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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The first two questions we usually get asked when we tell people we raise egg-laying ducks are:
- What do duck eggs taste like?
- Do duck eggs taste like chicken eggs?
Duck eggs are richer and creamier than chicken eggs, but the flavors are very similar. If all you’ve ever eaten is chicken eggs, your first duck egg will probably taste like a chicken egg with the flavor meter turned a few notches higher.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
Exactly how much cholesterol is in a duck eggs versus a chicken egg? Research studies have reported different cholesterol levels depending on breed and environmental conditions in both species, which makes an exact answer difficult. For instance, one study found duck eggs contained 10.36 ± 0.94mg/g cholesterol in the yolk but also cited another study (Jalaludeen et al., 2004) which reported a higher value of cholesterol for duck eggs (884mg per 100g egg). At a weight of ~71 grams per egg and averaging things out across studies, it’s safe to say that one average-sized 2.5 ounce duck egg contains about 600mg cholesterol whereas the average large 2.0 ounce chicken egg contains about 200mg cholesterol.
Does this make duck eggs less healthy than chicken eggs? Are eggs bad for you in general?
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.
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:
- Duck eggs are larger in size than chicken eggs.
- The whites in chicken eggs have a higher water content (more runny) than the whites in duck eggs.
- Duck eggs have larger yolks and a higher yolk-to-white-ratio than chicken eggs.
- 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.
(Related: Use this soft-scrambled egg recipe from Chef David Porras to make the best scrambled eggs ever – especially if you use duck eggs!)
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, comparable 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:
- dark gray, or
- 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.
What colors can chicken eggs be?
Depending on the breed, chicken eggs may be one of five color variations:
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?)
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:
- thoroughly wash the shells with hot water and soap before cracking, and
- 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.
Other egg-cellent articles you’ll want to chew on:
- Should you wash your eggs — plus follow an egg from start to finish!
- How to tell if your ducks are laying eggs (or which ducks are laying eggs)
- How to hatch duck eggs: complete guide
- Duck eggs vs goose eggs — and how to poach them both to perfection
- Backyard ducks vs chickens: 12 point comparison
- 10 things you should know before getting ducks
… and more quacking good duck articles from Tyrant Farms!