Roasted Duck with Chinese Steamed Buns

chinese smoked duck and steamed buns-9934

On the dinner plate, Chicken has been the reigning king of fowl for far too long. I’ve been asking my meat market to stock a more diversified fresh poultry section, but apparently, I’m the only fool asking for such. Any poultry other than chicken and ground turkey gets banned to the frozen foods department: quail, duck, goose and turkey. (Guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant and pigeons can be had but only on special order).

I’m on a quest to lay off chicken for a while and explore some of the “other poultry”- both in the kitchen as well as on our homestead. While it’s a little too early to talk about the 20, 18, 17 duck eggs that we’re incubating (they’ll hatch this week), our plan all along is to raise our own meats.

Smoked Duck and Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

Oh, before any of my readers freak out, no we haven’t cooked Duckie Momo or Nibbles. Both of them are on the “protected list” and are considered our pets. 

The past two weeks of recipe testing were devoted to taking one of the most elaborate Chinese dishes and creating a no-fuss, simple recipe that anyone can make.

Smoked Duck and Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

Have you ever tried one of China’s most celebrated dishes – the sublime Roast Peking Duck with its crackling, crispy skin served in a fluffy Chinese steamed bun? It’s a complicated, multi-step recipe that involves air-drying the duck, blowing the duck to separate the skin from the body (essential to get the crackly-thin skin), pouring boiling water over the duck to tighten the skin, and roasting the duck while hanging (the duck, not you). If you’re interested, Serious Eats has an easier version.

Smoked Duck and Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

I wasn’t interested in getting my version of the recipe to match Peking Duck, but rather to create a recipe that we could build on and that any kitchen novice to tackle. I distilled the dish to just 3 main ingredients.

1) duck
2) green onion (scallion)
3) bun made with a brilliant secret ingredient

Prep and hands-on cooking is less than 1 hour. (The duck will take longer in the oven, but it’s inactive, hands-off babysitting)

Smoked Duck and Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

Roasting the Duck

The original Peking Duck is slathered and basted with a sweet/salty liquid of soy sauce and honey. I opted to simply season the duck with salt and pepper. Why make it any more complicated than than, when the duck itself has such incredible flavor?

I’m using our outdoor wood-fired grill from Memphis Grills, which acts as our outdoor oven. Yes, it’s wood-fired! We use 100% hardwood wood pellets that fuel the grill. It’s cleaner and healthier than charcoal and gives everything we cook a natural wood-fired taste.

You can roast your duck in your oven or out in your BBQ grill.  The most foolproof method of cooking duck is low and slow to keep the meat moist and tender — and then finish off with a blast of high heat to crisp up the skin.

Smoked Duck and Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

Green Onion Goodness

In Asian cookery, green onion (or scallion) is used more than just for garnish. Raw green onion, cut into very thin, long slivers  and soaked in ice-cold water adds curly crunch texture! Plus, soaking it in water mellows out the spicy/harsh flavor of raw green onion. Give it a try. Here’s a more in-depth post on how to do this as a garnish.

In addition to curly-crunchies, I also minced some of the green onion with salt and flash-cooked with smoking-hot cooking oil to make “Scallion Oil.” It’s easy. It takes 5 minutes.

Smoked Duck and Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

Cheater Chinese Steamed Buns

Okay, get ready for my secret ingredient. Prepared dough! This is a trick I learned from my Mom. A can of prepared sourdough biscuit dough creates light, fluffy, pillowy steamed buns!

All you have to do is roll out the dough discs into ovals and fold over. Steam for 8 minutes. Done.

The only thing missing now is the Sweet Chili Sauce, which you can make yourself, purchase (try finding Mae Ploy brand) or use purchased sweet plum sauce.

Roasted Duck with Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe Video




Smoked Duck with Chinese Steamed Buns Recipe

Servings: 8-10 Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours
chinese smoked duck and steamed buns featured-9948

You'll also need roasting pan with rack (if oven cooking). I do not truss the duck (tie duck legs together), because I find that it's unnecessary - the bird cooks more evenly if you don't truss. Plus, an untrussed duck is easier to carve.

Regarding the prepared dough in a can: Look for the regular sized cans (the giant, fat "Grands" are too big). From my testing, the sourdough biscuits work the best, but buttermilk biscuits also work too.


1 whole duck
kosher salt and pepper
1 large bulb ginger, sliced
1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half
8 stalks green onion/scallion)
1/2 cup cooking oil (rice, vegetable, canola or peanut)
2-3 cans prepared sourdough biscuit dough
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Prepared Asian Sweet Chili Sauce or Plum Sauce


Preheat oven or grill to 300F

1. To clean the duck, I like to give it a little salt rub to thoroughly clean the skin. Rub a handful of kosher salt all over the duck. Give that duck an exfoliating scrub! Rinse all salt away and pat dry. Season duck with salt and pepper, inside and outside. Cut away and discard any extra fat. Stuff the duck with the ginger and garlic. I like to sew the cavity shut, but it's not necessary.

OVEN COOKING: Place duck, breast side up in roasting pan with rack. Roast duck at 300F for approximately 45 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature of duck is 160F. Turn up the heat to 450F and roast an additional 5-8 minutes to crisp up the skin.

GRILL COOKING: Prepare for indirect cooking at 300F. Have a drip pan as well - the duck is very fatty and you'll want something to catch the fat. Roast until internal temperature of duck is 160F, approximately 45 minutes per pound. Turn up the heat to high and roast an additional 5-8 minutes to crisp up the skin.

2. While the duck is cooking, let's prepare the scallions and bun.

SCALLION OIL: Mince 4 stalks of green onion. Place in a large, heat-proof bowl (like Pyrex or Corningware). Set aside.

