Background The factors associated with delayed gastric emptying (DGE) after a pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) are not definitively known. Methods From November 2011 through to May 2012, data were prospectively collected on 711 patients undergoing a pancreaticoduodenectomy or total pancreatectomy as part of the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pancreatectomy Demonstration Project. Bivariate and multivariate models were employed to determine the factors that predicted DGE. Results In the 711 patients, the overall rate of DGE was 20.1%. In a bivariate analysis, intra-operative factors such as pylorus-preservation (47.1% versus 43.7%, P = 0.40), intra-operative drain placement (85.5%, versus 85.1%, P = 0.91) and an antecolic compared with a retrocolic gastrojejunostomy (60.1% versus 65.1%, P = 0.26) were not different between the DGE and no DGE groups. Pancreatic fistula formation (31.2% versus 10.1%), post-operative sepsis (21.7% versus 7.0%), organ space surgical site infection (SSI) (23.9% versus 7.9%), need for percutaneous drainage (23.0% versus 10.6%) and reoperation (10.6% versus 3.1%) were higher in patients with DGE (P < 0.0001). In a multivariable model, only pancreatic fistula, post-operative sepsis and reoperation were independently associated with DGE. Discussion In this multicentre study, only post-operative complications were associated with DGE. Neither pylorus preservation nor route of enteric reconstruction (antecolic versus retrocolic) was associated with delayed gastric emptying.