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41 responses to “Roast Wild Duck”

  1. Peter

    I want to try that slow 30 at 300. I remember many years ago my host telling me he was going to cook our ducks as he always did, at least 30 minutes. I resigned myself to the gloomy thought that tender shoe leather would be the outcome, that no duck should stay in an oven that long. I poured me another glass of wine. But, miracle of miracles, the ducks came out just as you said!

    But who in this world prepares a whole snow or Ross’s when they are that hard to pluck? Nope, they come under the scalpel with me, saving breasts. legs, livers, hearts and gizzards. Have not yet tried tongues

  2. Linda

    With these cooking times, stuffing seems a near impossibility. Any thoughts on how to include the stuffing (including sausagemeat), maybe by pre-cooking? Am making wild duck (hopefully stuffed) for dinner tomorrow so any tips ASAP will be gratefully received.

  3. Chris

    I found your website two weeks ago after shooting my first duck (male Hooded Merganser). I decided to try this roasted duck recipe to see how it would taste. Interesting. It had a strong smell as it cooked (fishy?). I’m guessing it has to do with it’s diet. Anyway, I was hoping for that crispy skin and tender breast, but you’re right about the compromise. The taste was strong, but not overwhelming. I also had a hard time getting the internal temperature up to 145F after 20 minutes even with the oven at 520F.
    Great site! I’ll be stopping by often.


  4. Joel

    I thought the same thing about the Hooded Merganser! Kudos!!
    I would just add for those starting out.. I like to get all the stuff out of the body cavity when dressing a roasting duck by splitting it down the back,(once its plucked and singed)from neck to tail, clean out the kidneys/lungs from the ribs etc and it still looks great roasted breast side up. Hank, you’re doing the world of new hunters a big favor with this blog. Whats the point if its not good to eat? Am I the only one who uses a propane torch to singe after dry plucking?

  5. Linda


  6. J.G.Hovey

    Thank you for posting this. I may be going out duck hunting for the first time this year, and I love well-made duck… problem is, I have little experience making duck and the few times I bought it I borked it. But your advice seems solid and I’m excited to try it.

    One comment I have about the fishy taste of mersangers, is I wonder if a better result would be had if mersangers were treated as a fish dish. I love squid in thai curry (it has to be the Maesri brand for me, and if I wasn’t using squid I was using chicken). I also loved eating fish stews in Japan (where the heads of the fish stared at you and the shells were all attached to everything), canned sardines in oil with olives, etc… But I’m not really sure what is referred to as a fishy taste… sometimes that means an ammonia taste, as in rotting fish?

  7. geofowl

    Hank –

    Agree with you regarding roasting a Giant Canada, not good…I do have a question tho’, do have a method for rendering fat from a skinned goose (or fat mallard for that matter)? With our liberal Canada goose limit it seems a shame to lose all that fat to skinning.

  8. Pavel

    Thank you for posting these guidelines. In them you mention a number of species of duck and goose that I take are North American. Coming from the other side of the pond, however, I was wondering what you think is the best way of cooking a greylag of around 4lbs. Is that considered a small bird that is, therefore, suitable for roasting whole or should one remove the breasts halfway to stop them overcooking?

  9. Devin

    I like to throw my oven over to high broil for the last couple minutes…does wonders to crisp that skin up right at the end.

  10. hallucigenia

    For those wishing to start such a recipe but have a bird that’s too fat, the trick used in both Cantonese (shao ya) and Peking/Beijing duck roasting technique is to blanch the duck for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water before glazing and roasting it. Haven’t done this myself but it’s probably worth a try.

  11. Nancy Rifkind

    My son shot us a nice goose today. His father insists that it is not safe to eat the skin in a wild bird as all the toxins are held in the fat. We live on Long Island NY a suburb of NYC. I guess it is probably not the most pristine environment but it is not in Times Square either. They are non-migrating birds. What does anyone think? It is air drying in the fridge to cook in 4 days. Help, I need answers soon!

