A Spicy Perspective

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Savory Blackberry Sauce

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How to Cook Duck Breast – This Duck Breast Recipe will have you searing like a pro. It’s the perfect dish to impress your dinner guests for any occasion… You may even impress yourself!

how to cook duck breast

Non-Oven Cooked Duck

Have you ever seen a raw duck breast? It’s such a curious thing.

Imagine a dark sliver of meat topped with a thick blanket of fat, sometimes thicker than the breast meat itself. As you sear the breast, the fat gently renders away to a thin crispy crust, leaving a pool of “liquid gold” duck fat to save and reuse.

Magically, as the fat renders, the breast plumps up to a succulent red meat sensation… Possibly even better than a good beef fillet.

duck breast recipe

People often steer clear of duck meat because they don’t know how to cook duck breasts, and don’t want to mess with roasting a whole duck. What a travesty! Duck breasts are ridiculously easy to prepare and offer a luxurious fatty flavor that will have your dinner guests Oooooing and Ahhhhing.

That makes it a brilliant dish to serve over the holidays. Quick low maintenance cooking, BIG impact.

Amazing Poultry Fat Ideas

As for the rendered duck fat, DON’T THROW IT AWAY. Duck fat is highly regarded as a superior fat for cooking. It provides intense flavor, has a high smoking point, and is considered one of the healthiest animal fats. Some say it’s as healthy as olive oil.

Once you’ve finished rendering the duck breast, be sure to carefully pour the cooled fat into a glass container and store it in the fridge.

Use it to make perfectly crispy and decadent French Fries and Shoestring Fries!

reserved duck fat in jar

Last winter I seared duck breasts for a party, but was in a bit of a hurry. I removed the breasts from the pan and grabbed a bowl for the duck fat. Without thinking, I poured the hot fat into a plastic container. Immediately the boiling hot duck fat melted through the container and ran over my countertop and down the cabinets!

Standing there in a stupor, tears welled in my eyes. NOT over the mess I had to clean up but, over the loss of the precious duck fat.

Yes, it’s that good.

Also, use it to roast brussels sprouts or root vegetables… Or as the fat (instead of butter) to make the ultimate grilled cheese!

What Ingredients You Will Need

  • Magret Duck Breasts – about 12-16 ounces each
  • Shallots – peeled and diced
  • Blackberry Jam
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Bourbon – or balsamic vinegar
  • Beef Stock
  • Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
  • Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
slicing duck breast

How to Cook Duck Breast Perfectly

  1. Prep by patting the duck breasts dry. Score the fat on the top of each breast, cutting down to the flesh side.
  2. Heat a large skillet over MEDIUM-LOW. Salt and pepper the breast liberally.
  3. Place them in the skillet, fat side down, and render the fat for 10-12 minutes. A dark golden crust should form as the fat melts away.
  4. Flip the breasts and cook another 6-10 minutes for medium-rare meat. (4-6 minutes for smaller breasts.)
  5. Remove from the pan and tent with foil.
  6. Allow the breasts to rest under foil while you make the sauce, then slice them thin and fan the slices on a platter.
  7. Carefully pour the duck fat into a glass container to store for later use. 
  8. Raise the heat to medium, and add the shallots to the pan. Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften and brown.
  9. Mix the flour into the blackberry jam. Then add the jam, bourbon, beef stock, red pepper, and thyme.
  10. Stir and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Slice the duck breasts thin with a sharp knife and serve topped with blackberry pan sauce.
sliced duck breast

Get the Complete (Printable) Pan Seared Duck Breast Recipe Below. Enjoy!

What To Serve With Duck?

Seared duck breast is RICH and needs to be paired with strong flavors. This duck breast recipe includes a savory-sweet blackberry pan sauce with bourbon and shallots. I added a side of mashed sweet potatoes to complement the flavors. Mmmmmm.

Some other good side dishes can include veggies from the grill like mixed vegetables, a side salad, or crispy fried Brussel sprouts.

best ever duck breast

Frequently Asked Questions?

How Long Do The Leftovers Last?

In the unlikely occasion that you have leftover duck meat, you can store this recipe in the refrigerator in an airtight container after it has cooled to room temperature for up to 2 days. 

What To Do With Leftover Duck Breast?

You can reheat it and serve the slices with blackberry sauce. Or you can omit the sauce and serve the sliced breast on:

  • Tacos with a tangy slaw
  • Crusty bread for a gourmet sandwich with grilled onions and spicy mustard
  • Or add it to a charcuterie board along with olives, French cheeses, and pickled vegetables.

How To Reheat Cooked Duck?

