Duck fat and palm oil both get me thinking about international cuisine. Duck fat, with its rich and savory qualities, makes me think of French bistro fare, while palm oil makes me think of a tropical, creamy curry. Both of them have their own unique qualities that have extensive uses for many recipes, but what exactly sets them apart? Let’s find out.
Comparing duck fat vs palm oil
|Duck fat||Palm oil|
|Solid or Liquid?||Solid||Semi-solid|
|Smoke Point (Fahrenheit)||375 degrees||450 degrees|
|Taste||Sweet, rich||Mild carrot|
|Good for Cooking…||Raw, low heat, medium heat||Raw, low heat, medium heat, high heat|
|Common allergens||Other meat allergies||Oil palm fruit|
Differences between duck fat and palm oil
Duck fat and palm oil are worlds apart when it comes to where they are sourced from. While palm oil is plant-based and comes from the fruit of the palm oil tree, duck fat is an animal-derived product that isn’t suitable for vegetarians or vegans. While they differ in that regard, they are both gluten-free, keto-friendly, and paleo-friendly.
Palm oil also has a much higher smoke point than duck fat, at 450 degrees. This means that it’s suitable for high-heat cooking methods like deep frying. Duck fat has a medium smoke point that makes it better for raw, low-heat, and medium-heat cooking.
Baking and cooking with duck fat vs palm oil
Let’s go a little deeper and look at their differences when it comes to baking and cooking.
Duck fat boasts a velvety texture and is a solid fat, while palm oil is a semi-solid oil that offers a creamy consistency that easily melts once it touches heat. Duck fat has savory notes that infuse into whatever you’re cooking, while palm oil is more so a blank canvas that lets the vibrant flavors of other ingredients shine through.
I tend to turn to duck fat for savory baking – pies, pastries, and savory bread. Its solid texture is perfect, as it acts a little like butter. On the other hand, palm oil has an interesting ability to stabilize and cream ingredients together. But because it has a reddish-orange color that can affect the color of your baked goods, you’ll want to opt for white palm oil if this is an issue.
For cooking, palm oil is ideal for dishes that require slow cooking or simmering, as it helps the flavors blend seamlessly together. And because of its stability at higher temperatures, it’s popular for grilling and frying. Duck fat is useful when you want a crispy exterior and a tender interior – great for potatoes and meats where you want that hearty quality.
Can duck fat and palm oil be substituted for each other?
While it’s clear that duck fat and palm oil are quite distinct, they can definitely be used as a substitute for each other in many situations. For example, when roasting vegetables or searing meats, palm oil can step in for duck fat, although you won’t get that rich and savory essence. In situations where high-heat cooking is needed, palm oil is also a suitable option.
If you’re looking for a substitute for duck fat, chicken fat is your best bet. For something that will withstand higher temperatures, ghee is a great option. And for a plant-based alternative, choose Crisco. For palm oil, ghee is the best all-around substitute as it is closest in flavor.
Nutrition: Duck fat vs palm oil
Duck fat and palm oil are quite comparable when it comes to calories, but this can’t really be said about their fat content. Palm oil is highest in saturated fat (6.7g per tablespoon) but also has a good amount of monounsaturated fat (5.0g). It also contains no trans fats or cholesterol in a tablespoon.
Duck fat has quite a balanced ratio of fats, with 6g of monounsaturated, 4g of polyunsaturated, and 4g of saturated. It also has 15mg of cholesterol per tablespoon, which is low but can add up if you’re using a lot of fat for your recipe. Compared to other animal fats, it has a much higher proportion of monounsaturated fats and also contains some essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
While saturated fats aren’t considered too healthy, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been said to lower your bad cholesterol, cooking oils and fats are still high in total fat and calories and should be used sparingly.
|Per tablespoon (15mL)||Duck fat||Palm oil|
|Polyunsaturated||4 g||1.2 g|
|Monounsaturated||6 g||5.0 g|
|Saturated||4 g||6.7 g|
|Trans||0 g||0 g|
|Total Fat||14 g||13.6 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to store duck fat and palm oil
Duck fat should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. In the fridge, it can last for several months, and in the freezer, it can last up to a year.
Palm oil should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Unopened, unrefined palm oil will last about a year, and refined palm oil will last two years. Any type of palm oil that has been opened can last up to 6 months. In the fridge, palm oil will likely last longer, unopened and opened.
Duck fat vs palm oil: Which is better?
Because duck fat and palm oil are so invaluable in their own ways, choosing a winner is near impossible. Palm oil’s versatility and accessibility make it more of a reliable everyday cooking oil, while duck fat is a special occasion fat that adds an easy touch of decadence. Having both options in your kitchen will, no doubt, make your culinary adventure that much more exciting.
While duck fat does contain some healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, it is also high in saturated fat, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease when consumed in excessive amounts. Like all oils and fats, it’s best enjoyed in small quantities.
Subbing in duck fat for vegetable oil can give your recipe a delicious twist, thanks to its savory, rich flavor. Especially for roasted vegetables, potatoes, and seared meats, it’s a great choice. However, duck fat does have a distinct taste, so it might not be suitable for recipes that call for a neutral oil.