How to cook the perfect duck breasts

Follow this helpful guide and master the art of cooking the perfect duck breasts...
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  • From preparing to cooking, from top tips to our best duck breast recipes, cooking duck breasts just got a whole lot easier!

    Duck is a wonderful, flavoursome meat that can be used in so many different ways. Its richness means that it can stand out on any plate, but is also robust enough to take on some serious flavours too.

    Commonly associated with Asian cuisine, it pairs beautifully with punchy spices like cinnamon, anise and sichuan pepper, however, duck can also hold its own among some other less typical pairings, particularly sharp fruits like cherry or rhubarb.

    Though duck is commonly thought of as a fatty bird, it’s actually worth noting that gram for gram, skinless duck breast is lower in fat than chicken, so bear this in mind when you’re thinking of options for low fat recipes.

    How to prepare duck breast

    1. To help give that wonderful crispy skin, pat the breast dry with a paper towel and score the skin with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern or diagonally along the breast – this is a crucial step as it stops the breast from tightening up and becoming tough. Season with salt or a fragrant spice rub.
    2. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight if possible. This will dry the skin out making for crispy skin and if using a dry rub, impart more flavour.
    3. Before cooking, bring the duck breasts out of the fridge for around 30 mins to come to room temperature.

    How to prepare skinless duck breast 

    You can always ask your butcher to do this, but honestly, removing the skin from the breast is so easy, you can do it yourself for sure! 

    1. Place the breast skin-side up on a chopping board, using a small sharp knife, make a small incision at the thinner end of the breast between the skin and the meat.
    2. Gently pull the skin away, ensuring not to damage any of the meat. Carefully use the knife in one hand to cut the sinew, while pulling the skin away with the other. 
    3. Without the skin, duck can easily dry out so it’s best to cook as quickly – you can do this by butterflying the breast, cutting the cooking time in half.

    How to cook duck breasts 

    If you’ve ever been put off of cooking duck at home because you think it’s too difficult, then think again! This easy step by step will show you how…

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 2 Duck breasts, seasoned

    Method

    Step 1: Score the skin with a sharp knife and leave to come to room temperature (30 mins)

    Step two: Place the breasts skin-side down in a cold frying pan and place over a medium-high heat. Placing in a cold pan and gradually heating ensures that the fat will render down well and the skin will crisp up nicely without burning. 

    Step 3: Cook skin-side down for 6-8 mins until the skin is crisp and brown. Turn the breast over, sealing the meat on all sides. Cook for a further 4-5 mins.

    Alternatively, you can finish the breast in the oven. After sealing the meat, place skin-side down and transfer to a preheated oven set at 190C/Gas 5. Cook for 6-8 mins for a succulent pink flesh, or 10-12 mins for more well-cooked meat.

    Step 4: Remove the breasts and place on a board to rest for 10 mins before serving.

    Top tips for cooking duck breasts

    A great tip to remember when cooking your duck breast is to touch your face. Yes, that’s correct! If you compare the feel of the hot meat to the feel of different areas of your face you can’t go wrong, although, if you have a meat thermometer you can be doubly sure:

    Cheek = Rare (55C)
    Chin = Medium (60C)
    Forehead = Well done (65C)

    Another tip is to reserve rendered fat from the skin and keep in a jar in the fridge, it’s perfect for crispy roast potatoes or any other roasted vegetables for that matter.

    If you’re transferring your duck to the oven after frying, keep in the frying pan. If your pan has a plastic handle, place on a tray that’s been heating in the oven.

    Our favourite duck breast recipes 

    Duck Ramen

    citrus ginger duck ramen

    Restore yourself with our flavourful duck ramen. A delicious broth served with noodles, green veggies and succulent deck breast.

    Get the recipe: Duck Ramen recipe

    Spicy Duck with Rhubarb

    Duck with rhubarb

    The sweet and sour rhubarb in this dish cuts through the richness of the duck, making it one of our absolute faves!

    Get the recipe: Spicy Duck with Rhubarb

    Hot Smoked Duck Breasts

    Hot Smoked Duck Breast

    Its time to flex those culinary muscles and try this restaurant worth smoked duck, and its so much easier than you think!

    Get the recipe: Hot Smoked Duck Breasts

    Duck with Crispy Noodles

    Duck with Crispy Noodles

    Beautifully balanced with 5-spice, this classic duck and noodles will definitely hit the spot.

    Get the recipe: Duck with Crispy Noodles

    Duck Salad

    A healthy and satisfying salad and that packed full of flavour.

    Get the recipe: Duck Salad

    Crispy Duck Pancakes

    Crispy duck pancakes

    A Chinese takeaway MUST that you can now make yourself! You’ll be glad you gave it a go.

    Get the recipe: Crispy Duck Pancakes

    Stir Fried Duck with Orange

    Duck and orange is a match made in culinary heaven, usually associated with the French classic Duck l’orange,

    Get the recipe: Stir Fried Duck with Orange