Roast Duck

roast duck
I am not going to lie and say roasting a duck is as easy as roasting a chicken. It isn’t quite as easy as that, but it’s not rocket science. To begin with, I do an overnight dry brining, just as I do with a whole chicken. Opinions vary about brining duck, but I find an overnight rest in a dry seasoning mixture helps keep the meat moist and is an easy way to flavor the bird all the way through.

The dry brining process is simply a rub of salt, sugar and any optional flavoring of your choice. It is as simple as that. While a rub of just salt and sugar will result in a classic roast duck with crisp skin, duck lends itself well to a variety of seasonings. The duck you see here in these photos was lightly scented with Chinese five-spice powder and a bit of dried tangerine peel added to the salt & sugar rub before placing it in a zip-lock bag and refrigerating it overnight. Any herb, spice or fruit essence that suits your menu may be used.

A typical 5-6 lb. supermarket duck will generally feed two people, but don’t toss the carcass and wings out. I refrigerate the carcass and turn it into a terrific stock the following day. Hang on to that rendered duck fat, too. Strain it into a jar,cover and refrigerate until needed to make amazing roast potatoes or potato pancakes.

Roast Duck

2 tsp salt
2 tsp white sugar
½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder (optional)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 5-6 lb duck, thawed, rinsed and dried well

The night before serving, rub the thawed, rinsed and dried duck all over inside and out, with the dry seasoning mixture. Slide the duck into a zip-lock plastic bag, place on a tray and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the duck form the bag. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Place the garlic cloves inside the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine (helps the duck cook evenly and keeps the garlic inside).

Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and roast the duck, breast side up for 30 minutes. Turn duck over, and roast 30 minutes more. Turn duck over once more (breast side up again) and continue to roast the duck until skin is brown and crisp, about 40-45 minutes more, or until internal temperature taken with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F.

Transfer duck to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes before carving. Serves 2.

roast duck

  1. As ususal you have done it again this looks superb! HOPE all is well I still follow every move you make!

    • Henry
    • February 28th, 2013

    Is there any reason you don’t puncture the duck breast prior to roasting? I’m sure you’re aware that doing so allows the duck fat to drain easily.

    • Good question! Whether I do or not depends of the brand and variety of duck. The brand of supermarket duck you see in these photos wasn’t as fatty as other brands I have cooked, and it wasn’t necessary. It may or may not be necessary to poke holes in the skin when roasting a duck for a long period of time, but when I buy boneless duck breasts that will only be briefly browned & roasted I do score the skin on those to release the fat. I happen to be a big fan of duck fat, so I don’t find it objectionable. I would rather remove any excess fat at the time I am eating the duck, or right before I serve it. I find it helps keep the breast meat moist with recipes that call for a long cooking time. But, by all means, poke holes in the skin if you think it is needed. And save that rendered fat…it makes heavenly fried potatoes.

      • Charlie
      • February 28th, 2013


      I agree that pricking the skin allows the grease to escape, but you have to be careful not to puncture the meat or it will go inward and not outward.


    • Charlie
    • February 26th, 2013

    This looks delicious!

    It would serve a lot more than two in my home!

    At 2 servings that is 2 1/2 pounds of meat each.

    We have a Canada food guide here, and it says for the average size person (I’m 110) you only need 4oz. of meat.

    That is enough to keep you healthy.

    Now the amount does go up for your weight etc.

    But to me this recipe at 2 1/2 lbs. each is over the top indulgence. (jmo)

    That said…… I will be making this and very soon.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

    • When I serve roast duck using the recipe you see in these photos, I only serve the breast meat intially, which gives us two servings on the first meal. I then use the thighs and legs for another meal which results in additional servings. There’s not much meat on the legs or thighs with a 5 pound duck, but using that meat and the carcass for another recipe extends the number of servings.

      The amount of meat you see in the top photo in this post is one breast. I suppose you could serve 2 people with one breast if they are large and if you were serving more side dishes, but my family and friends find the amount of meat on one duck breast to be just right. They’d run me out of town if I only allotted 4 ounces of meat for a main meal.

  2. yummy, I love duck

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