Ducks

Duck eggs vs. chicken eggs: how do they compare?

Duck eggs vs. chicken eggs, 7-point comparison thumbnail
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Wondering what the difference is between duck eggs vs chicken eggs? In this article, we provide a 7-point comparison to help you answer all your questions about the differences between duck eggs and chicken eggs so you can decide which type of egg is best for you — or the recipe you’re making!


Read the full article to become an eggs-pert or jump right to the section(s) you’re interested in via the links in the table of contents below.

Table of contents:

Quick intro: Why we chose ducks
1. Egg size comparison
2. Egg flavor comparison
3. Egg nutrition, health, allergies comparison
4. Cooking & baking comparison
5. Egg cost & availability comparison
6. Shell thickness & hardness comparison
7. Egg shell color comparison
Other duck & chicken egg FAQs

Quick introduction: Why we chose ducks — and duck eggs

We raise heritage breed ducks — Welsh Harlequins to be exact. These beautiful and rather hilarious birds have become a huge part of our lives, and their eggs are a staple source of healthy protein and fat in our diets.

Duck eggs are edible? Yes. Not only that, you may want to start eating duck eggs once you learn more about them.

Years ago, when we were trying to figure out what type of poultry to get for backyard egg production, we were won over by all the benefits that ducks and their eggs had to offer relative to chickens.

(See: Backyard ducks vs chickens, a 12-point comparison)

The Tyrant is never as happy as she is when she is with an armful of ducks. These are our Welsh Harlequins, a heritage breed that is on the critical list, meaning if more people don't raise & breed them, they're likely to disappear. Welsh Harlequin ducks and duck eggs.

The Tyrant is at peak happiness when she has an armful of ducks. These are a few of our Welsh Harlequins, a heritage breed from Wales.

Not only did we come to discover that duck eggs are edible, we also soon realized that we liked them more than chicken eggs, for multiple reasons which we’ll detail in this article. Plus, ducks are much more acclimated to thrive in our wet, humid climate than chickens are.

Duck eggs versus chicken eggs: a 7-point comparison

We get lots of questions about duck eggs and how they compare to chicken eggs. Thus, the detailed comparisons below are intended to answer all the questions you might have about how duck and chicken eggs compare!

1. Egg size comparison: ducks eggs vs chicken eggs

Even though there are egg size variations between different breeds of chickens and ducks, the average duck egg is larger than the average chicken egg by about 0.5 ounces.

Duck egg (left) versus chicken egg (right). No matter whether you raise your own or buy them from a grocery store, please be a responsible omnivore and do your best to ensure that the animals producing your eggs are provided with an optimal existence. Duck eggs versus chicken eggs.

Duck egg (left) versus chicken egg (right). No matter whether you raise your own or buy eggs from a grocery store, please be a responsible omnivore by doing your best to ensure that the animals producing your eggs are provided with an optimal existence.

In fact, the average weight of a duck egg (including our Welsh Harlequin duck eggs) is 2.5 ounces, which falls under the USDA’s “Jumbo” category — the largest egg a chicken can possibly lay.

Larger duck breeds like Silver Appleyards and Pekins lay even larger eggs, weighing between 3.0 – 3.5 ounces.

US egg sizes. Graph courtesy of wikipedia.

US standard egg sizes courtesy of wikipedia.

By comparison, the average chicken egg (USDA Grade Large) is 2 ounces.

For reference, if we try to put our duck eggs into chicken egg cartons, the carton won’t close because the eggs are too big!

Egg ratio differences: ducks vs chickens

In addition to being larger, duck eggs have a slightly higher yolk-to-white ratio than chicken eggs.

  • Duck eggs consist of 11% shell, 55% egg white (albumen), and 34% yolk.
  • Chicken eggs consist of 10% shell, 58% egg white, and 32% yolk.
One of our duck eggs on the left versus a store-bought organic free-range chicken egg on the right. As you can clearly see, duck egg yolks are much larger than chicken egg yolks.

