Homemade Crispy Aromatic Duck

It’s great to discover a favourite restaurant dish can easily be made at home. Thus it was with crispy aromatic duck, a regular order at our local Chinese eatery.

Find out how to make your own crispy aromatic duck with this easy to follow recipe.

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Homemade Crispy Aromatic Duck

24 hours preparation
1.5 hours cooking
2-4 servings
St. Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir


  • Roasting tray and rack
  • 1 wooden skewer
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Pestle and mortar (or small bowl)
  • Clingfilm
  • Kitchen paper and foil
  • Carving knife
  • Bamboo pancake steamer or microwave
Crispy aromatic duck served with hoisin sauce


Aromatic Duck

  • 1 2kg/4.5lb whole duck
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 spring onions
  • 5cm piece of ginger

Spice Rub

  • 2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp red and black pepper
  • 4-8 Sichuan peppercorns*
  • 1-3 tsp ground cumin*
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil

To Serve

  • Pancakes
  • 5 spring onions
  • Cucumber
  • Hoisin or plum sauce

* start with a little and add more as needed. Some brands have stronger flavours than others.

Duck rubbed and ready to be wrapped, excess is brushed off before cooking


There are quite a few steps to this recipe, however it is easy to do.

Spice Rub

The duck has a spice rub applied to it the day before cooking, or in the morning.

  1. Remove giblets and tongue from the duck cavity. Save or discard.
  2. Rinse the duck under cold water, then dry it with kitchen paper.
  3. Lightly brush olive oil onto the duck’s skin.
  4. Mix all the spice rub dry ingredients together in a mortar, grinding with a pestle.
  5. Rub the duck inside and out with this mixture, applying it evenly.
  6. Wrap the duck in cling film and place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Cooking the Duck

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/355°F (200°C/390°F non-fan).
  2. Carefully peel cling film from the duck, brush off excess rub to leave a thin coating.
  3. Prick the duck skin all over with a fork or skewer, including underneath.
  4. Bruise the garlic and spring onion. Slice the white onion into wedges.
  5. Add the star anise, onion, ginger, garlic and spring onion into the cavity of the duck.
  6. Seal the duck cavity by folding over the flap, securing with a wooden skewer.
  7. Cook the duck on a rack over a roasting tray for 60 minutes.
  8. Remove duck and roasting tray, increase oven temperature to 220°C.
  9. Discard the contents of the roasting tray.
  10. Cook the duck for a further 20-25 minutes, until the skin is crispy.
  11. Remove the duck from the heat and rest it covered in kitchen foil for 10 minutes.

Serving the Duck

  1. Whilst the duck is resting (or cooking)
    • Slice the spring onion whites into thin strips.
    • Skin the cucumber and slice into thin strips.
  2. Remove everything from the cavity and discard.
  3. Shred the meat from the legs, carve and slice the breast meat.
  4. Serve with steamed pancakes, spring onions, cucumbers and plum or hoisin sauce.
Crispy aromatic duck with spring onions and cucumber

Hints, Tips and Pictures

  1. Check your local Asian supermarket for pancakes, normally in the frozen section.
  2. Pancakes can be cooked in a bamboo steamer or in a microwave for 20-30secs. Microwaving can cause them to stick together/become brittle.
    Steaming pancakes in a wok
  3. The finishing and crisping stage can be done by quartering the duck and deep fat frying the pieces for 8-10 minutes before shredding. I prefer to do a dry-crisp in a hot oven, the end result is virtually the same.
  4. The duck fat will be tainted with aromatic flavours, so whilst normally I keep duck fat for cooking other dishes (e.g. duck fat chips), I don’t retain the fat from an aromatic duck cook.

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