Ever wondered how to cook duck? It’s much simpler than most people think. This Roast Duck has tender and juicy meat, crispy skin, and it’s glazed with the honey-balsamic glaze to give the duck a beautiful roasted look. It’s a great looking dish – perfect for any special occasion, and with the holidays coming up, this duck will work great on any Thanksgiving dinner menu, or as a Christmas dinner idea. By the way, the honey-balsamic glaze in this recipe DOES NOT MAKE THE DUCK SWEET – I did not want a sweet duck. It only gives the nice crispiness and beautiful look to the duck skin. Your duck will have a very savory and juicy flavor from the garlic and lemon that you’ll stuff inside the duck cavity. SO GOOD!
This recipe has very detailed instructions (with step-by-step photos) on how to prepare and cook the duck – which could be very helpful if you’ve never cooked the duck before. The duck will be roasted in the oven at 350 F for a total of 3 hours, and in addition to the beautiful duck, you’ll end up with a lot of duck fat which I highly recommend you save and use for roasting vegetables, potatoes, and even cooking your breakfast eggs with it!
If you want a really beautiful and festive presentation for your holiday duck, use my recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash glazed with Cinnamon & Maple Syrup, with Pecans & Cranberries as garnish for the duck (this is what you see on the photo below). You can garnish the duck and decorate the serving platter with these colorful veggies – they will have all the holiday colors and flavors and will look very pretty with duck:
Step-by-step photos and instructions start here (the complete recipe without photos is at the bottom of this post). I recommend that you read and look through these photos and then scroll down to the recipe box itself for more condensed version of the recipe (without photos).
If using frozen duck, make sure it’s completely defrosted (defrosted in the refrigerator for a couple of days). Remove the giblets from inside the duck. Rinse the duck, inside and outside, with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels:
Set the duck on the working surface. Score the duck’s skin on the breast side in a diamond pattern, making sure you only cut the skin, without reaching the meat. The 2 deep cuts to the right of the photos is the example of how NOT TO SCORE, but it’s still OK, as I did not cut through the meat but did reach the meat in those 2 cuts on the right:
The duck breast should be scored in a diamond pattern:
This is what the duck should look like, breast side up, scored (see 2 deep scores on the right – try not to do that but it’s OK as long as you don’t cut into the meat itself):
Poke the other fatty parts of the duck with the tip of the knife all over, to ensure fat release, especially in very fatty parts. You don’t need to poke the duck legs as the skin is pretty thin there (except for where the duck legs connect to the duck body).
Season the duck very generously with salt both inside the cavity of the duck and outside on the skin, legs, all over.
Put 5 chopped garlic cloves and lemon slices inside the duck cavity (these are just for flavor, not for eating – you will discard them after cooking).
The duck will have flapping skin on both ends – fold that skin inwards, to hold the garlic and lemon inside.
Tie the duck legs with butcher’s twine or butcher’s string (or, in my case, I just used folded aluminum foil to tie up the duck legs, because I forgot to get butcher’s twine):
Place the bird breast side up on a large roasting pan with a rack (roasting pan should have a roasting rack to lift the duck from the bottom of the pan and allow the fat to drip below the duck).
You will be roasting the duck for a total of 3 hours at 350 F. These 3 hours of roasting are divided into 4 distinctive time chunks (1 hour breast side up + 40 minutes breast side down + 40 minutes breast side up brushed with balsamic-lemon mixture + 40 minutes breast side up brushed with honey-balsamic mixture).
- Roast the duck for 1 hour at 350 F, breast side up, then remove the duck from the oven, it should look like this after the first 1 hour of roasting:
2. Then, flip the duck breast side down, and roast for 40 minutes at 350 F breast side down. The duck should look like this – it’s breast side down on this picture:
3. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon. Set the duck breast side up again on the roasting rack in the roasting pan. Brush all of the duck with the balsamic mixture (especially the scored duck breast) and cook the duck breast side up for another 40 minutes at 350 F, brushing every 10 minutes with the mixture.
4. Now, in a separate small bowl, combine 1/4 cup honey and 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar lemon mixture that you will have left over from the previous step. Brush the breast side of the duck with this honey-balsamic mixture, and roast the duck breast side up for another 40 minutes, brushing the duck breast side every 10 minutes with honey balsamic mixture. You can even carefully broil the duck for the last 10-15 minutes if you like (do it carefully, checking the duck regularly to make sure it doesn’t char too much).
The duck will really start to brown. In the end, the duck should be nicely browned with crispy skin like that (By now you would’ve cooked the duck for 3 hours at 350 F. ):
Untie the legs:
If you want a really beautiful and festive presentation for your holiday duck, use my recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash glazed with Cinnamon & Maple Syrup, with Pecans & Cranberries. You can garnish the duck and decorate the serving platter with these colorful veggies – they will have all the holiday colors and flavors and will look very pretty with duck: