Roasted Duck with Cranberry, Orange & Cardamom Glaze

So this is the best roasted duck I have ever made.  Actually, it’s the only roasted duck I’ve ever made!  Now that will either make you run for the hills thinking “why should I listen to this chick, she obviously has no duck roasting experience to impart” or it will make you think “sweet, if she can do it, I can do it!”  And it really is pretty easy.  There are many schools of thought on roasting a duck – I know because I did a lot of research for the best method.  Many of my old school classic cookbooks keep it simple, and just roast it at 425 degrees for a few hours.  But if you dig deeper and Google roasting a duck, you will find many, many, MANY techniques, all claiming to be “the best.”  Some claim that you should boil it first if you want crispy skin, to render out some of the fat.  I wanted to capture all of that luscious ducky deliciousness for future recipes though, so that wasn’t going to work for me.  Some methods were a little extreme, even recommending that you use a hair dryer to blow out your fowl to soft, silky perfection – but I draw the line at styling my bird before roasting it.  Just…NO.

In all of that insanity though, there were a few common things that everyone seemed to agree on:

1)  Trim the excess skin and fat – check.
2)  Score or pierce the skin all over so the fat can escape leaving behind a crispy skin – can do.
3)  Flip it at least once to cook it evenly – sounds legit.

Sounds easy, right?  And it should have been….oh how it should have been.  But…NO.  Oh the roasting of the duck was easy, it was the duck-tastrophe that occurred when I went to take it out of the refrigerator this morning that ruined my day.  There is a lesson here people, and it is this:  Never trust meat packaging to be secure!  There must have been a hole in the wrapper somewhere, because when I opened the fridge this morning, the duck had thawed and leaked bloody duck juice everywhere.  And I mean EVERYWHERE!  The inside of my fridge looked like a slaughterhouse.  So I had to pull everything out, toss some produce that got contaminated when the juice leaked through the shelf and into the crisper, and then bleach my entire refrigerator.  It was awesome….NO.

I thought I had it all cleaned out, and then MORE duck blood started leaking from inside one of the channels (I don’t even know how it got IN there!) that holds the shelving – right onto the bottom shelf and crisper that I had already taken all apart and cleaned!  I had even sacrificed a mostly new toothbrush to scrub out the tiny little corners!  All the while I can hear Gordon Ramsey’s voice in my head, like I’m on my own personal episode of Kitchen Nightmares.  Here’s a tip for you – when cleaning out your fridge, start at the top and work your way down people!  Otherwise you may have to start over, which is more than mildly irritating. You can take my word on this.

Meanwhile, my phone keeps ringing, and people are trying to talk to me and I don’t want to be rude, so I’m answering questions and making decisions, but I really just want to scream maniacally “I’M COVERED IN DUCK BLOOD, I’LL HAVE TO CALL YOU BACK!!!!” and hang up.  I think people should cut you some slack in a situation like that, but maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, my fridge is SUPER clean now, which is awesome, and totally made it all worth it…NO.

So finally, after that duck-bacle, I got around to prepping the bird.  First I removed the organs and neck, then I rinsed it inside and out.  I patted it dry, then trimmed the excess fat, skin and tips of the wings, and stuffed it all inside the bird.  After that I scored the skin all over with a sharp knife.  Fun fact:  Ducks have really thick skin.  This is good because they are unlikely to become offended while you mutter unflattering things about them, their leaky packaging, their questionable parentage and other rude things while preparing them.  But it does require a pretty sharp knife to get through, so make sure you have one on hand.  Also, be careful not to cut all the way through the skin and into the meat.

Next, rub kosher salt all over the inside and outside of the bird.  I would have trussed it but I was still irritated, so I irreverently left it splayed out.  But YOU should at the very least tie the legs together with twine, which results in a more attractive finished look if you’re serving it whole.    I have a real roasting pan with a rack somewhere in storage in my shed, and I was originally planning to go out and get it this morning, but again, still irritated so….NO.  Instead, I tossed it, (breast side down – more on that later), into a foil roasting pan (which actually made pouring the fat out later really easy, because I just molded it into a spout for pouring) and it was ready to go into the oven.

Roast the duck (approximately 6lbs, adjust cooking time for a larger or smaller bird) as follows:
1)  Roast for 30 minutes (breast side down) @ 325 degrees (F)
2)  Turn oven down to 300 degrees (F) and roast for 60 minutes (what it looks like after step 2)


3)  Flip your duck and pierce skin all over (again) with a fork or knife
4)  Roast for 30 minutes @ 300 degrees (F)
5)  Remove duck from oven, brush with glaze (recipe below)
6)  Return to oven and roast at 425 degrees (F) for 15 minutes
7)  If not crispy enough, broil for 2 minutes, keeping close watch so it doesn’t burn
8)  Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving with remaining sauce.

When in doubt, test your duck for doneness with a meat thermometer – it should register 165 degrees at the thickest part of the leg or breast.  The meat was juicy and tender, while the skin was crispy and sweet from the glaze – I’ll be making this one again for sure!  But next time I’ll put it inside a bowl while I’m thawing it in the fridge!

Cranberry, Orange & Cardamom Glaze


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 5 cardamom pods or 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbl granulated sugar substitute
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum


  • In a small saucepan, bring the water, cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and cardamom to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Mash the cranberries with a fork to release the juice. Stir in sugar substitute until dissolved. Strain out the solids and set aside, removing cardamom pods if using. Add the orange extract and xanthan gum to the liquid and stir until slightly thickened. Brush the liquid onto the duck in the last 15 minutes of roasting (see roasting instructions above.) Stir the solids back into any remaining glaze, and serve it alongside the cooked duck.

Approx nutrition info for a four ounce serving of duck with 2 Tbl of sauce:
393 calories, 32g fat, 2g net carbs, 22g protein


  1. says

    I empathize with the bloody-refrigerator-brou-ha. I once groggily staggered into my kitchen to find a puddle of blood/meat juice on the floor in front of the refrigerator, complete with doggie footprints where they must have danced in it. Sigh. I can’t even remember what I was defrosting, though it must have been LARGE to have that much juice. So, I had to scrub everything, toss things, and even move the refrigerator to clean under it. No, it won’t happen again. I DO NOT allow defrosting meat without a bowl/pan/catchment basin of some sort. I am a refrigerator tyrant.

  2. Jakelilydad says

    I’ve done that juice jam (the blood Bolero? the raw meat mambo?)in my fridge, too. Usually when I have no time for anything except having to get the meat in the oven RIGHT NOW! But the good news is that now you have all that yummy duck fat to play with, and duck to eat, too. Love it, and cranberry is the perfect complement to it, too. My sister and I discovered the advantage of cooking a christmas goose breast side down by mistake one year, and have done it that way ever since – keeps the breast meat juicy.

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