Here’s how to cook duck the right way! Pan fried duck breast, oven roasted whole duck and more about the famous Beijing duck!
Do you need duck recipes?
Do you know how to cook duck fillets?
Have you ever tasted or cooked duck before?
It’s easier than it looks.
Here’s my favorite method to give you a gentle push in the back. You will see that if you buy duck fillets they have a dark red to purple color. The meat is covered with a thick layer of white to yellow fatty skin.
How To Cook Duck
It is a good move to let the crisp duck fillets (and all kinds of meat in fact) rest for a few minutes after you cooke them. That gives the meat enough time for the juices inside to spread evenly and for the meat (the muscle) to relax after you heat it. The meat will be so much more tender and moist.
How to cook duck: it is simple.
One important thing you have to keep in mind here before you cook duck: make sure that the duck breast has reached room temperature. The best way to get that is to remove the duck breast from the fridge about an hour before you intend to cook it.
I like duck best in combination with my fresh and zesty orange and fennel escabeche. What a delicious combo!
Here we go, your turn now!
How To Cook Duck: The Recipe
- 1 large duck breast
- Make sure that the duck breast has reached room temperature right before cooking. Place the duck on a clean chopping board and score the fatty white duck skin lightly with a sharp knife.
- Season the duck breast with a little pinch of pepper and salt on both sides. Heat the non-stick pan over high heat. There’s no need to add any extra butter or oil here, the fatty duck skin will release enough fat to bake the duck in! Add the duck breast skin side down. It will shrink a little the moment it touches the pan because of the heat but don’t worry about that.
- Fry the duck breast for about 3 to 4 minutes over high heat. The scored skin will start to melt and turn into a golden dark brown color. Then flip the duck breast over and lower the heat to medium. Cook the duck breast on its uncooked side for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let the cooked duck breast rest for 10 minutes in the hot pan. I like my duck breast best when it is still pretty red and raw on the inside like a steak, almost rare but warm to the touch. Cook it longer if you prefer your duck meat cooked a little longer. Transfer the cooked duck breast onto a clean chopping board and carve it up into fillets. Here's my freshly cooked duck breast served over a delicious fennel escabeche…
What to Serve with Roast Duck?
Whatever you do: roast duck needs potatoes.
That’s it, a simple pan seared duck breast. I bet you thought it would be much harder to do! Well it’s actually pretty easy.
Try it out!
Beijing Duck, Moo Shu Duck or Peking Duck
What is your favourite duck recipe?
What duck recipes have you tasted before?
One of this world’s most popular duck recipes is a French classic by the name of “canard à l’orange” or duck in orange sauce.
Pretty sure you must have heard of it before.
But let me be honest here. If there is one duck recipe that pops up into my mind right away, well that must be the world famous Beijing duck, Moo Shu Duck or Peking duck! We are talking about a glazed whole roasted duck with the crispiest skin ever.
I’m sure you also know this dish as well!
Chefs traditionally serve Beijing duck with thin pancakes, salty sweet hoisin sauce and fresh cucumber or spring onion.
You call these pancakes ‘Mandarin pancakes’. They are very thin and are made with very simple ingredients: plain flour, water, salt and sesame oil.
Beijing duck is basically a whole roasted duck.
So how does it work?
Clean the whole duck and drain it of its blood, then soak it in hot boiling water. After that you hang up the duck to dry. If you have every visited China or a Chinese neighbourhood then you might remember those ducks hanging in restaurant windows.
Then coat the drying duck with a layer of malaise syrup glaze. Once you add the glaze, let the duck dry for another 24 hours. Only after that the duck is ready to slow roast in the oven.
Full Beijing Duck Dinner
Traditional Beijing duck dinners consist of 3 parts where you serve the duck in 3 different versions, table side. First of all the crispy skin of the roast whole duck is removed with a large knife. This is hands down my favorite part! The crispy skin also comes with sugar and a dipping sauce.
For the second part carve the duck meat up and serve it with the Mandarin pancakes, hoisin sauce and cucumber or spring onion. Absolutely delicious!
So what’s the third part then? Is there anything left? Sure! Turn the bones, fat and remaining roast duck meat into a flavorful broth.
Boy, I’m drooling by the thought of this dish! When the hubs and I went to Hong Kong for the very first time we went to look for the very best Beijing duck in town. That was for me the first time to taste Beijing duck and I was sold right away. This succulent dish is so hard to resist!
Ever since that first time in Hong Kong I must have eaten Beijing duck like 5 to 6 times up until now. The last time was in Shanghai and Qingdao, the capital of Chinese food.
How To Cook Duck: How To Roast Duck Breast in the Oven
OK so how to oven bake duck breast at home? What temperature is best to keep the duck breast moist but cooked?
- 2 medium duck breasts
- Make sure that the duck breast has reached room temperature right before cooking. Preheat the oven to 359°F (180°C).
- Score the fatty white skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife and season them well with a pinch of pepper and salt.
- Place a non-stick frying pan over high heat and place the duck breasts in, skin side down. Baked the duck breasts for about 5 minutes. Then flip the duck breasts over and take the pan off the heat.
- Drizzle the melted duck fat on top of the duck breast. Then transfer the duck breasts skin side up to a medium baking dish and add the rest of the baking juices.
- Place the duck breasts in the preheated oven for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on how cooked you want the duck breasts to be on the inside.
How To Cook Duck: Whole Roast Duck in the Oven
- 1 whole duck
- Rinse the duck inside and outside. Trim off any excess fat.
- Pierce the skin of the duck with the tip of a sharp knife (don’t slash the skin, just make little wholes. I like to use a small roasting needle.
- Place the duck in a large baking dish or pan and pour 3 cups (720 ml) of hot boiling water on top of the duck. Remove the duck, let it drain and pat it dry with some kitchen paper. Let the duck cool on a chopping board.
- Then season the duck on all sides with pepper and salt.
- Transfer the duck breast side up in a baking dish and place it in a preheated oven at 425°F (220°C). Roast the whole duck for 50 minutes. Then flip the duck over and drizzle it with the cooking juices. Roast it for another 50 minutes.
- Then turn the oven off and turn the duck over again. Drizzle the duck again with the cooking juices and let the duck rest in the cooling oven for another 30 minutes. Remove the duck from the oven and put a sheet of tinfoil on top. Let the roasted duck rest for another 20 minutes.
- Then carve the duck up and serve.
Do you know how to confit a duck leg?
I love duck confit. I always have a couple of tins of confit duck legs in my pantry. They make a gorgeous last minute dinner idea! But how do you actually make a confit duck leg?
Well to confit meat is basically to preserve it in salt and in fat, preferably the meat’s own fat.
- 2 raw duck legs
- Rub the raw duck legs with a tablespoon of coarse sea salt and place them in the fridge to marinate for at least 6 hours. Then rinse the duck legs under cold running tap water and pat the legs dry with some kitchen paper. Transfer the duck legs to a baking dish and pour duck fat (or vegetable oil) on top of the legs.
- Place the dish in a preheated oven at 250°F (120°C) and put some tinfoil on it. Bake the duck legs for 3 hours until the duck meat is super soft and smooth.
- Remove the baking dish from the hot oven and let the cooked duck legs cool for 5 minutes. Remove the legs from the fat and serve.
Store Confit Duck for Later
You can also put the cooled confit duck legs in their fat in the fridge and store them for 3 weeks. Or you could wrap the confit duck legs and freeze them for later.
Only thing to do is to warm the (thawed) legs up by placing them on an oven rack in the middle of a preheated oven at 356°F (180°C) for 30 minutes to 1 hour. My favorite confit duck is served with ‘pommes sarladaises’ or potatoes cooked in duck fat.
Chopped oven potatoes that are placed on a baking trap on the bottom of the oven underneath the duck legs. In the end the potatoes will be cooked and crisp because of the melted confit duck fat that drips down on them.
Check out my cassoulet with confit duck leg!
Cassoulet is a French bean stew. Beans and confit duck, that a perfect combination! Leftover confit duck meat in your fridge? Then check out my shepherd’s pie that you can make with whatever leftover roast meat you got!