One of our duck eggs on the left versus a store-bought organic free-range chicken egg on the right. As you can clearly see, duck egg yolks are much larger than chicken egg yolks.

The difference in white-to-yolk ratios is partly responsible for the difference in taste and nutrition between duck eggs and chicken eggs as we’ll detail next!

2. Flavor comparison: duck eggs vs chicken eggs

Duck eggs are richer and creamier than chicken eggs. If all you’ve ever eaten is chicken eggs, your first duck egg will probably taste like an egg with the flavor meter turned a few notches higher.

Fried duck egg (top) versus chicken egg (bottom). Duck eggs better than chicken eggs

Fried duck egg (top) versus chicken egg (bottom).

Keep in mind that the taste (and nutrition) of any egg is directly linked to the quality of life and food the egg-laying poultry receives. Also, since our ducks forage a significant percentage of their diet, there are subtle differences in egg flavor throughout the year, depending on what they’re eating, which changes with the seasons.

Do duck eggs taste better than chicken eggs?

What tastes “better” is subjective to the individual, but we think duck eggs taste better than chicken eggs due to their richer, creamier flavor. My wife (The Tyrant) describes chicken egg yolks as having a more sulfury flavor than duck eggs which is another reason she prefers duck eggs.

Years ago, we conducted a small duck egg taste test with five family members. We hard boiled high quality chicken eggs and our own duck eggs, then let everyone sample half an egg of each one. The test subjects didn’t know which egg was which, but we did. (Yes, this is a single blind versus double blind experiment, but still…) 

The results? 4 out of 5 participants favored the duck eggs over the chicken eggs. They also acknowledged that there didn’t seem to be a huge flavor difference between the two types of eggs.

3. Nutrition, health, allergies: duck eggs vs chicken eggs

Quality matters!

It bears repeating: HOW a duck or chicken is raised has a rather dramatic impact on the health of the animal, and thus the healthiness of their eggs for the person eating them (you).

Want more nutritious eggs? Source your eggs from poultry who spend abundant time outside absorbing natural sunlight, foraging and eating quality feed, and living in clean, spacious environments.

Our ducks in their pond enjoying a rare snow day at Tyrant Farms. Unlike chickens, our ducks LOVE wet weather and don't mind the cold either.

Our ducks in their self-cleaning pond enjoying a rare snow day at Tyrant Farms. Unlike chickens, our ducks LOVE wet weather and don’t mind the cold either.

A. Protein comparison

Duck egg whites are more protein-dense and have a lower water content than chicken egg whites. Thus, each duck egg contains almost twice as much protein as chicken eggs.

The average duck egg contains 9 grams of protein whereas the average chicken egg contains about 5 grams of protein.

B. Vitamin and Mineral comparison

Relative to chicken eggs, duck eggs have higher concentrations of 17 of the 20 essential vitamins and minerals that the USDA National Nutrient Database measures.

Examples:

  • Vitamin A – 472 IU per duck egg vs 244 IU per chicken egg;
  • Iron – 2.7 mg. per duck egg versus 0.9 mg. per chicken egg;
  • Choline (which is great for brain, nervous system, and liver health) – 184 mg. per duck egg vs 126 mg. per chicken egg;
  • Folate (essential for DNA creation and cell division) – 56 mcg. per duck egg vs 23 mcg. per chicken egg.

C. Fat and cholesterol comparison

Duck eggs have more fat than chicken eggs: average 9.6 grams versus 5 grams. Duck eggs also have more cholesterol than chicken eggs: 884 mg versus 425 mg.

Does this make duck eggs less healthy than chicken eggs? Are eggs bad for you in general?

Two Welsh Harlequin duck eggs straight out of our Quacker Box. As you can see, in addition to egg color variation, there is also some slight variation in size and shape of duck eggs, even within the same breed. One of our girls consistently lays more of a torpedo-shaped egg (left).

