In the United States, eggs are so ubiquitous that you can expect to see them in anybody’s refrigerator.
Whether you like them by themselves, as a topping or an ingredient in other food, eggs are truly a kitchen staple. Chicken eggs, that is!
But there’s another bird egg that is steadily increasing in popularity in the US, one that has been eaten around the world for a very long time: duck eggs.
Considering ducks are fairly common livestock animals, it’s natural to wonder if their eggs are basically interchangeable with chicken eggs.
I’m here to tell you that they are not; there are actually considerable differences between duck and chicken eggs, nutritionally and concerning their culinary characteristics.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the differences between chicken and duck eggs in this article…
|Feature||Duck Eggs||Chicken Eggs|
|Size||Generally larger||Smaller than duck eggs|
|Colors||More colors||Fewer colors|
|Shell texture||Thicker and tougher||Thinner and more fragile|
|Yolk color||Bright orange-yellow||Light yellow|
|Egg white||Clear and thicker||Cloudy and thinner|
|Taste||Richer, creamier taste||Milder taste|
|Nutrition||More iron, more cholesterol||Good assortment of micro and macronutrients|
|Storage||3 weeks to 4 months||2 weeks to 3 months|
|Cost||More expensive, $.96 to $1.25 / egg||Less expensive at around $.30 / egg|
Are Duck or Chicken Eggs Bigger?
First things first, you’ll generally be able to tell duck eggs from chicken eggs at a glance once you know what to look for.
For starters, duck eggs are significantly larger than chicken eggs, unless you are comparing a truly huge chicken to a really small duck!
More than this, duck and chicken eggs also have a distinctive shape. You’ve seen chicken eggs before, and you’ve been seeing them all your life as the generic image of what an egg looks like.
A chicken egg has a distinct oval shape, gently and smoothly taper towards the narrow end. In fact, they’re shaped almost like a bullet with a wide, round bottom.
Duck eggs look very distinct, not only being larger but also being more of an oblong, almost elliptical shape with a sharply tapering narrow end.
If you saw one by itself, it’s possible you’d confuse it for a chicken egg, but once you compare them side by side you’ll see that there is hardly any comparison at all; they really do look quite different!
Are Duck and Chickens Eggs Different Colors?
Yes, generally! Or rather, duck and chicken exit can be the same color, more or less, but duck eggs are typically much more colorful and come in a wider variety of shades compared to chicken eggs
Looking at the common chicken egg, the typical color is, of course, white or slightly off-white. That being said, chickens do lay other colors of eggs depending on the breed.
This includes the color brown which is also very common and a tinted blue-green color and even various shades of yellow or tan.
Duck eggs are far more colorful and also far more likely to be obviously speckled with contrasting colors.
They can be white, off white, brown, tan and many different shades of blue and green, with or without speckles.
Chickens can lay surprisingly colorful eggs, but when it comes to really impressive, intense colors, ducks have them beat hands down.
Do Duck and Chicken Eggs Taste the Same?
Surprisingly, despite these differences, duck and chicken eggs taste quite similar, or at least that is what most people will tell you.
Depending on the duck’s diet, their eggs might also have a “gamey” taste you’ll rarely find in chicken eggs.
However, duck eggs are often said to have a richer or creamier taste depending on the preparation because duck eggs have disproportionately large yolks compared to chicken eggs, even chicken eggs are similar size.
This also means that if you’re preparing the entire egg, your duck egg has a lot more yolk by weight and accordingly this will change the taste and texture somewhat.
We’ll talk a little bit more about the differences between the two when it comes to recipes, cooking, and preparation later.
How Do Duck and Chicken Eggs Compare Nutritionally?
Duck eggs and chicken eggs are both excellent, nutritionally speaking. Looking at macro- and micronutrients, they compare very favorably, though there are still a few stark differences.
Now, before we go any further remember what I said earlier about duck eggs being so much larger?
If you take your average duck egg and your average chicken egg and compare them, it looks like duck eggs have your chicken eggs beat in every factor that matters but this is slightly deceiving.
That’s because you get a lot more egg, per duck egg, than you do with a chicken egg.
Accordingly, all of the figures I will give you are comparing the two by weight, meaning you have an equal amount of each type of egg.
Starting out with the macronutrients, duck and chicken eggs are both very low in carbs, and chicken eggs actually have slightly more carbohydrates than a duck egg of the same size.
Looking at calories, a duck egg will typically have around 220 calories roughly 50% more than a comparable chicken egg.
But it will also contain two to three grams more protein, and significantly more fat, on average about 70% more.
Happily, both eggs are excellent sources of crucial vitamins and minerals alike, and duck eggs are a particularly excellent source of certain vitamins.
Comparing vitamins A, D and E, duck and chicken eggs are roughly equivalent with duck eggs edging out chicken eggs on vitamin A and E content while chicken eggs have a slight edge in vitamin D.
