How to Roast a Goose

Step-by-step detailed instructions and photos on roasting a goose.

Preparation time: About 2 1/2 hours.

  • Prep time: 35 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 goose, approx. 8 lbs.
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup Madeira wine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock (for gravy)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Root vegetables to roast with the goose, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, and/or rutabagas, peeled and chopped into large chunks

In general, plan for:
8-10 lb goose for 5-6 people
11-12 lb goose for 6-8 people

Method

To start, if the goose has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan. If you get a frozen goose, which is most likely the case, you will need to defrost it in the refrigerator for two days first.

While I have never found any instances of food poisoning from raw duck or goose, it’s best to handle the goose with common sense. Use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash your hands with soap frequently – if for no other reason than because geese are fatty and you don’t want to be walking around with greasy hands. Use paper towels to clean up.

Remove the neck, giblets, wing tips

Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use them for making the gravy. You want to remove the last two joints of the wings, too, and use them for the gravy as well.

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To do this, use a thin sharp knife – a boning knife is ideal, or you could use a paring knife or fillet knife – and cut across the side of the joint, severing the tendons. Bend the joint the opposite way it is supposed to go to break it. Cut the remaining skin and tendons. You should not need to cut bone at all.

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Slice off the neck skin about a half inch in front of the body.

Remove the excess fat

You also need to remove excess fat from the goose. You will want to save it – goose fat is among the most delicious of all cooking fats, and it is far healthier than butter or lard.

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First grab the fat inside the body cavity and put it in a bowl. Now slice off the wide belly flaps covering the body cavity; if you plan on stuffing the goose you’d need these, but we’re not, so out they go. You also want to remove the Pope’s nose, which is the goose’s tail. All of this should go into a pot with a little water (about ½ cup) and put over low heat to render out.

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Prick the goose's skin all over with a needle

You still need to give all that fat underneath the goose’s skin somewhere to go – if you don’t, the skin will never fully crisp up. I’ve found the best way to do this is to prick it with a clean needle. The technique is to stick the skin from an angle so you are not piercing the meat of the goose, just the skin. Do this all over the goose.

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Season the goose and place in the oven

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Rub the goose all over with the cut half of a lemon. Use both sides to get it good and coated. Put the halves inside the goose. Sprinkle salt liberally all over the goose. Use more salt than you think you need; it helps crisp the skin and adds a lot to the flavor.

Slice off the top of a head of garlic and place it inside the goose.

Place the goose breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan and into the oven.

Start the gravy

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Meanwhile, start the gravy. Chop and brown all the giblets, wings and neck in some goose fat in a large pan. Sprinkle salt over them. Add the chopped onion and stir to combine. When the onion gets a little browned, sprinkle the flour in the pot and stir to combine. Cook this over medium heat, stirring often, until it smells nutty – about 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and add the Madeira. Let this boil furiously for a minute or two, then add the chicken stock and stir to combine. Add the dried thyme. Turn the gravy down to a bare simmer.

Add root vegetables to the roasting pan

After the goose has cooked for 20 minutes, add any chunks of root veggies you might feel like using. I like a mix of potatoes, turnips, carrots and parsnips. Here’s a tip: Toss them in some rendered goose fat and salt them before placing in the bottom of the roasting pan.

You can also use this time as an opportunity to spoon out some of the goose fat that may be collecting in the bottom of the roasting pan. Put it in the pot with the rendering goose fat.

When you’re done, put the goose back into the oven for another 25 minutes.

Carve out the breasts

When a total of 45 minutes of cooking time has elapsed, test the temperature of the breast. You should have something between 130 and 140 degrees. If you’re there, remove the goose but keep the oven on.

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Now you need to carve off the whole breasts. Using a thin knife – again, a boning knife is ideal – slice along the keel bone, which separates the two halves of the breast. Go straight down and tap the point of the blade against the breastbone as you move the knife up toward the wishbone, then back toward the open body cavity. Know that a goose has a deep keel and that the breastbone comes out wide at almost a right angle from it, so work your knife in short, gentle strokes out to free the whole side of the breast. Once you get near the wishbone, find it with the tip of your knife and carefully slice around it. Repeat on the other side.

