Skip to Content

How to Cook & Prep Duck Breast and 3 Recipes

How to Cook & Prep Duck Breast and 3 Recipes

Last Updated on 3rd February 2023 by

If you want to try out the unique and ultra-versatile duck meat, you’re in for a grand treat!

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a step by step guide that shows you how to make 3 delicious duck breast recipes. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

How to Cook Pan Seared Wild Duck Breasts in 6 Easy Steps

The first recipe for today is the easiest way to cook a duck breast. What is great about this method of cooking is that it works with almost any kind of duck breasts you have, whether it’s wild or store-bought.

Not only that, but it also works with geese. The recipe doesn’t call for more than salt and pepper for recipes, which makes it an excellent recipe no matter how limited your pantry options are.

The lack of intense seasoning will allow you to enjoy the authentic taste of wild duck breast meat! Here’s everything you need to know about this recipe:

Duck Breast Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

How to Cook Pan Seared Wild Duck Breasts in 6 Easy Steps

Cook Time15 minutes
Rest Time5 minutes
Keyword: duck breast, meat recipe
Servings: 6 people or depending on the number of breasts you’ll cook


  • 6 wild duck breasts
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil or duck fat


Step 1: Score the Duck

  • The first thing you need to know about wild ducks is that they don’t have as much fat as domestic ones. So, after taking them out of the fridge to score them, you have to be careful not to cut too deep into the meat itself.
  • If the breasts were in the freezer, take them out a couple of hours earlier and allow them to thaw a little before starting.
  • To score, you need a small but very sharp knife and carefully carve a cross diamonds pattern with your knife tilted 45 degrees to protect the meat from being exposed to too much heat.
  • If you’re cooking a domestic duck or a goose, the skin layer will be even thicker, so you have to make your diamond pattern about 1/2 inch across and a little deeper.
  • The main point of scoring is to help the fat render easily, which makes the duck breasts’ skin crispy and super delicious!

Step 2: Season the Breasts

  • Seasoning in this recipe is as easy as it gets! Simply sprinkle the breasts with some sea or kosher salt on both sides to your taste, then finish up with a dash of black pepper.

Step 3: Sear the Wild Duck Breasts Skin Side on the Pan

  • Bring clean steel or cast iron pan to cook the breasts. Non-stick pans would work too but they won’t give you as good results as the steel ones.
  • While starting with a preheated pan would marginally speed up the cooking time, you should start with a cool pan to render as much fat as possible, especially with wild ducks that have a naturally-limited amount of fat.
  • Dry breasts will result in crispier skin. So, after the breasts thaw, pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • After starting the heat on low, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil in the pan for store-bought breasts or 2 teaspoons for wild ducks.
  • Lay the breasts over the pan so that the skin side starts searing, then move around the pan to smear the fat all over the surface. After that, bring the heat to medium-high.
  • You can also press on the duck using tongs to give them more contact. You’ll notice that the breasts will start to contract and the skin will curl up.
  • You can press them for 30 to 60 seconds but you release the pressure if the oil added starts smoking.
  • After giving the duck breasts the initial sear, you’ll need to let the breast cook for a while on a medium sizzle.
  • Keep in mind that for a pan-seared duck breast, you should do most of the cooking on this side rather than the other one.
  • For a wild duck breast, you’ll need anywhere between 2 to 4 minutes while cooking the skin side on medium to high heat.
  • However, the fattier the duck, the longer it’ll take to reach your desired cooking level. Ideally, a larger store-bought duck with lots of fat might require a couple of minutes more.
  • Since this recipe also works with goose breasts, you might want to let it sear for a little while longer to render goose fat, which is anywhere 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 4: Cook the Meat Side as Preferred

  • Depending on the type of duck you have, the cooking time on the meaty side will also change. Yet, it’s usually 1/4 of the total cooking time, so expect nothing more than a quick flash to cook the surface, as most of the internal meat was cooked on the crispy skin side.
  • For wild ducks, this should be anywhere between 1 to 3 minutes. Fatty wild ducks and store-bought ones will require up to 5 or 6 minutes, and up to 7 or 8 minutes for geese.
  • A good tip here is to lightly season the other side with a tiny amount of salt to make this side as crispy as possible too.

Step 5: Cook the Sides

  • To get an even cook and color, you should also cook the breasts’ sides. Hold each breast with tongs and lightly press them on medium heat for 30 to 60 seconds, or depending on the doneness of the breasts.
  • You can also stand to breasts against each other if you want a quicker and more hands-free cocking. But, make sure they support each other well so they don’t tip over and overcook.

Step 6: Let the Breasts Rest & Serve

  • Once you cook the duck all the way to your desired level, you should allow the meat to rest before you slice it up.
  • By letting the duck rest, the juices will reincorporate into the tissues, which allows the meat to hold up while slicing and stay juicy while biting on them.
  • Ideally, anywhere between 5 to 7 minutes would be great for all kinds of ducks, whether they’re store-bought or wild.
  • When the breasts are ready, you can either slice it up the way you like it or serve it as a whole with the crispy and caramelized skin up. Always on top of your favorite sauce!

