How to cook duck breast

April 9, 2024
by HelloFresh Tips & tricks

    Duck breast should be prepared similarly to other types of poultry, ensuring it is not overcooked. When duck breast is overcooked or cooked in high temperatures for too long, it can end up becoming tough and chewy. In essence, give duck meat the same regard you would offer to prime beef steak or a similar high-quality cut.

    The best way to cook duck breast

    A combination of pan-frying and then roasting is among the most tried-and-tested ways to cook duck breast. You can find out more about how to cook duck breast in this way by following this Hoisin Glazed Duck Breast HelloFresh recipe. This cooking method is adaptable and can be used for a wide range of dishes. Essentially, it comes down to the following steps:

    1. Heat a frying pan or skillet to medium heat.
    2. Place the duck breasts skin-side down into the pan with no oil.
    3. Allow the skin to give off its natural oil until it becomes golden in colour, after about 6-8 minutes.
    4. Flip the duck breasts over to sear the non-skin side.
    5. Searing duck breasts helps seal in moisture and should only take a minute.
    6. Remove the meat from the heat and place it skin-side up on a baking tray.
    7. Place your baking tray into a preheated oven set at 200°C, with a fan-assisted model, for 16-18 minutes.
    8. Take the duck breasts out of the oven and allow them to rest on a plate for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

    Although there are alternative ways to cook duck breast, this is a relatively straightforward method that’s suitable for a variety of different recipes. You will know that your breast meat is fully cooked when it’s no longer deep pink in the middle.

    All cooking appliances vary. These are guidelines only. Ensure the food is piping hot before serving. Do not reheat.

    Duck breast in an air fryer

    Depending on the model of your air fryer, you should adjust the cooking time and temperature as specified below. That said, good, crispy results are possible from an air fryer, which typically consumes less energy than a conventional oven.

    1. Set your air fryer to a temperature of around 180°C and allow it to heat up.
    2. Season your duck breasts with salt and pepper and place them skin-down into the air fryer’s basket.
    3. Cook the breasts for 6 minutes before removing the basket.
    4. Using tongs, flip the meat over and put it back into the air fryer.
    5. Continue to air-fry your duck breasts for a further 8-10 minutes.

    Slow-cooked duck breast

    Slow-cooking duck breast is another good option, often resulting in perfectly succulent meat. However, you won’t get crispy duck breasts if you use this method.

    1. On a chopping board, score the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife to form a diamond pattern.
    2. Add salt and pepper to the scored skin, along with any other herbs or spices you’re using in your recipe.
    3. Place the duck breasts skin-side down into your slow cooker and put in any other ingredients you’ll be cooking alongside the meat, such as vegetables or stock.
    4. Turn the slow cooker on and leave it for at least an hour and a half. Note that larger breasts — those over 400g — will need slightly longer cooking times, often up to two hours.

    Cooking duck breast in the oven

    Most roasted duck recipes, like this Roasted Duck Breast and Redcurrant Jus recipe, require you to pan-fry and sear the meat before roasting. However, you can still roast duck breast straight in the oven on a roasting tin rack, which will allow the heat to permeate the meat from all sides.

    Ensure your oven is at least 200°C before you put the duck breasts in. Place them skin-side up and leave them to cook for 20-22 minutes. Because the meat hasn’t been seared, they may be more prone to drying out, so check them halfway through and drizzle a little oil if needed. Larger duck breasts may require a few more minutes in the oven to cook through. You may also need to keep them in the oven a little longer if you are also using the oven to cook other food, such as roast potatoes, for example.

    Cook time for duck breast

    There is no method of cooking duck breast that is quicker than another. Roasting, air frying or searing and oven-cooking all take around the same length of time. For this reason, it is advisable to sear the meat before roasting to help seal in the moisture. For any cooking method, take into account the preparation and resting time, allowing about half an hour.

    Duck breast cooking tips

    • Scoring the skin of a duck breast isn’t essential, but it helps absorb the seasoning on the meat.
    • Duck breast should not be pink in the middle when it has been cooked properly. A hint of pink is acceptable if you prefer your meat cooked rare.
    • Always allow your duck breast several minutes of rest time. It allows the meat to continue cooking to completion, and makes it easier to carve and eat, too.
    • Duck has a delicate flavour that works well with fruity accompaniments, such as plum sauce, orange, soy sauce, chilli or redcurrants.
    • Avoid cooking duck breast straight from the fridge. Allow it to reach room temperature for approximately 30 minutes before cooking.


    How is duck breast usually cooked?

    Pan-searing duck breast skin-side down, then flipping and roasting, is the typical cooking method.

    How should duck breast look?

    Uncooked duck breast is a deep pink colour. Once cooked, it should no longer have this deep pink hue. A slight pinkish hue in the meat’s centre is fine for those who prefer it rare, provided there are no traces of pink juices left.

    All food products vary. The instructions printed on the food packaging always supersedes those printed in this article and must always be followed.
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