5 Ingredients or Fewer

Maple-Lacquered Duck Breast

March 25, 2012
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

A few of my favorite things - duck, a little sweet, a little spicy, a little citrus. And simple - really this comes together in a snap. And as an extra added bonus you get to use the word lacquered. One simply does not get to say lacquered often enough. —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

The combination of flavors in this recipe is delightful; classic duck & orange combo with a twist. The maple syrup adds a sweetness which is not too cloying and not immediately identifiable as maple (a plus, in my opinion). Salt the breasts abundantly and skip black pepper before placing in the pan; better to pepper later as the grounds will scorch. The dish is visually pleasing, as well; the pink flesh with orange zest, thyme leaves, and browned skin would make a lovely dinner party presentation. —Rebecca Vitale

What You'll Need
  • 2 duck breasts - mine were nice and fat from the farmers market - the size will of course affect the cook time
  • 1/4 cup grade B pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 pinches salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Score the skin of your duck in a criss-cross pattern, about a half inch apart, being careful not to cut through to the meat. Generously salt and pepper the duck all over.
  2. Heat an oven safe skillet just to medium. It is important not to get the heat too high, because you want to brown and crisp the skin and render most of the fat without burning the skin or overcooking the meat. An iron skillet is really best for this. I also give it a spritz of no-stick JUST to be safe.
  3. Put the duck breasts in skin side down. Once you start to see some fat rendering, move them around a bit. Check periodically - the skin should be slowly turning deep golden brown. As the fat renders you may want to remove some, you want about 1/8 - 1/4 inch of fat in the pan. Save that extra rendered fat for potatoes or something - it's magic!
  4. While the duck is browning mix together the syrup, zest, thyme and red pepper. Once your skin is brown and crispy and glorious, flip the duck over and spoon the syrup glaze over. Into the oven with it. After about 5 minutes, Re-lacquer the duck with the now fatty sticky wonderfulness in the pan, then back into the oven for about 5 more minutes (depending on the size of your ducks) - an internal temp of 125-130 is medium rare which is duck breast at its most delicious.
  5. Make sure to rest the duck for at least 5 minutes, 10 is better, before slicing.
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Recipe by: aargersi

Country living, garden to table cooking, recent beek, rescue all of the dogs, #adoptdontshop

