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Peking Duck

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This roast Peking Duck tastes better than the Chinese takeaway!

Whenever I go out for Chinese, Peking duck is what I want most. Sometimes it’s a bit too expensive so I opt for other Chinese dishes. It’s nice to have Peking duck prepared and sliced for you at the table but let’s face it… It’s not cheap.

Nowadays, I just make my own. This is a recipe I learned way back in my uni days in China Town, San Francisco from a friend who lived above one of the best Chinese restaurants there at the time. I only recently started making it again. I promise you though, if you make this Peking duck, you will love it! 

Peking duck

What is Peking Duck?

Peking Duck is a classic Chinese dish, renowned for its crispy, succulent meat and the sweet, savoury combination of hoisin sauce and and crunchy spring onions (scallions) and cucumber. Its origins are in Beijing (which used to be called Peking). 

It is usually served with this Peking style pancakes.  The crispy skin is prized and you might often find some restaurants that only serve the crispy skin in their wraps but I like to serve mine with the tender and juicy duck too. 

How do you prepare Peking Duck?

This popular takeaway dish is often deep fried but the traditional way of cooking the duck is to roast it until the skin is really crispy and the meat so tender and juicy it literally melts in your mouth. Roasting the duck is my preferred method. Not because I don’t love it deep fried, I do! But it’s a lot easier to clean up when you just roast it and, in my opinion, just as delicious. 

The duck is prepared by boiling it for about 3 minutes. This tightens the skin. You sprinkle salt over the skin and then brush the skin liberally with a mixture of maltose (you can substitute honey) and water. After that, it’s a waiting game. The duck needs to be air-dried in a cold and airy location for 24 hours. If it’s hot outside, you can air-dry it on a rack in the fridge.

If you’re in a rush for Peking Duck deliciousness, you will find alternative methods to quickly dry the skin in the notes in the recipe card below.

How do you cook the duck?

This is the easy part but you really need to pay attention as it cooks. You first place the Peking duck in a 200C/400F oven. You then turn the heat down to 180/356 for the remainder of the cook. The whole cooking process will take you about an hour. Be sure to cover any parts of the skin that are getting too dark with foil.

When the duck reaches an internal temperature of 75C/165F, you remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. The skin will get crispier as it sits.

What is maltose?

Maltose is traditionally used to make Peking duck. Without wanting to sound too scientific (I’m not) Maltose is a disaccharide sugar composed of two glucose molecules linked together. It is commonly referred to as malt sugar because it is often found in germinating grains, particularly barley, during the malting process. 

It is less sweet than sugar. If you have trouble getting it, you can substitute honey. Using honey is easier as maltose is very thick and often hard.

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for the recipe.

Get your ingredients together to get started.

Duck with parsons nose and wings removed.

Cut off the parsons nose (tail) and wings of the duck and remove any excess fat from inside the bird.

Lowering the duck into boiling water.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the duck to simmer for 3 minutes.

A maltose container.

Maltose is traditionally used for Peking duck but you can substitute honey.

Diluted maltose.

Disolve 3 tablespoons of maltose with 3 tbsp of boiling water. Or just use runny honey.

Seasoning the duck with salt and rubbing the maltose solution into the skin.

Season the skin all over the bird with fine sea salt. Then rub the maltose solution into the skin.

The duck with the maltose solution all over the skin.

Your duck should look like this. A bit wet so it’s time to air-dry the skin. Place the duck, uncovered in a cool, breezy location or the fridge for 24 hours.

Duck ready for filling with aromatic ingredients.

After 24 hours, the skin will have dried out. Fill the cavity with the aromatic ingredients. If you see any damp bits of skin, pat them dry with a paper towel.

The duck secured shut at the butt end with tooth pics.

Once stuffed with the aromatic ingredients, secure the butt end with tooth pics. Place on a rack over a dripping tray in your oven, preheated to 200C/400F.

Roasting the Peking duck.

Roast at 200C/400F for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180C/356F to continue cooking for about 45 minutes. Cover any parts that are getting too dark with foil.

Carved Peking Duck

When the internal temperature reaches 75C/165F, remove the duck and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with Peking duck pancakes, hoisin, cucumber and spring onions. (scalions).

A Peking duck wrap being prepared.

Place some of the carved duck on a pancake and add the spring onions, cucumber and hoisin sauce.

Wrapping a Peking duck wrap.

Fold over the side of the pancake nearest you.

Peking duck wrap.

Enjoy! This is so good.

If you like this Peking duck recipe, you might like to try some of these Chinese takeaway favourites too:

I am currently updating my blog with the most popular Chinese takeaway recipes so be sure to check back often for new recipes. There are a lot on the way!

    1. Bang Bang Chicken
    2. General Tso’s Chicken
    3. Crispy Chicken and Broccoli
    4. Salt and Pepper Chicken
    5. Sesame Chicken
    6. Sweet and Sour Chicken
    7. Kung Pao Chicken
    8. Dan Dan Noodles
    9. Orange Chicken
    10. Hainan Chicken
    11. Spicy Chicken Chow Mein
    12. Mongolian Beef
    13. Chinese Crispy Beef
    14. Egg Drop Soup
    15. Spicy Won Ton Soup
    16. Egg Fried Rice
    17. Potstickers
    18. Bam Bam Chicken
    19. Beef in Black Bean Sauce
    20. Black Bean Noodles
    21. Chinese Chicken Curry
    22. Chili Oil Noodles


Have you tried this Peking duck recipe?

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Yield: 3 - 4

Peking Duck

Peking duck wrap.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1 x 2.5kg (5 lb) duck
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp maltose or honey
  • 3 tbsp boiling hot water
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) ginger, cut into rings and slightly smashed
  • 4 spring onions
  • 2 star anise
  • 16 Peking pancakes
  • 1 English cucumber, seeds and skin removed and sliced lengthwise thinly
  • 6 spring onions (scallions) Sliced lengthwise thinly
  • 8 tbsp hoisin sauce


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, prepare the duck.
  2. Remove the parsons nose (tail) and the wings. Also cut out any excess fat from the cavity. When the water is boiling, place the duck in it and simmer for 3 minutes. Then carefully remove it so that you don't break the skin. Place it on a plate and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Rub the salt all over the skin. Then mix the maltose or honey with the boiling water to thin it. Apply this maltose/honey solution all over the skin of the duck.
  4. Now you need to allow the duck to sit or hang, uncovered in a cool and breezy location for 24 hours. If it is too hot to do this, place it in your fridge for the same amount of time. You can speed up this process. (See note).
  5. After 24 hours, stuff the duck with the aromatic ingredients, if using. This does add flavour as the duck roasts.
  6. Place the duck on a rack, breast side up in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200C/400F. Roast for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180/356F to continue cooking for about 45 minutes.
  7. Be sure to cover any parts that are getting too dark with foil such as the legs. If the breasts are getting too brown, cover them loosely with foil.
  8. A meat thermometer will come in handy. You want to roast the Peking duck until it reaches an internal temperature of 75C/165F and cooking times may vary so watch it closely.
  9. Remove the duck from your oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.
  10. To carve, try to get a little meat and some of the delicious crispy skin in each piece. I usually cut the breasts off and then slice them into pieces.
  11. Serve the Peking duck meat wrapped in pancakes and topped with the cucumber, spring onions (scallions) and hoisin sauce or another sauce of choice.


Properly drying the skin is essential for crispy skinned Peking Duck. If it is cold and windy outside, place it outdoors and you can probably dry the skin in about 8 hours. I have also used a hair dryer to dry the skin but for best results, let it sit and dry on its own.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 575Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 2507mgCarbohydrates: 89gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 14g

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