Duck breast is the finest part of the duck and creates gourmet opportunities because of the rim of fat attached to it. Duck breast can be smoked as well. For this dish we obtain the breasts either by butchering a whole duck ourselves or by buying the breasts from a supplier. Always ensure the rim of fat is still on the breast as it is essential in the preparation.

The art of making duck breast

In essence, after the marinade, a heavy bottomed skillet and the duck breasts is all what one needs for the basic meat preparation. First place the duck breasts skin side down on the bottom of the skillet at medium heat to render fat from the skin. This will crisp the skin and provide the fat for cooking the breasts on the other side further.

The marinade will give the cook more slack in the timing. A shorter time on the meat side will keep the breast more rare. A longer time will cook the breast through. But even then the marinade will cause the meat still to be juicy and moist. Therefore the cook in this recipe should focus on creating a crispy, but not burned skin.

Special equipment

  • heavy bottomed skillet
duck breast photo: ©️Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Duck breast with oriental sauce

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese


For the duck

  • 2 duck breasts
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • fresh juice of a third of an orange

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup duck broth or chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine (shaoxingjiu or other) can substitute with sherry or port wine
  • the grated peel of 1/3 orange
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce (either make yourself by cooking, concentrating and sieving a large tomato or use ready-made tomato sauce, but preferably not ketchup)
  • a pinch of chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


Instructions for the duck breasts

  • Take the two breasts and season them lightly with a mixture of some fresh orange juice, some salt and fresh pepper and the olive oil. Let them marinate for a 1-5 hrs in the refrigerator
  • Thereafter pat them dry
  • Take a skillet and place the duck breasts skin side down at low heat in the pan. The low heat will start to render the duck fat coming out of the skin and will eventually provide for a nice crispy skin. Once sufficient fat has come out, turn the breast now meat side down and continue frying for a few minutes. Check the crispy ness of the skin side. If not developed enough after a few minutes turn the breast on their skin again and continue to slowly fry until the skin is crisp.
    The duck breasts may be rare, but not raw. If you like them more done, increase the skillet frying time after the skin is crisp. The marinade upfront will provide the cook more slack as the well done meat will still be juicy
  • Let the duck breasts, skin side up, rest for 10 minutes under foil (I use a wooden cutting board such as to insulate the breast somewhat and is also easy for cutting them later) and meanwhile make the sauce in the same pan as where the breasts were fried
  • After 10 minutes, cut the breasts in 6 mm slices and serve them skin side up with the sauce poured over on top.

Instructions for the sauce

    After the breasts have been taken out of the skillet to rest, make the sauce in the skillet.

    • Pour off most of the fat until around 1 tbs fat is left in the pan
    • Then add the broth and the rice wine and dissolve any pan scraps, while heating the skillet. When the mixture is simmering, add all other ingredients and concentrate until the sauce has a thick consistency


    Method: pan-frying

    Food Allergy & Intolerance information: none

    Keyword panfrying


    1. The thickness of the fat layer on the skin of the duck breast may vary. Wild ducks usually display a thinner layer than domesticated ducks. They are more fit and generally have a lot less fat.
    2. Some larger ducks may provide 4 adults with enough breast meat.

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