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The finished Christmas roast duck on a wooden board surrounded by rosemary, cinnamon sticks, sugared cranberries and red flowers.

Christmas Roast Duck With Cranberry-Orange Glaze

Make the holidays special with this Christmas roast duck with cranberry-orange glaze! Featuring perfectly crisp skin and a spiced glaze full of festive flavors, this roast duck adds elegance to your holiday table.
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Recommended Chilling Time Up To 1 day
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 350kcal


  • Kitchen twine
  • Shears
  • Sharp knife
  • Tinfoil
  • Roasting pan with rack
  • Thermometer


For Christmas Roast Duck

  • 1 whole duck innards and gizzards removed
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • Several sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

For Cranberry-Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses not bootstrap
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 garlic clove grated or minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Splash of cold water
  • ½ teaspoon fresh orange zest


  • For Christmas Roast Duck
  • Pat the duck dry with paper towels. Trim off excess fat on the side opposite of the cavity. Place the duck on a sturdy cutting board and score the breast skin using a sharp knife. Cut the skin in a criss-cross pattern but make sure you don't pierce the meat to avoid drying it out. 
  • Stuff the duck cavity with onion quarters, lemon quarters and herbs and tie together the legs. Pat the duck dry one more time with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible and generously sprinkle with salt all over. Place in the refrigerator uncovered for a minimum of an hour but preferably at least eight hours and up to a day to allow for extra crispy skin.
  • Remove the duck 30 minutes before roasting to sit in room temperature and heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a roasting pan with tinfoil and place the rack in the roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting pan, substitute a large baking sheet and a wire rack. Place the duck on the rack. Stir together the paprika, pepper and garlic pepper and rub all over the duck.
  • Roast for 15 minutes in a 425-degree oven, and then turn the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to roast until the duck reaches your desired internal temperature. Plan for at least one hour and 15 minutes. The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 165 degrees, though many chefs prefer duck between 135-145 degrees. In the final 15 minutes, brush the duck with the glaze. 
  • When the duck reaches your desired temperature. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Carve the duck and serve. Enjoy!
  • For Cranberry-Orange Glaze
  • In a small saucepan, stir together the cranberry juice, orange juice, molasses, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger, balsamic vinegar, salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then simmer until it slightly reduces. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and a little bit of cold water until it becomes a smooth slurry. Whisk into the sauce to avoid any clumps forming and bring to a boil. Keep whisking and allow the mixture to boil for about a minute until it thickens. Turn off heat and stir in orange zest. Spoon some of the sauce into a small bowl and brush onto the duck in the last 15 minutes of roasting. Serve the remaining sauce on the side. 



  • If you've never roasted duck and hit the Jump to Recipe button, you might want to scroll up to see photos of scoring the skin. 
  • Make sure the duck is completely thawed before cooking. 
  • While this recipe calls for one duck, you can roast two at a time if your pan is big enough.
  • For full tips, please see blog post.
  • Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


Serving: 1¼ serving of duck | Calories: 350kcal | Protein: 17g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 515mg | Sugar: 20g