Cuisine Fiend

roast duck with spice rub

Sun, 20 December, 2015


Crisp skin, tender meat, never dry, not too huge, self-basting, spiced and glazed - whole roast duck with a rub-a-duck spice rub!

Roast duck

Poultry roasts are the best

Roast birds are everyone's favourites. I believe a roast chicken to have been the most common request for last supper on death row and not surprising: it brings thoughts of Sunday lunches, family and home cooking. Roast turkey - obviously, Christmas; roast goose - ditto only posh, at least these days; roast game birds - a delicacy

Roast duck for Christmas dinner

Whole roast duck is a fantastic alternative to turkey when there’s not too many of you sitting down to Christmas lunch. You can’t go wrong – it doesn’t go as dry as a turkey might, even if forgotten about for ten minutes too long, in the midst of the pre-lunch bellinis.

It is fatty, which is wonderful as it makes it virtually self-basting. Your roast potatoes may happily sit underneath and crispen into nicest roasties. Duck is patient and can happily wait for the sprouts and puddings to cook without getting too cold. And the best part: you can skip the carving faff and just chop it, bones and all, with poultry shears into portions.

whole roast duck with spice rub

Duck comes in many guises

Duck is probably my favourite meat and it’s so versatile: thinly sliced breast cooked rare, tender confit legs, cassoulet with chunks of the bird amongst beans, aromatic crispy duck in Chinese pancakes and of course duck à l’orange. You can even cure a raw duck breast at home to a sort of prosciutto.

oven ready duck

Don't omit the spice rub

This recipe makes for a wonderful bird: cooked through but not overdone, succulent and flavoursome thanks to the honey and the spices, and very tender. Adjust the cooking time at lower temperature if you have a larger beast: roughly 20 minutes per kilo after the initial blast at high temperature.


I swiped the rub ingredients off Tom Kerridge’s recipe from Delicious magazine. Tom also recommends brining the duck but I skipped it because of all those above listed duck meat's virtues. It will be juicy and tender without brining too. Another one over turkey, you see!

roast duck with spice rub

Servings: 4-6Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 oven ready duck, about 2kg
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 3-4 star anise
  • 1 dessert apple, unpeeled, quartered and cored
  • 100 ml runny honey
  • 50 ml dark soya sauce


Get your duck ideally a day before roasting and keep it unwrapped in the fridge (giblets removed) on a roasting rack. The drier the skin, the more crispy it will end up.

1. Grind the Sichuan pepper in the pestle and mortar; it doesn’t need to be too fine a powder. Add the remaining spices and the salt and mix well. Rub the mix all over the duck, massage it well in using your hands so the skin turns light brown all over. Don’t forget the back and legs. Insert the quartered apples into the cavity with the star anise.

Duck with a spice rub

2. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/gas 9. Set the duck on a roasting rack over a baking tin and cook for 20 minutes at the highest setting. Turn the heat down to 180C/350F/gas 4 and roast for another 20 minutes.

3. Prepare the glaze: bring the honey to the boil in a small pan, when it’s bubbling furiously and has darkened a little, add the soya sauce. Brush the glaze all over the duck and bake for the final 20 minutes, basting again halfway through that time.

4. Remove from the oven, drain the juices from the inside by lifting the duck upright and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Remove the apples and serve alongside the meat. Carve or serve on the bone, chopped with poultry scissors into 6 or 8 portions.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes update


Follow Fiend