Two Welsh Harlequin duck eggs straight from the coops. We’re very health-oriented people and we regularly consume multiple duck eggs per day because we consider them to be very good for our health.

As Harvard Medical School and Cleveland Clinic detail, no, the cholesterol in eggs does not present any elevated health risks for most people because cholesterol in your diet doesn’t directly translate to you having high cholesterol (it’s far more complicated than that).

Again, as emphasized previously, the health of the animals producing your eggs also impacts the relative healthiness of the eggs they produce. That’s why eggs from healthy ducks and chickens raised outdoors have better ratios of “good” fats and cholesterol versus “bad” fats and cholesterol.

Allergies: duck eggs vs chicken eggs

A small percentage of people are allergic to the specific types of protein in chicken eggs. Since the protein in duck eggs is different than the protein in chicken eggs, many people with chicken egg allergies report that they’re able to eat duck eggs with no problem.

The opposite may also be true… You might have duck egg allergies, but not have chicken egg allergies.

You might be allergic to this duck egg but not allergic to chicken eggs. Conversely, you might be allergic to chicken eggs but not duck eggs. Picture: fried duck egg

You might be allergic to this duck egg but not allergic to chicken eggs. Conversely, you might be allergic to chicken eggs but not duck eggs.

When trying a new food, start small before consuming larger quantities – especially if you’re prone to food allergies. Once you know how (or if) your body will react, you can consume larger quantities.

4. Cooking & baking comparison: duck eggs vs chicken eggs

This is anecdotal, but every professional chef or baker we’ve ever broached the topic with prefers duck eggs to chicken eggs in the kitchen due to their creamier, richer flavor.

If you’ve read the prior sections of this article, you now know four important factors to consider when cooking and baking with duck eggs vs chicken eggs:

  1. Duck eggs are larger in size than chicken eggs.
  2. The whites in chicken eggs have a higher water content (more runny) than the whites in duck eggs.
  3. Duck eggs have larger yolks and a higher yolk-to-white-ratio than chicken eggs.
  4. Duck eggs taste richer, creamier, and more “eggy” than chicken eggs.

When making recipes like puddings, ice cream, omelets, etc, you can use either duck eggs or chicken eggs on a 1:1 basis and it won’t make that much difference. If you opt for duck eggs, just expect a richer egg flavor and perhaps a slightly thicker consistency in a pudding or similar recipe.

When making meringue, chicken egg whites whip up much faster, but duck egg white meringue tastes better. To more quickly whip up a duck or chicken egg white meringue (and get it to hold longer) add a pinch of cream of tartar.

Baking substitutions between chicken and duck eggs

In baking, ingredient weights and ratios often have to be quite precise. For instance, if a cake recipe calls for 3 chicken eggs and you instead substitute 3 duck eggs, your cake is likely to be heavier and denser because you’ve added more egg than the recipe author intended.

What to do when you want to do an egg substitution in such situations? Substitute based on weight rather than number of eggs. Yes, this will require you to have a kitchen scale, which you probably already have if you’re a serious baker. 

Since you now know that chicken eggs average 2 ounces and duck eggs average 2.5 ounces, this means you’d substitute as follows in a baked recipe:

  • For every 1 chicken egg a recipe calls for, substitute 2 ounces of duck eggs. (And if a recipe doesn’t specify the type of egg, assume it’s calling for chicken eggs.)
  • For every 1 duck egg a recipe calls for, substitute 2.5 ounces of chicken eggs.

*These substitutions don’t account for the weight of the shell or the % differences in yolk ratios, but they’ll get you close enough.

5. Egg cost & availability comparison

Commercial chicken eggs are more commonly available and less expensive than duck eggs.

If you go to the egg section of your local grocery store, you’re likely to find multiple brands of chicken eggs with different certifications and quality claims. Likewise, the price per chicken egg will vary from high to low depending on which brand you purchase.

However, you probably won’t find duck eggs at your grocery store. If you do, there’s likely only one brand of duck eggs available and they’re priced higher than the most expensive chicken eggs.