How to Make Chinese-Tea Smoked Duck Breasts with Plum Sauce

If you want to make a fancy meal using duck breasts, you’re going to love this one! Using tea for smoking is quite common in various Chinese recipes. It’s quite easy and adds a unique odour and flavour to your meal.

Chinese-Tea Smoked Duck Breasts with Plum Sauce
Print Recipe
3 from 1 vote

How to Make Chinese-Tea Smoked Duck Breasts with Plum Sauce

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Keyword: smoked duck breast
Servings: 5


  • 6 duck breasts with their skin on
  • 2 tbsp tea leaves of your choice (don’t use teabags)
  • ounce uncooked whole grain rice
  • ¾ ounce cane sugar, broken into small pieces
  • 2 ½ tbsp all-purpose or plain flour
  • Fine sea salt, to taste

For the Plum Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups red plums
  • 1 onions
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • ½ ounce piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • A dash of black pepper, to taste


Step 1: Score and Salt the Duck

  • Since you’re going to leave the skin on, you’ll start up by scoring the skin just like the classic recipe.
  • Score the skin with a sharp knife to make a diamond pattern after blot drying the duck breast with a paper towel. (don’t cut into the meat)
  • Lightly salt the skin of the breast then let them sit for 30 minutes if you’ve taken them out of the fridge.

Step 2: Prepare the Plum Sauce

  • Meanwhile, prepare the plum sauce by cutting and dicing the plums into small cubes (remove the pits first), then add them in a medium-sized saute pan with the granulated sugar.
  • Break the cinnamon into small pieces then mince the onions into fine pieces, then add them to the mix.
  • Squeeze in a zesty orange juice and water, then turn up the pan to medium heat and bring it to a boil.
  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste but don’t forget that you’re salting the duck breasts too. You can taste the mix every now and then to see if it has reached the desired level of seasoning.
  • If the cinnamon or ginger feels too strong at any point, simply take them out. Once the mixture starts boiling, lower the heat and leave the sauce to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce reduces to a fairly thick puree, then set aside to cool.

Step 3: Cook the Duck Breasts

  • Back to the breasts, cook them so that they reach the ideal level of doneness for you. Remember, the pan must be cool at first to render as much fat as possible while cooking and enjoy a crispy and flavorful skin.
  • Once all the side gets an even brown color, transfer the breasts to the smoking step.

Step 4: Smoke the Duck Breasts with Tea Leaves

  • Prepare an unoiled wok and layer in two sheets of foil at the bottom and a rack on the top. Add the rice, cane sugar, rice, and flour with the tea leaves of your choice. A good suggestion here is the jasmine tea leaves because they give a balanced smokey flavor.
  • Put the duck breasts with the skin side up on the rack then turn the wok up to high heat. In the beginning, the smoke will be white but will then darken until it becomes dark yellow.
  • When that happens, lower the heat and smoke it for one minute, then another two minutes after turning off the heat. Remove the lid and take the breasts out from the smoking wok.

Step 5: Serve the Smoked Duck Breasts with Plum Sauce

  • Remove all the solid pieces of the sauce (cinnamon, clove, and ginger), then pour some of the sauce in a serving plate while laying the duck breast over them.

How to Cook Skinless Duck Breasts

If you’re looking for a low-calorie alternative for chicken breasts, try out skinless duck breasts for a change! Here’s how to make it:

Skinless Duck Breast
Print Recipe
4 from 1 vote

How to Cook Skinless Duck Breasts

Cook Time10 minutes
Keyword: duck breast, skinless duck breast


  • 4 duck breasts
  • 2-3 olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • ½ thyme (optional)
  • ½ Coriander (optional)
  • ½ Sage (optional)


Step 1: Remove the skin from the Duck Breasts

  • Remove the skin using a small but sharp knife. You should also try to carve out all the excess fat without stabbing it into the meat. You can discard the skin and fat or reserve them for making sauces or gravy on your cheat days!

Step 2: Marinate the Duck Breasts

  • Just like a regular chicken breast, put the duck breast into a zip-loc bag along with olive oil, thyme, sage, coriander, salt, and black pepper. Leave the duck to marinate for about two to 3 hours in the fridge.

Step 3: Cook the Skinless Duck Breasts

  • Bring a medium-sized to a large skillet and put the duck breast on it along with the marinate. This should include olive oil, so you don’t need to oil the skillet.
  • Without skin, the duck meat will cook quickly, so be careful. Simply cook the meat on each side until it’s lightly browned. This should take anywhere between 1 to 4 minutes

Step 4: Remove and Serve

  • When the breasts reach your preferred level of doneness, simply take it out of the heat and enjoy it with your favorite side dish of sauce or gravy.

Wrap Up

There you have it! 3 delicious duck breast recipes that you’re going to adore! As you can see, you can cook duck breasts in a variety of ways. If it’s your first time cooking a duck breast, try the classic pan-seared recipe.

For a healthy and quick lunch, try the skinless one. For a fancy dinner with friends, go with the Chinese-style smoked recipe.

Rate this post

I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

Recipe Rating