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How to Roast a Whole Duck

Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.

Freshly roasted whole duck

Freshly roasted whole duck

Roast Duck Recipe

Duck is often perceived to be greasy, fatty, overly tough—or even all three! When duck is cooked properly, however, it can be deliciously tender and though perhaps that little bit more substantial and fattier than either chicken or turkey, at least every bit as enjoyable. Although a whole duck can very effectively be grilled or barbecued outdoors, when it is cooked indoors, it should be roasted in the oven. This incredibly simple recipe sees it cooked with a basic clementine orange and thyme stuffing before being served with both mashed and roasted potatoes and broccoli.

As an added bonus, this page will also show how to make duck stock from the carcass of the bird and thereafter a delicious duck and chestnut soup.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

2 hours 30 min

3 hours

2 to 4 servings


  • 1 prepared duck of around 5lb
  • 2 clementines or other small oranges, halved
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Olive oil, for greasing roasting tray
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 to 6 baby new potatoes per person
  • 1 large baking potato per person, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, broken in to florets
  • 1oz (quarter stick) butter
  • White pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnishing

Instructions for Ingredient Prep

  1. If your duck is frozen, remember it is vital to defrost it completely in an appropriate dish in the bottom of the refrigerator before it can be cooked. This is likely to take at least twenty-four hours. It should then be removed from the refrigerator and left for a couple of hours to reach room temperature.
  2. Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C. Remove any and all packaging from the duck and above all, remember to take the giblets out of the belly cavity. You may also want to cut away the excess loose skin and fat from around the opening of the cavity.
  3. Wash the duck in cold water and carefully pat it dry with kitchen paper. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with the four clementine halves and the dried thyme. Weigh the duck after it is stuffed to establish the cooking time which should be twenty minutes per pound and twenty extra minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a roasting tray and sit the duck in the centre, breasts side up. Use a metal skewer or large needle to pierce the skin of the duck, all over the breasts and thighs. This is to allow the skin to crisp up. Be careful only to go through the skin, however, and don't pierce deep in to the meat.
  5. Season the surface of the duck well with salt.

Instructions for Cooking

  1. Put the duck into the oven and leave it alone to cook for the allotted time you have established from its weight.
  2. Put the baby potatoes into a pot of cold salted water and bring the water to a simmer for twenty-five minutes. Drain, return to the pot, cover and leave to cool completely.
  3. Take the duck from the oven and pierce the thickest part of the thigh to ensure it is ready and the juices run clear. Very carefully, lift it with two large carving forks or slotted spoons to a deep dish to rest for twenty to thirty minutes, being sure to tilt it and let the juices from the cavity run out into the roasting tray.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the large potatoes. Bring to a simmer in some lightly salted water for about twenty minutes or until soft. Drain, return to the pot and leave to steam for a few minutes to get rid of the excess moisture. Mash with the butter and some white pepper.
  5. Break the broccoli into florets and simmer in boiling, salted water for ten minutes. Drain through a colander.
  6. Peel the skin off the cooled baby potatoes by hand. Deep fry in hot oil for five to six minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper on a plate.

Instructions for Carving

  1. When the duck is rested, use a carving fork to remove and discard the orange halves. Lift the duck to a chopping board for carving.
  2. Cut the legs off first. Hold the bird steady with the carving fork and cut through the flesh all the way around the first leg until the bone can be popped free and the leg lifted away. Repeat with the second leg.
  3. The wings should be removed in the same way but are a little bit more awkward.
  4. Starting immediately to one side of the top breastbone, cut through the flesh, allowing the knife to be guided by the bones, until each breast fillet, in turn, can be removed. Cut each breast fillet across the way into four or five thick wedges.
  5. Plate the duck, the potatoes and the broccoli. Garnish will a little chopped parsley immediately before service.
Roast duck with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and broccoli

Roast duck with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and broccoli

How to Make Duck Stock or Broth

When a duck has been carved as described above, there will be a reasonable amount of meat left on the carcass. This meat can be picked by hand from the bird and used for any one of a number of later purposes, while the bones of the carcass can be used to make delicious duck stock or broth.

Below you will find instructions for making firstly duck broth and subsequently using it to make a cream of chestnut and roast duck soup.

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours 15 min

Cook time: 2 hours

Ready in: 4 hours 15 min

Yields: 3 or 4 pints of duck broth


  • 1 duck carcass
  • Duck giblets
  • Excess fat and skin trimmed from the duck (if applicable)
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Sea salt

Instructions for Stock

  1. Pick the remaining meat from the carcass and store it in a plastic container in the fridge.
  2. Place the carcass into a large stockpot along with the giblets and fatty skin earlier taken from the duck.
  3. Add the vegetables and seasonings and pour in enough cold water to completely cover all the solids.
  4. Put the pot on a high heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer, cover and cook for two hours.
  5. Switch off the heat and leave to cool for at least a couple of hours.
  6. When the stock/broth has cooled sufficiently, use a large, slotted spoon to remove and discard all the solids.
  7. Strain the remaining broth through a kitchen paper lined colander or sieve and the broth is ready to use.
Freshly made duck broth

Freshly made duck broth

Cream of chestnut and roast duck soup is served garnished with a little parsley and with some crusty bread on the side

Cream of chestnut and roast duck soup is served garnished with a little parsley and with some crusty bread on the side

Cream of Chestnut and Roast Duck Soup Recipe

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours 15 min

Cook time: 45 min

Ready in: 3 hours

Yields: 6 to 8 servings


  • 3 pints fresh duck stock
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 1/2lb roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1/2 pint double (heavy) cream
  • leftover duck meat picked from the carcass
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly chopped parsley to garnish
  • crusty bread to serve

Instructions for Soup

  1. Pour the duck stock into your soup pot. Peel and chop the potatoes before adding them to the stock. Bring the stock to a simmer and cover for half an hour or until the potatoes are soft.
  2. The chestnuts in this recipe were bought precooked, peeled and vacuum packed. You could if you wish use freshly roasted and peeled chestnuts. Add them to the stock and softened potatoes.
  3. Putting hot liquid into a food processor can cause all sorts of problems. In order to eliminate this risk, simply leave the part-made soup covered to cool for a couple of hours.
  4. Blend the stock, potatoes and chestnuts until smooth. You will of course have to do this in stages. Return to the pot, pour in the cream and stir well.
  5. Chop the duck moderately finely and add it to the soup. Heat just until the soup starts to reach a simmer. Do not boil!
  6. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish with the parsley and serve with the bread.

© 2012 Gordon Hamilton