Crispy Aromatic Duck – Aaaaaaah

Serves: n/a
Cost: ~n/a
Preparation and cooking time: 2.5 hours
Calories: ~270 per 100g

Hi everyone, today I’ll be whipping up some crispy aromatic duck – one of the easiest, and certainly tastiest dishes I know. This is one of the things that I miss so much. Chinese restaurants in France usually don’t serve duck in this style (although one sees it very occasionally). They will often serve something they call “crispy” duck, but sadly it consists of ever so slightly crispy skin, a layer of not at all crispy fat, and then a large chunk of moist meat. It’s not that it’s bad, but you know how it is; when you have an urge… a desire in your mind, and you go somewhere all pumped up at the thought of getting this thing you’ve been hankering after all week – and then you get something completely different instead. Well, it’s a disappointment.

Crispy aromatic duck is apparently a British invention – something inspired by “Peking Duck“, a dish prepared in China, apparently since the imperial era. The takeaways of England have come up with this version which consists of steaming and then deep-frying the duck. Perhaps not as classy as the original but damn it’s good.

I don’t bother steaming the duck – indeed, I’ve never made this with a whole duck, only legs. Perhaps steaming first is a good idea if you’re using a complete bird, but for legs, roasting works perfectly and it couldn’t be easier. It’s really just rubbing some salt and five spice on the meat, roasting slowly until crispy, whacking up the heat until it’s even crispier still, and then shredding it up. Slice up some spring onions and some cucumber, break open a jar of plum sauce and a pack of store-bought Chinese-style pancakes and you’ve got a fantastic meal ready which will be loved by pretty much everyone.

Crispy aromatic duck in pancakes

I had neither plum sauce nor plums, so I whipped up a quick peach sauce to go with it, and I even made some pancakes myself (which turned out surprisingly well so I will re-do them one day and make a post about them).

I hope you get a chance to give this a try. If you’re not familiar with crispy duck then you’ve got a treat waiting for you, that’s for sure! On a side note, I hope that anyone who’s been following along has enjoyed my posts about optimising WordPress, or found them useful at least. The bulk of my posts on that subject have now finished but I’ll be finishing up with a post on general security and best practices, and then rounding up my advice and writing a summary and acknowledgements in my next couple of posts so stay tuned for those. Until then – have a great day everyone!

Crispy Aromatic Duck

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]



Crispy Aromatic Duck ingredients

  • Duck (preferably leg, or even the whole bird)
  • Salt (quantity depending on amount of duck. For two legs, use ~1tbsp)
  • Five Spice (quantity depending on amount of duck. For two legs, use ~2tsps)


  1. Start off by preheating the oven to ~170 degrees Celsius. Score the skin of the duck with a sharp knife and then mix the five spice and the salt together. Rub the salt mixture liberally all over the duck, both on the skin and the meat, and then place into a roasting tray.
    Rubbing the spice into the duck
  2. Place into the preheated oven for about 2 hours, turning the meat every 30 minutes or so. You should also spoon away any excess fat from the roasting tray, as this will prevent the duck from getting really crispy. Once the duck is looking good and crispy, turn the oven up to about 220 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes or so, to give it a final blast and make it as crisp as possible.
    The roasted duck
  3. Finally, remove the crispy duck from the oven and allow to cool a little before shredding the meat and skin with two forks. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with Chinese pancakes, plum sauce and sliced cucumber and spring onion. Enjoy!
    Shredded crispy duck
    Crispy aromatic duck in pancakes




  1. says

    Those duck legs look delicious. I have 2 whole ducks in my freezer and other than duck confit, I had no great plans for what to do with all or some of them.

    I want to make some scallion/green onion pancakes as well which would go wonderfully with the shredded duck.

    Thank you for the great ideas.

    • says

      Ah, you have to give this a try – it’s *incredibly* good… and fantastic in its simplicity! I should post the pancakes sometime too. They were surprisingly successful!

      • says

        That’s great. I look forward to the pancake recipe. I’m assuming it’s a mushu type rather than the green onion rolled version.

        • says

          I’m not entirely sure what a “mushu type” is, sorry, but if it helps, the ingredients were basically flour and water, maybe a touch of salt. The balls were rolled two together, sandwiched with sesame oil, and then dry-fried, before being separated. Fun to make… bit fiddly but fun! :)

        • says

          Yes, this is the type of pancake that is eaten with mushu duck or pork as opposed to the version I mentioned in which chopped scallions, salt and sesame seeds are sprinkled over a thinly rolled pancake which is then rolled up like a sausage, formed into a snail shape, flattened and rolled into a pancake and shallow fried in about half an inch of oil. It can be eaten with a dipping sauce.

  2. Helen Smith says

    This sounds so good Charles , if only it were vegetarian!!!!! This would be ideal for the celebration fare you are having for the great Murray Wimbledon victory of yesterday.

