & place in a bowl of ice water until cool.

Baking with duck eggs might also require a little playing around with the recipe.  I usually just sub out one chicken egg for one duck egg, but every recipe is different.  If your recipe calls for multiple eggs, an easy substitution is to use 2 duck eggs for every 3 chicken eggs.  If you have an extra sensitive recipe, you can also measure out the whites & yolks.  A standard large egg would be the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of yolk and 2 tablespoons of white.

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  1. Joan Timmons says:

    Our duck use to lay eggs In her house, now all of the sudden she’s laying them out in her pen, & in the yard when we let her out… I don’t understand why the change?? Any ideas? She is a Muscovy & by herself, my husband built her like a condo, she has a good size pen , well protected with a pool.

    1. Ducks unfortunately are notorious for just laying eggs where ever they please. You can try keeping her confined to her pen for a bit until she gets back in the habit of using her nest, make her nesting area as comfy and inviting as possible, but sometimes they just like to make their space

      1. Beckett says:

        I have found this to be true also. I use hay, and have discovered the ducks waiting in line for the community nest to lay their eggs. I have a broody Orpington. ?

      2. mike says:

        My ducks like to hide or even bury thier eggs in some leaves or where i won’t think to look. Every day with ducks is like an easter egg hunt. Also a good thing to make with duck eggs is homade pasta. Duck egg pasta is the bomb diggity

        1. My ducks are also constantly hiding their eggs – it’s very frustrating! I haven’t tried duck egg pasta, I bet it’s amazing!!

      3. Debra M Petersen says:

        Hi Liz,
        I have been raising ducks for a couple years now.Last year we started out with 6 pekin all white females and a brown/green male. I consumed the eggs a few times before I finally figured out that I have a tolerance problem to them. I can only eat them in baked goods. We finally had all of them butchered for the meat at the end of the year in the fall. Then decided this year we would try Cayuga ducks. so we got 3 female chicks and 1 male.Our hope is they breed and make more and we would establish wichbones are the breeders.Oviously we figured out the male and now which female he prefers.Now we wait and watch to see if she will brood and make more chicks.In the mean time all are laying eggs. My question is, do you know if breed makes a difference in egg intolerance? I’m reluctant to try their eggs after last year with the other duck eggs.I can eat chicken eggs no problem. My boyfriend want s me to try them and see if the breed makes a difference. He can eat all eggs with no issues, so trying to describe the agonizing reaction to him is mute because he just thinks its an upset stomach and its much more then that and not like any other thing Iv ever experienced. I tell him it is a 6 he ordeal that I don’t want to deal with, especially if I have a day planned to do things or get anything done as I just want to die in bed for 6 hrs. Just wondered if you have heard if breed makes a difference or if you know of or have any sites to reference to?

        1. I don’t have any experience with egg intolerance, but I would seriously doubt that breed would make a difference. I have 11 ducks right now, all of different breeds and I don’t notice any difference in taste, appearance (other than shell color/size), or texture of any of the eggs. Maybe a doctor could clue you into what it is about duck eggs that you might be sensitive to? You could give it a shot, but like you said it’s a lot of agony and stress. My guess would be that you will have an intolerance to all duck eggs though

  2. theresa susano says:

    I have ducks i have a small duck i found a tiny egg but befor large eg i have. Two f e male one tiny and other is little large

    1. It’s very common for ducks and chickens to lay smaller eggs when they first start laying. They often get larger as the bird matures. Sometimes the early eggs are even yolkless

  3. Andrew MacDonald says:

    when a duck lays her eggs outside and they get wet is it safe to eat them.

    1. As long as it’s been less than 24 hours it should be just fine. To totally remove the bloom it would need a super heavy rain

  4. My Saxony gave me a 5 oz egg!! It’s enormous.

    1. WOW!!! That is a huge egg!!

  5. My four Jumbo Pekin duck just recently started laying and I get tree or four very day. Because it’s winter in Minnesota, sometimes the eggs freeze and expand and end up cracking. The eggs are still whole but they have a crack along the side. How long will they be safe to eat if they’ve been cracked?

