How to Roast a Goose

Intimidated by the thought of making a whole roast goose? With our step-by-step detailed instructions and photos you don’t have to be!

Roast Goose
Elise Bauer

A great many people are deathly afraid of geese—and I am not talking about those nasty birds that chased us around at the park when we were children. Romance surrounds the roasting of geese, especially on Christmas. Yet, nearly everyone has a horror story about dry, livery meat surrounded by flabby skin and an ocean of liquid fat.

Can an overcooked goose become livery? You bet. Are they fatty? Oh yes. But remember that a goose is not a turkey, just as a duck is not a chicken.

You don’t cook them the same way.

Why You Can Serve Goose Breast Medium-Rare

Both ducks and geese are red meat birds—meaning the breasts of both need to be served medium-rare. That’s pink, or 140-150°F for those of you with thermometers.

Regarding poultry and salmonella, I did quite a lot of research for this post about eating rare duck or goose, and suffice to say that I’ve found no one who can fully explain why no one gets sick from eating rare waterfowl.

But that seems to be the case.

I could not find one instance of food poisoning from eating rare—or even raw!—duck or goose meat. Exactly why is a Great Mystery. I eat 50 to 60 wild ducks and geese every year—breasts always rare—and I have never gotten sick from it.

Every fine restaurant in America serves duck breast medium to rare. So, all evidence points to it being OK to eat pink goose breast. By the way, a 160°F duck or goose breast will no longer be pink. If this concerns you, fine, cook it longer. It’s your bird.

Roast Goose
Elise Bauer

How to Evenly Cook a Roast Goose

Now. How to get medium-rare breast with properly done legs and wings? Take the bird apart midstream. The only thing you lose is that “ooh, ahh!” moment of a perfect-looking roast bird. But that bird will not taste perfect, my friends, no matter how lacquered the skin is. If the legs are done properly, the breast will be overcooked. And besides, you’ll cut into the bird in a moment anyway.

With my method, you roast the goose for a while, then slice off the whole breast and finish it in a pan once the legs are done. That way you still get a nice roasted flavor on the whole goose, and you get crispy skin and you get properly pink breast meat. Also, because you are cooking the goose at a relatively low temperature, you also won't smoke up your kitchen.

Hank Shaw About to Prep Goose
Elise Bauer

Are there other ways to go about this? You bet. But this is a method of roasting a whole goose that is relatively easy. It requires only a few ingredients, yet results in a bird so luscious, you will wonder why you don’t eat them more often.

What to Do With Goose Fat

Oh, and as for all that extra goose fat you will get? Save it. Goose fat is God’s gift to potatoes, and is a spectacular medium for cooking winter greens such as kale, spinach or chard.

How to Buy a Goose for Roasting

You can order goose from most butchers in even chain grocery stores. Certain stores (like Whole Foods) will have goose during the winter holiday season. Chinese poultry markets may have goose year-round. But in general, whole goose has to be special ordered. Be sure to order your goose from your butcher far in advance.

Alternately, you can order goose online from specialty poultry purveyors. Just be sure to order a few days in advance to make sure your goose is fully defrosted before cooking. Whole geese are expensive, since they are a specialty bird and usually have to be imported.

What to Serve with Your Roast Goose

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

How to Roast a Goose

Prep Time 60 mins
Cook Time 100 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings 5 to 6 servings
Yield 1 goose

The roasting time for this recipe is for an 8-pound goose. You’ll need to adjust the roasting time for a larger or smaller goose. In general, plan for an 8 to 10 pound goose for 5 to 6 people, and an 11 to 12 pound goose for 6 to 8 people

Ingredients

For the Goose:

  • 1 8-pound goose (see recipe note)

  • Juice of 1lemon

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped

  • 1 whole head garlic

  • 1/2 cup Madeira

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2pounds assorted root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, and/or rutabagas, peeled and chopped into large chunks

Method

  1. Bring the goose to room temperature:

    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. This way, 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.

  2. 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.

    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.

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

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  3. 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.

    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 1/2 cup) and put over low heat to render out.

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  4. 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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  5. Season the goose and place in the oven:

    Preheat the oven to 325°F.

    Rub the goose all over with the cut half of a lemon. Use both sides to get it good and coated. Put the spent lemon 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.

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  6. Start the gravy:

    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 to 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 and turn the gravy down to a bare simmer.

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  7. Add root vegetables to the roasting pan:

    After the goose has cooked for 20 minutes, add any 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. Add it to the pot with the rendering goose fat.

    When you’re done, put the goose back into the oven for another 20 minutes.

  8. Carve out the breasts:

    When a total of 40 minutes of cooking time has elapsed, test the temperature of the breast. You should have something between 130° and 140°F. If you’re there, remove the goose but keep the oven on.

    Now, you need to carve off the whole breasts. Using a thin knife—again, a boning knife is ideal—make a slice where the breast meets the leg and another slice where the breast meets the wing.

    Then, 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.

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  9. Finish cooking the rest of the goose:

    Put the goose (minus the breasts) back into the oven. Let this cook for another 30 to 40 minutes.

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

    After 30 minutes, probe the thickest part of the goose’s thigh with a thermometer. Remove the goose when the temperature is between 165° to 170°F. Check the root veggies. If they are done, great. If not, keep them in the oven for the moment longer.

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

  10. 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 purée until completely smooth. Work in batches to avoid the gravy spurting out of your blender. You want a thick gravy. But if it is too thick, add a bit of 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.

    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 to 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.

  11. Sear the breasts:

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

    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 to 4 minutes. You want a rich brown.

    When 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.

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  12. 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.

    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.

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  13. 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
2075 Calories
134g Fat
44g Carbs
161g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 2075
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 134g 172%
Saturated Fat 42g 210%
Cholesterol 553mg 184%
Sodium 911mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 161g
Vitamin C 18mg 88%
Calcium 143mg 11%
Iron 20mg 111%
Potassium 2433mg 52%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.