  3. The Wife says

    This was one of the best meat dishes I’ve had; so crispy and those little pancakes were professional-looking. Absolutely delicious and great use of your anniversary meat gift!

    • says

      Well, there probably would have been enough for two meals but someone went to town on the duck… wonder who that was?! <3

      • The Wife says

        Yeah, I know. That baby of yours is such a glutton… not sure who he might have inherited that from! 😉

  4. says

    That photo of the shredded duck legs- food porn charles! It stil amuses me that crispy aromatic duck is actually a British invention! The crispy duck pancakes I grew up eating were the peking duck pancakes you mentioned. The meat is not shredded and the crispy skin is what makes the dish, not the meat, funny eh! It’s meant to be a very very thin but crisp layer of skin so biting through it is like biting through a crisp!

    p.s. your wife’s comment above me made me smile! You two are so sweet! can’t wait to meet you guys next week :) x

    • says

      Hi Shu, I wonder if this would be as good with chicken? Probably not since it’s not so fatty, though I’d like to give it a try.

      I’m looking forward to meeting you too, though I’m a bit scared about cooking for you! You keep posting photos of incredible-looking stuff and I worry you might find my food bad… well, there’s a McDonalds down the road just in case you’re still hungry afterwards 😀

      • says

        PFFT you are the one with all the food porn pics! I (hangs head in shame) haven’t been blogging too much these days, though I finally just did.

        And anything you cook will be a million times better than Mac’s come on!

  5. says

    I’ve never cooked duck before but I looove my mom’s recipe which I will post about in the near future … your recipe sounds very easy and delicious I have to give it a try next time I find duck in the US.

    • says

      Hi Amira – this is indeed incredibly easy, and impossible to fail with. No risk of cooking it “too long” :D. I look forward to seeing your mom’s recipe in the future too!

  6. says

    I really enjoy Peking duck at Chinese restaurants but I’ve never thought about trying it myself. My father-in-law is visiting and duck is his all time favourite meal. This is a winner for sure.

  7. says

    Yum, yum, yum. This is definitely my kind of a meal. And I know what you mean about ordering it in a restaurant and it comes out with limp skin and a bit of gristle besides! I will definitely be making this and I do hope you post your pancake recipe because they look very good too xx

  8. says

    Gorgeous, love this dish! I was recently searching for a recipe to make these pancakes (can’t find them here in Spain) and I noticed comments ont he BBC Good Food site from Brits in France who used confit of duck to make this dish – apparantly a great substitute!

    • says

      Hi Chica, I’ll have to try the confit sometime… I don’t think I ever had it before, but they sell it in stores, along with cassoulet and it always looks so dreadful. Great big tins and jars of stuff which really doesn’t look appetizing at all :p

  9. says

    Charles, it looks so luscious and impressive, but now that I read the instructions, it’s totally feasible! I love duck legs (the only bird in which I always prefer legs) but the only way I prepare them is duck confit (not the everyday dish, given the time involved and calories…), so I’m glad to learn this simpler and less fatty way to prepare it.
    The pancakes look very elaborate though and scare me a bit… I love snack food, so this will be something I must prepare soon. I’m looking forward to reading your pancake recipe. Please tell me it doesn’t require much dexterity…

    • says

      Thank you Sissi – I’m a bit disappointed with the photos because I just wasn’t “feeling it” that day… Couldn’t think of a good way to take the photos and so forth, but I hope you will have a chance to try it. It’s super easy, and so, so delicious! Perhaps not perfect for the middle of summer… no-one wants to have the oven on for so long, but once temperatures cool a bit it will be the perfect time to do it!

      The pancakes – not to worry, they’re very easy. It’s important not to roll them too thinly, but aside from that it’s no problem.

      • says

        Thank you, Charles. I’m waiting for your pancakes post (and if I want them desperately I will write you an email :-) but for now I’m completely obsessed with preserves…). The legs sound much easier than my usual confit…
        Otherwise, you know I don’t understand this thing with the oven. I have never had problems with baking in the biggest summer heat, but I hate cooking on the stove. When I bake I put something into the oven, then check it from time to time (usually without opening) and take it out. That’s it. Stove cooking is so horrible when it’s hot! You have to stir, check instantly, and you cannot just close the doors like in the oven… I hate boiling or pan frying much more.
        On the other hand I have my oven quite high from the floor level… and my kitchen is quite big. I never find it hotter with the oven on but with two pans on the stove it’s like a sauna.

  10. says

    Heehee, enjoyed reading the banter between you and ‘the wife’ — sounds like this was the perfect dish made with love from your anniversary gift. I don’t eat duck but appreciate how tasty this must have been and I can’t wait to see the pancakes! ;-).

    • says

      Hi Kelly, it’s too bad you don’t eat duck, though I’d like to know if this could be done with chicken. I suspect not as well since chicken is much, much leaner but it would be worth a try!

