How to Properly Cook Duck Breast

How to Properly Cook Duck Breast

Duck is a wonderful protein and there is a lot of misconceptions about the meat. Some think it is greasy and too fatty while others think it needs to be cooked to well done and is just dry and tasteless. All of these things couldn’t be farther than the truth. If you cook duck properly, it will become your new favorite protein for so many reasons.

Choosing the Best Ingredient

Duck breast can be a little expensive when compared to all the other poultry or water fowl proteins available. The duck breast is also the most expensive cut on the duck. But you can get them just about anywhere, including the supermarket or local grocery store. There is not a lot to choose from and usually there is only one type and is usually vacuum sealed. So just try to get what you can acquire easily without spending too much money. You just need the breast, don’t go buying a whole duck.

Preparing the Ingredients

Once you get your duck breast, you need to first score the fat cap. Make a cross hatch cut in the fat about halfway through. Make sure not to cut all the way through or you will lose the fat cap. By scoring the fat cap, you make it easier to get a nice sear on the skin as well as make it easier for the heat to penetrate the breast. After that you need to season the duck breast with some kosher salt and black pepper all over the duck breast. Other than that, the duck breast will more than likely come ready to cook, no trimming needed.

During the Cooking Process

You need to get a really good sear on the duck breast fat so make sure the pan is very hot and smoking before placing it in the pan. Otherwise, it will not sear and the fat will stick to the pan making it very hard to retrieve later. You will also need to use the oven as well so preheat it to 400 degrees. Make sure that when cooking the duck breast, you never flip it until the very end. It should be seared on the fat side then placed in the oven, fat side down still. This will help to get that very thick fat and skin nice and crispy and help to cook through the duck. Duck is also best when it is cooked to medium. It is one of the only poultry or water fowls that you can eat under well done. It is actually better to cook it under and most restaurants cook it like this no matter what.

The Final Touches

Once the duck has finished cooking, remove it from the pan and allow it to rest on a plate or cutting board for 5 minutes. It needs to rest just like a steak does if not more sometimes if the duck breast is very thick. This will help the duck breast to retain all of its juices and carry the duck breast over a little bit. Try cooking the duck to 145 degrees and while it sits, it will carry over to 150 degrees making it perfect. Next, slice the duck breast against the grain with a very sharp chef’s knife. Duck breast goes really well with a sweet fruit sauce or compote like cherries or plums. But it can also benefit from other fruits like blueberries and oranges.


  1. Score the top of the fat on the duck breast in a cross-hatch pattern. Season the duck breast with kosher salt and black pepper all over.
  2. Place a frying pan on the stovetop and heat to medium high heat with a little vegetable oil in the pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees also.
  3. Once the pan is smoking hot, gently lay the duck breast in the pan away from you so you don’t splash hot oil on your skin. Continue to sear the duck breast over heat for a few minutes, then place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and flip the duck breast over to get a nice sear on the other side. Remove the duck breast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board.

Allow the duck breast to rest on the cutting board for a few minutes to retain its juices. After resting, slice the duck breast, against the grain with a sharp knife. Transfer to a plate, serve and enjoy!

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