Spit-Roasted Duck with Orange and Rosemary

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


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

A cooked spit-roasted duck with orange and rosemary in the background.
Mario Batali and Judith Sutton

Prep 15 mins
Cook 1 hr 45 mins
Total 2 hrs
4 servings
5 / 7 votes
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  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • One (4 to 4 1/2 pound) duck
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 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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Originally published July 04, 2008


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  1. 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.

  2. 5 stars
    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. 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.

    2. 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!

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