Crispy 3 Day Duck


If roasting a whole duck sounds intimidating, do not fear.  This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve made in a long time.  There are only 7 ingredients, and you can even omit the apple, and basting liquid, which would leave you with 3 ingredients if you don’t count salt.

Backstory:  A few weeks ago we went to Warzawa restaurant here in Santa Monica with three friends of ours, two of whom are a married couple of eastern european origin — he is Polish; she has Romanian and Serbian roots. Everybody except me ordered the half roasted duck, which was reputed to be the star of the menu.  The only duck I have ever eaten is the little Peking duck dim sum sandwiches at Yank Sing in San Francisco, a fairly safe way to get your duck . . . that is, a tiny piece of duck in a tasty little package.  But as my dining companions were digging into their duck so adamantly that the dinner conversation completely halted, I decided I had to try the real thing, and boy was it delicious.  I was a little intrigued as to how the chef achieved such a crispy exterior to the duck, as it tasted to me like it may have been lightly floured and deep fried after being roasted!  Anyhow, after the dinner, my husband lamented that he got a very small half duck in comparison to the other diners, with very little meat.  So I vowed to make a whole duck for him so he could have ample meat.

Warzawa's Roasted Duck

Warzawa’s Roasted Duck

As I was researching roast duck on the internet and in my cookbooks, I found that in order to achieve a crisp skin, duck is often dried in the refrigerator uncovered, or hanging upside down in a “cool drafty place,” or with a hair dryer.  I opted for the refrigerator method.  The cooking technique involves roasting the duck first at 450 degrees, then pricking the skin, then finishing for an hour at 350 degrees.

I must say that the duck turned out to be very delicious, even if not as shatteringly crisp as at the restaurant.  The skin was crispy and the meat was uber-moist and flavorful.  I will need to beg the chef for his secret tips but in the meantime, this recipe is a winner . . . and as a bonus you get a boatload of beautiful duck fat which is God’s gift to potatoes.  Trust me on this one!

For this recipe I purchased a disposable “foil” roasting pan so that I didn’t have to mess with cleaning a roasting pan full of duck drippings.  If your budget permits, this is a good move.  Roasting the duck will produce a lot of smoke in the initial 30 minutes of high heat cooking, and plenty of splattering, but on the upside your kitchen will smell divine.

IMG_5888 IMG_5894 IMG_5898 IMG_5902

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 (4 – 6 lb) Long Island Duck. (This is the most common type of duck sold in the US.  This recipe will not work with other kinds of duck.)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon each onion and garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 apple, peeled and coarsely chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tbps soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbps red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar


  1. 3 days before you plan to cook the duck, prepare it for drying. Remove everything that is inside the cavity of the duck, including any large pieces of fat. Rinse the duck inside and out with filtered water, and dry thoroughly. Place the duck on a rack in a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Place the uncovered duck on a refrigerator shelf and let dry for 3 days.
  2. Put one rack in your oven in the second lowest position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan that is at least 2 inches deep. The duck will release a lot of fat, so it is important that the roasting pan is deep enough to avoid any spillage.
  3. Mix the salt, garlic and onion powder, and thyme together, and rub this mixture all over the duck inside and out. Stuff the duck with the apple pieces. Cook for 30 minutes. You will want to turn the fan on.
  4. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, pour the duck fat into a large heatproof bowl, return the rack to the pan and place the duck on the rack. Pierce the skin of the duck all over with a large fork.
  5. Return the duck to the oven, and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Cook for 1 hour. After 15 minutes baste the duck with a pastry brush, with the mixture of soy sauce and vinegar.  Continue to cook for 45 more minutes.  Remove the duck from the oven and serve.

20 Comments on “Crispy 3 Day Duck

  1. That looks fantastic! I must try this (I say that every time I see one of your posts!). I’ve roasted duck only a couple of times but I absolutely loved it. I didn’t do anything as wonderful as this with it though. But I did save the duck fat for roasted potatoes!

    • smart move! Thanks for your compliments and I often feel the same . . . . every day I see on blogs the wonderful recipes my friends like you are making and thing “okay, I’m making that tomorrow, or today!” Then I get distracted by some other idea!!!

  2. Your duck looks a little more plump and succulent then the duck from Warzawa! Of course, having the duck drying out in the cold frig for a few days is the way to go…good tip. I will be suspending my duck upside down for a couple of days before roasting next time! Thank you for your great post and recipe.

  3. Oh Sue, that looks fabulous! I haven’t roasted duck for a while but this has me itching to go out and buy one. You are going to have the best roast potatoes for the next little while! Celia over at Lime Tree and Fig Cordial recently posted a recipe for sourdough bread twists using lardo sprinkled with paprika to add a wonderful flavour – I wonder if you could do the same with duck fat…

  4. Fantastic, Sue! This duck looks perfectly crispy to me. I love duck and Jesse loves it even more than I do. Once he sees this post, he’ll want to dry a duck in the fridge for 3 days, too. Did it smell in the fridge? Did you keep the fat drippings for anything?

    • Not much of a smell unless you stick your nose real close to the duck and inhale deeply! Yes I did immediately use the duck drippings to cook the cabbage in. Yum! Thanks for your comments as always!!!

  5. This looks so delicious Sue. I roasted a whole duck for Christmas last year with an Indian spice rub. My kitchen did smell divine 😀 I still have the duck fat in my refrigerator, need to make those potatoes soon 🙂

  6. I’m curious why this method will only work with Long Island/Peking duck? I’ve roasted duck several times to great success though I also like making duck confit with the legs and pan frying just the breast to medium rare. It’s always a nice treat. And I like to use every part.

    • Well the other ducks are much leaner and you could try the same method but the meat won’t be as moist.

      • I usually get Muscovy ducks which are supposedly ‘leaner’ and find that they’re moist enough if not overcooked. And I get lots of fat out of them so it’s not a fat issue. There’s a picture of the raw duck, prior to butchering, at the link below.

      • boy do those ever look healthy and delicious!!!!! Well, I so appreciate you bringing this to my attention because I shouldn’t give false information on my blog. I was just told by the person whose recipe I adapted that it would only work with Long Island Ducks!!! And of course I didn’t try another duck myself, just took her word for it.

      • I’d hate to deny anyone the chance to make this wonderful dish cause they couldn’t get that particular variety of duck, Sue. It looks amazingly dark and crispy. I hope to to make it one day but there are SO many great ways to cook and use duck meat that it has to wait it’s turn. I thought my duck poutine with duck gravy and shredded duck breast was decadent but it’s only the start of what one can do with this versatile protein.

      • whoa! duck poutine that sounds amazing I need to go check out your blog, excuse me for a couple of hours!!!!!

  7. I love duck, but have never made it before. You should make a duck confit next! I had duck confit and sweet potato hash for brunch yesterday. It was soo goood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: