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.

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

Spit-Roasted Duck

4.66 / 20 votes
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!
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories1047 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time2 hours


  • 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.
Italian Grill by Mario Batali

Adapted From

Italian Grill

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 1047 kcalCarbohydrates: 33 gProtein: 27 gFat: 89 gSaturated Fat: 30 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 12 gMonounsaturated Fat: 42 gCholesterol: 172 mgSodium: 169 mgPotassium: 586 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 28 gVitamin A: 499 IUVitamin C: 25 mgCalcium: 65 mgIron: 6 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Mario Batali. Photo © 2008 . All rights reserved.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    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!

    1. Nicole, that is one hell of a good looking duck! I’m delighted you enjoyed the recipe. And keep these incredible photos coming. We love them.

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 5 stars

        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!

        1. Daniel, well color me wrong! I’m delighted you can make this indoors. Thanks for chiming in.