Since chicken eggs have been and continue to be the default “choice” for commercial eggs in the US, American egg producers have gotten very efficient at producing eggs at a very low cost. However, the same farmer experience, economies of scale, and infrastructure are not in place for commercial DUCK egg production. Thus, commercial duck eggs are relatively expensive.

Exception: You can often find relatively cheap duck eggs at Asian grocery stores, but knowing where or how they were produced (ergo quality) can be difficult.

If you read our backyard ducks vs chickens article, you might be surprised to learn that ducks can actually produce a higher volume of eggs per year than chickens. And since those eggs weigh more, the total pounds of eggs a duck can produce per year is significantly higher than chickens. (32-52 lbs of eggs per year for ducks vs. 22-34 lbs of eggs per year for chickens.)

Even though duck feed may cost more than chicken feed, you can still produce your own high quality duck eggs at home for a price on par with backyard chicken eggs.

However, until and unless popular demand for duck eggs significantly increases, commercial chicken eggs will continue to carry a lower price than duck eggs.

6. Shell thickness & hardness comparison

The first time you try to crack open a duck egg, you’ll be in for a surprise… That’s because duck eggs are much thicker, harder, and less brittle than chicken eggs. The inner membrane between the shell and the albumen is also thicker in duck eggs.

So plan to use a little more force when cracking duck eggs versus chicken eggs! We regularly eat duck eggs, so whenever I go to crack open a chicken egg after being out of practice, I often end up smashing it to pieces until I adjust back to chicken egg mode.

Do duck eggs last longer than chicken eggs?

Due to their thicker shells and inner membranes plus their unique bloom compounds, duck eggs may last a bit longer than chicken eggs. However, there are so many caveats and considerations that there’s no way to provide a definite universal answer to this question.

Our general rule for duck eggs: “Unwashed, unrefrigerated duck eggs will last at least 2 weeks indoors at room temperature, and up to 3 months if refrigerated. Washed, refrigerated duck eggs will last for 5 weeks or longer.”

(Related: Should you wash your freshly laid eggs?)

7. Shell color: duck eggs vs chicken eggs

Some people love colorful egg shells. But does the color of an egg shell give any indications about the actual nutrition or healthiness of the egg?

No. Egg shell color is akin to a painted coating that’s applied during the final stage of egg production, but the color has no impact on the nutrition of the egg. (Sorry, brown chicken egg fans!)

The colors of both duck and chicken eggs vary by breed, but there is wider color variability in chicken eggs than duck eggs.

What color are duck eggs?

Depending on the breed, duck eggs may be one of three color variations:

  1. white/off-white,
  2. dark gray, or
  3. light blue.

Most of our Welsh Harlequin ducks lay oval-shaped, white eggs, although we do have one duck who occasionally lays a slightly blue egg, so there can even be slight variability in duck egg color within the same breed.

A light blue duck egg (top) and a normal white duck egg beneath. Both eggs were laid by ducks from the same breed: Welsh Harlequins.

A light blue duck egg (top) and a normal white duck egg beneath. Both eggs were laid by ducks from the same breed: Welsh Harlequins.

What colors can chicken eggs be?

Depending on the breed, chicken eggs may be one of five color variations:

  1. White
  2. Green
  3. Green-Blue
  4. Blue
  5. Brown

Other duck & chicken egg FAQs

Do I have to have a boy duck or chicken to get my girl ducks or chickens to make eggs?

Not to get too graphic, but female humans don’t need men around to ovulate. Likewise, female ducks and chickens don’t need males around to produce eggs.

However, if you want fertilized eggs, you’ll need to have a male in your backyard flock. To prevent over-mating in ducks, have no fewer than four female ducks per one male duck.

(Related: Should I get male or female ducks… or both?)

Want fertilized eggs or ducklings? Then you'll need a drake (male duck). However, you don't need a male around for your female ducks to produce unfertilized eggs.

