Here is a recipe to impress your dinner guests and delight your taste buds - Oven Roast Duck with Cranberry Glaze. If you've never cooked a duck before, don't worry! We're here to guide you through every step of the process.
This whole duck recipe is about simplicity and flavour, combining the rich, succulent duck meat with a tangy, sweet cranberry glaze that beautifully cuts through the richness.
We'll be providing substitutes wherever possible. And to make things even easier, we'll give visual guides along the way so you can be confident you're on the right track.
How to Cook a Roast Duck with Cranberry Glaze
Check out our video slideshow for making perfectly cooked whole duck, a great centrepiece for any special occasion, dinner party or a roast turkey substitute on Christmas day.
Or continue reading for more info, including suitable substitutions.
Let's begin this great recipe by reviewing the ingredients needed for a mouth-watering Oven Roast Duck with Cranberry Glaze that the whole family loves.
We are starting with our star ingredient, the whole duck. We're using a 1.9 kg duck for this recipe, providing a generous serving for about four people. The duck gives us a succulent, rich meat that's unbeatable in flavour.
Duck is not just a Christmas dinner meat. You can buy duck all year around from most supermarkets or butchers. It makes a great alternative to roast chicken.
If using a frozen duck, defrost thoroughly in the fridge before cooking duck in the oven. If you cannot source a whole duck, consider using duck breast or duck legs instead, adjusting the cooking time accordingly.
Duck size serving chart
Here is a easy to read chart showing you what size duck you need to serve your family.
|1.6 kg - 2 kg||3-4|
|2.1 kg - 2.5 kg||5-6|
|2.6 kg - 3 kg||6-7|
Got a big family? You could always cook a turkey crown in the slow cooker and the duck in the oven for extra meat to add to the plates!
Sea salt is vital to seasoning our roast duck. It enhances the duck's natural flavours and helps create crispy duck skin during roasting. Maldon sea salt is our number 1 choice, but any good quality cooking salt will work.
Black pepper adds a hint of spice and depth to our roasted duck. Freshly ground black pepper would give the best flavour, but pre-ground pepper works well too.
Our roast duck recipe includes a few sprigs of fresh thyme stuffed into the duck cavity. As it roasts, this will infuse the juicy meat with a subtle, herby flavour.
If fresh thyme isn't handy, other herbs like rosemary or sage could be used as a substitute.
For the glaze, we're using cranberry sauce. This tangy-sweet sauce pairs beautifully with the rich duck, cutting through the richness and contrasting the savoury roast duck meat.
Follow our recipe to make your own cranberry sauce or buy a jar from the shops.
Don't stress if you don't have every ingredient on the list. Use what you have and make the recipe your own. Salt and pepper are all you need to flavour duck. The other ingredients are optional.
If cranberry sauce isn't to your taste or unavailable, consider alternatives like orange marmalade, chilli jam or balsamic glaze.
Adding hoisin sauce or plum sauce will give it a nice Chinese duck flavour. Chinese five spice is another great addition.
The appropriate equipment ensures that the duck is perfectly cooked with crispy skin. Don't worry if you don't have everything on hand—we'll provide some handy substitutes, too.
Roasting Pan with Rack
A roasting tin with a rack is where our duck will be cooking; it is key to achieving that beautifully crisp skin we all love.
The rack elevates the duck, allowing heat to circulate evenly, and the skin crisps up without getting soggy.
You can use any large, deep baking dish if you don't have a roasting pan with a rack. Make a 'rack' out of rolled-up aluminium foil to raise and cook duck off the base, preventing it from sitting in the duck fat. Or use a small wire rack inside the roasting tin.
Meat Forks or Large Tongs
Forks or large tongs are essential for safely turning the duck during cooking. This helps the duck to cook evenly and achieve an all-around golden-brown colour. Two sturdy wooden spoons can do the trick if you don't have large tongs.
A meat thermometer is crucial to ensure your duck is cooked to perfection. It takes the guesswork out of cooking, letting you know when your duck has reached its safe internal temperature.
If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can make a small cut into the thickest part of the duck. If the juices run clear, your duck is likely done. However, remember that this method is less precise than a thermometer.
