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Psst: You Can Make Restaurant-Quality Seared Duck Breast at Home in Just 30 Minutes

Learn how to score, sear and check the internal temp like a chef

Want to know a secret that most restaurants don’t want you to know? You can make that expensive duck breast on the menu in your own kitchen just as easily (and it will taste delicious). With just a few chef secrets, you can pan-sear duck breast to perfection, scoring the skin and cooking it to a beautiful, crispy finish. Whether you want to impress your family or spice up a date night, this rich, flavorful meat is sure to impress. Plus, it takes just 30 minutes. This is your guide to cooking up pan-seared duck breast.

What to know about duck breast

If you’ve never had duck before, you’re in for a treat. Duck meat is rich, flavorful and has a higher fat content than chicken, giving it a unique taste and texture. Look for fresh duck breasts with firm, pinkish-red meat and a good layer of white fat under the skin. For beginners, boneless duck breasts are the easiest to work with. Most grocery stores carry them, but you can also find high-quality options at butcher shops.

A guide to gourmet pan-seared duck breast

Duck breasts are perfect for pan-searing. Here’s how to achieve the ideal crispy skin and tender, juicy meat:

1. Score the skin

Lightly score the skin in a crosshatch pattern without cutting into the meat. This helps render the fat and achieve a crispy skin.

2 Render the fat

Start cooking the duck breasts skin-side down in a coldpan. This method gradually renders the fat and crisps up the skin beautifully. I recommend using a cast iron pan for the best sear.

3. Moderate heat

Use medium to medium-high heat to avoid burning the skin while allowing the fat to render properly. The ideal internal temperature is around 125°-140°F for a rare to medium-rare doneness.

4. Let them rest

After cooking, take the breasts off the heat and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing to retain juices. And remember, keep the skin side up always on the cutting board.

Want more restaurant techniques? Read our guide to Reverse-Seared Steak and Pork Sous Vide.

Easy pan-seared duck breast recipe

Cooking dust breast was so easy once I followed this expert recipe from Hunt Gather Cook. Be sure to let your duck breasts come to room temperature before prepping.


  • 4 small duck breasts
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp. duck fat or olive oil
  • Black pepper


  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. Score your duck breasts, salt well on both sides and let them rest at room temperature. Then, pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat the pan over high heat for 1 minute, then add 2 Tbs. of duck fat, lard or oil. Let this get hot, but do not let the fat smoke. Then, lay the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down. Use tongs to press down any parts that aren’t touching.
  3. For medium to medium-rare, sear for about 3 minutes on the skin side. Larger ducks need a bit longer, up to 5-8 minutes.
  4. Turn the breasts over once the sizzle starts to die down. Then, lightly salt the now-exposed skin immediately. Cook on the meat side for less time: 1-2 minutes for small ducks, more for larger.
  5. Next, quickly sear the wider side of the breasts, 30-90 seconds.
  6. Take the duck off the heat and let it rest on a cutting board, skin side up, for 5 minutes, and grind black pepper. You can slice the breast from either end, either side up. If you are serving a whole breast, always serve it skin side up, with its sauce underneath.

Learn how to master more hearty meats:

How to Grill Fish: Chef’s Trick Creates Tender Fillets That Won’t Stick to the Grates

How to Grill Steak: Chef’s Tip Ensures Juicy + Tender Meat for Your 4th of July Party

Easy Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs Recipe Cooks Up Fall-of-the-Bone Tender

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