43 Reviews

sarah P. March 2, 2021
This is DELICIOUS. Love the recipe and how it turns out every time.
Donna C. September 14, 2020
Great recipe, I doubled it for 4 breasts, totally yummy. I will cook it again. yum, yum, yum!
erin January 24, 2018
What is the duck does not have skin? Will this recipe still work?
aargersi January 25, 2018
I think you would need to add some fat and reduce the cook time quite a bit ... hmm, maybe make the glaze first then just pan roast the duck on the stove top to the correct temp ...
Adrienne December 21, 2015
I cooked this last night as part of a pre-Christmas dinner. It was phenomenal and incredibly easy, especially when served with rustic bread and winter greens. I highly recommend pairing it with a new world Pinot Noir (had some great luck with a reserve from Oregon). My only change would be to shorten the oven time a bit as I prefer my duck on the rare side.
Laura R. February 15, 2015
This was excellent for Valentine's Day—and super simple. Served with a rich kale Caesar salad. I'd highly recommend it.
Byron L. November 27, 2014
Hi guys - quick question (I'm a rookie), how long on average should it take once the skin side down is placed on the skillet, till it gets to the right crisp/brown?
aargersi November 28, 2014
I think around 10 minutes or so? It will depend on your pan and heat of course - lower and slower is better than rushing it ...
coopet November 22, 2014
I tried this method with a chestnut honey, orange glaze I've used in past...love the lacquering method! Thanks :-)
Rissako April 13, 2014
Thanks, aargersi! Lovvvvved this recipe… and it was so easy. Served it with roasted cauliflower and sautéed chard. (The weather was warmer than I'd expected and I didn't want to go too heavy.) But perhaps in the fall, I'd serve it with some roasted fingerlings and brussels sprouts. Can't wait to cook it again!
aargersi April 14, 2014
Oh good I am so glad you liked it! I somehow missed the below comments but alla y'alls ( :-) Texas) kind comments remind me that I need to make it again soon!
Kate C. January 5, 2014
Delicious recipe. So tender, and the orange flavors really came through. Served this with Trader Jo's Brown Rice Medley made with Chicken broth base and Roasted Asparagus (cooked during resting time) with a few TBSPs remaining pan sauce drizzled over during cooking. Such a great meal!
alidee06 December 17, 2013
This was delicious! Unfortunately when my husband cleaned the birds he cut the fat off (it was his first time hunting duck, he didn't know any better!) So I did my best to cook this without drying it out. It still came out deliciously and the sauce was especially good spooned over smashed sweet potatoes! Our first experience cooking duck was a great one thanks to this recipe!
lovebeerlovefood March 31, 2013
I could kiss you on the mouth. This is such a great recipe! We just made it for Easter dinner, and served with asparagus and carrots. It was phenomenal. Thanks for sharing!
aargersi April 2, 2013
Wow - high praise indeed - I am so glad you enjoyed it!!!
chefpatty March 19, 2013
I mean zested orange!
chefpatty March 19, 2013
Excellent. I segmented the zest end orange, squeezed the juice out of the pith and added it to the maple syrup mixture. At the end of cooking I added the orange segments to the sauce. While the duck rested, I sautéed escarole in a little of the duck fat and added some garlic. Fantastic together.
Tashipluto February 16, 2013
great and easy recipe! I subbed pomegranate molasses for the maple syrup, and ground cumin for the thyme -- worked out beautifully. thanks!
aargersi February 18, 2013
Oh that sounds delicious! I will have to try it!
rayva December 30, 2012
great recipe! subbed preserved lemon (Paula Wolfert recipe) for the orange zest and it worked well with its hints of moroccan spices. Thank you!
QueenSashy November 28, 2012
I absolutely must try this!
aargersi November 29, 2012
Oh I hope that you do, and that you enjoy it!
Emalani October 20, 2012
I'm making this tonight, so I probably won't have an answer by then - but just in case...aargesi, what do you serve with this duck recipe? I like Consultant's suggestion of Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage - then I might go with potatoes for the starch. But any other ideas? Thank you!
aargersi October 20, 2012
Hi there! I just saw this - what did you decide on? I would say go decadent and do duck fat potatoes:


and a salad. Probably don't want to eat that EVERY night but ...
Emalani October 21, 2012
We were going to do oven-roasted potatoes. I planned to parboil them a bit first but forgot about them (we have 9-month-old triplets who just learned to crawl!). They were a mushy mess when I found them again. I let them dry in the colander, and then fried the in the extra duck fat -- not as good as the duckfatfriedpotatoes, but good! The duck was DELICIOUS. Absolutely wonderful, thank you. And the cabbage was a pretty awesome side, too.
Consultant W. April 15, 2012
I love this recipe! A few notes: I didn't have as much maple syrup as I thought, so I substituted honey for most of it and added a little splash of orange juice to make the glaze easier to spread. The 6 oz frozen duck breasts I bought were pretty thin and only needed about 6 minutes in the oven. I served it with fiveandspice's Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage for a great dinner.
aargersi April 18, 2012
I love your twists! And am so glad you enjoyed them!
arielleclementine April 13, 2012
hey congrats on the CP Abbie!! that picture is absolutely mouthwatering.
jenniebgood April 12, 2012
I've been eyeing packaged duck breast at my local farmer's market for a few months now, but didn't want to get caught up in elaborate preparation - this looks so great and I'm going to give it a try. Congrats on getting chosen as a Community Pick!
aargersi April 12, 2012
Thanks! Yes I recommend getting them at the farmer's market. Mine come with wings - a bonus for my stock bag!!!