Whole-Roasted Duck Recipe

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to prepare roast duck for your next special dinner. For starters, the meat is incredibly savory and an excellent accompaniment to a wide assortment of side dishes. Or perhaps you're bored of eating chicken but want to stick to poultry for the occasion. Or maybe you've never tried duck before and are curious to taste something new. Much like chicken, you can buy duck legs or breasts individually, but if you're feeding more than 2 people or want to have leftovers, a whole duck is the way to go. 

You might be intimidated as you eye the large bird in the supermarket or at the butcher shop, but roasting it whole is as straightforward as dealing with an entire chicken. Mashed recipe developer Christina Musgrave brings us this whole-roasted duck recipe that will take all the guesswork out of the equation. "I love how this recipe is fairly simple and makes roasting a whole duck approachable," she shares. For a flavor-packed result, she seasons the bird with paprika and fresh herb butter.

Gather the ingredients for whole-roasted duck

For this delicious whole-roasted duck recipe, you'll definitely need a good duck. Musgrave recommends swinging by the butcher for a bird weighing 5-6 pounds to serve around 6 people. To season the meat, you'll need to make a compound butter using salt, softened unsalted butter, minced garlic, paprika, and chopped fresh parsley and rosemary.

Prep the flavored butter

Start by preheating the oven to 350 F. Then, take a paper towel or tea towel and pat the duck to ensure that it is fully dry. This will help increase the crispiness of the skin. In a small bowl, mash up the softened butter with the salt, minced garlic, paprika, and chopped parsley and rosemary. 

Using your hands, rub the mixture over the entire bird, including in the cavity so the flavor spreads all over. Duck meat is naturally rich and tasty, but Musgrave notes that "the key to the flavor of the duck is the herb butter."

Tie up the duck legs and roast the bird

Cut a piece of cooking twine, then cross the duck's legs and tie them together. Fold the wings under the bird and transfer it to a roasting pan with the breast side up. (Using a roasting pan, rather than a normal baking dish, is important so the hot air can circulate around the entire bird.) Cook the duck for 1 hour.

Flip the bird and roast it some more

After an hour, flip the duck so it is breast side-down, and cook it for another hour. Finally, raise the oven temperature to 400 F and cook the meat for another 15 minutes to achieve a golden brown color on the exterior.

Let the meat rest, then carve and serve your whole-roasted duck

Once the duck is nicely browned, remove it from the oven and let the meat rest for 15 minutes. Musgrave instructs to then "carve the duck like you would a chicken, by removing the breasts and legs and slicing accordingly."

Serve this delicious poultry dish with your choice of sides. If you're in need of inspiration, Musgrave suggests white rice and veggies like roasted eggplant or steamed bok choy. She also points out that "you could use the cooked meat in any recipe that calls for cooked duck," though she prefers making this special preparation the feature of the meal. 

Store any leftover meat in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Whole-Roasted Duck Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
The key to a delicious roasted duck is to season the bird thoroughly and give it plenty of time in the oven to develop a tender interior and crispy skin.
Prep Time
Cook Time
whole roasted duck on plate
Total time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
  • 1 whole duck (about 5-6 pounds), defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Pat the duck with a paper towel until it is fully dry.
  3. Combine the salt, butter, garlic, paprika, parsley, and rosemary in a small bowl.
  4. Rub the mixture over the entire duck, including inside the cavity.
  5. Cross the legs and tie them together with cooking twine, then fold the wings under the duck.
  6. Place the duck breast side-up in a roasting pan and cook for 1 hour.
  7. Flip the duck breast side-down and cook for an additional hour.
  8. Increase the heat to 400 F and cook the duck for an additional 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Remove the duck from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
Calories per Serving 1,265
Total Fat 123.5 g
Saturated Fat 43.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 242.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 0.9 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Total Sugars 0.1 g
Sodium 989.7 mg
Protein 34.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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