HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


How do I do duck for 8 people?

I want to make duck for thanksgiving. Preferably whole and roasted. But I need to serve 8 people and all the recipes I have are for 4 servings (one duck).

Anybody have advice on doubling? Can I roast 2 at the same time? In the same roasting pan? Or, should I section them? Any advice or insight would be helpful. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 8 people 2 ducks. Would you share a chicken for 8 people? Same parts.

    1. You can definitely do 2 at a time. Just make sure that they are not touching each other and you may want to plan on a slightly longer cooking time. Initially the increased quantity will drop your oven temperature more.

      1. If you can, get ahold of Amanda Hesser's recipe for ginger duck in Cooking for Mr. Latte. Her method for roasting is awesome. It's basically braised then roasted (if I remember correctly, you could adjust not to do ginger if that's not a flavor you want). It is fall-off-the-bone tender, plus you end up with a quart or so of fabulous stock. You could braise ahead of time and roast day-of which would make things really easy. Unless you have a good plan for roasting, it's really, really easy for duck to be tough. That's why often people pan sear duck breasts and then confit the legs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Procrastibaker

          Hearty second for Amanda Hesser's ginger duck. It's wonderful and the resulting stock is so useful and tasty. I don't cook duck often but when I do I turn to Hesser's recipe (which IIRC is actually Mr. Latte's mother's recipe).

        2. Maybe 3 ducks. I can't put my hands on it at the moment but in Georg Lang's Hungarian cookbook he mentions that the duck is a stupid bird because it's too much for 2 people but not enough for 3. (Or maybe too much for 1, not enough for 2.) The point is that it's got a larger cavity than a chicken of similar external dimension, so the breasts are thinner, and there's not as much leg meat either.

          3 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            The same is said of geese, but either are sooo delicious!

            1. re: greygarious

              I would agree with greygarious on more than two ducks. I would even consider doing four ducks myself. There really is not that much meat on a 5-6 pound duck. If space is a problem in your oven, you can split the birds flat, two per rack. Search recipes for pressed duck.

              1. re: greygarious

                the duck is just right for us two!

                i would make at least three ducks for eight people, and probably four, as noted by fourunder.

              2. We have always had a 1/2 duck per person split down the middle. You can roast them whole and then split them. Be careful not to dry them out and it also helpful to render some of the fat out.

                That sounds like a great meal!!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                  True on a possible three birds. It would really depend on what else is served with the duck. Duck is extremely rich, and can be upsetting to some if eaten in the same quantity as a chicken. However, leftovers are always desirable.

                2. Since its a thanksgiving meal, do a duck per person. Definitely poach or braise first then roast up to crisp the skin. Quartering ahead of time of roasting is a good idea, and you can probably do the whole 4 birds at once. As Dallas dude said, leftovers are always desirable, so having leftovers is a blessing. And before roasting, make sure to score the skin to render the fat, otherwise it will be too greasy. Ina Garten has an easy recipe where she poaches it first, and IIRC uses asian flavors llike a Peking duckling. Yum, I love duck, it was my first roast ever!!!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    And left overs make Groucho's favorite meal and my favorite movie of all time: Duck Soup.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Surely you don't mean a whole duck per person.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        Yes, eight ducks sounds like way, way too much. Just the thought of that amount of duck leftovers is sort of unappetizing. I think with all the sides you can get away easily with three ducks.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I think that's excessive, too. But I'd make 4, a half per person, allowing for preferences about quarters.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            Sorry, no I was thinking four people. Do Four Ducks. There - that's better.

                        2. My go-to method for serving duck to a crowd is to make confit de canard. You can do a batch of any size all at once (assuming you have a pan large enough and access to sufficient duck or goose fat). It also simplifies things tremendously since you can cook the legs in advance, then just before serving, throw them into a hot oven on a rack over a baking sheet for 15 minutes or so to crisp them up and render off the remaining fat.

                          Delicious, impressive, and easy! What's not to love?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: BobB

                            Thanks everybody! Really, really helpful. I will plan to do 3 or 4 ducks. And look at Amanda Hesser and Ina Garten's recipes. Also, quartering or splitting them to all fit in my oven at once is a good call.

                            1. re: BobB

                              Confit de canard is an excellent choice for crowds.

                              I also often use Frank Stitt's suggestion (Frank Stitt's Southern Table) of separating the legs and thighs, then taking the breast halves off fhe carcass. The legs and thighs are braised until tender, while the breasts are sauteed briefly just before serving. Thus, each cut of meat enjoys the best cooking method and you also save oven space.

                              Naturally, the carcass can be used for stock & there is plenty of fat to harvest. It's a great way to make sure not a bit of duck goes to waste.