A wonderful whole roasted duck is an amazingly tasty centerpiece of any special occasion or holiday meal! The deliciously spiced duck that my family and I enjoy is also terrifically easy to make too! This roast duck features crispy skin on a perfectly tender, juicy duck that will be enjoyed by everyone!
This incredibly easy-to-make whole roasted spiced duck is always a hit!
When chicken and turkey have been staples on your dinner table for far too long, take a break with something special. Whole roasted duck is delicious, especially this recipe which is full of exciting flavor! Expect to be wowed by the crispy skin, juicy meat, and all-around succulence.
Whether you want to make this whole roasted duck for a weeknight family meal or for a holiday or celebration, the praise you will receive will be plentiful. When your duck is cooked so perfectly, every bite is bliss!
My kitchen smells spectacular as the duck does its thing, leaving our mouths watering until dinnertime rolls around. So tender and tempting, my whole roasted duck is everything it’s “quacked” up to be!
The ingredients needed for this whole roasted duck recipe are minimal, allowing the duck’s natural flavor to shine through. That said, the right blend of spices and seasonings is what makes this recipe so fantastic.
If you are unfamiliar with buying duck, talk to your butcher before you bring one home, be it fresh or frozen.
- Duck – Fresh or frozen, both work well for this recipe. This amount is plenty for 3-4 generous servings. If you are feeding more than four people, roast more than one duck.
- Salt – Don’t overdo it, as you want the salt to enhance, not make your duck particularly salty. A little goes a long way, and you can always season at the table as per your taste.
- Pepper – A bit of black pepper adds a subtle kick, bringing out the best of your duck’s deliciousness.
- Cinnamon – A little sweetness balances out the salt and pepper, adding a warmth to the dish that is unique and unbelievable.
- Fennel seeds – Fennel imparts an essence of black licorice, giving your whole roasted duck a distinct taste your guests will be sure to comment on. The scent is especially inviting as the duck is roasting in the oven. Be sure to use finely ground fennel seeds, which you can buy or make with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. You can use your food processor or even a blender as well to get the right consistency.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for ingredients, amounts & instructions!*
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
If you are using a frozen duck for this recipe, it is best to allow the duck to thaw in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 days before preparing.
Once your duck is completely thawed, remove the giblets and neck as well as any packaged orange sauce that may be inside the body cavity. *If you would like to make a gravy, reserve the neck, giblets, and any fat trimmed from the duck in a saucepan. Cover with water and simmer on low heat while the duck roasts.
- Prepare the duck. Rinse the entire duck with cold water and then pat dry with paper towels. Set the duck out on a clean surface for 30 minutes to warm it up to room temperature.
- Preheat. Set your oven to 425ºF (218ºC) while the duck is setting out after cleaning and drying.
- Score the skin. Use a sharp knife to slice the duck skin in small slits or crosses (in a diamond pattern). Do this carefully, as you don't want to pierce the duck meat, so don’t go too deep with the slits. Using the tines of a fork can work too, again, keep the pressure to just piercing the duck skin.
For a nice even cook on your duck, there are two things to note. 1) It is best not to stuff the body cavity with onion or citrus for flavor. This reduces the airflow and adds cooking time. 2) If you are not concerned about the presentation or tying the legs crossed, you can make slits into the leg joints between the body and the thigh to ensure that the duck cooks quickly and evenly.
Season & Roast
- Mix seasoning. Grind your fennel seeds if needed, then blend the seasoning ingredients: salt, pepper, cinnamon, and fennel. Rub the mixture generously onto all surfaces of the duck skin.
- Start roasting. Place the duck with the breast side facing upward into a roasting pan with a rack. Roast in the preheated oven at 425ºF (218ºC) for 15 minutes.
- Continue roasting at reduced temp. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (175ºC) and continue to roast the duck for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes. Poke with a knife or fork. If the duck still has running juices that are pink, let it continue to roast for 15 minutes more.
- Rest and serve. Once your duck has an internal temperature of 145ºF (63ºC), remove the roasted duck from your oven and loosely 'tent' a square of aluminum foil over the duck to trap the heat. Allow the duck to rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving for the best results.
Save that rendered fat that's in your roasting pan! There's a reason duck and goose fat is lovingly called 'liquid gold' - it makes the best duck fat fried potatoes ever!
I like to serve my whole roasted duck with a side of roasted potatoes with rosemary, steamed carrots with herbed butter, or couscous with pine nuts and raisins. Sometimes, all three!
As you can see above, I'm removing my roast duck from the oven at 145°F (63°C). You could even go as low as 135°F (57°C) before resting!
If you're wondering why duck is considered done at lower temperatures than its cousin, chicken, here's why!
Most poultry needs to be cooked to 165°F (74°C) to kill off the chance of causing sickness due to the parasite salmonella. Duck is not farmed in the same manner as chicken (yet) and therefore has less chance of carrying salmonella.
It is not to say that duck meat is completely free of any chance of salmonella contamination. You can get salmonella from your pet duck (or chicken).
Note that USDA recommendations aren't different, it's a personal preference for most duck enthusiasts to enjoy their duck served pink. If you are not comfortable eating your duck medium rare, then heat your duck until it reaches a minimum of 165°F (74°C).
🥡 Storing & Reheating
Your duck will stay fresh for 2 - 3 days in the refrigerator, or up to 4 - 6 months if you freeze it. Stick any leftovers into an airtight container.
If you keep it in the fridge, your leftover duck tastes great cold! Shred the duck meat over a spinach salad with slivered almonds, crunchy Chinese noodles, and water chestnuts.
You can also reheat it in the oven or in a pan. Chances are, you won’t have any leftovers to worry about!
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Whole Roasted Duck
- 5-6 lb duck
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- If using a frozen duck, be sure to thaw your duck for 2-3 days in the refrigerator before preparing. Once your duck is completely thawed, remove the giblets and neck as well as any packaged orange sauce that may be in the body cavity. Rinse with cold water then pat completely dry with paper towels. Set the duck out for 30 minutes to warm to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) while the duck is setting out.
- Use a sharp knife or the tines of a fork to pierce the duck skin in small slits or crosses (in a diamond pattern). *Do this carefully, as you don't want to pierce the duck meat! Lift the skin away to help avoid peircing the meat.For a great even cook on your duck, there are two things to note. 1) It is best not to stuff the body cavity with onion or citrus for flavor. This reduces the air flow and adds cooking time. 2) If you're not worried about the presentation or tying the legs crossed, you can make slits into the leg joints between the body and the thigh to ensure that the duck cooks quickly and evenly.
- Grind your fennel seeds if needed, then blend all of the seasoning mix ingredients: salt, pepper, cinnamon, fennel. Rub onto all surfaces of the duck skin.
- Place the duck with the breast side facing upward into a roasting pan with a rack. Roast in the preheated oven at 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue to roast the duck for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the duck still has running juices that are pink, let it continue to roast for 15 minutes more.
- Once your duck has an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) remove the roasted duck from your oven and loosely 'tent' a square of aluminum foil over the duck. Allow the duck to rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.
For the fennel seeds, you want a finely ground consistency. Use a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder for best results. Other options include food processor, Nutribullet, even a blender - it will just take longer as the seeds have more room to move away from the blades.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!