Roast Duck Recipe

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Why eat turkey when you can have decadent, juicy Roast Duck with Cinnamon and Orange? While turkey is great for leftovers (or smothered in gravy), duck is delicious on it’s own and is definitely the superior choice for your holiday bird. Today, I’m sharing with you a super simple preparation for roast duck that will convert you to the duck side, once and for all.

    

Roast Duck Recipe

Recently, while talking to friends about our holiday menus or favorite holiday dishes, I was surprised at how many of them continued to buy and prepare turkey for the holidays despite hating turkey!

For a couple of them, it was because they didn’t want to disappoint other family members who would be looking forward to turkey (or just not wanting to upset the status quo), but for a couple it was because they didn’t know how to cook anything else – like a roast duck or goose.

I have a secret for you: roast duck is infinitely easier than roast turkey!

I don’t know why duck seems super intimidating because it has to be the easiest bird to cook! Unlike turkey (and sometimes even chicken), which needs a lot of help becoming moist, flavorful, and developing a crispy skin, duck can do it all on it’s own! There’s no basting, sticking butter under the skin, or other trickery to get duck to turn out juicy and flavorful, with a golden, crispy skin.

 

How to Make Duck Gravy

One major difference, however, with cooking duck versus turkey is that duck does not make straightforward “drippings” that can be used for gravy.

Much of the liquid that comes off of your duck during the roasting process is pure fat – which is amazing for roasting veggies, frying french fries, or using in a variety of other ways later on – but it must be separated from the duck juices if you want to make gravy. (My first couple times preparing duck, I didn’t know this and tried fruitlessly to make gravy out of almost pure fat!)

What I do to make my duck gravy now is place a bunch of veggies at the bottom of the roasting tray and then use those and the juice to make the gravy, after ladling out the oil/fat out of the pan for later use.

I walk through the whole process in the recipe below, but just note that you need to start the gravy halfway through the cooking process, rather than just whipping it up in 5 minutes as the bird rests.

How to tell if Duck is Cooked

Something that a lot of people don’t know is that duck actually has red meat, so the cooked color can be anywhere from purple to brown. It will not turn white like turkey or chicken.

If cooking at 350ºF, you will need about 20 minutes for every half pound, plus 20 extra minutes. If cooking at 425ºF, you will need 20 minutes for every pound, plus 20 extra minutes.

Always plan for more time, and then if the duck cooks faster, you can keep it warm at a lower temperature as you finish up your side dishes.

Duck is medium-rare at 135ºF, but if you want to be extra safe, you can cook to well done at 170ºF.

How to tell if Duck is Off

Duck should never be yellow-green or gray in color, and while it should always have a moist texture, it should never feel slimy.

Proper handling and refrigeration should help you avoid having any issues with your duck spoiling before it makes it’s way to your supper table.

What to Pair with Roast Duck

  • Caramelized onions
  • Duck fat roasted potatoes
  • Roasted veggies
  • Balsamic reductions on veggies
  • Dried or fresh fruit
  • Cabbage (especially if cooked in a bit of duck fat)
  • Beets
  • Mashed potatoes (especially if you add in garlic or caramelized onions)

Warm spices such as cinnamon, pepper, Chinese five-spice powder, allspice, vanilla and fennel are all traditionally well-received with duck (although I personally detest five-spice and fennel). I also like using traditional turkey seasonings (rosemary, garlic, thyme, parsley, etc) on my duck.

If you’re looking for a good wine to pair with duck, this is a great resource.

Ingredients for Roast Duck

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, optional
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 5lb whole duck, thawed at room temperature*
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary (3 springs)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (3 sprigs)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg, optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour (or cornstarch)

*Note: you can use any size of duck, just adjust the seasoning accordingly and note that the roasting time will be 20 minutes for every half pound.

Tip: swap out the seasonings as you see fit. I sometimes just go for sweet seasonings (cinnamon, nutmeg) and sometimes traditional turkey seasonings (rosemary, thyme, parsley). Herbes de province and Greek seasoning also work nicely.

Tip #2: For best flavor, you should prepare the duck the night before and let the seasoning infuse overnight.

Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful

  • 2 roasting pans
  • Spice grater (micropane grater)
  • Stockpot
  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Colander

How to Make Roast Duck

You will need two roasting pans for this recipe – one for the first hour which will collect the drippings needed for your gravy, and one to transfer the duck to for the second hour. You can attempt to use one roasting pan, but it will be easier and less messy to just use a second roasting pan.

For best flavor, you should prepare the duck the night before and let the seasoning infuse overnight.

Rub the whole duck down with olive oil to help the seasoning stick, and season to your personal preference. For this duck, I used a combination of rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Prepare the veggies as directed and place the garlic, onions, celery, carrots and cinnamon in the bottom of your roasting pan. If using ginger and cinnamon, you can add it either to the roasting pan or the inside of the duck. If your duck comes with giblets, add them to the roasting pan.

Place the halved orange, cinnamon and ginger inside of the duck (if you have not placed the ginger and cinnamon in the roasting pan). Place the duck directly on the veggies, breast-side up.

