Oven Roasted Crispy Whole Duck & Figgy Orange Glaze

Roasting a whole duck should not be any more intimidating than roasting a chicken. This simple oven-roasted duck recipe demystifies the entire process and takes you through, step-by-step, to an impressive, delicious, and easy final result that I think will have you reaching for duck meat more often. My oven roasted duck recipe involves a delicious figgy orange maple glaze that pairs perfectly with the rich and flavorful duck meat.

top view of a roasted whole duck on a white serving platter and linen table cloth

Roasted duck is a perfect Sunday night dinner as an alternative to the usual chicken or roast. And this oven roasted crispy whole duck with orange maple glaze is delicious and straightforward. Even Costco has started selling whole ducks (in my area anyways), and I think it is the perfect time to try making duck yourself if you never have.

Roasted duck is a fantastic choice for a traditional Christmas dinner too, and there is no reason you cannot serve duck for Thanksgiving either..

Serve this with risotto, cheesy loaded scalloped potatoes, and a warm roasted vegetable salad on the side.

You can also smoke whole duck if you want. My popular recipe for smoked whole turkey can be used for duck just as well, and smoked duck is incredible!

side view of a roasted whole duck on a white serving platter and linen table cloth

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Easier than you may think it is to roast a duck.
  • Something different from chicken, in fact you may find that you prefer duck to chicken if this is your first time — it is my favorite (alongside goose).
  • Impressive and delicious meal for Thanksgiving or Christmas or just Sunday night dinner.
  • Sweet and flavorful glaze pairs perfectly with rich duck meat.
  • Glaze is versatile and different fruits and berries may be used, I’ll show you how to switch it up if you want with other glaze options to reflect your tastes or to use what you have on hand.

Ingredients

top view of a raw whole duck and all of the ingredients for making oven roasted duck
  • 1 whole duck
  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • dried oregano
  • dried thyme
  • unsalted butter
  • fresh rosemary & thyme

For glaze (see variations further down)

  • soy sauce or amino acids
  • orange juice
  • maple syrup, preferably dark
  • cornstarch (I recommend this organic brand)
  • balsamic vinegar vinegar
  • fig jam

See recipe card for quantities.

Equipment

The Importance of Brining or Salting

I raise pastured heritage breed ducks (Saxony, Welsh Harlequin, Cayuga, soon Silver Appleyards) alongside faster growing Muscovy and Pekin. If you do too, this part is important to the final roast.

If you’re buying your duck from a grocery store, this section won’t matter.

If you’re buying from a local farmer ask him about breed and if the ducks are free ranged or pastured. If they’re heritage breeds that take longer to reach slaughter weight, find out at what age they were processed

Why this is important is because the meat of a pastured heritage duck might be tougher.

I HIGHLY recommend you dry-brine your duck for 24 hours before roasting. Luckily this is so very EASY — much easier (and better) than wet-brining.

You should do his no matter what, but it is very important if the ducks are heritage breeds and pastured/free ranged for an exceptional final result.

Simply take your duck and liberally sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt. Loosely cover the duck with parchment or butcher paper and leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

When it’s time to make this recipe, just take it out, and don’t add any more salt or you will have a very salty duck.

Should You Boil The Duck First?

You can. This can make for more even cooking of the meat, less greasy/fatty meat, and for more tender meat with crispier skin.

If you opt for this step, you should also allow the duck to then rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours before proceeding with the roasting.

Here’s how: bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the duck for 10 minutes if younger, and 30 minutes if older and pastured/free-ranged. Rest in refrigerator for 24 hours. Proceed with recipe.

Instructions

top view of all of the ingredients for making the glaze for the recipe

Get all of your ingredients and equipment out. Measure out the ingredients for the glaze.

bowl of softened butter, salt, spices on marble

In a bowl, mix softened butter, salt, spices, herbs. Make a butter paste. If your duck was brined skip the salt!

whole raw duck on foil paper. The duck is covered with a thick paste of butter and spice.

Place the duck on a large sheet of foil. I actually prefer to put the duck on unbleached parchment paper and then on top of the foil, but that is up to you and optional.

whole raw duck on foil paper. The duck is covered with a thick paste of butter and spice as well as fresh thyme and rosemary.

