Duck was originally domesticated by the Chinese around 4000 years ago and remains a delicacy to this day. It was actually domesticated before the chicken, making it the meat of choice. The Egyptians followed suit, and Britain also loved duck dishes.
China still has the largest duck (and goose) meat consumption worldwide, accounting for 76% of total consumption. However, other countries find duck a delicacy and serve it during special holidays. For example, the United States mostly eats duck (such as Peking duck) during Christmas.
Duck can be an expensive meal, so you want to make sure it’s done right! It should be served with delicious sides that enhance its flavor.
Lucky for you, there are many side dishes to choose from, and it’s just a matter of deciding which goes best with your meal and what you and your guests prefer.
Don’t know what to serve with duck? We’ve come up with 21 of the best sides to help you out, so make sure you read on!
What to Serve with Duck?
Duck meat goes really well with sweet and sour food pairings. Things like caramelized onions and balsamic reductions really help give an extra pop of flavor to the duck.
Warming spices such as cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, or cloves can also pair with the duck nicely because of its deep flavors.
Traditionally speaking, the duck’s slightly gamey texture and taste are associated with autumn flavors, so think about that when trying to pair side dishes. Try other autumn staples like apples, chestnuts, turnips, or mushrooms.
Sweetness and fruits may also be helpful in lightening up the meal. Think of citrusy, orange flavors which consist of a nice balance of sweetness, acidity, and juiciness that bring out the duck flavors. Other fruits can include cherries and apricots.
Light sides also will help compliment the duck flavors because you wouldn’t want anything too dense to take away from the taste of your main event.
Best Sides to Serve with Duck
Without further ado, let’s get straight to the best sides to serve with your duck recipe:
Roasted Chestnuts with Butter and Rosemary
I’m sure you think of chestnuts being only a winter holiday side dish, but you can get them all-year-round! Roast them in a butter and rosemary mix and it’ll make you feel like celebrating for 365 days.
What makes it even tastier? You can add a little mix of honey to add some sweetness. The instructions are easy to follow, so I’m sure you’ll nail this recipe!
Duck Fat Fries
This is the perfect dish for using your leftover duck fat.
Duck fat is very tasty, so you don’t want it going to waste. Animal fats, such as duck fat, have a high smoke point, meaning it is stable at high temperatures.
You can dip fries of your choosing into a bubbling pot of duck fat and come out with a plate of tasty potatoes. This recipe comes from professional chef, Guy Fieri, so you know it will take you to Flavortown.
Try these on the side next time you make duck confit.
Balsamic Mushroom Spinach Salad
This light, leafy, and healthier side dish will help counteract the heavy, rich flavors of duck.
The tangy balsamic dressing will help coat the greens nicely but also pair well with the duck’s flavor.
This recipe calls for a lemon balsamic dressing, so the salad tied together will have notes of autumn.
Not French fries, but not mashed potato either. Think of it as a happy medium. Plus, it’s great to take out some of your aggression by smashing little potatoes to create its chip-like look.
After you smush them, all you have to do is season to taste and bake them and you’ve got yourself an easy side dish to serve with any duck recipe.
Roasted Pepper Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts, and Basil
This side salad will give the most beautiful colors to your duck. The sweetness of the roasted bell peppers are accompanied by salty olives, toasted pine nuts, tangy feta and fresh basil, a heavenly and light combination.
A classic side dish, you can really make these in any way you want to. If you have your own recipe, use it! If you want to follow the box’s preferred method, do it! If you just want to use instant mashed potato, then by all means go for it.
You want that starch taste to taste well with the same duck bite. You can always throw in more butter or sour cream to ramp up the texture.
Blood Orange, Fennel, and Avocado Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
You may not have heard anything like this, but the flavors and ingredients work together!
Dress up your greens with tangy goat cheese, creamy avocados, sweet blood oranges, and sliced almonds.
Then add in the subtle sweet note of fennel. This gives you plenty of fresh tastes and fun textures that will compliment your roast duck.
This classic sweet and earthy side dish is a perfect companion to a roasted duck dish.
Coating them in brown sugar and butter glaze and then roasting them until tender makes for a perfectly textured and tasty carrot.
Potatoes Au Gratin
Also known as cheesy potatoes, who can go wrong with a dish like this?
