Crisp Roast Duck

Roasting a whole duck, so that the skin is crispy and the meat is still moist, is actually a very simple, classic process. I love to make this at the holidays, but I also make it once or twice in the summertime by using our grill instead of the oven. This is a “wow your friends and relatives” recipe that’s fun and easy to make. Here in Rockford, IL, the only way I find duck is frozen, which is fine, and typically they’re 5-7 pounds on average. You may need to adjust the cooking time on this recipe, according to the size of the duck and, of course, make sure the duck is fully thawed before beginning.


Whole Crisp Roast Duck Recipe

  • 1 5-7 lb. Pekin duck
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425° Remove any giblets from the duck’s cavity. (the ones I buy also usually come with an orange sauce packet. I’ve never used it, but feel free) Also, remove any excess fat from the duck.

Prick the skin all over with a sharp-tined fork and then place breast-side up on a rack inside a roasting pan. Tuck the long flap of neck skin under the duck and also tuck the wings under the duck.

Pour the boiling water over the duck – you’ll see the skin tighten up, and that’s good! Let the duck cool for a few minutes and then pour the water from the cavity into the pan (you’re going to cook the duck with that water in the bottom of the pan, so leave it there!). With paper towels, pat the duck dry, inside and out, then season inside and out with salt and pepper.

Roast the duck, breast-side up, for 35 minutes. Then, using a pair of tongs, or a couple of spoons inserted in the cavity, turn the duck over and roast breast-side down for 40 minutes. Then, flip the duck back over to breast-side up cook for a final 40-45 minutes.

Remove duck from oven, cover loosely with a foil tent, and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Ta da! Isn’t it beautiful? Oh, and it’s so, so delicious! In the wintertime, I like to make a whole cranberry sauce to serve with it; the tartness is a perfect foil to the richness of the duck. In the summertime, I often just pair it with a beautiful salad tossed with balsamic vinegar. I’ll admit that when I do it on the grill, I don’t use a pan with a rack – I just put the whole duck into a throw-away aluminum pan and use offset heat. The duck sits in the little bit of water with this method, but on the grill, it tends to evaporate quickly, so it still works beautifully.

On a final note, feel free to pour all of the pan drippings into a clear glass container and refrigerate overnight. Then you can scoop off the duck fat and make some fried potatoes in it. Yum!

25 thoughts on “Crisp Roast Duck

    • In general, I think there’s been too much of a trend in complicated dishes. I’m very happy to see simple, beautiful food come back into vogue. Of course, some of us have always appreciated it, right? 🙂

      • Well put. =) I’m sure you’ve seen my explanation of what complex foods do to the G.I. Common sense! Thanks for the follow. I feel guilty for every new subscriber, as I can’t build this blog as I’d like. I have only four hands as a homeschooler with two blogs. It’s all I can do to keep up the cooking and battle the dishes, let alone trying to write about the work in the kitchen.

  1. This sounds great. We use the boiling water method (immersion, not pour over) for geese every Christmas to make the fat render more quickly. I’m going to have to give this a try. Roast duck is fabulous! I would gladly give up beef on my desert island if the alternative was duck. Merry Christmas! Ken

  2. That’s a perfect job …. this Xmas I did roast duck and, after the boiling water treatment, I hung the duck for about 30 hours. The skin dried to almost paper crispness in many places… it also pulled away from the flesh very nicely. Still, I have to say your looks better 🙂

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