Cover with the roasting pan lid or wrap with tin foil.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roast the duck for one hour, then remove from the oven and transfer the duck to the second, clean roasting pan, and place back in the oven, uncovered. The duck will need about 2 hours to cook, but start checking the temperature at the 1 hour 30 minute mark.

If the duck starts to get too brown, place tinfoil overtop to slow down the browning process.

How to Make Duck Gravy

You are going to use the juices and veggies in the roasting pan for your gravy, however, first you need to spoon/ladle out all the fat. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the fat for the gravy, and then save the rest for another day (or use it to prepare your side dishes).

Place the duck juice in your stockpot and crush the veggies through a colander to extract any flavor and discard the crushed veggies. Add the vegetable juice to the duck juices.

Set to medium-low heat and add up to 4 cups of broth or water. Skim off any fat that comes to the surface, and continue reduce for about an hour (checking and skimming occasionally).

At the one hour mark (2 hours total cooking time for the duck), your duck should be cooked so remove it from the oven and place tinfoil overtop to allow it to rest.

Place the two tablespoons of reserved duck fat in a saucepan and whisk in flour or cornstarch (personal preference) to form a paste over medium-low heat. Add the reduced duck juice mixture, and cook for up to 5 minutes, adjusting with more flour/cornstarch or duck juice, as desired. Adjust seasoning with the seasonings used on the duck, as desired.

Carve up the duck and serve with your duck gravy and choice of side dishes.

 

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Yield: 1 duck, 10 servings

Roast Duck Recipe

Roast Duck Recipe
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, optional
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 5lb whole duck, thawed at room temperature*
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary (3 springs)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (3 sprigs)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg, optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour (or cornstarch)

Instructions

Prepare Your Duck

  1. You will need two roasting pans for this recipe - one for the first hour which will collect the drippings needed for your gravy, and one to transfer the duck to for the second hour. You can attempt to use one roasting pan, but it will be easier and less messy to just use a second roasting pan.
  2. For best flavor, you should prepare the duck the night before and let the seasoning infuse overnight.
  3. Rub the whole duck down with olive oil to help the seasoning stick, and season to your personal preference. For this duck, I used a combination of rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  4. Prepare the veggies as directed and place the garlic, onions, celery, carrots and cinnamon in the bottom of your roasting pan. If using ginger and cinnamon, you can add it either to the roasting pan or the inside of the duck. If your duck comes with giblets, add them to the roasting pan.
  5. Place the halved orange, cinnamon and ginger inside of the duck (if you have not placed the ginger and cinnamon in the roasting pan). Place the duck directly on the veggies, breast-side up.
  6. Cover with the roasting pan lid or wrap with tin foil.

Roast Your Duck

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Roast the duck for one hour, then remove from the oven and transfer the duck to the second, clean roasting pan, and place back in the oven, uncovered. The duck will need about 2 hours to cook, but start checking the temperature at the 1 hour 30 minute mark.
  3. If the duck starts to get too brown, place tinfoil overtop to slow down the browning process.
  4. The duck will take approximately 20 minutes for every half pound, plus 20 extra minutes, to roast completely.

How to Make Duck Gravy

  1. You are going to use the juices and veggies in the roasting pan for your gravy, however, first you need to spoon/ladle out all the fat. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the fat for the gravy, and then save the rest for another day (or use it to prepare your side dishes).
  2. Place the duck juice in your stockpot and crush the veggies through a colander to extract any flavor and discard the crushed veggies. Add the vegetable juice to the duck juices.
  3. Set to medium-low heat and add up to 4 cups of broth or water. Skim off any fat that comes to the surface, and continue reduce for about an hour (checking and skimming occasionally).
  4. At the one hour mark (2 hours total cooking time for the duck), your duck should be cooked so remove it from the oven and place tinfoil overtop to allow it to rest.
  5. Place the two tablespoons of reserved duck fat in a saucepan and whisk in flour or cornstarch (personal preference) to form a paste over medium-low heat. Add the reduced duck juice mixture, and cook for up to 5 minutes, adjusting with more flour/cornstarch or duck juice, as desired. Adjust seasoning with the seasonings used on the duck, as desired.

Carve up the duck and serve with your duck gravy and choice of side dishes.

Notes

*Note: you can use any size of duck, just adjust the seasoning accordingly and note that the roasting time will be 20 minutes for every half pound.

Tip: swap out the seasonings as you see fit. I sometimes just go for sweet seasonings (cinnamon, nutmeg) and sometimes traditional turkey seasonings (rosemary, thyme, parsley). Herbes de province and Greek seasoning also work nicely.

Tip #2: For best flavor, you should prepare the duck the night before and let the seasoning infuse overnight.

Pin this Recipe for Later

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

This roast duck recipe is a great jumping off point for other variations. Swap out the veggies or seasoning for a completely new dining experience, but stick to this super simple method for juicy duck meat with perfectly crispy skin.

For more delicious recipes to pair with your duck, check out our Colcannon Mashed Potatoes or our Cranberry Orange Relish.

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