Aromatic Duck Rillettes Recipe

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Keyword: duck, pate
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Servings: 16
Calories: 226kcal
These rillettes are perfect for appetizers with a cocktail or for hostess gifts during the holidays (or both!)
Print Recipe


  • 1 whole duck about 6 pounds

for spice rub

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 generous teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heaping teaspoons dried thyme

for the aromatics

  • 12 cloves garlic crushed and peeled
  • 3- inch knob of fresh ginger don't worry about peeling, sliced into quarter inch pieces
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • peel from an orange no white pith
  • 1 large bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

to assemble rillettes

  • cold duck meat
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons warm duck fat from the duck you've roasted
  • 2 tablespoons warm duck stock from the duck you've roasted
  • 2 teaspoons parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustarad
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

for (optional) garnish

  • additional orange zest
  • black pepper
  • parsley leaves

special equipment

  • 4-6 ramekins canning jars or other half-pint sized crocks


  • Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  • In a small bowl mix together the kosher salt, black pepper and dried thyme. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine the garlic, ginger, bay leaves, orange peel, thyme and peppercorns. Toss to combine with your hands. Set aside.
  • Place the duck in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the inside of the duck cavity with 1/3 of the spice rub. Sprinkle 1/3 on the back of the duck. With your hands, insert the potpourri fully into the duck cavity. Sprinkle duck breast with the remaining 1/3 of the spice rub. 
  • Place the duck in the oven and cook for 7 hours, or until the duck meat is easy to pull away from the bones. Note: this low, slow method of cooking will render copious amounts of duck fat and jellied stock and may fill 1/3 of the baking dish. That's what you want.
  • Lift the duck and drain any fluids from it. Transfer to a cutting board. Place a sieve over a quart sized jar or other storage container and pour the drippings and stock through the strainer. Seal with a lid and refrigerate.
  • Remove the skin from the duck. Remove the flesh from the duck and transfer it to a sealed storage container and refrigerate overnight. You can discard the skin and bones from the duck (or keep them and make a really good duck stock).
  • Remove the stock/fat jar from the refrigerator. They will have separated into two distinct layers. The top is duck fat and the bottom layer is duck stock. Use a spoon to scoop out the top layer of duck fat and transfer to another container. You'll use a little bit of each for this recipe -- the rest can be saved for other uses (plenty of duck fat/stock recipes here).


  • Transfer the duck meat to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cognac, softened butter, parsley, orange zest, dijon mustard and cayenne pepper.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of duck fat and 2 tablespoons of the broth to the duck meat.
  • Attach the paddle attachment on the stand mixer and mix on a low speed until meat breaks apart and is incorporated with the other ingredients. 2-3 minutes.


  • Use a wooden spoon and work the meat mixture into the other ingredients, until it's a fairly smooth consistency and all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Fill half-cup ramekins or canning jars with the duck mixture. Smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.
  • Top the aromatic duck rillettes with optional garnish and seal the rillettes with 1-2 tablespoons of additional duck fat. Cover and refrigerate for several days and up to a week for the flavors to marry.
  • Serve with crackers or crostini and a cocktail!


Crazy as it sounds -- my duck yielded 4 half-pint crocks.


Calories: 226kcal | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 1204mg | Potassium: 117mg | Vitamin A: 135IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1.2mg