  11. says

    Hope I get a chance to make this? Oh, there’s no question. I am ALL over this one! I love duck. I love crispy duck even more. I recently had a duck taco and duck quesadilla at two different restaurants, and let me tell you, heaven!!! So not only was I tickled by your title, but then I saw the tortilla in your first photo! I am definitely making this soon! I’m dreaming of it already.

    • says

      Hi Kristy, I hope you can – do let me know if you try it. It was soooooo good. It should have been enough for two separate meals for my wife and I but we just couldn’t stop eating the meat!

  12. says

    Oh Charles – now this is my kind of dish! I love duck, and find crispy duck absolutely divine! Love the way you’ve wrapped them in the Chinese-style pancakes. I could see this duck in a taco or on top of a tostada. Looks absolutely delicious Charles!

    • says

      Thanks MJ! I’ve afraid the photos don’t truly do it justice. It was completely delicious… we ate the entire plate in a very short space of time 😀

  13. says

    This might just be the duck recipe I’ve been waiting for Charles! It looks and sounds absolutely delectable! And the wife’s endorsement is always a good thing. Is William really eating it? Do you introduce foods a little at a time over there as they do here? For example, peas only this week, carrots next, etc.
    I really love the pancakes too, I may not be able to wait!

    • says

      Hi Eva, I hope you’ll have a chance to try it, it was really, really good. One of my new favourite ways of serving duck!

      William didn’t have this this time, it would have been bad for him because of the salt. We don’t tend to do foods a “bit at a time”… I can’t imagine how horrifically boring it would be to only eat peas for a week. This evening for dinner he had some bread, cucumber spears, peach wedges and some brie. Of course, if we were following French childcare advice he’d be eating tasteless vegetable mush and “chocolate flavoured everything”… seriously, they make chocolate flavoured yoghurts, biscuits, pudding for babies here… they’re really into their chocolate it seems!

  14. Kseniia says


    it was a huge success, I tell u.
    Though first we bought breast and a leg, came home and found meat was waisted completely since Irish summer is crazy on meat these days, so we went to the market again to change.
    But I need to mention that Bjorshka skipped cucumber and onions, and plum sauce, and just used MAYO!
    But pancakes were awesome.


    • says

      Aah, I’m glad it turned out well, though I can’t believe he ate it with mayonnaise?!?! What the hell! Well, I hope you will be able to try it again, but with the “correct” accompaniments this time 😀

  15. says

    Wow – thats just lovely! If you know me, you know how much I crave Chinese food here, mainly because I can’t get hold of it easily! No take aways for me… And you are right, when I do get to eat out at a Chinese restaurant, it’s not quite the same as I was used to back in the UK. Crispy duck is most certainly missing. So thank you for this. Yours look great and even your peach sauce sounds fab and very interesting. Do you deliver by any chance? :)

    • says

      Hi Anneli – I think I’d definitely prefer plum sauce normally, but peach was great in a pinch.

      Delivery might be difficult. The duck would, I fear, be off (or eaten) by the time it arrived! 😀

  16. says

    I was just about to say that I hadn’t encountered crispy duck meat in Europe, that means it can only come from your island. ^.^ I am tempted to have this now but duck is quite rare here.

    • says

      Hi Helene, I’m interested to see if it works with other birds… chicken is much less fatty, but it might work. I’ll have to try it!

  17. says

    Duck is not readily available here but I am definitely bookmarking the recipe for when I find some!
    I love recipes like this one with the right sauce and the right pancakes, the combination is irresistable

    • says

      Hi Sawsan, it’s a shame you can’t easily find duck… I didn’t try but I think it wouldn’t work well with chicken. You need quite a fatty bird. I suppose goose might work… is that available?

  18. says

    I’m exhausted after spending 3 days cooking duck. Not this version yet since I felt I had to try duck confit and pan fried duck at least once in my life but I still have a duck in my freezer that I can use. Hopefully during March break when I have a whole week off to experiment.

    • says

      Does it mean you ate duck for 3 days straight? Respect – I think I’d throw up if I had to do that… not that it’s bad, but I never like to eat the same stuff more than max. two meals in a row. I end up feeling very funky otherwise.

      • says

        I cut up the duck on day 1 and started the curing of the legs for the duck confit. The 2nd day I cooked the 2 breasts. Ate one of the breasts that day and the 2nd breast on the 4th day. On the 3rd day I cooked the duck confit and ate one of the legs. I ate the 2nd leg on the 5th day.

        I also roasted the duck carcass and neck during this time, made the stock, rendered the fat and even made duck cracklings. Actually they were more like crumbs. I froze away the meat peeled off the carcass and waited over a week to eat it combined with some bbq sauce in flour tortillas.

        Any way you want to think of it, I spent a LOT of time on that duck.

        I’m “ducked out”. :)

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