Remove the breasts and tent with foil.

Finish cooking the rest of the goose

Put the goose (minus the breasts) back into the oven. Let this cook for another 45 minutes.

Watch the goose gravy. If it gets too thick, add a little water.

After the additional 45 minutes are up, probe the thickest part of the goose’s thigh with a thermometer. You want 165-175 degrees. If it is a little low or high, that’s fine. Remove the goose. Check the root veggies, and if they are done, great. If not, keep them in the oven for the moment.

Remove the garlic from the goose. Tent the goose with foil and set aside.

Finish the gravy

Remove the garlic cloves from the husk and put the cloves into the simmering goose gravy. Let this cook for 5 minutes. Fish out the neck and wing pieces and pick off any bits and toss them into the gravy. Pour the gravy into a blender and buzz the hell out of it – you might need to do this in batches to avoid it spurting out of your blender. You want a thick gravy, so if it is too thick add water. If it’s too thin, don’t worry, you can cook it down.

Return the gravy to the pot and put on low heat. Simmer it more if it is too thin.

Sear the breasts

Now get a large sauté pan hot. Add some goose fat, and let that get hot over medium-high heat.

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Take the goose breasts, which should be a lovely pink on the meat side, and pat them dry. Place them skin side down in the pan and sear the skin hard. You might need to press down on them a little to get good contact. Check after 3-4 minutes. You want a rich brown.

When it is ready, remove the breasts – don’t cook them on the meat side! – and immediately salt the skin. Set aside, skin side up. Move the pan off the heat.

Carve off the legs and wings, and sear

Carve off the legs and wings of the goose. Get the pan hot again and sear the skin surfaces of the legs and wings. While this is searing, slice the breast (at an angle is nice) skin side up. Salt the legs and wings and serve with the root veggies.

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Now remember: You have worked hard to get a good sear on your goose skin, so put your lovely gravy underneath the meat, not on top of the skin.

Save bones for stock

When you are finished with your goose, save the bones from the carcass to make goose stock, which is just like chicken stock, only with goose bones.

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Comments

  1. Peter

    Hank makes this looks so easy. A very thorough and nice take on roasting a whole goose. Great tips, so thank you and happy holidays!

  2. Phoo-D

    What a wonderful step-by-step approach to cooking goose! I will remember this with hopes that we get a goose next year. When I was in high school I shot a goose and prepared it for Christmas dinner using an orange glaze. While tasty, my kitchen skills were still new and it was over-cooked. Your direction to break the roast apart to achieve the proper temperatures and avoid the over-cooked liver flavor is very good advice. Thank you for the tutorial!

  3. Alta

    Now I wish we weren’t having ham for Christmas! This looks so delicious. I’ve never roasted a goose before – toyed with the idea last year, but the family looked at me as though I was weird. No matter, I’ll do this for a non-holiday dinner sometime really soon! And I can’t wait to get all that delicious goose fat. Yum. Thank you! – And what a great treat, having Hank as a special guest – I love his blog!

  4. Julie

    Oh my mother and I still laugh about the year we cooked our Christmas goose! It was terrible! We cooked it forever trying to the get the juices to run clear. We forgot it wasn’t a turkey. We ended up eating it but it was not very good, the best part was the port wine reduction we made to go over top. Maybe we’ll use your method and try again just not on Christmas day! Merry Christmas to you and yours Elise!

  5. Christine @ Fresh

    Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial, and demystifying goose. I’ve roasted duck, but not goose. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this ‘exotic’ bird. I’m envious that you, Hank, enjoy 50-60 wild ducks and geese each year.
    Merry Christmas!

  6. Laura

    I just made Goose for Solstice! The breasts were wonderful but the legs a little tough. We had to put them back in the oven and I think they dried out. I wish I had this! Next time I will follow your directions. The recipe I had was very vague about temperature and said nothing about removing the breasts. Thanks for the post

  7. Giovani

    After my parents decided I was to roast a goose for Christmas this year, I researched a much as I could and thought I had found the perfect method. After reading this I realized that was not the case. Most of the recipes I found told me to treat it like any other bird but I can see now that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m so glad I caught this before I went to bed, now I know our holiday goose will be cooked to perfection. Thank you so much!

