Spit-Roasted Duck with Orange and Rosemary

A cooked spit-roasted duck with orange and rosemary in the background.

If you’ve only had oven-roasted duck, this recipe just may change your whole opinion of the bird. It comes out so crisp and delicious, with a deeply brown, burnished skin, it’s almost like Chinese roast duck. But to render the fat, you really have to prick the skin all over—fifty times, in fact. Count ’em!–Mario Batali

LC 50 Times Note

It seems 50 isn’t just the number of times one ought to brush one’s hair at night or the number of sheep one may count before becoming even remotely sleepy. It’s also the number of times one must pierce the skin of a duck prior to roasting. We’re not about to argue with any logic that turns out duck skin this crisp.

Spit-Roasted Duck

  • Quick Glance
  • (6)
  • 15 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 6 reviews
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Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for rotisserie cooking over indirect medium heat (or according to the instructions for your grill). Place the drip pan under the center of the spit.

In a small saucepan, combine the marmalade, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into a small bowl to use for basting the duck, and pour the rest into a small serving bowl for passing at the table.

Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat from the duck. Wash the duck and dry it thoroughly both inside and out with paper towels. With a sharp metal skewer, prick the duck skin all over, especially the thighs, 50 times. Season the duck inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Tie the legs together and brush the duck all over with a light coating of the orange-marmalade mixture.

Place the duck on the spit and secure it with the clamps. Attach it to the rotisserie mecha­nism, cover the grill, and cook until the tem­perature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160°F (71°C), 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours, depending on the heat of your grill. About 15 minutes before the duck is done, brush it all over again with more of the orange sauce. When the duck is done, transfer it to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.

Carve the duck and pass the remaining orange sauce on the side.

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  1. This was my first time to cook a duck, let alone this way. I followed the instructions step by step and I had a beautiful and delicious dinner for the family.

    Thank you.

  2. This recipe was one of the greatest culinary joys in my my life. I was home alone when I made the duck and upon tasting this sublime bird, I immediately phoned my wife and friends. The duck was sweet, rich, tender, moist, and slightly tart. I will try and improve this recipe with my special twists, but I believe that will be a wasted endeavor as this challenges perfection. Thank you to all involved in this recipe’s creation, you made me very happy.

    1. Cameron P, you just made our week, our month, maybe our year with your comment! Thank you. Magnificent to hear that this recipe and cooking technique worked so spectacularly for you. This is exactly why we test (and tweak) recipes over and over again before sharing them on our site. So you can have the experience you did. And it’s always nice to hear it! We greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know. We’re seriously grateful.

  3. Fantastic recipe! Made it on the built-in rotisserie on our outdoor grill. We used a smaller duck so it cooked in about 1 hr. Shockingly easy and absolutely restaurant quality!

  4. Hi! I made this awesome recipe on an indoor rotisserie also and keep coming back to it! It is so good and not a lot of work for the impressive results. The sauce is a nice finishing touch. Everyone loves this from grandparents to my four year old(though I tell him it’s chicken for now haha!) Thank you!

  5. Hi I’m responding to another comment about using an indoor rotisserie for this recipe. I have made this several times for Christmas and once for thanksgiving and it always impresses my guests. It’s quite easy to pull off and I don’t feel like it’s an excessive amount of prep. 10 mins per pound works well for me…

      1. David,

        I made this recipe tonight (and two years ago) using a Ronco Rotisserie. It made me look like a hero each time and is de facto *expected* now at every Thanksgiving meal in addition to Turkey. Fabulous recipe, I’m so glad I found this page!

  6. Would this recipe work to do a few hours ahead and then reheat? Would love to make for a dinner get together but the place we’re going doesn’t have grill/rotisserie so we’d have to do at home and then take with. Thoughts?

    1. Jennie, I suggest cooking it, then wrapping it in foil. It may still be warm when you get to location. If not, gently reheated in a 300° oven, still wrapped in the foil.

  7. My 3-year-old son loves it. The sweetness and the citrusy baste give much flavor to the meat. Happy with your recipe and thank you. I’m going to make it again.

  8. Hi, I’m planning to make this for Christmas, having a large family, I’m cooking two birds, firstly would doing a dry brine in the fridge for 24hrs help with the skin? Secondly when I’m putting them on the spit would I leave a gap between birds? Lastly how much would the cooking time alter? Thank you.

    1. Daniel, we haven’t tested the recipe as you describe but I see no reason why the dry brine wouldn’t help crisp the skin as it works wonders for chicken and turkey. And yes, you definitely want to leave a gap of at least a couple inches between the birds to ensure the air can circulate around all parts of the duck, which in turn ensures the duck skin will roast and turn crisp as opposed to steam and remain soggy. As for the cooking time, I don’t know exactly how much time to allow but I would add about a half hour extra, assuming this is in a contained space such as an oven or grill and not over an open fire.

  9. I used this recipes to make a duck dinner (for the first time) and I feel that the results couldn’t have been any better. I did, however, take an extra step that I borrowed from another recipe. After cleaning the inside of the duck, I seasoned it with salt and pepper and then proceeded to stuff the cavity with quarter-cut wedges of Florida Oranges, whole garlic cloves, rosemary and thyme stems. I think this step helped bring onto the duck meat some of the flavor found on the sauce used for basting. Also, on the dripping pan for the duck I place some cut potatoes to cook while lightly seasoned whole carrots cooked directly on the grill. Overall an easy (yet like every other duck recipe–time consuming) and great recipe to serve up an impressive meal.

    1. Sure, Jane. Braised Carrots with Orange and Rosemary would go well with this. Broccoli Rabe with Balsamic Brown Butter will pick of some of the balsamic notes nicely. I love potatoes, the creamier the better, but I think with this dish you might want to go leaner, so perhaps Roasted Potatoes on the Grill. If it’s cold where you are, you can always make these in the oven.

      I’m going to ask Renee or Beth if they have any other suggestions. Happy holidays!!

      1. Jane, I second David’s suggestion for those braised carrots with orange and rosemary. That’ll go quite nicely. I’d actually make this deconstructed mushroom stuffing or bread salad of sorts. I think the tastes and textures it brings to the table would be quite lovely in conjunction with that of the duck. I’d also be certain to somehow save some of the rendered duck fat so you can make potatoes roasted in duck fat the next day (can you hear my knees wobbling at the very thought?). Perhaps even a simple raw cranberry relish infused with orange to help offset the wonderful richness of the duck? Kindly let us know what you decide and how it goes! Merry merry and happy happy, Jane!

    2. Wild rice green beans and plum sauce for the duck. Also buttered carrots is always good also when you cook the duck on the grill you put a tin pan of potatoes below the rotisserie and let the grease drip in to kick them. We did that last year it was delicious.

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