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Duck Breast Recipe
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5 from 1 vote

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

Cook Time15 mins
Rest Time5 mins
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!