If you’ve never tried cooking duck breasts at home, now is the time. The process is kind of like cooking a quality steak—the technique and temperature are key—but it’s actually pretty simple to pull off. You can usually find fresh duck breasts in the meat department of most high-end grocers, or vacuumed-sealed and frozen (typically where you would find a frozen turkey). If you're having a hard time finding duck breasts, chicken breasts are the perfect substitute and also pair well with the pineapple and scallion sauce.
The recipe calls for scoring the skin of the duck breast with a sharp knife—don’t skip this step. It allows for the fat to render more evenly as you cook the duck in its own fat without the need for additional oil, akin to cooking bacon.
The pineapple-scallion sauce comes together in one saucepan in just a few minutes. The pineapple preserves melt to give the sauce a sweet and naturally syrupy body, while the pineapple juice introduces acidity and balance. It also brings a concentrated pineapple flavor to the sauce. If you can’t find pineapple preserves, a homemade or store-bought jam should work just as well (anything with mango or passion fruit would also be great here). A pinch of Sweet Paprika from The Spice Hunter and red chili flakes transform the sauce into a beautiful red-orange color with a slightly spicy undertone. (Depending on your heat preference, you can add 1/4 teaspoon more red chili flakes for an increased kick.) The sauce finishes with fresh green scallions that usher in a mild flavor that’s somewhere between onions and chives. And the tropical, fruity vibe of the sauce is the ultimate pairing for the crispy duck skin and lean duck meat, which gets a little extra flavor boost from the aromatic herbs in the The Spice Hunter’s Poultry Seasoning. —Briana Riddock
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is shared in partnership with The Spice Hunter. —The Editors
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 2
The Spice Hunter Sweet Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons
red chili flakes
scallion, finely chopped (about 3 stalks, green part only)
duck breasts, skin on (about 2 breasts)
The Spice Hunter Poultry Seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a medium saucepan, combine pineapple preserves, pineapple juice, soy sauce, sweet paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and red chili flakes together. Bring mixture to medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the pineapple preserves have melted. Set aside to slightly cool. Once cooled, stir in the chopped scallions.
- Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towels. Score the skin by using the tip of a sharp knife to make cross-hatch cuts in the skin without piercing into the flesh of the duck. Season the skin and flesh with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Season the flesh side only with the Poultry Seasoning. (This prevents the Poultry Seasoning from burning when you sear the skin; the duck breast cooks mostly on the skin side.)
- Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a cold medium-size, oven-safe skillet. Bring the heat to high and allow for the duck to release its own fat, about 10 minutes. Once the fat is released, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crispy. (Drain excess fat build-up in the skillet as needed.) Flip the duck and cook on the flesh side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your duck, sear the sides for about 1 minute.
- Place skillet in the oven with the duck flesh-side down and bake for about 5 to 6 minutes to achieve a medium cook, about 135°F to 140°F internal temperature. Use your thermometer to check the doneness to your personal preference. If you’d like a more rare cook (130°F), reduce the bake time. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, transfer your duck breasts to a small baking pan. Note: The USDA advises that poultry, including duck, be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Remove the duck from the oven and allow it to rest on a cooling rack or plate. The duck breast will be medium-firm to the touch. Allow the duck breast to rest for a few minutes before slicing widthwise into 1-inch pieces. The center will be slightly pink.
- Serve sliced duck breasts with pineapple-scallion sauce. Slightly warm the sauce if it has cooled too much.