Want fertilized eggs or ducklings? Then you’ll need a drake (male duck). However, you don’t need a male around for your female ducks to produce unfertilized eggs.

Are fertilized eggs healthier or more nutritious than unfertilized eggs?

No, there’s no nutritional difference between an unfertilized egg and a fertilized egg early in development. However, if you go to an Asian grocery store and get balut, that’s a different story altogether.

Where can I buy duck eggs for eating?

Duck eggs are starting to become more common at mainstream grocery stores. You can also often find them at Whole Foods.

If neither of those options work, there’s a pretty good chance you can find duck eggs at a local farmers market if you ask around.

Every Asian grocery store we’ve ever been to also has duck eggs, since duck eggs are a staple in Asian cuisine. Just be careful not to mistake fresh duck eggs for century eggs or balut at your Asian grocery or you might be unpleasantly surprised!

Do grocery store egg labels matter or make a difference?

Yes, depending on the label. This article in The Atlantic provides a full list of the confusing labels you’ll see on grocery store eggs and what they mean.

If you don’t raise your own egg-producing poultry and you can’t get fresh eggs from local farmers you know and trust, our two cents is to buy USDA certified organic, Certified Humane Free Range, Pasture-Raised eggs. Yes, that’s a mouthful.

Can you eat raw duck eggs?

Medical professionals will tell you not to eat raw eggs (duck or chicken) due to the potential for salmonella.

The only time we’ll eat raw duck eggs is for specific recipes such as our garlic aioli mayonnaise or when The Tyrant makes her fabulous Pisco Sours (she prefers the dry shake method).

When we do use raw duck eggs, we always:

  1. thoroughly wash the shells with hot water and soap before cracking, and
  2. only use fresh duck eggs that are no more than a few days old.

How can you tell if eggs (including duck eggs) are rotten or not?

Our ducks have hidden their nests from us before for unknown time periods. When this happens, we’ll often find up to 10 eggs of unknown age in the nest.

How to tell if the eggs have gone bad or are still good?

Step 1: Smell each egg. If it smells bad (the distinctive rotten egg smell), get rid of it.

Step 2: If you can’t tell from smelling, conduct a “float test.” Fill a large bowl of water, then place the eggs in the water.

  • Any eggs that float are bad.
  • Eggs that sink to the bottom are good.
  • The ones that lay flat on the bottom are the freshest eggs. The eggs on the bottom that are at an upright position are still good, just a bit older. (*These slightly older eggs actually make the best, easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs.)

Congratulations, you are now an eggs-pert on the differences between duck eggs and chicken eggs! Also, check out the video summary of this information via our duck eggs vs chicken eggs Google web story.

KIGI,

Other egg-cellent articles you’ll want to chew on:

… and more quacking good duck articles from Tyrant Farms!

Please share this duck eggs versus chicken eggs comparison chart on Pinterest!

Please share this duck eggs versus chicken eggs comparison chart on Pinterest!

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Debbie Fleischer
    November 1, 2022 at 9:47 pm

    Hi, thanks for the informative article. I wish I had researched better when I started. I have chickens and ducks. Only 1 female and 1 male. I live my duck egg. I guard it from everyone. I eat one duck egg and 1 chicken egg every day. I sell my chicken eggs. I hope I get females when my duck hen goes broody this coming year. I will protect her nest this year. Last year the chickens ate her eggs. Thank you for all your advice about getting her to stop being broody. Took a long time, but she eventually went to normal. I love ducks. They’re so easy to take care of versus chickens. Never have to worry about them being cold or hot. Little more work changing water every day, but so worth it.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      November 2, 2022 at 6:39 am

      Thanks, Debbie! It’s funny to hear that you guard your one precious duck egg every day so you can enjoy it.

      Best of luck next year when you hatch your duck eggs. Chances are your ratios will be 50:50 male:female but maybe not. Do keep in mind that keeping multiple males in a small flock is going to be quite challenging since they’ll be aggressive with each other and over-mate your ladies if the ratios are more than 1 drake per ~4 duck hens.