When you are ready to reheat this recipe, let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes to warm up to room temperature. Then place the meat in a pan on medium-low heat until the outside is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 137 degrees F. Depending on the size of the breast left, will depend on the cooking time to reheat.

best duck recipe

More Dinner Party Recipes:

how to cook duck breast
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5 from 13 votes
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Seared Duck Breast with Blackberry Pan Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
“How to Cook Duck Breast.”
Servings: 4



  • Pat the duck breasts dry. Score the fat on the top of each breast, cutting down to the flesh.
  • Heat a large skillet over MEDIUM-LOW. Salt and pepper the breast liberally.
  • Place them in the skillet, fat side down, and render the fat for 10-12 minutes. A dark golden crust should form as the fat melts away.
  • Flip the breasts and cook another 6-10 minutes for medium-rare meat.
  • Remove from the pan and tent with foil.
  • Carefully pour the duck fat into a glass container to store for later use.
  • Raise the heat to medium, and add the shallots to the pan. Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften and brown.
  • Mix the flour into the blackberry jam. Then add the jam, bourbon, beef stock, red pepper and thyme.
  • Stir and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice the duck breasts thin and serve topped with blackberry pan sauce.



Serving: 1serving, Calories: 322kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 87mg, Sodium: 317mg, Potassium: 610mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 145IU, Vitamin C: 14.5mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 6.1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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58 comments on “Pan Seared Duck Breast with Savory Blackberry Sauce”

  1. cooking duck has always been so daunting, but I now feel like I can make it thanks to your simple and delicious sounding recipe! thank you!

  2. My family has been wanting to try duck for a while but I have just been too scared to make it, but with this recipe I decided to try it and we all loved it.

  3. Who knew that I would love this so much!! That sauce is incredible! I definitely want to have guests over so I can make this for them!

  4. I am going to make this for Christmas Eve and did a test-run last night for my husband. He went crazy for it!! Thank you so much for this recipe.

  5. I tried this recipe, and it was really good.

  6. Loved the blackberry sauce. I never would’ve thought to pair that with duck!

  7. You’ve made cooking duck breast look so easy! Thanks for the great fat usage tips too.

  8. Thank you so much! Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Thank your for being so thoughtful to go into detail of how to make this dish! You are truly passionate and thoughtful about helping others, especially those who are new to cooking.

  9. this recipe is super easy and delicious! thank you so much for sharing this recipe

  10. This is excellent, but I would say that the sauce could be improved with fresh blueberries, plus sugar, and about half the amount of liquid. Still, a quick and dreamy dinner!

  11. this recipe is good. but 2 cups stock and 1/4 cup bourbon is way too much to simmer into a thick pan sauce.

    • I’m using this recipe to make my own version since I don’t have the ingredients and I don’t use flour. My only recommendation overall is to place the duck in a COLD pan because it renders better and leaves the meat more juicy since you don’t need to render as long. There’s debates on whether to finish it in the oven or stovetop, but either works. I appreciate having this recipe to get the flavours right so I know it won’t be a bomb.

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  13. Excellent! Great Flavor Combination with a very refined and tasty finish. I will definitely make this again.

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  15. Absolutely amazing and so easy to make. You can use fresh blackberries and a bit of sugar instead of jam as well and can eliminate the flour and the sauce is just as wonderful. The bit of spice is a wonderful addition…

  16. I had never cooked duck breast before, but love it and would order it at restaurants. I have made this several times now – it’s become one of our “steak night” substitutes. The sauce is spectacular, I’ve added some finely minced jalepeno to kick it up a tiny bit. The result of the meat is very much like a filet cooked medium rare but with a crispy exterior – delicious! One breast is more than enough for my husband and I to split as it is very rich. Try this…you won’t be sorry. And the duck fat makes for perfect roasted potatoes. Keeps in the fridge for a while.

  17. I made this tonight and it was fantastic! I had wanted to make duck for some time now and bought 2 yesterday. Since I’m just cooking for one I froze one of the breasts. This was such an easy recipe to use. I did add bacon to the glaze….hope you understand. I can’t seem to leave recipes alone. Love to tweak them to my taste. Thanks again!

  18. I made this recipe tonight and it was exquisite–the cooking time for the duck breast is perfect and yielded a crispy skinned, medium rare. Thanks so much for great instructions and lovely photos!

  19. Adjusted just the sauce a bit . . . used chicken broth instead of beef & fortified it with D’Artagnon duck & chicken demi-glace. Used the bourbon to deglaze the pan before adding everything else. Simmered it longer to reduce a bit, but it still made WAY more sauce than needed. It was delicious, though, and I’ll serve the rest over some roast pork loin.

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  21. This was a great recipe, but something is off with the sauce proportions. I think the beef stock amount is what is wrong. Wound up with a soupy blackberry sauce that I had to thicken with flour. Tasted great – but not quite what I had expected.

    • The sauce cooked down and became fantastic!  Love the savory/sweet component…it goes great with the duck.  Served it with quinoa and sautéed spinach.  