You’ve got a starch, and you’ve got melty, bubbly, cheesy goodness baked to a delightful crisp. Simmer the potatoes in cream, butter, and cheese and you’ve got yourself a potato-style casserole.
It is on the heavier side, but the flavors are not strong, so it’s a good addition to serve alongside cooked duck.
You cannot go wrong with having a light, healthy side dish. Roasted vegetables are the perfect pairing.
Since duck is known for its autumn flavors, it’s best to pair it with autumn vegetables. Mushroom, squash, zucchini, eggplant, and Brussels sprouts are a great blend.
Season to your desire, bake them in the oven, maybe throw on a little balsamic, and you’re done!
If you had to go with one leafy but minimal salad, arugula is perfect, as it’s a bit bitter but can be dressed with just a bit of lemon juice to counteract the leaves.
This is a light, tangy, and refreshing side that matches well with seared duck breast.
You can’t get any more autumn than this!
Mashed pumpkin can be an alternative for mashed potato, and consists of a smooth and creamy texture that will taste great with a duck dish.
The mash can absorb all the delicious sauce that comes with the duck.
Polenta’s taste isn’t for everyone, but it’s very simple, as it’s nothing more than coarsely ground cornmeal.
Duck is perfect with creamy polenta, as you get the ideal mix of sweet and savory ingredients without overpowering your food. The softness of the polenta also provides a nice contrast to the firm duck meat.
Orange sauce is a very traditional and popular staple that pairs with duck. The idea was imported from Chinese cuisine and has become a fan-favorite with a crispy duck dish.
Even the most simplistic recipe will give you zesty, tangy flavors with a thick consistency that will be perfect for your duck.
Rosemary Parsnip Fries
You can replace potatoes with almost any other root vegetable, and parsnips are a great replacement for the potato.
Sweet parsnips are coated in rosemary, garlic, and olive oil before baking, making for a great crunch side dish. It’s also gluten-free!
Try out this recipe from Bon Appetit.
Cream Garlic Farro with Spinach
Faro is a nutty and hearty grain that takes on a lot of other flavors depending on what you’re cooking with, making it a perfect pairing for spice-rubbed duck breast.
Spinach, garlic, and sharp asiago create a harmonious side dish that provides bold flavors.
Burrata Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
That’s right, another side that compliments duck with citrus!
Burrata is a beautifully creamy, delicate cheese that makes its own statement. But, when paired with bright citrus in a salad, it gives the perfect amount of freshness.
This combination of flavors is the right mix for pairing it with a smoked duck.
Give this recipe a try.
Cranberry Quince Sauce
A different take on a zesty tart sauce, to go with spice-rubbed duck, this is another perfect side dish.
It’s almost like having traditional cranberry sauce with your turkey on Thanksgiving! For this, you’ll add some quince to jelly.
Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw
This spicy Asian red cabbage slaw is perfect to tie in the roots of where the duck meal originated from.
It’s quick, simple, and gives the duck a nice crispy and crunchy side. It’s coated in a tangy sesame-ginger dressing, which is such a complimentary taste.
Zoodles are just noodles made out of zucchini, so it’s really simple to make and cook.
You can sauté your zoodles in oil and salt, then lay your duck on a bed of the vegetable.
They’re simple, quick, and brighten up your dish.
So simple, it’s almost too good to be true!
Pick your bag of rice; white, brown, long-grain, jasmine, there are so many options. It’s as simple as picking the store-bought bag, microwaving it, and then serving it as a side.
Simplicity is sometimes the best option.
What Wine Goes Well With Duck?
Like most meats, there’s always a particular wine that goes best with the dish.
The rule of thumb for choosing a wine for duck is thinking about the way you’re serving the duck. For example, you’ll want to pair slow-cooked fruity, spicy or mild-flavored duck with whites and lighter acidic reds.
You’ll also want to pair rich, fatty or strongly flavored duck with bold reds higher in tannins. Then, pair roasted and moderate-intensity duck with medium tannin reds, and duck pate or foie gras with a sweet white or a late harvest white wine.
Generally speaking, duck pairs well with pinot noir because both offer moderate intensity, with pinot noir’s acidity balancing out the fattiness of duck.
Since duck often cooks well with fruit, the fruity notes in pinot couldn’t be any better of a match. It is important to always remember to match the intensity of the wine with the intensity of the food.