How to Render Duck Fat

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Duck fat is like liquid gold in the kitchen. It is almost universally considered to be one of the most flavorful cooking fats available. When you cook duck, it’s worth capturing every rendered drop of fat you can to use in other dishes later (instead of butter or oil). Here’s how.


Ducks carry a significant portion of their fat near the surface of their skin where it provides warmth and buoyancy. This means that to get a moist, flavorful, and not overly fatty result when pan-roasting duck breasts, you need to render that fat first. Rendering duck fat is actually very easy, as long as you’re patient and use the right technique.


  • Score the breasts:

Scoring duck breast skin allows the fat to render out evenly, resulting in crisper skin, and moister meat. If there are any sections of skin/surface fat that are significantly thicker than the rest, use a horizontal cut to trim them down. These trimmings can be saved and rendered down separately (see video below).


Draw the blade of the knife across the skin, cutting just deep enough to reach the meat without piercing it. Repeat across the surface of the breast every ½ inch or so.


Turn the breast and repeat, so you have a crosshatch pattern of 1/2 inch squares.

  • Render the fat:

Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan and lay the scored duck breasts in, skin side down.


Cook over low heat until most of the duck fat has rendered out (45 minutes to an hour). Weighing the breasts down, perhaps with a smaller frying pan, will help all parts of the breast have more even contact with the pan surface, rendering out more of the fat. Periodically drain the excess fat collecting in the pan and save it for later dishes.

How to Render Fat from Duck Trimmings

This video demonstrates how to render the fat from duck trimmings so it can be used as a cooking fat for other foods (we highly recommend potatoes!).

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