Instructions for Cooking Roast Duck
Now that we have our ingredients and equipment sorted let's get cooking this succulent whole Roast Duck with Cranberry Glaze.
Don't worry if this is your first time handling a whole duck; we will guide you step-by-step. It's easier than you think!
Our images feature a 1.9kg Gressingham duck, but any whole duck between 1.6kg and 2kg will work perfectly with the cooking times given.
Remember, the quantity for each ingredient will be found in the printable recipe card, which you can access anytime here.Jump to recipe card for printable instructions and the ingredients.
Before we start, we must prepare our duck. Remove your duck from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before roasting. This will bring it to room temperature, which helps ensure even cooking and optimal results.
Remove the giblets if included. They are not needed for this recipe. You could boil them with herbs and vegetables to make a rich duck stock for another dish or gravy.
Thoroughly pat dry with kitchen paper towels. Removing excess moisture helps the skin crisp up better during roasting.
Once the duck has reached room temperature, preheat oven to 180°C fan / 200°C / 400F/ gas mark 6.
Use a sharp knife to create a diamond pattern, scoring the duck's skin. Do not cut too deep. We don't want to puncture the meat. This step will allow the fat to render and help crisp up the skin.
Also, make an incision at the fold of the duck legs to allow the fat to escape.
Stuff a few sprigs of fresh thyme into the duck cavity for an added depth of flavour.
Season the duck skin generously with sea salt and black pepper on both breast side and underside. Don't be shy with the seasoning.
The right oven temperature is key to achieving a perfectly roasted duck that's crispy duck skin on the outside and succulent on the inside. Set your oven to 180°C if you're using a fan oven or 200°C / 400F/ gas mark 6 for a conventional one.
Roast Duck Cooking Time
Once your duck is seasoned and you've preheated oven, place duck breast side down on the rack in a roasting pan and put it in the oven.
Remember, the cooking times on this blog are for a 1.6kg- 2kg duck. See the cooking time chart below if cooking a larger duck.
Roast the duck breast side down for 40 minutes.
After this time, take the duck out of the oven (be careful, it's hot!) and turn it over so the breast side faces up, using forks or large tongs. Return the duck to the oven and roast for another 40 minutes.
Duck Cooking Time Chart
Ducks, like families, come in various sizes, and we're here to guide you through the cooking process, whether you have a small 1.6kg duck or a larger one up to 3kg.
Our easy-to-use chart provides clear cooking times based on your duck's weight.
|Size of Duck||Cook Breast |
|Cook Breast |
|Optional - Add Glaze|
|1.6 kg - 2.0kg||40 minutes||40 minutes||Final 10 minutes|
|2.1kg - 2.5kg||50 minutes||50 minutes||Final 10 minutes|
|2.6kg - 3kg||60 minutes||60 minutes||Final 10 minutes|
For optimal glazing, add your chosen sauce or condiment over the duck during the last 10 minutes of cooking when the excess fat has melted from the now crispy skin roasted duck!
This ensures that the flavours blend into the skin without any risk of burning, resulting in an enhanced and delightful taste for the dish.
Cranberry sauce worked beautifully for serving this duck as a main course on Christmas day.
You could roast a duck with other sauces, condiments, and spices to suit the occasion. Let others know in the comments what you use to help give inspiration.
Cooked Duck Temperature
A meat thermometer is handy to ensure your duck is perfectly cooked. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the duck, avoiding the bone.
The duck is done when the thermometer reads 75°C (167°F). If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can make a small cut at the thickest part. The juices should run clear.
Finally, after your duck has reached the correct internal temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a more flavorful and moist roast duck.
After roasting your duck, don't discard the leftover fat in the roasting tray. It is a great idea to use when roasting potatoes and vegetables.
Transform your ordinary roast potatoes into an extraordinary side dish with duck fat. Toss the potatoes in the leftover duck fat. Use the same recipe as we use for our goose-fat roast potatoes.
Your veggies can also benefit from a bit of duck fat. Whether carrots, parsnips, or brussels sprouts, tossing them in duck fat before roasting brings out their natural sweetness, making them tender, caramelized, and simply irresistible.
How to Carve a Whole Roast Duck?