  12. Erin

    I’m glad I your website! My girlfriend shot a couple of mergansers last season and I don’t have much experience with cooking game meat. I cut it up today and whipped up a marinade for them. It has such a fishy smell! I didn’t know if that was right. I’m making Asian tacos with the mergansers but I look forward to trying the mallard that’s still in the freezer. I’m excited to explore you website more. Thanks!

  13. Mark

    Here is a list of other ducks I won’t shoot because they are hard to eat: all mergansers (though hoodies are the best of a bad bunch, golden eye, spoonies (northern shoveler), all sea ducks: eider, scoter etc. We take occasionally under duress: scaup and wigeon. Big canadas are a favorite because we don’t have to pluck, just breast to make jerky and heavily marinated satay out of the breast, and save up the legs and thighs to crock pot into “pulled goose” sandwich meat.

  14. Nissa

    As far as cooking fish ducks goes they are certainly stronger than a good Mallard but I have found that a good strong marinade will make them palatable. I use mine in a peanut sauce stir fry with soy sauce, ginger, red pepper, and peanut butter. This combination actually makes for a terrific flavor. If you do pull down a Merganser, Goldeneye, of Bufflehead I would give it a try.

  15. Alex

    For mergansers use above recipe in a cedar plank. Pull out of the oven, discard the duck and eat the cedar plank! You’ll be better off than eating a merganser.

  16. Ryan

    When it comes to the stronger tasting divers like mergansers I’ve had some great success with simply breasting the birds slicing up some garlic cloves tossing that into a pan with some olive oil or butter. Pepper salt or something like an all seasoning mix. Adding some sweet red wine to the pan as well. I’ve dished up coot breasts in a similar fashion and merganser for guests and no one was the wiser. No fishy taste not overly gamey. The wine is cheap concord Mogan David nothing special and it definitely does not over power the bird. I decided to get brave one day and try eating mergs and coot. I wanted to know if they were as truly awful as their reputation defined them to be and I was pleasantly surprised as were those who ate them with me.

  17. Robert

    Forgot the celery stalks at the market last night. We substituted sliced red onion. Put them back in the oven to fry in the fat while the pintail rested. Worked out great! Thanks Hank, you’re my new hero!

    P.S. Duck, Duck, Goose was on the display/resource table at the CDFW Advanced Hunter Ed Game Care & Cooking Clinic that was in Santa Clara County in September.

  18. Roy Harsch

    Mergancers and Coot are not ducks and they have wildly differing diets. I was raised that if you shoot it you eat it or give it to someone ready to eat who will eat it. As a young boy the urge to shoot something when the duck hunting was slow was hard to contain. Now a Mergancer is a mistake looking into the sun. Finding anyone who would or will take a Mergancer and actually eat it was impossible so I learned to eat them. Coot on the other hand were welcome by some people as they were by our family. Breasts marinated and then sauted and served rare with a sprinkle of sauted onion or shallots. Legs and gizzards went into the gumbo pot. Mergancers, marinated and then deep fried were tolerable. Shot some Buffies layout hunting a week or two ago in Door County, Wisconsin. These were the fattest wild ducks I have ever cleaned even the body cavities were full of fat. How would they fare sauted in your duck breast receipe? In the midwest spoonies seem to run about 10 good tasting to 1 that has a “foul” taste. With their numbers increasing they make a good addition to the hunt as they decoy nicely,and my lab is more than willing to retrieve them.

  19. I.Shaw

    Absolutely love some advice, love helping people cook their game,Their is a few other game bird’s partridge,pheasant,grouse & caper, also do red dear, roe dear which is abundant,all over most parts of Scotland. All types of trouts & salmon,also an intruder the grey squirrel as a starter its most lovely

  20. B. Bean

    Hoolio’s (mergansers), goldeneye, buffs and other “meat eating fowl” can be done into a pate’. We generally boil with onion, garlic and celery in a large pot. Remove the breasts to a cutting board and dice. Place into a blender with sour cream, chives, a bit of rosemary, salt, pepper, cream cheese, and Tony Cachere’s creole seasoning. Process together into a paste. Remove and put in the fridge to cool. Serve with melba toast and beer.

