​​Crisp Roast Duck Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

​​Crisp Roast Duck Recipe (1)

Total Time
2½ hours, plus at least 4 hours’ resting
Read community notes

A golden-skinned roasted duck is a festive main course for any special meal. In this recipe, the bird is doused with boiling water before being scored all over. The boiling water helps pull the skin taut, making it easier to score in a crosshatch pattern. That, in turn, allows the fat to render out as everything roasts. The result is a perfectly cooked duck with pink, juicy meat and burnished, crunchy skin. Serve the bird as is, or with some kind of sauce — either sweet or pungent — such as cranberry sauce, salsa verde or a spicy soy dipping sauce. And save the duck fat at the bottom of the pan. It will keep for at least three months in the refrigerator and is excellent on roasted vegetables, especially potatoes.

Featured in: This Whole Duck Recipe Is Perfectly Imperfect

  • or to save this recipe.

  • Subscriber benefit: give recipes to anyone

    As a subscriber, you have

    10 gift recipes to give each month. Anyone can view them - even nonsubscribers.

    Learn more.


  • Print Options

    Include recipe photo



Yield:4 servings

  • 1(5- to 6-pound) whole duck
  • 1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 2teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2large garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a garlic press or finely minced
  • 1tablespoon chopped thyme or rosemary leaves, or a combination, plus more sprigs for the cavity
  • 1tablespoon finely grated lemon or orange zest, or a combination
  • teaspoons ground coriander or a spice mix, such as garam masala or baharat(optional)

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

1825 calories; 177 grams fat; 59 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 84 grams monounsaturated fat; 23 grams polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 0 grams sugars; 52 grams protein; 1465 milligrams sodium

Note: 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.

Powered by

​​Crisp Roast Duck Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Bring a full kettle or medium pot of water to a boil (at least 2 quarts).

  2. Step


    Meanwhile, remove giblets and neck from the duck cavity and reserve for another use. Trim any excess fat from around the duck cavity and the neck. Place duck, breast side up, on a rack in the sink. Pour half of the boiling water all over the top of the duck to tighten the skin. Flip the bird and pour remaining boiling water over the back.

  3. Step


    Once the duck is cool enough to handle, using the tip of a very sharp paring knife, prick duck skin all over to help release the fat, especially where the skin is thickest, and be careful not to pierce the meat. It can be helpful to hold the knife nearly parallel to the bird. After piercing the skin, use the knife blade to score the duck breast in a crosshatch pattern (making deep cuts into the skin only, and not into the breast meat). Flip the bird and score the back as well (you don’t need to prick the back). You may need to sharpen your knife along the way, as it’s much easier to make clean cuts into the skin with a sharp knife. Using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, thoroughly pat duck dry, including inside the cavity.

  4. Step


    Season the duck all over, including cavity, with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine garlic, chopped herbs, citrus zest and coriander, if using, and make a paste. Rub garlic paste all over duck, inside and out. Place duck, breast side up, on rack in a roasting pan, stuff cavity with herb sprigs, and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

  5. Step


    When it’s time to cook the bird, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully prick duck skin all over the top of the bird using a sharp paring knife. (You don’t need to prick the back of the duck.) Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue roasting until skin is golden brown and crispy, and the internal temperature at thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes longer. Using tongs, gently tip duck to drain any liquid from the cavity. Transfer bird to cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes. Carve and serve.



out of 5


user ratings

Your rating

or to rate this recipe.

Have you cooked this?

or to mark this recipe as cooked.

Private Notes

Leave a Private Note on this recipe and see it here.

Cooking Notes

Lilot Moorman

For years I have prepared roast duck following Melissa's recipe that calls for 3-4 days of curing a seasoned duck in the refrigerator before roasting. Foolproof, crisp and luscious. For some reason the recipe was presented only for use by those of us quick enough to capture it ephemerally, never in print...Editors, please, please share the recipe in print for the world to follow. It will change readers' attitudes towards cooking duck.

david shepherd

I wonder: would spatchco*cking a duck yield good results?

