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Roast Duck Recipe

Detailed recipe with step-by-step photos on how to roast a whole duck in the oven.  This Roast Duck has juicy meat, crispy skin, and it's glazed with the honey-balsamic glaze to give the duck a beautiful roasted look.  Perfect main dish for any special occasion, especially holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 2862 kcal
Author Julia

Ingredients

Roast Duck

  • 6 lb whole Pekin duck
  • salt
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 lemon small or medium, chopped

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon , freshly squeezed juice
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

  1. If you purchased frozen duck, make sure to defrost the frozen duck in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Once the duck is completely defrosted (in the refrigerator), take the duck out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking to bring it more or less to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You will be roasting the duck for a total of 3 hours (3 hours will be divided into 4 time chunks where you will be flipping the duck, brushing it with glaze, etc. - see the instructions below).

Prepare the duck:

  1. Remove the giblets from inside the duck. Rinse the duck, inside and outside, with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Set the duck on the working surface. Score the duck's skin on the breast in a diamond pattern, making sure you only cut the skin, without reaching the meat. 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. Place the duck breast side up.
  3. 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 up the duck legs with butcher's twine.

Roast the duck for 3 hours in 4 distinctive steps:

  1. 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). Roast the duck, breast side up, for 1 hour at 350 F.
  2. After 1 hour of roasting, flip the duck on its breast and roast it breast side down (roast the other side) for 40 minutes, at 350 F.
  3. Remove the roasting pan with the duck from the oven (you now have roasted the duck for 1 hour + 40 minutes), carefully remove the duck to a platter (making sure the lemons and garlic from the cavity do not fall out - keep the skin on both ends of the duck folded), and carefully pour off all the duck fat juices from the roasting pan into a large heat-proof bowl or container.
  4. Flip the duck breast side up again on a rack in a roasting pan (the pan will have no fat juices now). In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon. 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.
  5. 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 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).
  6. After the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven, let duck stand for 15 minutes. Then, carefully remove and discard the lemon from the cavity (being careful not to get burned). Carve the duck and serve!
  7. TOTAL COOKING TIME: The duck should be roasted 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).
Nutrition Facts
Roast Duck Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2862 Calories from Fat 2403
% Daily Value*
Fat 267g411%
Saturated Fat 89g556%
Cholesterol 517mg172%
Sodium 438mg19%
Potassium 1558mg45%
Carbohydrates 29g10%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 23g26%
Protein 79g158%
Vitamin A 1145IU23%
Vitamin C 48.8mg59%
Calcium 104mg10%
Iron 17mg94%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.