Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs

Duck eggs in a box

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When you think of eggs, you probably think automatically of the kind that comes from chickens. Which, makes sense. They're the most common kind. But if you're interested in broadening your horizons, there's another type of egg—duck eggs! These are a bit harder to find than chicken eggs, but they're definitely worth trying.

Duck Eggs Nutrition

Firstly, duck eggs are bigger than chicken eggs. That means they have more of everything in them: more fat, more cholesterol, more protein, and more calories. 

A duck egg weighs around 3.5 ounces, compared with an extra-large chicken egg, which is about 2.5 ounces. So a duck egg is about 50 percent larger than a chicken egg. But the yolk of a duck egg is disproportionately larger, so instead of being 50 percent larger, the yolk is nearly twice as large. And remember, the yolk is where the fat and cholesterol of an egg resides, so a duck egg has nearly twice the fat of a chicken egg: 9.6 grams vs. 5 grams in a chicken egg. 

And if cholesterol is a concern, note that a single duck egg contains 660 milligrams of cholesterol, which is double the daily recommended intake for healthy people (compared with 285 milligrams in a chicken egg).

On the other hand, a duck egg contains 71 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, compared with 37 for a chicken egg.

In terms of calories, a duck egg contains 130 calories, compared with 80 for an extra-large chicken egg, and 9 grams of protein, compared with 7 grams for a chicken egg.

Duck Egg Appearance

Duck eggshells come in a much more varied array of colors. Imagine white, various shades of grey, light green, brown, speckled, to a nearly black egg, depending on the breed of the duck. But just like chicken eggs, the color of the shell has no relation to the flavor or other properties of the egg.

Speaking of the shell, one of the most obvious differences between duck and chicken eggs is that duck eggs have a much thicker shell than chicken eggs. You'll definitely notice that it takes more force to crack a duck egg than you're probably used to. Try cracking it on a flat surface rather than an edge, to avoid cracking a piece of shell into the egg. 

Once you crack the egg, you'll notice that the yolk is about twice as big, and the white is strikingly clear. Until you see how clear the white of a duck egg is, you probably won't realize what a yellowish hue most chicken egg whites have. 

Cooking With Duck Eggs

Duck eggs cook up just the same as chicken eggs; they can be fried, scrambled, poached, and hard-boiled, in all of the usual ways eggs can be cooked. Because of their larger yolks, they might require an additional minute or so of poaching time to achieve the equivalent degree of doneness in the yolk. 

The same goes for frying, although you might have to lower the temperature a bit so that the white doesn't burn. Duck eggs make wonderful omelets, but remember, an omelet made with two duck eggs is the equivalent of a normal three-egg omelet. 

Duck eggs can sometimes have a flavor or aroma best described as wild, or gamy, or even swampy, depending on the duck's diet and how it was raised. But for the most part, duck eggs will taste very much like chicken eggs. The main difference is that, because of its larger yolk, scrambled duck eggs will have a richer, creamier flavor than ordinary scrambled eggs. Imagine scrambling two chicken eggs with an additional yolk added in. 

Baking With Duck Eggs

Baking with duck eggs is a bit trickier, owing to the fact that its larger mass and higher fat content will not correspond with the way eggs normally work in baking applications. This is not to say that you can't bake with duck eggs, but the results won't be the same. 

Again, two duck eggs have the same mass as three chicken eggs, so you can substitute them on that basis. But the duck eggs will have a higher fat content, which means things won't turn out exactly the same. You can of course experiment, or simply enjoy your slightly altered recipes. Things like cookies and quickbreads won't be as risky a proposition as cakes. You might have to reduce the amount of liquid or fat elsewhere in the recipe. 

Classic Duck Egg Preparations 

The cuisines that feature duck eggs are typically the ones that prize duck, such as French and Asian cooking. In France, duck eggs are served poached and fried, often paired with asparagus, ham, potatoes, or even salmon. 

Asian cuisine notably features a number of classic duck egg preparations, including various ways of preserving them, including brining and pickling. In China, the so-called thousand-year egg, or century egg, is a preservation technique that involves encasing duck eggs in an alkaline clay mixture, along with other ingredients for up to several months.

Where to Find Duck Eggs

Duck eggs aren't widely available, but where you might find them are at the higher-end grocery stores and specialty stores such as Whole Foods. But you also have a good chance of finding duck eggs at farmers' markets, with the added advantage that they'll be extremely fresh. Note that duck eggs are considerably more expensive than chicken eggs, sometimes running as high as $12 per dozen. 

In terms of storage, duck eggs have a slightly longer shelf life due to their thicker shells, but in general, the way you store duck eggs is the same as with chicken eggs: in the fridge, and try to use them within a week or two.