Festive Christmas Roast Duck sitting on a bed of rocket salad garnished with pomegranate seeds on a wooden board, ready for carving.
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5 from 5 votes

Festive Christmas Roast Duck with Apple Cider Drizzle

An easy roast duck with crispy skin rubbed with Christmas inspired spices and accompanied with a light Apple Cider Drizzle. Easy to make, easy on the wallet, and a fabulous centrepiece for any festive gathering. Unlike other poultry, duck reheats really well - it remains juicy and the skin crisps up wonderfully as well. So this recipe is great to make ahead.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Roasting
Cuisine: Festive
Servings: 10
Calories: 391kcal
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats


  • 1 whole duck (around 2 - 2.5 kg) (if frozen, it must be thawed) (Note 1)
  • 1 onion (brown, yellow or white), unpeeled and quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 whole head of garlic , cut in half horizontally

Spice Rub

  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp All Spice powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 10 grinds black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter , softened (Note 2)

Apple Cider Drizzle

  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock (or duck broth, which is better but more expensive and harder to find)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Note 3)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • Salt and pepper


  • Few handfuls of rocket / arugula leaves
  • 1 pomegranate , halved


  • Preheat oven to 210C/410C.
  • Place the onion, garlic and water in a baking dish, then place a rack on top.
  • Rinse the duck under water, including inside the cavity. Use paper towels to pat dry. Or, if you have the foresight, rinse it the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
  • Place the Spice Rub in a small bowl and mix to combine.
  • Slather the Spice Rub all over the skin of the duck (not inside). Use most of it on the top and sides.
  • Place duck on the rack and put in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180C/350F. The total roasting time (including the initial 20 minutes) should be 40 minutes per 1 kg / 20 minutes per 1 lb of duck.
  • To check if it is done, insert a skewer into the part where the leg meets the breast. If the juice runs clear, it is ready.
  • Remove duck from the oven. Remove duck from the baking tray, loosely cover with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  • Place on a bed of rocket/arugula lettuce. Scatter with pomegranate seeds (Note 4) and serve with the Apple Cider Drizzle on the side.

Apple Cider Drizzle

  • Pour all the fat, juice, onion and garlic in the baking tray through a sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon or potato masher to mush the onion and garlic so you can extract maximum flavour.
  • If there is an excessive amount of fat floating on top of the juices, try to spoon it off (save it for roasting potatoes or vegetables, that stuff is gold!).
  • Pour 1/4 cup of the juices into a small saucepan. Add apple cider vinegar, apple juice, chicken broth and place over medium heat. Bring to simmer and let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until it reduces by about 1/4, then remove from the stove.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Also, adjust tartness and sweetness to your taste with more apple cider vinegar or white sugar.
  • Serve on the side of the duck.


1. You can use a smaller or larger duck. Just adjust the cooking times based on the weight. The roasting time is 40 minutes per 1 kg / 20 minutes per pound. Roast at 210C/410F for the first 20 minutes (to get the skin crisp), then turn down to 180C/350F.
2. You can substitute with salted butter, or margarine. If using salted butter or margarine, reduce the salt in the spice rub to about 3/4 tbsp.
3. Apple cider vinegar can be found in the vinegar and oil section of supermarkets. It is not more expensive than other vinegars. It is less sharp than normal white vinegar.
4. An easy way to extract pomegranate seeds is to hold a pomegranate with the cut side against your fingers (splayed), then smack the pomegranate with a wooden spoon over the duck. The seeds with pop out easily.
5. Duck reheats extremely well, maintaining is juiciness and the skin crisps up well too. To reheat a whole duck, bring it to room temperature then bake in a 180C/350F oven for 20 minutes.
6. This recipe serves 10 as part of multi course meal.
7. The nutrition analysis assumes this serves 10 and does not take into account that most of the fat renders out so you don't actually consume it (the fat accounts for most of the calories). If this is part of a large multi course meal, it will feed around 15 people because duck is so rich, you do not need much.
Festive Duck Nutrition


Serving: 277g | Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.9g | Protein: 50.6g | Fat: 15.8g | Saturated Fat: 1.1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 712mg | Potassium: 99mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 4.2g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 12.4mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg