Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Plum Sauce (video)

a close up image of pan-seared duck breast, sliced and topped with plum sauce and mashed sweet potatoes

One of my favorite dishes! Juicy, perfectly cooked, pan-seared duck breast served with a tart and sweet red wine plum sauce and mashed sweet potatoes. This is one of those dishes that looks very complicated, but is actually very simple and easy to make! You’ll love it from the very first bite! This easy and impressive duck recipe is great for the holidays, or anytime of the year. Make sure to watch my video tutorial to see how to score, season, and fry the duck.

Watch My Duck Breast Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube duck breast video tutorial for step-by-step instructions and all the details. This helpful video is great if you’ve never made duck before! Want to stay up to date on the latest recipes? Make sure to subscribe to my website email list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications.

Ingredients for the Recipe

Duck breast by itself is very rich and delicious, so it doesn’t require too many ingredients or seasonings. Here are the main ingredients you’ll need. You can find the full list in the printable recipe card below.

  • Duck Breast: make sure to get it with the skin on! I buy mine frozen at Whole Foods, then thaw it overnight.
  • Plum Jam: I’m lucky to have homemade plum jam, but store-bought will also work great. If you’re not able to find any, tart cherry preserves will also work.
  • Red Wine: for making the sauce. I don’t have a substitute suggestion for this recipe. The sauce really only works with wine. Go with a cabernet or zinfandel.
  • Garlic, Thyme & Rosemary: for frying the duck breast.

Supplies & Tools for Your Kitchen

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two plates of food on a table with sauce and herbs; duck breast with plum sauce and mashed sweet potatoes

Preparing the Duck Breast

To get the best results, this duck recipe requires a little bit of prep work. I get my duck breast frozen from Whole Foods and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator first. Once the duck has thawed, I take a paper towel, pat it dry, then set it into a tray uncovered. You want the duck breast skin to be nice and dry.

When you’re ready to prepare the duck, use a very sharp knife to score the skin evenly, creating a small diamond pattern. Do this carefully so you’re only slicing the skin and not the duck meat!

Once the skin is scored, season the duck breast generously on both sides with sea salt.

How to Make Pan-Seared Duck Breast

Follow these instructions for perfectly cooked duck breast with crispy, rendered skin!

  1. Start with a large, stainless-steel frying pan (cast-iron will also work). The pan needs to be cold!
  2. Place the duck breast skin side down in the pan, then turn the stove on to a medium heat. Fry the duck breast for 10 to 15 minutes, slowly, until the skin is golden and extra crispy. Don’t turn it until it’s golden!
  3. Once the fat is rendered and skin is crispy, turn the duck breast over. Add the garlic, thyme, and rosemary into the pan.
  4. Continue to brown the duck breast on the bottom and sides, basting with the duck fat in the pan, until it’s nicely browned.
  5. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature. Cook for 130F for a medium doneness. Overcooking the duck will make it less tender.
  6. Remove the duck from the pan and onto a tray or cutting board to rest. Rest the meat for at least 8 to 10 minutes. I like to keep the tray on the stovetop so the meat doesn’t get cold.
a close up image of red wine plum sauce in a ramekin, on a table

Easy Red Wine Plum Sauce

While your duck is resting, it’s time to prepare the simple plum sauce to go with the duck.

  1. Pour the wine into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the red wine to reduce for about 5 minutes. This will burn off some of the alcohol.
  2. Add in the plum sauce and balsamic vinegar next. Adjust the vinegar to taste and add more if the sauce is too sweet. Add in a few tablespoons of the rendered duck fat from the pan.
  3. Whisk everything together and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes until it’s nicely thickened. Keep it covered until ready to serve.
a plate of food on a table - sliced duck breast with sauce and potatoes

Serving Suggestions

Once the duck breast has rested, use a sharp knife to slice the meat into thin slices. Plate the duck breast with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and spoon the plum sauce over the top. Add a touch of ground black pepper on top, if desired, and enjoy!

Check out my recipe for Butter & Thyme Mashed Sweet Potatoes

You can also use my Buttery Mashed Potatoes recipe.

butter and thyme mashed sweet potatoes in blue bowl with butter

More Recipes!

Enjoyed this delicious and easy recipe for duck breast? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!

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a close up image of pan-seared duck breast, sliced and topped with plum sauce and mashed sweet potatoes
5 from 1 vote

Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Plum Sauce (video)

30 minutes prep + 30 minutes cook
4 servings
Easy and simple recipe for the best pan-seared duck breast with crispy skin, red wine plum sauce, and mashed sweet potatoes!

Ingredients 

For Duck Breast:

  • 4 large duck breasts, skin in
  • sea salt
  • 5 to 6 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme & rosemary

For Plum Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup red wine, such as cabernet or zinfandel
  • 1/2 cup plum preserves
  • 1 to 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tbsp duck fat, from the pan

Instructions

Preparing the Duck Breast:

  • To get the best results, this duck recipe requires a little bit of prep work. I get my duck breast frozen from Whole Foods and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator first. Once the duck has thawed, I take a paper towel, pat it dry, then set it into a tray uncovered. You want the duck breast skin to be nice and dry.
  • When you’re ready to prepare the duck, use a very sharp knife to score the skin evenly, creating a small diamond pattern. Do this carefully so you’re only slicing the skin and not the duck meat!
  • Once the skin is scored, season the duck breast generously on both sides with sea salt.

Frying Instructions for Duck:

  • Start with a large, stainless-steel frying pan (cast-iron will also work). The pan needs to be cold!
  • Place the duck breast skin side down in the pan, then turn the stove on to a medium heat. Fry the duck breast for 10 to 15 minutes, slowly, until the skin is golden and extra crispy. Don’t turn it until it’s golden!
  • Once the fat is rendered and skin is crispy, turn the duck breast over. Add the garlic, thyme, and rosemary into the pan.
  • Continue to brown the duck breast on the bottom and sides, basting with the duck fat in the pan, until it’s nicely browned. Once browned all over, place the skin side down again and continue to cook.
  • Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature. Cook for 130F/54C for a medium doneness. Overcooking the duck will make it less tender.
  • Remove the duck from the pan and onto a tray or cutting board to rest. Rest the meat for at least 8 to 10 minutes. I like to keep the tray on the stovetop so the meat doesn’t get cold.

Preparing the Plum Sauce:

  • While your duck is resting, it’s time to prepare the simple plum sauce to go with the duck.
  • Pour the wine into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the red wine to reduce for about 5 minutes. This will burn off some of the alcohol.
  • Add in the plum sauce and balsamic vinegar next. Adjust the vinegar to taste and add more if the sauce is too sweet. Add in a few tablespoons of the rendered duck fat from the pan.
  • Whisk everything together and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes until it’s nicely thickened. Keep it covered until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Once the duck breast has rested, use a sharp knife to slice the meat into thin slices. Plate the duck breast with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and spoon the plum sauce over the top. Add a touch of ground black pepper on top, if desired, and enjoy!

Info:

  • Nutritional info calculated for duck breast with plum sauce. Sauce has approximately 50 calories per tablespoon.

Nutrition

Serving: 1duck breast with sauce | Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 145mg | Potassium: 696mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 121IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 11mg