Kevin W

I prefer the duck breast medium rare, as was stated in the Melissa Clark’s comments. The recipe won’t achieve that result as written. For the best of both worlds I’m going to separate the breast from the leg quarters, follow the recipe as written except for starting the breast skin side down in a skillet, and then finishing both types in the oven. Credit is given to Julia Child and her excellent roast turkey technique.

Cassandra Brightside

I like to prick the skin using a corn on the cob holder because a tiny little pricker is easier for me to work with. Next time I'll try scalding and scoring the bird. High end artisanal ducks are often sold without the giblets or the neck, so sometimes I buy a whole Chinese market duck which comes with the head, feet & giblets, etc. I cook (and freeze) a rich duck stock for an incredible sauce -- eg. Jacques Pepin's duck a l'orange. This is my favorite thing to cook and eat.


Duck is my bird: T-Day, Xmas and multiple days all year. Tips:1. Score fat. Rub salt everywhere. Place in fridge at least overnight, up to 2 days. Skin will totally dry out - no boiling needed. 2. Spactchco*ck bird. Place skinside down in a COLD skillet, med high heat. Skin will slowly crisp to golden, and render lots of fat. Remove bird, pour off fat, then follow the rest of the recipe, with less cooking time needed.Breasts, if making extra, should also be salted, dried, and started cold.

Martha Failing

I roast duck at 300 degrees for 4 hours, turning the duck after starting breast-up every hour. The last 15 minutes at 400 degrees leaves a crisp skin. The meat is tender and juicy.

Andrew Gourevitch

The cooking times seem far too long for those temperatures, and would leave the meat very well done. 450 degrees followed by 350 degrees is not suitable for slow-roasting (the recipe called for 1 1/2 - 2 1/4 hours total cooking time). At those temperatures, the cooking time should be reduced by almost one half if you want the meat to still be pink.

Kirsten Herold

Wait what?!? The Danes roast duck every year for Christmas, stuffed with Apples and prunes, and it is delicious. Served with potatoes, red cabbage (preferably homemade) and a gravy made with the juices. I too like adding a little water to the bottom of the pan, which keeps the grease from burning, and make a good start to the gravy.

Don Waite

Try scoring the bird with a razor blade pinched between thumb and forefinger so only 1/8" protrudes. Also, don't score the legs, not enough fat.


Every time I've roasted duck it's turned out well, but the amount of smoke generated by the fat a the bottom of the roasting pan has led to my having to open both the front and back doors of my house (in winter!) to get rid of it all. What's a trick to avoid this problem with roasting duck?


This was Graham Kerr’s method. I’ve been preparing duck this way for years. I usually stuff with sprigs of rosemary, thyme, a quartered onion, and garlic, just salt and pepper on the outside.


Put a small amount of water in the pan under the duck. Enough to keep the fat from hitting the pan while not so much that you are steam roasting it.

marie-claude garneau

This is a little like Marcella Hazan's technique where she briefly poaches a duck and then hits it with a hair dryer for a few minutes to keep the pores open.

Phil L.

Melissa:If I have the right person, my wife and I ate at your restaurant on Saturday night in Milford, NJ. I had the duck confit. If your NYT recipe is 1/2 as good as that it will be fantastic. We will do it for Christmas. Your restaurant duck had the crisp skin, reddish meat, and warm fat running around the white beans and cabbage that came with it. Cosmic---Phil L.

James Mignola

For a medium rare duck breast it might be best to break the whole duck down into boneless breasts and bone-in leg and thigh. The breasts can be scored and seasoned and pan-roasted to temperature, the leg and thigh braised, prepared as confit, or roasted separately. But this doesn't present as a dish for company. Save the duck bones to roast for a stock to use in braises or soups. Freeze the livers until you have enough to make a terrine and, make confit de gesier with the gizzards.


This is really good. I understand the value of the notes but it was very delicious without reading through everyone’s feedback.


This recipe was a disappointment. At 175 to 180° the skin was still not crispy but when carved the meat was overdone. The whole piercing, and then cross hatching felt like overkill.

