The art of cooking the perfect duck breasts…

How to prepare duck breasts

To make sure you cook perfect duck breasts every time you’ll need to prepare the meat correctly. Preparing duck breast is simple:about:blank

  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 with 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 remove the skin from duck breasts

You can always ask your butcher to do this, but removing the skin from the breast is easy to do at home.

  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. 

How to prepare skinless duck breasts

Without the skin, duck can easily dry out so it’s best to cook quickly – you can do this by butterflying the breasts.

  1. To butterfly duck breasts, cut each end of the breast off.
  2. Cut down the center of the breast lengthways. Then slice again in the center of each piece, without cutting all the way through the meat.
  3. You can then open the meat out and flatten it a little with your fingertips to make sure the breast is a similar thickness all around.

This method will also cut the cooking time in half. For pan-frying, it will take about 2-3 minutes per side.

We’d recommend keeping any duck skin cut-offs as it can quickly be transformed into a delicious crackling which is perfect for snacking or adding a little crunch to your salad.

To make the crackling, trim the skin of any excess fat then slice into thin strips. Fry in a hot pan for a couple of minutes until crisp and golden. Transfer to a sheet of kitchen roll to absorb any excess grease and moisture and sprinkle with a little sea salt

How to cook duck breasts: pan-fried


  • 2 Duck breasts, seasoned


How to cook duck breasts: Step 1

How to cook duck breasts

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

How to cook duck breasts: Step 2

How to cook duck breasts

Place the breasts skin-side down in a cold frying pan and place over 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.

How to cook duck breasts: 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.

How to cook duck breasts: Step 4

How to cook duck breasts

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

How to cook duck breasts: oven

When cooking duck breasts in the oven, we’d recommend searing the skin in a hot frying pan first. If you are cooking skinless duck breasts in the oven you can skip this step.

Once the meat is sealed and the skin is golden, transfer to a preheated oven set to 190C/Gas 5 and cook for 6-8mins for medium or 10-12mins for well-cooked.

We’d recommend using a meat thermometer to be certain the meat is at your desired cooking state.

Once again, rest the duck breasts for 10mins before serving to allow the meat to relax.

How to cook duck breasts: grill

Prepare the duck breasts as you could for pan or oven cooking. Bring to room temp and heat the grill to high.

Cook skin side up for 5-8mins then flip over and cook for 5 more mins. To be certain it’s cooked through, we recommend checking the internal temperature. Continue reading for the correct internal temperatures.

When are duck breasts cooked?

how to cook duck breasts

The most accurate way to tell if your duck breast is cooked is to use a meat thermometer. If you need tips on how to use a meat thermometer we’ve got a useful guide including some recommendations.

Below are the internal temperatures you should look for depending on how you like your duck breasts cooked.

Rare 55C
Medium 60C
Well done 65C

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can also compare the feel of different parts of your face to the meat for an estimate on the cooking. If the hot meat feels like your cheek it is rare, like your chin and its medium, and for well done it should feel like your forehead.


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