Crispy Roast Duck

Recently, US Wellness Meats, our go to online grass fed meat vendor, came out with a new line of pastured duck offerings. If you know us, you know that this was extremely good news. We’ve been looking for a good duck source for a while. We particularly love duck fat, using it almost as much as we use lard. Anything from French fries to chicken is improved if you rub a little duck fat on it!

Additionally, we had never quite mastered roasting a duck before. We’ve tried browning on the stovetop and we’ve tried to use high heat. But if I were to be completely honest, I’ve never quite been able to get the crispy skin that duck is known for. So, US Wellness Meats whole duck sitting next to me, I did some research. I did hours of research, frankly.

And in the end, I think I may have actually made a real Crispy Duck with Orange Tarragon Sauce that I can be proud of! Want to see?

Crispy Roast Duck by PaleoParents

By the way, the trick here is to get the skin as dry as possible so that it fries in it’s own fat, rather that steam in the moisture. You must do everything you can to make this happen. Pack it with gauze overnight. Use a hairdryer on it. Put it next to your furnace. It doesn’t matter how, just get it dry!

The other secret is not to overcook the duck. If you hit 165 degrees on your duck, you need to take it our, regardless of how crispy your skin is. Dry, overdone duck can’t be saved by any sauce I can devise, I promise you that!

Crispy Roast Duck with Orange Tarragon Sauce

Crispy Roast Duck with Orange Tarragon Sauce

Serving Size: 4-6


  • 1 whole duck, about 5lbs
  • zest of one orange
  • salt and pepper
  • Hardy vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, mushrooms
  • 1 C fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP tarragon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Unwrap and dry your duck as much as possible.
  3. Score the skin on the breast with a sharp knife in a 3/4" diagonal crisscross pattern. Penetrate only the skin, not the meat.
  4. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and orange zest until covered completely.
  5. Leave cavity empty (putting aromatics in the cavity will only add moisture to your duck).
  6. Tie legs together with butcher's twine.
  7. Place bird on roasting rack set in at least a 13"x9" baking dish. Raised sides are important as there will be a lot of fat!
  8. Roast breast side up for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
  9. Turn duck over to breast side down and roast for another 40 minutes.
  10. Remove duck from the oven and strain the accumulated fat into a storage container. You will want to use the duck fat later!
  11. Place your veggies (we used carrots and mushrooms) under the roasting rack and toss with salt and pepper.
  12. Return duck to the over, breast side up, and roast a final 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  13. While duck is roasting, prepare your sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together orange juice and honey until honey melts and is incorporated.
  14. Add garlic and tarragon and simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

And if you’re not up for roasting a duck yourself, you can also go to US Wellness Meats to buy a tub of white gold. Duck fat, that is.


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  • Marie_S

    Yum! We just butchered a bunch of ducks, unfortunately they are Muscovy and not near as fatty as normal ducks, but still tasty. I will have to try this recipe next, it sounds delicious!

  • livingsatisfied

    I’ve never attempted duck, but this will definitely stay on my radar when I go to the grocery store next

  • Janet

    I first time I cooked a duck was years ago after getting a vertical roaster. I followed a tip from the Frugal Gourmet based on how the Chinese cooked what we call Peking Duck. That was to first pour boiling water over it to render out some of the fat before cooking. Then I covered it with some herbs and threw it into the oven. The makers of the vertical roaster recommend cooking for the first 15 min at 450º, then to lower the oven to 350º before raising it back up to 450º for the last 10 minutes. Total cooking time was 15 min for every 1 pound of bird. It came out great. All dark meat, my favorite part of the bird and not too greasy.

  • darlene

    I read somewhere that they blew pressurized air between the skin and meat of the duck and sat it in the refrigerator over night so that the skin would dryout…. I would assume that the herbs, etc., would be put on at the time it was put in the refrigerator. ok.. now, I’ve never tried it, and would hate for someone to waste a duck

  • Katie JCMercyGrace

    In this picture, under the duck are they simply greens, like spinach which were blanched or boiled??