Carol H.

My skin was not as crispy as I would have liked. I think next time I will make sure it spends at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. Otherwise I followed instructions and pulled my duck when it was 165 degrees as directed. The breast did not dry out and it was delicious. I did put water in the bottom of the roasting pan and did not having any smoking of my roasting pan.

Brandy in Boston

Lots of garlic, 1+ head. Used rosemary & parsley. S&P in the rub and additionally on the bird pre-rub. Lemon, not orange. Added EVOO to make a paste. Let sit in the fridge uncovered for 1.5 days. Made bed of potatoes, carrot and parsnip to sit the bird on while cooking, drizzled in EVOO. Came up to room temp before putting in oven at 450* for 30 mins & then dropping to 350* for another 30-40 mins. Pulled fat out before broiling the breast side (which had been down) to get it crispy too. Delish!


I just made this for our Christmas dinner, followed the recipe exactly (something essential to make clear in this forum) and it was terrific. The coriander, garlic, rosemary rub is fantastic. I do want to emphasize Melissa's reference to needing a sharp knife. This technique absolutely requires it. The boiling water step does indeed tighten the skin but it's still duck skin. It's still quite rubbery. If your knives are dull, either get them sharpened or choose another recipe.


I’m afraid that I won’t be doing a whole roast duck again. The recipe is just fine, but the management of roasting it for so little meat (and more duck fat than I can use for many months), for just two of us. And crispy skin isn’t really my thing either. Well, it’s going to be back to turkey for me (or two duck breasts). Our old dog is hoping for more skin just now roaming around, as the stock from the bones is cooking.


First time with duck. 450 for 30 minutes and 350 for 50 minutes got me up to 160ish for a 5 pound bird. Very tasty with cherried cranberries, and lots of fun around the table.


Can you do up to step 4 (rubbing the duck with the garlic/herb paste then refrigerate) more than 24 hours in advance?It seems the longer it cures in the paste the better?Julia


I've been making 2-3 roast ducks for Thanksgiving AND Christmas for 31 years. The main issue is the quality and source of the ducks. For about the past 10 years I have been getting Joe Jurgielewicz ducks from western PA and they are the best we have ever eaten! (Not a commercial!) Salt, and pepper everywhere. Score (not the back) with a sharp knife. Cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours or slightly more (6 lb duck) based on size and how rare you want it Pour fat off hourly. Clean ovens the next day!


Used a torch instead of boiling water to tighten the skin. This worked better for me as there were a few feathers remaining on my locally sourced duck.


Maybe NYT should work on their definition of "Step"?Step 1:- Boil water...Step 5:- Preheat oven- Roast for 30 minutes- Remove from oven- Prick skin- Reduce temperature- Return to oven for 1-ish hours- Remove from oven- Drain liquid- Rest bird- Carve- Serve


But after it's been sitting in the refrigerator, doesn't it have to come to room temp before sticking it in the oven or do you just put the duck cold into the oven?


I don't know what I did wrong, but the duck was very tough. Ideas?

MJS Prov

Followed recipe closely but i did see commments before roasting the duck and I have to agree with others who said that cooking at this temp for this period of time will give you a well done duck not medium rare breast. It is still tasty and edible, but not what you would expect based on the text accompanying this article. Of course the photo does show well done breat, not medium rare. I baked it for 30 min at 450 and then about 45 at 350degrees. Temp was 180 . I should have checked it sooner.


Christmas 2021. Wonderful!

Private notes are only visible to you.

​​Crisp Roast Duck Recipe (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dong Thiel

Last Updated:

Views: 5903

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dong Thiel

Birthday: 2001-07-14

Address: 2865 Kasha Unions, West Corrinne, AK 05708-1071

Phone: +3512198379449

Job: Design Planner

Hobby: Graffiti, Foreign language learning, Gambling, Metalworking, Rowing, Sculling, Sewing

Introduction: My name is Dong Thiel, I am a brainy, happy, tasty, lively, splendid, talented, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.