The B-complex vitamins are also present in both, with both being basically identical when it comes to riboflavin, though duck eggs have drastically more thiamine than chicken eggs and more than five times the amount of vitamin B12.
Choline levels are basically neck and neck, though chicken eggs have a small edge.
Switching over to minerals, duck and chicken eggs both have a good amount of copper and iron, though duck eggs have nearly three times the iron of chicken eggs.
Phosphorus and zinc levels are similar, with duck eggs again having a small advantage.
But, and this might be a huge concern to some, duck eggs contain more than three times the amount of cholesterol that chicken eggs have.
Now, depending on who you follow for your nutritional advice this is either a non-issue because this cholesterol is “good cholesterol”, or it is an arterial apocalypse waiting to happen.
I’m not getting involved in that, it’s just something for you to keep in mind. If cholesterol is something you worry about in your diet, you probably want to steer clear of duck eggs entirely.
Can You Substitute Duck Eggs for Chicken Eggs in Recipes?
Yes, you usually can although you’ll have to do a little bit of figuring and potentially some recipe modification considering duck eggs are so much larger and more voluminous than chicken eggs.
A basic rule of thumb is that two duck eggs equal three chicken eggs when it comes to the mass of whites and yolk combined.
However, depending on what you are making it might not be so simple.
Remember that because duck eggs have dramatically larger yolks that means you’re going to be adding significantly more fat to your dish, and the characteristics of the yolk as compared to the white means that the actual ratio of the ingredients will be altered when it comes to consistency.
So if you’re making cookies, bread, or any other sort of baked dish with duck eggs you’re probably going to notice they come out slightly different- even if they taste mostly the same.
This is because you’ve got a lot more yolk in there!
On the other hand, if you’re cracking a duck egg or two to add to your meatloaf or some other dish that is more substantial and less dependent on the eggs for their texture when finished, you probably won’t notice any difference at all.
Just remember, if you’re in doubt but want to forge ahead anyway with your duck eggs, you’ll need fewer duck eggs than the recipe calls for.
Is there Anything Else You Should Know About Cooking Duck Eggs?
Yes, there are a few tips that can make cooking duck eggs a lot easier for you. For starters, duck eggs are larger and have larger yolks as described above.
This means that they will typically, all other factors equal, take longer to cook than a chicken egg.
So be prepared for that if you are frying, scrambling, poaching or directly preparing the egg for consumption some other way.
But on the other hand, duck eggs are also somewhat lower in moisture content than a chicken egg, and this means that they will firm up and then soon enough start overcooking faster compared to chicken eggs.
This makes them a little tricky for at-home chefs that aren’t used to cooking with them.
The solution is usually to slightly lower your heat so that the egg will cook evenly while allowing a little more time overall to ensure it is adequately cooked through to your liking.
Dropping your duck eggs on high heat is usually a recipe for a pretty rubbery, gross egg!
Also, fun fact, the whites of duck eggs tend to be truly crystal clear, though they will turn white normally as they cook so don’t let this throw you off.
How Common are Duck Eggs in Grocery Stores?
In most markets around the United States, duck eggs are not particularly common. In fact, in many areas, you’ll never see duck eggs for sale in the cold case next to chicken eggs.
However, in areas where ducks are commonly kept as livestock and are popular, you are more likely to see them, and the same is true for higher-end grocery stores near affluent areas.
Much of the time, your best chances of obtaining duck eggs are going to come from a farmer’s market or direct from a duck farmer.
No matter what, they aren’t anywhere near as popular as chicken eggs and probably won’t be for some time, even though they’re popularity is growing steadily.
Are Duck Eggs More Expensive Than Chicken Eggs?
Yes, they are, and significantly so! Even considering the recent price spike for chicken eggs and other basic foods, duck eggs are still way more expensive.
A carton of 12 duck eggs will usually retail for anywhere from $11 to $15 depending on the grade and quality. Don’t be surprised if you see them going for a lot more in some markets!
Considering they don’t taste drastically different from chicken eggs and they only have a few significant advantages when it comes to nutrition, the cost is just not going to be worth it for most people.
Do Duck Eggs Last Longer than Chicken Eggs in Storage?
Yes, but they only last marginally longer. This is because duck eggs have a dramatically thicker shell compared to chicken eggs.
You’ll know as soon as you try to crack one! But anyway, this thick shell slows down the loss of moisture from inside the egg and the infiltration of air which will result in spoilage.
Accordingly, you can usually count on your duck eggs to last about a week longer than a chicken egg in in the pantry assuming the same freshness and handling protocols for both.
Note that you should always store your duck eggs safely, either in cool, dry storage away from sunlight if they aren’t being refrigerated and you plan to use them within about a week, or in the refrigerator for three to four weeks.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.