James Beard's Duck Recipe with a Twist

This is the easiest duck recipe you’re likely to encounter (easy and delicious!). I’ve cooked my fair share of chickens and even turkeys, but I’ve never cooked duck before. To be honest, I was always concerned that it would be too much fuss and since duck is pricier than chicken, I wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing before diving in.

A Duck Recipe that’s Easier than You Think!

What I love about this duck recipe is that it’s EASY. No fuss, no muss. Even the seasonings are simple, yet absolute perfection. This is a duck anyone can make!

This duck recipe comes from from James Beard.

Things to Know About Duck

  • You will get less meat per person in a duck than in a chicken and they tend to cost more. If you are on a budget, you could make this recipe with chicken instead of duck.
  • The bone broth you can make with a duck is fantastic – don’t throw away the bones and scraps! Save them, put them in a crock pot or large stainless steel pot and simmer for 3 – 8 hours or overnight. Add 1 TBL apple cider vinegar to help pull the minerals from the bones, so can nourish your body with them when drinking the broth. Add some sea salt (about 2 TBL). Use the broth to drink like tea or as a base for soups. This is a nice way to get amino acids (building blocks of protein or a more easily digestible form of protein), vitamins and minerals in an easy to digest way. It helps add collagen for great skin and some people swear by it to reduce cellulite!
  • Duck fat is wonderful and is easy to get a nice sized jar from this recipe. You can use it to cook eggs, veggies and just about anything you want a nice, rich, savory flavor for. Some of the best Brussels sprouts I ever had were shredded and sauteed in duck fat that Louise made. Now I have my own duck fat, hooray!

Time to Prepare

About 2 hours to bake, including prep and cooling the cooked duck.


4 people


  • One pasture fed duck between 5 – 5.5 pounds (hormone and antibiotic free)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 – 4 oranges or lemons
  • I jokingly call myself a Medieval cook because they used a lot of spices and I often do as well, so it was a joy to taste this duck and see how little spices one needs to make a duck delicious! You can get creative with your spices if you like. Consider adding slices of onion, or cloves of garlic. Or herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme. You could even try paprika, cumin and five spice powder, for an Asian twist.


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Make sure you have a good sized baking pan that will fit the duck and something to hold the duck off the bottom of the pan, so fat drippings can be collected during baking. You can use a bread rack or anything that will keep the duck off the bottom of the pan. Or you can purchase a roasting pan if you think you’ll use it often. I didn’t have one, so thank heavens for Amazon Prime, I ordered one just in time for Barbara to arrive. I got a Chef’s Design brand that was all stainless steel and a fraction of the cost of Cuisinart or All Clad. It’s heavy, but it’s try ply and works beautifully.
  • Cut up the oranges or lemons into quarters.
  • Before putting the duck in the pan, remove the neck and giblets, rinse the duck with water and pat dry with paper towels. Save the neck and giblets to use as you please (they are great for the bone broth, in the notes above). Now squeeze the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, rub it with sea salt and pepper. If you are using herbs or spices, rub them on the duck as well (1 teaspoon of each should be plenty). You don’t have to worry about the amount of sea salt or black pepper, just rub some on and you can add more to taste when serving.
  • Add the squeezed oranges or lemons and the rest into the cavity of the duck (whatever will fit inside). If you are using onions or garlic, place them inside and around the duck as well.
  • Put the duck in the oven and set your timer for 30 minutes..
  • At the 30 minute mark, put on your pot holders and remove the duck from the oven so you can prick the skin. Pricking the skin lets the fat out. We had fun with this part. We each took turns pricking the skin, so we could learn how easy it is. You basically take the tip of a knife and jab the skin in several places all over the top and sides of the duck. You can even prick the bottom a bit if you want. While we didn’t do this, you can also prick the skin a bit more later on, as the duck is roasting.
  • If you love your duck rare, take it out after 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you want it medium, take it out after 1 hour and 30 minutes. We kept it in for 1.5 hours because it’s easier to cut and eat that way.
  • If you want crispy skin, you can increase the heat to 500 degrees for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Once the duck is done, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool a bit. Then take sharp kitchen scissors and cut the duck into quarters. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be — and we did it in just minutes! Now you have 4 equal sized quarters to put on a plate and serve with a side dish of your choice.
  • After the pan has cooled down, pour the fat into a wide mouth jar or glass container with a lid. The fat will solidify to a creamy white or off white, often with some brown stuff at the bottom. You can use this fat for anything you’d need a fat source for, like cooking eggs, adding to a soup or sauteeing vegetables. I like to store mine in the refrigerator and it is still easy to scoop out whenever you need it.

Serving Suggestions

Side dish ideas
  • Cooked Kale or Collards, Steamed Asparagus or Broccoli are all wonderful options.

We had the duck with celery root mashed potatoes and it was fabulous! This style of cooking is fantastic because it’s so easy and that means friends have more time to talk, laugh and share a glass of wine.

Simple is always delicious.




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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!