Spread the butter paste on all sides of the duck inside and out. Then add sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary too.

whole raw duck is completely covered in foil paper

Cover with foil and leave it alone for an hour. Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. When oven is hot and ready, uncover the duck and place it onto a roasting pan or baking sheet. Lower the heat to 350° and then bake, uncovered, for the first 30 minutes. Afterwards, cover the duck BREASTS ONLY up with the foil and continue baking until finished.

The breasts should reach 135°F (57°C) to avoid drying out the meat. The thighs and legs should be roasted to 165°F to help break down connective tissue and produce a more tender dish. You can achieve this by keeping the breasts covered with aluminum until the end of cooking before the final broiling step.

pot full of the glaze ingredients ready to be simmered.

As the duck roasts in the oven, make the glaze: Mix everything except corn starch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while whisking, and then lower the heat. Dissolve corn starch in a few tablespoons of water and pour into the saucepan. Simmer on low. Once the glaze has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat. (See my notes below for glaze variations and options.)

a fully cooked whole duck ready to be broiled.

For the last 5 minutes of cooking time, uncover the entire duck once again, remove the sprigs of rosemary and thyme and any spices that have not melted off, and broil the skin to a final crispy perfection.

a close up of the crispy duck breast skin as the glaze is being applied with a blue silicone pastry brush

Remove the duck and cover it with aluminum foil (or similar) without touching the skin. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes but preferable up to 30 minutes. This step is optional but it makes for the most perfectly cooked and juicy meat. Brush the duck with glaze and serve.

top view of a roasted whole duck on a white serving platter and a white and grey patterned linen table cloth

Hint: A meat thermometer is really crucial for perfectly done meat. Over cooked duck is dry, rubbery, and tough. I recommend the ThermoWorks ONE for accuracy.

Duck Glaze Variations

One of the best parts of duck is that the richer meat pairs so well with so many different sauces and glazes. Fruits like orange, fig, apricot, raspberry, blueberry etc go very well with duck. Here are some options for you to explore. All must be brought up to a boil before the corn starch-water slurry is added at the end and the glaze is simmered until thickened.

Pomegranate Glaze

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Apricot Glaze

  • 1 cup apricot jam or preserves
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or maple sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fruity liqueur of your choice
  • Water or white wine to thin glaze as it simmers, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Brown Sugar & Soy Sauce

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Storage

Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can use any leftover duck meat to make sandwiches like these pesto sliders. The carcass can be frozen for making bone broth when ready.

Top Tip

  • Don’t throw those duck bones away — make nourishing bone broth/stock! And then use the stock to make soup or a delicious risotto with porcini mushrooms, one of my favorite and best recipes.
  • If this is an older pastured and free ranged duck or a wild duck you’ve shot — try hanging and brining the carcass first. You can read about that in my recipe and article on hanging and brining grouse.
  • Try making a smoked whole duck like I show you in my recipe for smoked whole turkey and check out the Thanksgiving section on my blog for more fall favorite recipes like desserts and side dishes.
  • If you’re making an older duck, I do not recommend roasting. Either grind it for sausage or sauce, or turn the breasts into prosciutto, and the legs into coq au vin.
a whole roasted duck on a platter on top of a linen tablecloth

Oven Roasted Crispy Whole Duck & Figgy Orange Glaze

This simple oven-roasted crispy duck recipe demystifies the entire process and takes you through, step-by-step, to an impressive, delicious, and easy final result. The fig and orange maple glaze is just incredible.
Prep Time: 1 day 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, sunday dinner, thanksgiving
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 100kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

For The Duck

  • 1 whole chilled duck
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (if duck is brined, do not add salt)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon thyme, dried
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 sprig rosemary, fresh
  • 2 sprig thyme, fresh

For The Glaze

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fig jam
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut amino acids
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Instructions

Brining

  • Take your duck and liberally sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt. Loosely cover the duck with parchment or butcher paper and leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This is optional but highly recommended.

Boiling

  • This is not strictly necessary but an optional step: after brining (if doing the brining step) bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the duck for 10 minutes if it is a younger duck, and 30 minutes if older and also pastured/free-ranged. Rest in refrigerator uncovered for 24 hours. Proceed with recipe.

Oven Roasting & Glaze

  • Get all of your ingredients and equipment out. Measure out the ingredients for the glaze. Duck does not need to be brought to room temperature and can keep in the fridge until you are ready to season it.
  • In a bowl, mix softened butter, salt, spices, herbs. Make a butter paste. If your duck was brined skip the salt!
  • Put your duck on a large sheet of aluminum foil paper large enough to wrap it entirely. I actually prefer to put the duck on unbleached parchment paper first and then on top of the foil, but that is up to you and optional.
  • Spread the butter paste on all sides of the duck inside and out. Then add the sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary.
  • Cover with foil completely and leave it alone for an hour. Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. When oven is hot and ready, uncover the duck and place it onto a roasting pan or baking sheet. Lower the heat to 350° and then bake, uncovered, for the first 30 minutes.
  • After the 30 minutes are up, cover the duck BREASTS ONLY back up with the foil and continue baking until finished.
  • The breasts should reach 135°F (57°C) to avoid drying out the meat. The thighs and legs should be roasted to 165°F to help break down connective tissue and produce a more tender dish. You can achieve this by keeping the breasts covered with aluminum until the end of cooking before the final broiling step.
  • As the duck roasts in the oven, make the glaze: Mix everything except corn starch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while whisking, and then lower the heat. Dissolve corn starch in a few tablespoons of water and pour into the saucepan. Simmer on low. Once the glaze has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat. 
  • For the last 5 minutes of cooking time, uncover the entire duck once again, remove the sprigs of rosemary and thyme and any spices that have not melted off, and broil the skin to a final crispy perfection.
  • Remove the duck and cover it with aluminum foil (or similar) without touching the skin. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes but preferable up to 30 minutes. This step is optional but it makes for the most perfectly cooked and juicy meat. Brush the duck with glaze and serve.

Notes

A meat thermometer is really crucial for perfectly done meat. Over cooked duck is dry, rubbery, and tough. I recommend the ThermoWorks ONE for accuracy but there are many options out there to choose from.
  • Don’t throw those duck bones away — make nourishing bone broth/stock! And then use the stock to make soup or a delicious risotto with porcini mushrooms, one of my favorite and best recipes.
  • If this is an older pastured and free ranged duck or a wild duck you’ve shot — try hanging and brining the carcass first. You can read about that in my recipe and article on hanging and brining grouse.
  • Try making a smoked whole duck like I show you in my recipe for smoked whole turkey and check out the Thanksgiving section on my blog for more fall favorite recipes like desserts and side dishes.
  • If you’re making an older duck, I do not recommend roasting. Either grind it for sausage or sauce, or turn the breasts into prosciutto, and the legs into coq au vin.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.05g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 561mg | Potassium: 256mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

FAQ

Should you boil a duck before roasting?

You don’t have to. But boiling a duck before roasting for 10 minutes renders out excess fat and makes for very crispy skin. If you find that your duck is too fatty for your liking, next time try this: bring a very large pot of water to boil, place the entire duck inside the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Carefully take out the duck, allow it to cool on a wire rack, then proceed with your recipe.

How do you cook duck so it’s not tough?

Dry brine your duck for 24 hours in the refrigerator, loosely covered, before roasting and make sure to omit any salt in the recipe you’re using if brining. Make sure you’re not over cooking the duck and use a meat thermometer. The breasts should reach 135°F (57°C) to avoid drying out the meat. The thighs and legs should be roasted to 165°F to help break down connective tissue and produce a more tender dish. You an achieve this by keeping the breasts covered with aluminum until the end of cooking before broiling them.

What Flavours go well with duck?

Sweet and sour flavors pair perfectly with the richer, stronger, more decadent duck meat. Think apricots, cranberry, fig, orange, maple, brown sugar, berries like raspberries, blueberries, apple butter etc.

What’s the best eating duck?

Muscovy or Pekin ducks is what you will be buying from most grocery stores and farms. They are white fleshed and faster growing breeds that are not greasy. For heritage breeds, the Saxony, Silver Appleyard, and Cayuga are incredible and the breeds I raise here for my family.

What vegetable goes well with duck?

Any starch like potatoes — roasted, mashed, scalloped, even french fries. Braised mushrooms in wine, garlic, and fresh herbs. Caramelized onions. Cranberry sauce. Roasted or grilled vegetables like carrots and asparagus or zucchini.

What does duck taste like?

Duck meat is incredibly rich and delicious. It is nothing like turkey or chicken, so if you’ve never had it before, you’re in for a decadent treat. The taste can be a bit like pork crossed with red meat. It has a natural savory and smoky flavor that is irresistible.

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Food Safety

  • Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
  • Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
  • Wash hands after touching raw meat
  • Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
  • Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove

See more guidelines at USDA.gov.

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