  8. Tracy

    I’ve only ever heard horror stories about cooking goose. This step-by-step instructional post is pretty encouraging! I might try it one of these years–we’ll see if I get the courage up! I sure would love to have some goose fat for roasting, and this would be a delicious way to get some.

  9. mantha

    This was a spectacular piece of instruction for detail — right down to the finish. (Of course you don’t want to put the gravy on top, but rather underneath — but who ever thinks of that?)

    A real keeper — many thanks for this meticulous and easy-to-read tutorial. Too late for Christmas this year, but there’s going to be plenty of other cold, dark winter nights for a get-together with a substantial meal. We will enjoy it and raise a glass to you!

  10. Giovani

    This recipe couldn’t be more spot on, I followed it exactly as it’s written and my bird was flavorful, juicy and perfectly crisped. The gravy was excellent as well. I’ve got a good pound and a half of fat left over to cook with and plenty of bones to make stock. If you’ve never had roast goose I highly recommend it.

  11. jrhather

    I’ve got a nice frozen duck in the freezer and I’m wondering if I’d cook it to the same standard?

    Sorta. Times will be shorter, as the duck is smaller. But you can use the same technique. Just keep an eye on things with your meat thermometer until you get the timing down. ~Hank

  12. Talal

    What would you use to substitute the wine with in a non-alcoholic version of this dish (and other dishes)?

    Hard to say. The Madeira is a main flavor component in the gravy. But it would still be gravy if you left it out. Maybe sub in a little vinegar or lemon juice? ~ Hank

  13. mantha

    About eliminating the wine or substituting — if it’s really the alcohol you are concerned about, how about gently simmering it off? I would say if you started with a bit over a cup and gently cooked off the wine, then added back most of the water to correct for concentration, you might keep the flavor but not the alcohol. Madeira has a lovely taste that lemon, while also good, wouldn’t really stand in for.

    Alcohol never fully burns off in a dish, so that’s out, and some people avoid it for religious reasons. I am with you, though, that lemon would change things dramatically — but it’d still make a good gravy. ~Hank

  14. Kim

    I’m bookmarking this for Christmas next year. For my husband to look at that is – won’t find me working that hard in the kitchen, especially not on Christmas day. This year he did a chapon which is a castrated rooster. Huge chicken, but not so large that it requires separate cooking of the parts like Hank demonstrates. Wonder if you can get a chapon in the States? Thanks for the great directions!

    Yep, capons are pretty easy to find in the US. I used to cook them often. ~Hank

  15. Joanna Szandrocha, Marble Arch, London

    Sounds delicious. Will try to make it. Any ideas about stuffing or vegetables that could be served zith it?

    Lots of ideas. I mention the veggies in the post, and Elise has a great stuffing recipe here on this site. ~Hank

  16. Juliebelle

    Years ago I cooked a goose for Christmas – a wild one my late husband shot. I didn’t use your recipe, but it was delicious…one of my favorites, for sure. And goose grease is amazing for cooking just about anything!
    Perhaps next time there’s an occasion for a lovely meal I’ll be able to find a goose. Your pictures sure reminded me of how much I enjoy wild fowl. All my “hunters” are gone away now. I was once known for a “fabulous” duck and andouille jambalaya and the same gumbo. I’ll bet that a goose and andouille dish would be a real winner…Happy New Year to all the great cooks out there…………

  17. Zhenya

    I want to try this recipe, but I need to cook 2 geese at the same time, since I have so many people coming over. What adjustments to I need to make to this recipe?

    Thank you!

    Should be fine as is, but you’ll need to double the gravy recipe. On the goose, just watch your temperatures closer, checking earlier. ~Hank

  18. frances

    It’s very rare to find a recipe for goose. Being in Europe it is easier to find. I have up to now cooked about 30 geese, a goose for every christmas. Every one of them had a different texture and taste. Cooking the last couple of geese I used a different method. Before seasoning I put the bird in the sink and pour lots of hot boiling water over it, which makes the skin go tight and easier to handle plus It cleans the bird at the same time.

  19. dux-r-us

    Nothing compares to a wild Canada goose. Unlike domiestic cousins, the Canada has little fat, and the most delicious flavour. I have cooked hundreds of waterfowl over the years. The key is, as described in the blog, is not to overcook. I blieve overcooking is the reason so many people I know who proclaim that waterfowl are “foul” and taste like liver.

    If you clean your own birds carefully, the risk from salmonella is practically zero. Salmonella poisoning is a result of the processing plants. The plants cannot be as sanitary as the single person working with one or a few birds.

    If you don’t hunt your own Canada geese, chances are you know someone who does or will.

    I like to hang my ducks and geese for 2-3 days to age them before cooking (yes you take out the organs first). Don’t hange your birds if the temp will be above 50F.

    Note that not all ducks and geese will taste alike due to differences in diet. I have never found a snow goose worth eating. Avoid diving duck species such as ring neck and mergansers. PUddle ducks (mallard, widgeon, gadwall) are better.

    Tally ho!

    Kevin

  20. JOANNA SZANDROCHA Marble Arch, London W1C 1BY

    Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial, and demystifying goose. I’ve roasted duck, but not goose. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this ‘exotic’ bird.

    What a wonderful step-by-step approach to cooking goose! I will remember this with hopes that we get a goose next year. When I was in high school I shot a goose and prepared it for Christmas dinner using an orange glaze.

    About eliminating the wine or substituting — if it’s really the alcohol you are concerned about, how about gently simmering it off? I would say if you started with a bit over a cup and gently cooked off the wine, then added back most of the water to correct for concentration, you might keep the flavor but not the alcohol.

  21. kristin

    Can this be done a day in advance, then all bird parts warmed in a pan before serving?

    Only if you can re-crisp the skin under a broiler or salamander. While the meat will be fine done ahead, storing it will destroy the crispiness of the skin. ~Hank

  22. Alisa

    So I gave this recipe a try today and I really don’t think it could have been spelled out more clearly on the internet (and I searched for a while). While we got an A+ for motivation to try something new and exciting for dinner, we received a F for execution. Not the recipes fault at all but man, goose is INVOLVED. The meat was a stranger than we’re used to texture and I don’t believe we cooked it enough. The gravy was the one thing we got right and it was really tasty. It was worth a shot and would hate to see what we would have turned out without this step-by-step guide.

  23. Valerie

    We roasted a goose for Christmas dinner, and it was fantastic! It was a Pilgrim goose that we raised over the summer. We followed the instructions nervously, because we don’t even roast chickens that often. But everyone at the dinner table was pleasantly surprised by how good it was! Not dry at all and very tasty, somewhere between duck and beef. Much better than the Muscovy duck we had roasted the normal way a few months ago, which came out very dry.

    We were uncomfortable with serving it medium-rare, so when we seared the breasts, we seared them on the skin side as directed, and then a bit on the meat side as well. Also, it was re-heated in the oven right before dinner.

    We made the gravy using marsala wine instead of madiera. We didn’t blend it, because the only lumps were onions and roasted garlic. (Yum.)

    The only downside was that the pan was an inch shorter than the bird so some fat did drip into the bottom of the oven and create some smoke. So make sure you have a large and deep enough pan to catch all the fat. We didn’t roast vegetables with the goose, so we just drained off the fat at the end, and it’s in the fridge waiting to be rendered.

    Next up: make goose stock, then… goose noodle soup?

  24. Vlad G

    Did this the over day. Worked really well, though next time I do it it’ll come out better–learning from my mistakes and all.

    By the way, I’m unclear how the person a couple up from me didn’t have to blend the gravy–there were most definitely chunks of gizzards and the meat stripped from wings and neck. Blending really gives it a texture too.

    Also, as to the fat. I had a slightly different process which I think had its advantages. The fat that I removed from the bird during the cleaning I rendered separately from the drippings in the oven. The fat in the roasting pan ends up being much dirtier because of the root vegetables, etc. I reserved the roasting pan fat and then triple filtered using paper towels and coffee filters to get a nice clean, golden jar of goose grease.