  21. lana long

    I’ve been admiring and using your site and recipe advice for a few yrs now. I absolutely can read until bedtime. A true renasaise man. I am the gal amongst many hunters of all types of game from all over the world. Yes I sometimes travel and hunt with them. But mostly end up getting something from freezer and consulting your vast knowledge and very interesting take on the adventure and lure. Thanks. You are my found jewel. Lana jo long Paducah Ky.

  22. Kurt

    Hank I’ve been following this site for about a year now and finally shot a duck other than a mallard( I’m in Northern Illinois) and they happened to be a pair of Buffleheads. I plucked them whole since they’re small and aged them a few days. Couldn’t find much on specifically cooking buffleheads but i think I’m going to give this high heat whole roasted recipe a try just to get an idea of how they taste so i can figure out how to cook them for next time. Any tips that you would recommend?

  23. Jesse

    You can bleed out those fishy birds for about 3-4 days in the fridge in a big bowl of water ….changing out water often ……. Works best when you cut up duck i

  24. Joey B

    Do you need to age Wild ducks in a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days before you cook them ? Also is this the same for Venison before you cook it.?

  25. Staci Keith

    Thank you for this great recipe. I have never cooked duck before and with your help it turned out great. The only thing different I did was brush the skin with butter and garlic before putting it under the broiler for 2.25 minutes. Thanks again.

  26. David

    Ok. Just plucked and torched my first duck and then gutted it. What will happen if you roast a whole duck and you haven’t gotten out every little bit of the little bits and pieces inside? I have rinsed them well and only clear water is coming out, but there is still some connective type tissue inside.

  27. Donald Readenour

    Want crispy skin and meat cooked to your liking? Use a propane torch to finish the skin after cooking. Cooks nicely without any residues or unwanted tastes. I cook steaks in a sous vide cooker and before I serve them, I sear them with my torch. Perfect inside and out!

  28. JT

    I followed this recipe for a half dozen Central Valley wigeon that got passed to me because no one wanted to eat them at the club. Amazing meal. Won’t pan-fry or sear again.

    Thank yall!

  29. Clint S

    First off, wanted to say thanks. I was given hunt gather cook awhile back and it’s great reference in the kitchen… But I was wondering your thoughts on this recipe with a sandhill crane? Its bigger then a small goose, and not nearly as fatty as one either. I was thinking maybe 450 for an hour, but idk, curious what u thought? Thanks*

  30. mathew mielke

    I’m located in southeast alaska and we get a good mix of sea ducks in with the mallards and teal. I know a lot of people avoid them because of the strong fishy smells but i’ve had good success with breasting them and letting the meat rest for a day in a simple brine in the fridge. If the flavor is still too much, try soaking in tomato juice then adding creole seasoning and a light smoke.

  31. Rob S

    Hank: Thanks for posting this recipe. I have only ever slow roasted ducks until now. I tried this out the other day with pretty good results. The 145 internal temp was just a little underdone for my liking, but that is an easy fix.

    The biggest trouble I had was a house full of smoke. The fat dripping from the birds into the pans smoked quite a bit. Is there a way to prevent this?


  32. Tommy

    I have been going duck hunting with my dad for years and i have learned a couple of GREAT recipes along the way. As I went to college and moved away from home, my trips home have never included enough time to get a full blown “How to roast a duck” instruction. So i used this. And it went SO well. I use an orange instead of a lemon. I squeeze half of it on with about 5 min left in cooking time so that i still get the flavor while still getting the crispy skin from a dry bird on the way in. I haven’t had much luck with the sauce, the celery seems to absorb most of the “juice” but there’s enough moisture left in the bird that it was perfectly good without a sauce. Serve with boiled-then-broiled potatoes and garlic covered asparagus and you’ve got yourself a feel-good meal that will impress the hell out of your friends and yourself! GO YOU!

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