  • Reply
    william wilson
    October 28, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Hi
    How do you give the duck a rest from laying

    Bill

  • Reply
    Gust
    July 21, 2020 at 4:42 am

    Hi ,
    just looked for two last lines of the table, it says 2.5pounds food per egg? right?
    Thanks,

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      July 24, 2020 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Gust! Yes, approximately, hence the ~ symbol. The feed-to-egg ratio is going to vary a bit based on breed, season, type of food, foraging time, etc. But that number is what you should plan for.

  • Reply
    Lauren M.
    May 1, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    We recently got 3 ducks who are about 2 months old. We also have chickens. Where will the ducks lay eggs since they don’t make their way into the coop where the nesting boxes are?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      May 1, 2020 at 11:16 pm

      Hi Lauren! It’s difficult to say for certain but our ducks typically lay into a communal nest at the back of their house/coop. They create a large nest out of the pine shavings and bury their eggs at the bottom of it. Do you have pine shavings down in the area where yours sleep inside their coop? If so, they’ll likely make a nest somewhere in that area. Be mindful that they can be quite good at hiding their eggs/nest so a bit of digging may be necessary for you to find the eggs when they get started.

  • Reply
    Colleen
    April 30, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Duck eggs can be pasteurized by cooking them with a sous vide machine set at 135 degrees F. for 2 hours. The temperature is low enough that the proteins don’t cook. After 2 hours remove the eggs from the hot water and place in ice water to cool and then refrigerate. For more detailed instructions check the internet. This allows you to safely use “uncooked” eggs.

  • Reply
    Mike John
    March 8, 2020 at 10:50 am

    How can I tell if the duck eggs from whole foods are real? The shell is soft and light when you crack it, and there isn’t really the white scribbly line in the yolks. Are they fake

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 9, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      The likelihood that a major retailer like Whole Foods is selling fake duck eggs is extremely low. (Or that a commercial farm is selling fake duck eggs to a retailer.) The relative product quality may be suspect, but the species of animal that produced it likely isn’t. A healthy duck should produce a large, hard-shelled egg that weighs at least 2.5 ounces. It should also have a larger yolk than a typical chicken egg (and a higher yolk-to-white ratio). Plus, there should be a slight, but noticeable difference in flavor – this is a little more difficult to tell if you don’t already know what duck eggs taste like. Chicken eggs are more sulfury in flavor and duck eggs are creamier. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Mike John
    March 8, 2020 at 10:50 am

    How can I tell if the duck eggs from whole foods are real? The shell is soft and light when you crack it, and there isn’t really the white scribbly line in the yolks. Are they fake

  • Reply
    dj7418
    March 13, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Hello. Your photos are very lovely. And your setup is beautiful. I have a few Welsh Harlequin ducks, but my setup isn’t nearly as nice 🙂 I wanted to also let you know that I found your blog by doing reverse image search for your image of the two ducks walking through the beautiful grass and ferns. It is being used by someone who is selling duck and chicken hatching eggs on eBay. They also stole one of my photos. I contacted them yesterday and asked​ them to remove my photo. I haven’t heard back from them yet. I wanted to let you know. You can see the listing if you search eBay for this item number: 262882770614
    I believe it is on more than one of their listings. I need to figure out how to do an easy watermark..

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the heads up! Did you contact them via Ebay? Or do you have a direct email?

      • Reply
        dj7418
        March 13, 2017 at 3:29 pm

        Yeah, I contacted them though eBay. I don’t have an email address. He responded to me earlier and said he would take down my photo today. I didn’t mention to him about his other photos, but it looks to me like all the photos he’s using have been lifted from the internet.. *rolling my eyes*

        • Aaron von Frank
          March 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

          Thanks again. We contacted them via ebay yesterday and they took down the photos. The response was, “I didn’t know it was a copyrighted image.” Very odd that the seller wouldn’t have their own duck photos since they’re selling fertile duck eggs.

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