Crispy Roast Duck in 4 Easy Steps

You can make this Crispy Roast Duck without a lot of fuss or muss in 4 easy steps.

The main thing with duck is that you don’t want to overcook the breast or it will be tough.

USDA guidelines would have you cook the meat to 165 degrees internal temperature. This is the target for the leg meat in order to break down the connective tissue and tenderize it. Most chef’s will tell you to serve the breast medium rare, which is the 135-140 degree range.

The reason that, in practice, this is how duck is served is because duck is not known to be a carrier of salmonella and the meat is more similar to lamb or beef than poultry.

The traditional roasting time is about 20 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes at about 400 degrees. My 5 lb duck was done (ie breast at 135 degrees) in about an hour and 20 minutes – far less than the 2 hours the traditional chart would have indicated. So I advise you to check the internal temperature after about an hour and see where you stand.

When you roast duck you will want to prick the duck skin just through the skin and fat layer. This allows the fat to render off during roasting. Be careful not to pierce the actual meat or it will be dry.

I roasted the duck on a rack to allow the fat to drain off without soaking the duck. Then you can pour off all that goodness and use it to make deliciously rich vegetables like these Roasted Potatoes and Carrots in Duck Fat.

Potato and carrots roasted in duck fat

The boiling water poured over the duck helps tighten the skin and adds to the crispiness.

I don’t find duck to be very fleshy so I would say a 5 lb duck would give you 2 breasts and 2 legs ie about 6 servings if you slice the breast (against the grain by the way).

I actually shredded the legs and the breasts and used the meat in this Venetian Duck Ragù… which is absolutely incredible! You could also serve the breast on its own and use the leg meat in this Duck Risotto which is rich enough to be its own main course

A pasta bowl with Bigoli covered with duck ragu, garnished with grana padano and rosemary at a table with a glass of amarone wine and focaccia bread.

Wine Pairing with Crispy Roast Duck

You have a lot of choices here because duck is poultry that approaches lamb or mild beef.

My first choice would be a Pinot Noir followed by a Southern Rhone GSM blend. They are medium bodied without a lot of oak influence. An Italian Barbera or Amarone will also work.

On the white spectrum I would look for a savoury Chardonnay perhaps a Pouilly-Fuissé or a California style, fairly rich and a touch buttery. An oaked Chenin Blanc could work too. Look for medium to full bodied described as rich.

Crispy roasted duck on a wire rack with cinnamon seasoning rubbed on skin.

Crispy Roast Duck

Roasting a duck doesn't have to be fancy.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 5 lb duck Lac Brome or Pekin
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt or other coarse salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon optional
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 orange cut in 4 pieces.


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Prick duck all over with sharp fork. Be careful to only pierce the skin and fat and not the actual meat. Place duck on a rack in the roasting pan.
  • Pour boiling water over duck. Allow to cool 15 minutes then drain the water out of the roaster.
  • Rub the duck all over the outside with the salt, pepper and cinnamon. Place garlic and orange in the cavity.
  • Put the duck in the oven breast side up. Roast until breast reads 135° F. This should be approximately 20 minutes per pound. Turn duck over after 40 minutes. Check after an hour. Turn duck over again and roast til done. (My duck reached 135° internally in just over an hour.)
  • To serve, remove the orange and garlic. You can carve and serve. Or you can shred the meat for a ragu.
  • Reserve the fat runoff for use in roasting vegetables and other uses.


Note: Traditional wisdom is to roast 20 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes or until breast read 135.  My duck roasted in much less than the 20 minutes per pound. Time may vary depending on how meaty the breast is.  Check after one hour so you don’t over cook.


Serving: 4servings | Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 1777mg | Potassium: 9mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
Crispy Roast Duck in 4 Easy Steps

2 Replies to “Crispy Roast Duck in 4 Easy Steps”

  1. This sounds yummy! Do you think the recipe would work as well with a goose? I have a 7-pound frozen goose and have never cooked one before. This sounds fairly straightforward. Happy to get your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi Paula. I don’t think it would translate directly to cooking a goose. You usually have to remove as much fat as possible before roasting a goose and then you prick it so even more fat drains off. Many goose recipes also recommend removing the breast part way through the roasting so the breast doesn’t over cook before the legs are done. But you have me thinking now.. I have never cooked a goose either!

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