  22. Sometimes you can find just duck breast in the freezer section by the turkey, cornish hen, etc. Two come in a little box and perfect for a couple. Whole ducks are expensive (around $25 each here in Maine), and the breasts cost about $8 and are generous. And yes, no one throw out that duck fat!!! You’ve never had a french fry ’til you’ve had them fried in duck fat. Duck fat on rye toast with a smidge of salt in the AM is delish! Don’t any of you remember your gramma having a container on the stove full of chicken fat, whatever fat that she would use to cook everything? That’s why her food tasted soooo good. Last month purchased 15 pounds of it through the web, rendered down, in buckets, use it for everything. It’s actually healthier than butter (google it, it’s true!!!). Now, if I can only find someone to “process” my 12 pekin ducks for me, apparently they are very difficult to defeather without destroying the skin, hence their price at market…

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  24. Duck is one of favorite things, and this recipe sounds fabulous.

  25. When I turned 15, my mom took me out for lunch at a fancy restaurant where I ordered the seared duck breast. It was so, so good, and I’ve since tried convincing my mom to make it at home, but she always said that duck breast was difficult to cook. I’ll show her this wonderful post and then her mouth will water like mine is right now. Love the step by step photos; so helpful.

  26. Duck is one of our favorite meats! Can’t wait to try this fabulous version with our wonderful Maple Leaf duck that we can get up here in Indianapolis. We’ve even gotten so brave as to make our own duck confit :-)

  27. I’ve eaten many a duck breast in my life; however, I have yet to try to cook one! I think I’m going to need to make cooking a duck breast one of my goals for 2012 :)

  28. I love cooking duck breasts! The biggest problem I have is that they can be a bit hard to find – last time I wanted some for a dinner party I literally had to call 8 butchers/supermarkets before finding them. So worth it though! Great sounding recipe.

  29. Beautiful recipe for the holidays! Can I come you your house please?! Happy holidays my friend to you and your family :) xo

  30. Love the step by step and have some lovely farm fresh duck breast in my fridge right now – and as you say “Yes, it is that good” – so, I must make this recipe, then, mustn’t i? :) Merry Christmas, Sommer! There is definitely magic in the air! Best wishes for a prosperous and dream filled 2012!

  31. Your duck looks lovely. Nice sear, but nicely rare (medium rare) on the inside. And it seems to special and festive.
    Hope you’re having a lovely holiday season, and a Merry Christmas!

  32. Yes I have! (wondered how to cook duck). Beautiful dish and a must try on my bucket list. Merry Christmas Sommer!

  33. I’m emailing this recipe to MIL. She adores duck!!
    Happy Holidays Sommer!

  34. Looks great! I once did a duck breast story for Cooking Light, and I had no clue how to cook them prior to that. They are so versatile, and these looks great!

  35. I slow-roasted it last winter and loved the results. The fat didn’t get crispy (which I don’t eat, anyway) but the meat was perfectly medium rare all the way through – and no mess on the cook top LOL

  36. I love love love duck so much. This looks so good.

  37. Duck prepared this way is my absolute favorite. And it is really is SO easy to make. Love this blackberry pan sauce. Wow!

  38. Delicious! I’ve made duck breast at home, but not very often…I LOVE the stuff! Your directions and pictures are PERFECT!

  39. Looks like a meal at a restaurant. I have never eaten it. Merry Christmas!

  40. Mmmm good. You’ve convinced me; now dying to try it!

  41. I have never prepared a duck breast, whole ducks yes, and my children just love duck. This is so beautifully prepared…gorgeous meal!
    Happy Holidays

  42. I must admit that I’ve never been a big fan of duck, however THIS looks like it might just win me over!

  43. Your duck looks perfectly cooked! Love the crispy skin!

  44. Ahhh, a blanket of fat! Just a thing of beauty!

  45. This is a tremendous recipe … and your commentary on rendered duck fat is inspirational … I have no plans for New Years Eve and can think of no other more special meal … thanks, Sommer!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours this season!


    this looks ridiculously awesome.

  47. I’ve never served duck, period. After reading your instructions, I know I could do this. Seems very simple when having guest for dinner. I’m going to start looking for duck breast in Oklahoma….I am sure it is here somewhere. Your photos are beautiful!

  48. I’ve had several recipes for duck pass through my kitchen but have never been able to find duck breasts. Whole duck, yes, but not just the breast. Now I’m on a quest. These look amazing. The pan sauce is the bomb. Your explanations and walk-through made me feel comfortable about the process and explained a lot (i.e., what the big deal about the fat is).

  49. This looks so good. One of these days I gotta get around to cooking duck. I can’t believe I’ve never cooked, and have only eaten it once.

  50. Looks so professional, like what I would see in a fancy restaurant! Thanks for the tutorial. I can only imagine how perfectly your blackberry pan sauce and sweet potatoes compliment the duck.