Field To Table

Roast Wild Duck

Pinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden Image

Roast Wild Duck is a delicious dish to make after a successful hunt. Use this recipe for mallard, teal, widgeon, gadwall and more.

Sliced roast duck on pewter plate with orange slices.Pin
Roast Wild Duck

Cooking a wild duck is totally different than cooking a domestic duck. Domestic ducks generally have large layers of fat, both on the back and the breast. For this reason you generally want to cook a domestic duck low and slow, to render out that fat.

Save This Recipe form

Want To Save This Recipe?

Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox. Plus you’ll get great new recipes from us every week!

Wild birds, on the other hand, have much less fat and are best cooked at a high temperature, quickly, to medium-rare or medium at the very most. Cooking a wild bird to over medium is a sad affair. You will end up with a tougher than shoe leather piece of meat.

The only way to cook them low and slow is in a moist environment like your crockpot and use it for “pulled” meat, for sandwiches and tacos.

What you need

With only 4 ingredients, it couldn’t be easier.

  • Wild duck- mallard, teal, pintail, black duck, wood duck. You want to choose “puddle ducks” otherwise known as dabblers. Diving ducks, such as, scaup, goldeneye, canvasback, redhead, merganser, etc will tend to tasty ‘fishy’ and are not recommended.
  • celery – just use it for a natural “rack”. You can eliminate it and just use a rack.
  • orange – use a whole juice orange or you could use lemon or lime, as well to change the flavor profile.
  • fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • black pepper
Mallard and wood duck drakes on the water.Pin
Mallard and Wood duck drakes. Photo used with permission www.lauriedirkx.com

How to roast it

This particular bird is a mallard duck. Pluck and dress your duck. Wash out the cavity. Pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel. If your bird is very wet, salt it and let it sit, uncovered in the refrigerator on a rack placed over a roasting pan to collect any juices.

This will not only dry the skin so that it gets crispier but the salt will help tenderize the meat.

It can sit in the fridge for up to two days.

Step One

You want to place celery down in the pan to make a natural rack for the bird to sit on.

If you think of the celery as a crescent, the tips of the crescent will touch the cast-iron pan.

Celery laid in a cast iron pan.Pin
Place celery ribs in your pan with the tips of the ‘crescent’ down.

Step Two

Cut half of the orange into wedges and the other half in slices, width-wise.

Lay the slices on top of the celery.

Orange cut into wedges.Pin
Cut half of the orange into wedges. Slice the other half width-wise.

Step Three

Place the bird on the celery and orange slices, breast side up. Rub the skin well on all sides with the orange wedges.

Fill duck cavity with celery, carrot, onion, orange wedges and aromatics, if you’d like. A sprig of rosemary, thyme and sage all compliment the duck.

Orange juice rubbed over duck skin.Pin
Rub both sides of the bird well with the orange.

Step Four

Salt and pepper the bird generously.

If you have a thermometer that has probes, safe for use in the oven, place one in the thickest part of the breast and one in the thigh.

Roast at very high heat. 450°F / 205°C to 500°F.

Thermometer probes in the breast meat and thigh meat.Pin
Place thermometer probes in the breast and thighs.

Step Five

Once the breast comes to temperature (140°F / 60°C), carefully remove it from the oven.

Time will depend on the heat of the oven and the size of the bird.

Roasted duck in cast iron pan.Pin
Once the breast comes to temperature, remove from oven.

Step Six

Tent with aluminum foil and let the bird rest for 10 minutes.

Duck tented with aluminum foil.Pin
Tent the duck with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

As is with a turkey, the breast meat of the duck generally gets done faster than the leg and thigh meat.

If the thigh and leg meat isn’t done after the rest, remove them from the carcass. Remove the celery and orange slices from the pan. Using the accumulated fat and drippings in the pan, brown them over medium heat on the stove, to continue to cook the dark meat and crisp the skin, flipping with tongs.

Want to make a gravy? It is truly simple to make a pan gravy with the fat and drippings. Add a tablespoon of flour to the pan. Over medium heat, cook the flour while stirring constantly until it becomes golden brown. Add chicken stock, water or red wine to deglaze the pan. Add a splash of Worchestershire sauce and pepper. Cook until thickened. Serve with roasted duck.

Mallard hen on the water.Pin
Mallard hen. Photo used with permission. www.lauriedirkx.com

How long does it take to cook wild duck?

Depending on the species you are roasting, the duck can take 30 to 60 minutes to roast. Small birds like teal and wood duck will take somewhere around 30 minutes. Large ducks like mallard or canvasback will take between 40 and 60 minutes.

How do you tell if it is done? The only way to tell if the duck is done is with a thermometer. If you don’t have one, get one. (It’s that important!)

