Classic Roast Goose Recipe: How to Cook a Goose | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Roast Goose

roast goose on the holiday table, on a platter with cranberries and festive herbs
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Agnes Kantaruk/Shutterstock
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Roast goose is a most historic fare for a holiday dinner. (Remember that scene from Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”?) For an old-fashioned feast, here’s a recipe for how to roast a goose.

Most grocers can supply a frozen goose anytime; fresh birds are usually available during the holidays. An even better (though possibly more expensive) option is a free-range goose from a local farm, which will be more tender and taste better. 

Note: Goose meat is dark, firmer, and more flavorful than turkey. Because of this, goose was traditionally served alongside other flavorful accompaniments such as chestnuts, cabbages, sage, and rosemary.

Read ALL of the instructions before you get started. There are optional steps, or you can stick to the basics.

1 goose
A little olive oil for browning (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
A few lemons and oranges
Some herbs (thyme and sage) for stuffing


  1. If the goose is purchased trussed, loosen the string and pull out the legs and wings a little; this helps the bird cook better. Check the inside of the bird and remove any giblets or pads of fat. Wash the bird thoroughly and pat dry.
  2. Prick a goose’s skin with a fork, especially in the breast area; otherwise, it will sit in unappetizing fat! It’s also common to leave goose in the fridge for a couple of days (in advance of roasting) to help it crisp up. You can prepare and stuff the bird a day in advance.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the goose from the fridge and let it stand for 2 hours at room temperature. 

Goose Cooking Time

  • A 9-pound bird (which feeds 6 to 8 people), put into the oven un-stuffed and at room temperature, will take about 2 hours to cook. 
  • A 12-1/2 pound goose (which feeds 12 to 14 people) that’s un-stuffed takes 2 hours and 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Add 20 to 40 minutes if the bird is stuffed.
  • Do not overcook the goose! You’ll know the goose is done when its juices run pale yellow; the breast meat will dry out if the goose is cooked too long.
Goose Cooking Time Chart
PoundsAmount of Time
7-91.5 to 2 hours
9-112 to 2.5 hours
11-132.5 to 3 hours
13-153 to 3.5 hours

Roasting the Goose

  1. Preheat your oven to 475°F.  
  2. Rub the goose with sea salt and pepper to taste. If you would like, rub with the zest from lemons and oranges. Season the cavity of the goose generously with salt, too.
  3. Optional: If you want to give the bird a nice golden color, first brown it in a large frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Hold the bird by the legs and press the breast side into the pan to brown. Once browned, place the bird in the roasting pan. 
  4. Optional: If you wish, stuff the cavity with lemons, oranges, and herbs. You can use whatever stuffing you fancy—dried fruit such as figs or prunes, other fresh fruits such as apples or pears, or vegetables such as onions or celery. (Whether you stuff the bird or not for extra flavoring, we still prepare stuffing separately outside the bird for serving.)
  5. Roast the bird at 475°F for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to 375°F until done (when a meat thermometer registers 165° F). 
  6. Ideally, your roasting pan will have a wire rack fitted inside because goose creates a lot of fat drippings. Every 30 minutes or so, you’ll want to baste the bird with the pan juices, then drain the fat through a sieve into a heatproof bowl. Save the fat or freeze it for later!
  7. Cover the goose with foil if it begins to brown too much.
  8. Optional: About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, add some quartered apples around the goose on the rack and baste them with drippings.
  9. At the end of the cooking time, let the bird rest for 30 minutes, covered loosely with foil so it’s easier to carve. See how to carve the bird.
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