CURLY-CRUNCHY SCALLION: With the remaining 4 stalks of green onion, slice as thin as you can at a very steep angle. Place in a bowl of ice water.

BUN: Flour clean surface to work on. Roll each biscuit into a oval shape. Fold over in half and place on a square of parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and set on counter until ready to cook.

3. Once the duck is cooked, remove from grill or oven and let rest while we steam the bun and make the Scallion oil.

BUN: In a large wok, bamboo steamer or large saute pan, add 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon white vinegar. When boiling, steam the buns for 8 minutes on medium heat.

SCALLION OIL: While the buns are steaming, in a small pot or frying pan, heat up the 1/2 cup of cooking oil until the oil begins to smoke. Carefully pour the super-hot oil over the minced scallions and salt, mix well.

4. Carve the duck at the table, slice the duck breast into very thin slices to eat in between the steamed buns! Add a little Scallion Oil, Curly-Crunchy Scallion and Asian Sweet Chili Sauce.


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Comments 36

  1. Judy in SATX

    This sounds delicious! I may try this for Canadian Thanksgiving! I have an electric steamer – is it necessary to add the vinegar to the water when steaming the buns?

  2. Patrick


    I’m curious about adding the white vinegar to the steaming water for the buns.

    What does the vinegar do?


  3. Tuty

    I found that the refrigerated biscuits dough (namely the Pillsbury brand) too salty for me. I like the buns slightly sweet to offset the savory flavor of the roasted ducks. Can you recommend a brand that is not salty?

  4. David

    @Patrick – the vinegar is optional; it producers “whiter” buns

    @Jayden – Does refrigerated biscuit dough really mimic Chinese steamed buns?

  5. jo

    do you recommend a specific brand of biscuit dough to use? Our stores only carry Pillsbury, but Trader Joe’s has recently selling a brand of their own…. Thanks!

  6. Bob R.

    What brand of biscuit dough. I don’t think I have seen sourdough biscuit dough at the store. What about sourdough

  7. olga

    Thanks for sharing the Peking Duck recipe..
    Lost mine years ago & this is the closest, of the way, I learned to cook a Peking duck..

  8. melicia

    I love that you are bringing duck to the easy dinner table! Peking duck is my favorite meal and you are doing no dis-service to the tradition by your simplification. I hope more people can revel in it’s pleasures!

    For more duck recipes, your readers might want to check out Working a Duck, written by myself and Sean McElroy.

    Your duck looks delicious!

  9. Tina

    I have purchased a lot of cans biscuits in my day and have never seen ones labeled sourdough. Am I missing something? So glad you are not munching your duckies!

  10. Marissa | Pinch and Swirl

    This is ridiculous! It’s 7:46 in the morning and my mouth is watering for duck. 🙂 We moved from Seattle about 3 years ago and the duck filled buns from Wild Ginger are one of the foods I’ve missed the most. Now I can make them myself. Whee!! Thank you…

  11. Yeni

    The bun was genius Jaden! Although the skin can’t be as crispy as restaurant Peking duck, but the combination of bun, curly scallion and tasty meat made up for the skin. And to be able to make that at home, that’s a bonus! BTW, I used Pilllsbury flaky biscuit and it worked well too!

  12. Denise

    Hello, Someone told me to check out your blog and also “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I look forward to looking through your blog. Denise

  13. Judy in SATX

    Made it tonight, and the salt and peppered skin roasted in the grill was great! I picked up buttery flaky biscuits instead of buttermilk (whoops!) but the texture was the same. The buns ended up being very yellow and maybe a bit more buttery flavored. Still delicious! Thank you!

  14. Maryann

    I so agree with you on the chicken, chicken, chicken! A little choice would be welcome at the grocery store. Years ago I looked up a recipe for Peking duck and it scared the s**t outta me! We really love duck and have only had it out. We have had Peking duck out a few times and my husband would always say ” This doesn’t look so hard. Give it a shot.” I finally showed him a recipe for the process and he was just gobsmacked. Would love to start cooking this tasty bird at home. This looks right up our alley.

  15. Denise

    Hello. A friend of mine told me about your blog and “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I now have two favorites. Keep up the great work. Denise

  16. Erin

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’m excited about making this. I was wondering though if you could recommend a good side (preferably vegetable) to go with these. I was thinking glazed carrots or roasted bok choy?

  17. jayz43

    I like that scallion oil and the steamed buns is a great idea. Will go great with my fetish for kau yuk with steamed buns and condiments.

  18. `Carla

    Hi, can’t find the Sourdough package from Pillsbury. The Buttermilk didn’t turn out very well when I steamed it. Do they still make the Sourdough? I’m trying to google it and the picture for the packaging doesn’t even come up. Thank you!

  19. Lea Andersen

    Nice! peking duck is an all-time favorite of mine. I tried this recipe yesterday I think I did a good job. Mott 32’s peking duck is still the best for me but I think this is now a close second. haha.

  20. Kristi Stevens

    Do you think that wild duck would work for this? My husband is an avid hunter, and I’m always trying to find ways to prepare the ducks he brings home. I usually just end up making them into duck jerky, because they are VERY gamey tasting. I have always wondered if farm raised duck is somewhat more mild.

    1. Post
  21. Jia 

    I’ve made this roasted duck a couple of times and my whole family loved it! The only change I made is to replace the regular black pepper with Sichuan Peppercorn. It adds a unique flavor to the duck and eliminates offensive smells.

    I used to make a roasted duck in a smoky chamber in the oven, but with your recipe, I am able to save the duck fat for making Chinese pancakes.

    Brilliant recipe-thank you!

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