Ensure you have a sharp carving knife and a sturdy fork.
Start with the duck legs - cut through the skin between the body and the thigh.
Pull it away from the body, until the hip joint pops out, then cut through the joint to remove the leg. Repeat with the other leg.
To remove the wings, pull them away from the body and cut through the joint where they meet.
Next, locate the breastbone in the centre of the duck. Make a deep cut along it, then continue to slice downward, following the contour of the bone.
You should be left with a nice, even piece of breast meat. Repeat on the other side of the breastbone.
We like to cut the whole breast into slices to share evenly between the family.
Serve your roast duck with all the sides and drizzle it with a nice rich red wine gravy.
More Roast Dinner Side Dishes
We have so many side dishes on our blog that are simple and delicious.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Roast Duck with Cranberry Glaze
- 1.9 kg whole duck
- Sea salt
- Black Pepper
- Few sprigs of Fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 180°C fan / 200°C / 400F/ gas mark 6. Bring the 1.9 kg whole duck to room temperature about one - two hours before cooking.
- Remove the duck from the packaging and pat it dry. Dry duck skin is essential for a crispy skin. Remove giblets from cavity if included (we do not need them for this recipe).
- Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a criss-cross pattern, on both sides being careful not to cut into the meat.
- Also cut into the leg fold of skin. This will allow the fat to escape and help the skin to crisp up during cooking.
- Add a Few sprigs of Fresh thyme in the duck cavity.
- Season the duck generously with Sea salt and Black Pepper on both sides.
- Place the duck, breast side down on the rack in a roasting tray.
- Cook in the preheated oven at 180°C fan / 200°C / 400F/ gas mark 6. With breast facing down for the following time (depending on size of duck)1.6kg - 2kg - 40 minutes2.1kg - 2.5kg - 50 minutes2.6kg - 3kg - 60 minutes* Please note this is not the total cooking time, just the time before you flip the bird.
- Flip the duck over so the breast side faces up. Then continue to roast the duck for the same time as before.1.6kg - 2kg - 40 minutes2.1kg - 2.5kg - 50 minutes2.6kg - 3kg - 60 minutes
- Optional* 10 minutes before the end of cooking, pour and spread Cranberry Sauce all over the top of the duck with a silicone brush.Read the blog post for other glaze ideas.
- Finish cooking for the final 10 minutes with cranberry sauce on. Place the cooked duck onto a plate and loosely cover it with foil. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes for the juices to redistribute.
- Use the duck fat for cooking your roast potatoes!
- Place the roasted duck in the centre of the platter with the carrots and potatoes.
- Carve duck into 2 legs, 2 wings and 2 breast joints.
- Now carve the breast into thinner slices.
- Serve with the usual roast dinner side dishes.
Roasted Duck Storage
Cooked duck should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly with foil or plastic wrap before being placed in the refrigerator.
Eating leftover duck within three days is important for optimal freshness and taste. You can freeze cooked duck for up to 3 months, but be sure to thaw it completely before reheating.
To reheat your cooked duck, place it in an oven dish. (I like to heat slices in gravy to prevent it from drying out.)
Cook in a preheated oven at 180°C until heated through (time will vary depending on how much you are heating).
You can also microwave the duck, add a splash of water and cover it to prevent it from drying out.
Leftover Duck Recipes
If you have any duck left over, you can use it in various recipes. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next meal:
Italian Style Rice Salad is a vibrant, flavour-packed dish perfect for pairing with duck in the summer.
I love duck paired with our mushroom rice, creating a satisfying and wholesome dining experience.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to using leftover duck. Get creative and share your ideas in the comments below! Happy cooking!
More Poultry Recipes
We have other poultry recipes you may like to try!
The tradition of feasting on poultry during the Yuletide celebrations in the UK has a rich history, tracing back to as early as 1573. While turkey often takes centre stage for Christmas dinner, goose, duck, and pheasant also appear in some households.
You have now successfully cooked a whole Roast Duck with Cranberry Glaze. Congrats!
Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting and trying different flavours and techniques to make this your perfect roast duck recipe.
And don't forget to share your delicious results with us in the comments below! Happy cooking!