    1. I would not recommend eating any cracked eggs. As soon as the shell is broken, you have lost the barrier keeping the bacteria out. Even if your nest boxes were pristine I wouldn’t recommend it. Try collecting eggs multiple times a day during the winter. When I find cracked eggs I usually toss them in the compost pile.

  6. My ducks free range. I will be planting flower seeds soon & was wondering if I should move my 3 ducks to an area that won’t be planted until my plants are tall enough where the ducks won’t damage the plants?

    1. Definitely move them. Ducks won’t generally uproot established plants, but they love digging around for bugs (especially in freshly turned soil), and that could disturb young plants or seeds that are trying to get established

  7. Vincent Kamp says:

    what breed of ducks is the best for laying eggs

    1. I would recommend Khaki Campbells, Orpingtons or Pekins for egg production

  8. Judy E Schmidt says:

    I have a little black duck that I inherited from the neighbors. Never saw her laying eggs
    Until I was doing yard work one day and found a clutch of about 20 eggs. I collected them and discarded them. But she soon had another one started. we have no male, so no babies, but she is persistent. We finally got her 2 fertil chicken eggs she hatched successfully. I’m waiting to see what is going to happen when she tries to teach them to swim.

    1. awww cute! I love watching one species raising another,so sweet. Be careful though because she is going to try and teach them to swim, and chicks don’t swim

  9. Hi – I have had chickens for a few years and they are all hens, so no worries about eggs being fertilized.
    Now we have two ducks, one male and one female. She just started laying eggs this past week. At what point is it not safe to eat the eggs?

    1. It is completely fine to eat fertilized eggs. As long as you are collecting the eggs every day there is no chance for the egg to begin developing. It takes about 12 hours of incubating for the signal for development to begin. The key here is incubating, as in your duck would need to decide to hatch eggs and sit on her nest constantly. You could leave a fertilized egg out in the nest box for a month and development will never even begin unless the mother duck is sitting on it nearly all the time (they do take short breaks to eat & relieve themselves). Even if you forgot to collect eggs for a day, and even if your duck was sitting on the nest, it takes about 3 days of incubation for you to be able to see with the naked eye signs of development (the first signs are veins beginning to grow out from the center). So you can feel perfectly fine about eating her eggs, they won’t taste or look any different than non fertile eggs. I have an article on fertile vs non fertile chicken eggs, but ducks are pretty similar. The only difference is ducks take even longer to develop. You can read it here:

      1. Hi Liz, thank you so much for the explanation! We do take the eggs in every day, so we should be okay then. We inherited these ducks and thought they were both female. Surprise!!
        Thanks again for the quick response and the link.


  10. jessica says:

    hi liz! i am doing a project, and i was wondering why my ducks always stay together… when i go to let them out, they go out together. is that normal??

    1. Totally normal! Ducks are flock animals so their instinct is to stay together for safety. Also, their eyes are fixed in their eye socket, so to look in different directions they need to physically move their head. When they are in a group they can have multiple ducks looking in multiple directions at once to keep them safe. You might also be interested in checking out my duck behavior post: good luck with your project 🙂

  11. Joyce says:

    One of my blue runner ducks recently started laying eggs with rubbery shells that don’t firm up. Any ideas on what could be causing this and how to prevent it? Thanks!

    1. If she is a new layer, sometimes it takes a couple weeks to work out all the kinks in the egg laying system. Rubbery or no shells eggs can happen from time to time. When you see them regularly it is a sign she has a calcium deficiency. Egg shells require a lot of calcium to produce. Is she on a layer feed? Layer feeds have the added calcium that is usually lacking in chick starter or multi-flock feeds. You can also offer calcium supplements in the form of crushed oyster shells, or crushed up chicken/duck egg shells.

  12. joyce says:

    Thank you, Liz. I believe it must be a calcium deficiency and will offer all the ducks a supplement.

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