  25. erica brusselars

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I made it in the spirit of a Christmas dinner the weekend before Christmas (and served fig pudding for dessert). I cooked an 11.5 pound goose and served six. This recipe covered everything and the pictures were great. The only issue I had is that the root vegetables took a long time. I probably would start them ahead of the goose if I were to do this again (then no chance that they run long and steal the oven from the dinner rolls).

    The next week a friend’s friend was going to cook goose and I told her that I used a recipe that split the breast off mid-cooking. This friend brushed me off that that would be too much work, she was going to stuff the goose. Her post-Christmas report was that it was too dry. While this recipe might seem like work, at least you know it will be delicious. Worse to do half the work and get a mediocre outcome.

    Thank you again!

  26. Mike Stone

    Thanks for putting your information together, you obviously put a lot of work into it. Those of us who plan to cook a goose without your method surely will regret it if we ignore what you teach. Which brings me to me…. Your recipe seems perfect but I will not do it. Too much work. My question is ‘will you invite me to your house next time you serve it?’

  27. Harvest

    I can’t find Madeira Wine. What else will be a great substitution?

    Marsala wine would be the best substitution, followed by white Port or a sweet sherry. ~Hank

  28. Rebecca

    We have a Cabernet wine. Would that work or do I need to head out for the wine shop?

    Cabernet is a little strong for goose, but it will do if the wine shop is far away. If you can, though, I’d buy a good Chianti, a Grenache, a Gamay, Beaujolais, Sangiovese or a California Pinot Noir. ~Hank

  29. Klaus Grunrr

    My mother mixed the goose fat with lard. This was the best spread on heavy German bred. Specially with a cheese I cannot remember the name. We called it “Leichenfinger” but this is not the real name.

  30. Klaus Grunrr

    My mother mixed the goose fat with lard. This was the best spread on heavy German bread, especially with a cheese I cannot remember the name. We called it “Leichenfinger” but this is not the real name. My mother made a soup from the heart, and all intestine plus the head with rice. It was called Gänseklein and was always served on Christmas Eve while the goose was for Christmas day.

  31. Gary

    Worst goose I ever cooked. All temps and times as published. Came out very rare and tough. I will go back to Julia Child’s steamed rosted goose recipe.

  32. Tyler

    One of the best guides to cooking and carving a goose I’ve come across. I cook goose 2-3 times a year, and this method produced the best results no doubt about it. Plus the pictures and carving information were *super* helpful!

  33. Kate Connor

    I made goose based on this approach for Christmas. It was fabulous! I think removing the breasts and searing the skin HARD before serving was the key. It was great! I made the gravy as well, with addition of the juice of a couple oranges. It was so good I could drink it straight. This will become my regular approach for the Christmas goose. Thanks very much for a great method!

  34. Marc

    While this looks great and I am going to use the recipe. The Goose it looks like your using is farm raised? I shot a Canada goose two days ago and hope it shall turn out as good. They are very lean and not much in the way of fat, so hopefully that doesn’t pose a problem. Maybe less cook time? How about apple, orange or both in the cavity with the garlic?
    I guess I’ll just watch the temps.Last thing I want to do is make a piece of leather. Thanks for the best guide line I’ve come across!

    My advice is to break the Canada goose into breasts, and then legs/thighs/wings. Braise the legs and wings slowly, until the meat wants to fall off the bone, and oven-roast the breasts. Make sure the breasts are cooked medium-rare to medium, and be sure to slice them thin — Canada geese can be old, and tough. ~Hank

  35. Dave

    Would you recommend brining the goose beforehand?

    I don’t like brining watefowl, but some people do. I think it dilutes flavor, and since geese have such a nice layer of fat, they stay moist through long cooking. ~Hank

  36. Mark

    Hank, your directions indicate this recipe is best for a domestic goose. Would you change anything for a wild one?

    If it is a fat wild goose, no. But I would not cook a snow goose this way at all. A skinny specklebelly or Canada goose will need less time than a domestic for the breast meat, and more time for the legs and wings. Wild bird legs in general are tougher, so you will need a bit more time in the oven to make them tender. ~Hank