3 Delicious duck recipes to delight your guests with this holiday season

Take your holiday feast up a notch with these sophisticated and delicious duck recipes. Whet guests' appetites with pear and duck tarts, then blow them away with roast duck complete with wine pairings. 

Duck recipes | Port and cherry roast duck recipe

The holidays call for something out of the ordinary. It's a time to infuse a little magic and excitement into our usual routines. It's the perfect opportunity to crack open those special bottles to serve guests or turn our regular drinks into festive cocktails with the addition of seasonal ingredients like cranberries, nutmeg and thyme.  

It's also an occasion to try our hand at recipes that will wow our guests. When everyone is cooking turkey or ham year after year, choosing a different, and less commonly prepared protein like duck recipes will surprise and delight guests.

Don't let the unfamiliar intimidate you — these duck recipes are easy to make. The pear and pepper-smoked duck tart recipe can be prepared in advance, and just popped into the oven 20 minutes before your guests start arriving. For the mains, we've got two different roast duck recipes that make for show-stopping centrepieces. They may take a while to cook, but once you've done all the prep work, you can throw them in the oven, set the timer and relax. 

To make holiday hosting even easier for you, we've added two delicious wine pairings that will enhance the flavours in these duck recipes and really wow your crowd. Happy hosting!

Duck recipes and wine pairings for holiday hosting

Pear and pepper-smoked duck tart recipe

Make holiday hosting a breeze by preparing this sweet and savoury open-faced duck tart recipe ahead of time. Take them out of the fridge and bake just before the party for an easy, homemade appetizer.

Duck recipes | Pear and pepper-smoked duck tart recipe

Serves 6–8

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time 45 minutes


  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 King Cole Pepper-Smoked Duck Breast, thawed
  • 1 firm ripe pear, cored and sliced in thin wedges
  • 1 sheet pre-rolled frozen puff pastry (about 8 oz /250 g), thawed
  • Flour for rolling
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup Asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped


  1. In a large non-stick skillet, cook onion in butter over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, balsamic and ground pepper, and cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, in another skillet, cook duck breast over medium heat, skin side down, until crisped, about 5–6 minutes. Cool slightly, then thinly slice.

  3. Gently unfold pastry sheet and place on a lightly flour-dusted work surface.

  4. Roll pastry, eliminating creases, to a 10 x 12-inch (25 x 30 cm) rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise to make two 5 x 12-inch (12.5 x 30 cm) rectangles.

  5. Transfer both to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  6. Using a small knife, score ½-inch (1 cm) border around the inside edges of each rectangle, but do not cut through.

  7. Whisk egg yolk with 1 tsp water and brush a little along the borders.

  8. Spread half of the onion mixture on each rectangle, avoiding the edges, then top with alternating and overlapping slices of duck and pear.

  9. Sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese and rosemary.

  10. Bake at 400 F for about 25 minutes or until pastry is browned. Cut into slices to serve.

Port and cherry roast duck recipe

This crowd-pleasing duck recipe has even crispier skin thanks to the port and cherry and combination, which also adds a subtle sweetness and tangy notes to this main dish.

Duck recipes | Port and cherry roast duck recipe

Serves 4–6

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time 3.5 hours


  • 1 King Cole whole duck, about 2.5 kg/5 lbs
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 more shallots, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups ruby red port
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 fresh sage leaves or 1 Tbsp dried sage
  • ½ cup dried cherries


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Trim excess skin from duck, remove giblets and reserve for other use. Using a fork, carefully piece skin all over. Place duck on the rack in a roasting pan, and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and garlic, and cook for about 6 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add port and bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced by half.
  6. Sprinkle duck with salt (seasoning or sea salt) inside cavity and on skin.
  7. Place sage leaves and shallot halves into duck cavity. Use ½ cup of port mixture and brush over duck. Add cherries into remaining port, and set aside.
  8. Place duck in centre of oven and roast for about 3 hours or until skin is crisp and golden brown; leg should move freely. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
  9. Reheat port and cherries, and serve warm. Quarter the duck and serve with the port and cherry mixture on the side.

Tip: Place the reserved duck skin and fat in saucepan and slowly render the fat over medium-low heat until skin is crispy. Remove skin (can be used as salad topping) and use duck-fat to stir-fry vegetables or for home-fry potatoes.

Whole roasted duck recipe with lavender and coriander seed, figs and persimmons

Serve this succulent Christmas centrepiece basted in honey, with lavender and coriander seed, and surrounded by roast figs and permissions.

Duck recipes | Whole roasted duck recipe with lavender and coriander seed, figs and persimmons

Serves 4–6

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time 2 hours


For the duck:

  • 1 King Cole whole duck
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp French lavender
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seed
  • ½ tsp salt, to taste

For the garnish:

  • 3–4 ripe persimmons
  • 8 fresh figs
  • ½ tsp salt, to taste
  • Olive oil


  1. Pat your duck dry and place on a resting rack in the fridge for 1–2 days. This will dry out the skin to ensure a perfect golden-brown crispy duck.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F. We are going low and slow.
  3. In a spice grinder, blend the lavender and coriander seed just slightly. The spice mixture should still be course.
  4. Place the duck in a roasting pan, and tuck the wings underneath the body of the duck.
  5. Brush honey all over the skin, then season generously with the spice mixture. Season with salt, and place in the oven. Roast for about 2 hours, until the skin is beautifully golden brown and crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 20 minutes.
  7. While the duck is resting, turn your oven up to 400 F. Slice the persimmons and figs, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment and roast slightly. The fruit should still be intact.
  8. Serve the fruit around the duck and enjoy.