Roasted Whole Duck

Roasted Whole Duck

Serves 3 to 4 depending on the size of the duck.


1 whole Long Island or Pekin duck (about 4 to 5 pounds)

1 lemon, cut into quarters

1 orange, cut into quarters or eighths



1. Pre-heat the oven to 375º F and place the rack to the center of the oven.

2. Remove the duck from the refrigerator and remove any giblets that may be in the duck’s cavity.

3. Rinse the duck in cool water, patting it completely dry inside and out with paper towels.

4. Using the prongs of a fork or the sharp tip of a skewer, pierce the skin of the duck all over the bird, every half inch or so, pushing the prongs through the skin and into the fat below, but not through the underlying meat. This step will help the fat release as it melts and cooks.

5. Generously season the duck inside and out with salt and freshly ground pepper and place 2 pieces of lemon and 2 to 4 pieces of orange inside the duck’s cavity.

6. Tie the duck’s legs together with a piece of butcher’s twine. This will help keep the citrus inside the cavity and also keep the legs from flapping around while cooking.

7. Place the duck breast side up on a rack that has been placed on a roasting pan. It is important to use a roasting pan that has some depth so that as the fat renders from the bird it is safely captured and doesn’t spill into the oven.

8. Place the bird into the pre-heated oven. The bird will cook for a total time of about 1 hour to an hour and a half depending on its size, but every 20 minutes or so, remove the bird from the oven and drain off the fat that has been rendered into a heat-proof dish or bowl. Each time you return the bird to the oven, rotate it to help the duck cook and crisp evenly.

9. At about 50 minutes into the cooking, use an instant thermometer to check the duck’s cooking progress. The duck will be done when the skin is golden brown and crispy and when an instant thermometer pieced into a thick part of the bird’s thigh registers an internal temperature of 165º F.

10. Remove from the oven, pouring out any liquid from the cavity (discard this liquid) and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Carve by slicing a knife under each breast and removing each in a single piece. Continue carving to detach the wings and the leg-thigh pieces.

Tip: The rendered duck fat can be cooled and saved to use in other dishes, such as frying sliced potatoes or making duck confit. Store the duck fat in clean plastic containers and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Serve with rice pilaf and braised red cabbage. Red currant jelly or apple sauce are nice accents to the duck’s rich flavor.