Pro tips

  • When you are plucking the duck to remove the feathers, be aware of any bruised areas of meat. This usually indicates that there is bird shot in that spot. Try to remove the shot using needle-nose pliers.
  • If you are used to eating domestic ducks, there is a big difference in the color and texture of this wild game. It is much darker in color and more resembles the texture of liver, the breast and the dark meat. The flavor, on the other hand, is far superior.
  • Since the wild duck cooks for less time, it can be a challenge to get that crispy skin that ducks are known for. Make sure that your oven is very hot. Preheat it for longer than normal.
  • Remove the whole bird as soon as the breast comes to temperature and finish the legs and thighs on the stove top to cook through and crisp up the skin, if needed.
  • When eating the bird, be careful of bird shot. It can easily chip a tooth.
  • If you have a very fatty duck, don’t use this quick cooking method. Use this slow cooked duck instead.
  • Slice the meat thin and serve it on your next charcuterie board. Everyone will love it!
Whole roasted duck on a bed of celery and orange slices.Pin

Side dishes to serve with duck

More wild game recipes

Helpful tools

Whole mallard duck roasted to perfection.Pin
Roasted Mallard

A special thanks to my neighbor Laurie from LaurieDirkx.com for the permission to use these beautiful images of ducks! She is an accomplished and published nature photographer. Check her out!

That’s how easy it is to roast a wild duck. Once you try it, you will save them all in the future.

Connect with us through our social media ages! FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter.

If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.

I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

Binky's signature
Slice duck meat of pewter plate.Pin

Roast Wild Duck

Roast Wild Duck is a delicious dish to make after a successful hunt. Use this recipe for mallard, teal, widgeon, gadwall and more.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $2

Ingredients

  • 1 duck
  • 2 stalk celery
  • 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Pluck and dress duck. Wash well. Pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel. If your bird is very wet, salt it and let it sit, uncovered in the refrigerator on a rack placed over a roasting pan to collect any juices. You can dry age it for up to 2 days.
    1 duck
  • You want to place celery down in the pan to make a natural rack for the bird to sit on.
    If you think of the celery as a crescent, the tips of the crescent will touch the cast-iron pan.
    2 stalk celery
  • Cut half of the orange into wedges and the other half in slices, width-wise. Lay the slices on top of the celery.
    1 orange
  • Place the bird on the celery and orange slices, breast side up. Rub the skin well on all sides with the orange wedges.
    Fill duck cavity with celery, carrot, onion, orange wedges and aromatics, if you’d like. A sprig of rosemary, thyme and sage all compliment the duck.
  • Salt and pepper the bird generously.
    If you have a thermometer that has probes safe for use in the oven, place one in the thickest part of the breast and one in the thigh.
    Roast at very high heat. 450°F / 205°C to 500°F.
    1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt, ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Once the breast comes to temperature (140°F / 60°C), carefully remove it from the oven. This will take 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of your bird and your oven temperature.
  • Tent with aluminum foil and let the bird rest for 10 minutes.
  • As is with a turkey, the breast meat of the duck generally gets done faster than the leg and thigh meat.
    If the thigh and leg meat isn’t done after the rest, remove them from the carcass. Remove the celery and orange slices from the pan. Using the accumulated fat and drippings in the pan, brown them over medium heat on the stove, to continue to cook the dark meat and crisp the skin, flipping with tongs.
See all of my favorite tools and gift ideas on my New Amazon Store!Check out Binky’s Amazon Store!

Notes

Wild duck has way less fat and calories than domestic duck.
How do you tell if it is done? The only way to tell if the duck is done is with a thermometer. If you don’t have one, get one. (Or don’t bother cooking the duck.)
  • When you are plucking the duck to remove the feathers, be aware of any bruised areas of meat. This usually indicates that there is bird shot in that spot. Try to remove the shot using needle-nose pliers.
  • If you are used to eating domestic ducks, there is a big difference in the color and texture of this wild game. It is much darker in color and more resembles the texture of liver, even the breast.
  • Since the wild duck cooks for less time, it can be a challenge to get that crispy skin that ducks are known for. Make sure that your oven is very hot. Preheat it for longer than normal.
  • Remove the whole bird as soon as the breast comes to temperature and finish the legs and thighs on the stove top to cook through and crisp up the skin.
  • When eating the bird, be careful of bird shot. It can easily chip a tooth.
  • If you have a very fatty duck, don’t use this quick cooking method. Use this slow cooked duck instead.
  • Slice the meat thin and serve it on your next charcuterie board. Everyone will love it!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5bird | Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 16.9g | Fat: 3.6g | Saturated Fat: 1.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 228mg | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 3.8mg
Get New Recipes Sent to Your Inbox Every Friday!Sign up to our newsletter Binky’s Culinary Carnival!

Originally published January 11, 2023.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you go to the link and purchase something at no additional cost to you. See FTC Disclosure here.

Similar Posts

10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    great recipe! My roasted duck came out super juicy, I used blood orange instead of regular orange. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    I am always getting meat from my friends who like to hunt! Looking forward to giving this a try next time they bring me some duck! Looks too good to pass up, indeed!

  3. 5 stars
    Oh wow! This roast duck looks absolutely fantastic. I love how you described the differences between handling wild and domestic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating