This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure.

This pan seared duck breast recipe with a quick and easy cherry pan sauce is a beautiful 30-minute main course that works equally well for a romantic date night dinner for two or scaled up for a family holiday meal.

pan seared duck breast with cherry sauce

Duck breast is always an impressive meal. Crispy golden skin and tender, juicy meat – you really can’t go wrong! And it’s a total bonus that it’s quick and easy to cook, even if you’re making a pan sauce to go with it.

There are a couple tricks to pan-searing the prefect duck breast, but they’re easy.

For starters, make sure to score the skin to help render as much fat as possible, which yields amazingly crispy skin. (Be careful not to cut through the flesh.)

And the other trick is to start with a heavy pan (such as cast iron) over medium to medium-low heat. We don’t want it scorching hot! The point is to allow as much fat as possible to render out, again resulting in deliciously crisp skin.

After that, the rest is just gravy, so to speak (but also literally!).

overhead view of duck breast meal with cherry sauce and red wine

Remove your perfectly-seared duck breast from the skillet, spoon out excess fat, sauté a little shallot, and deglaze the pan with a little red wine. Then add fruit (cherries are a great pairing with duck), stock, and a couple seasonings, and you’re good to go. Don’t forget the pat of chilled butter at the end; it’s what helps make our pan sauce rich and velvety.

This two-serving recipe is elegant and impressive enough for a date night meal. However, it works equally well as a holiday dinner! I think a Christmas supper of duck breast would be perfect, just scale up the recipe to feed as many people as you need.

close up front view of medium rare duck breast on plate with cherry sauce

Easy Pan Seared Duck Breast Recipe

If you’ve never had duck breast and you’re not sure what it tastes like, it’s rich and meaty like a steak or dark meat chicken. As a total bonus, you get the super crispy duck skin that’s like a cross between bacon and chicken skin. Give it a try!

Ingredients

In this section, I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

ingredients for duck breast recipe with cherry sauce
  • Duck breasts – look for duck breasts that are 6 to 8-ounces each
  • Salt and black pepper – to season the dish
  • Dry red wine – I used Meiomi Pinot Noir, which has jammy notes of black cherry and wild berries
  • Chicken stock – for the quick cherry sauce we’re making in the skillet that we pan-fry the duck breast in
  • Shallot – adds a subtle savory onion flavor; you can substitute with red onion if that’s what you have on hand
  • Fresh cherries – I used fresh sweet dark cherries; you can also use frozen cherries (thawed) if they’re not in season
  • Fresh thyme – for bright, herby notes
  • Salted butter – make sure it’s chilled; it adds rich flavor and silky texture to our cherry sauce

How to Pan Sear Duck Breast in a Cast Iron Skillet

how to pan sear duck breast
  1. Use a sharp knife to score a diamond pattern on the duck skin (try not to cut into the flesh).
  2. Preheat a large, heavy skillet (such as a cast-iron skillet) over medium to medium-low heat. Add the duck breasts skin-side-down. Season the duck with salt and black pepper. Let them cook until the skin is brown and crispy, about 6 to 10 minutes, slowing turning the heat up as the duck fat liquifies.
  3. Flip them over and cook until they reach your desired level of doneness, which generally takes about 2 to 4 minutes on the second side (their internal temperature should reach about 130 to 135F for medium-rare). Transfer the duck breasts to a plate and tent it with foil to keep it warm.
how to make easy cherry pan sauce for duck breast
  1. Remove all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rendered duck fat out of the skillet. With the heat on high, stir in the shallot, cook for 30 seconds, and then add the red wine. Cook for 1 minute, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the skillet.
  2. Add the cherries, thyme sprigs, and chicken stock. Let the liquid boil until it’s reduced to a sauce, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the butter. Remove the sauce from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Use tongs to remove the thyme sprigs.

Serve the duck breasts thinly sliced across the grain along with the cherry red wine reduction sauce to spoon on top.

front view of romantic date night duck dinner on plate with glass of red wine

Duck Breast Recipe FAQs

How Long Does it Take to Pan Fry a Duck Breast?

Boneless, skin-on duck breasts that are around 6 to 8 ounces each take about 8 to 14 minutes to cook.

You first want to cook the duck breasts skin-side-down over medium to medium-low heat, slowly turning up the heat as the duck fat liquifies. The point of this step is to crisp the skin and render the fat, which essentially means to cook the fat off. This step generally takes about 6 to 10 minutes.

After the skin is crispy and much of the fat is melted off, you flip the duck breasts and sear them on the fleshy side until they’re done to your liking (they should reach an internal temperature of about 130 to 135F for medium-rare). The length of this step varies based on how well done you like your duck, but will usually take about 2 to 4 minutes.

What Fruity Flavors Pair Well with Duck?

There are a ton of different types of fruit that pair really well with the rich flavor of duck! Here are a few ideas:

  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Mangoes
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • And of course cherries!

If you want to use something other than cherries in this recipe, I would try blueberries or blackberries.

overhead view of duck breast recipe with red wine cherry sauce on plate with salad

What Wine Goes with Duck and Cherry Sauce?

Look for a dry red wine, which perfectly compliments the savory richness of duck and balances the sweetness of cherries.

Dry red wine has complex fruity flavor and deep aroma with little sugar. You get the nuanced flavor without sweetness overpowering it.

A few varietals of dry red wine that work really well here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.

My favorite type of wine to use for this dish is Meiomi Pinot Noir. It has a silky mouthfeel and flavor notes of juicy strawberry, black cherry, and ripe berries. As far as dry wines go, it’s not overly dry to the point where it’ll make you pucker. It’s close to a semi dry, which is absolutely perfect paired with this duck breast recipe.

Pro Tip: Use the Same Wine in the Sauce That You Serve with the Meal

an edible mosaic stamp logo 1200 square

When you add wine to a sauce, you’re reducing it, which means you’re cooking off some of the liquid and concentrating the flavor. It makes sense to use wine that you enjoy drinking!

crispy pan seared duck breast recipe with cherry sauce in cast iron skillet

What Sides Pair Well with Duck Breast?

There are quite a few side dishes that pair well with duck breast. You can go as elaborate as you want, or keep it simple. Here are a few ideas:

  • Leafy green salad – You can use spring mix, but I love the peppery bite of arugula paired with duck breast with cherry sauce; arugula cuts through the richness of the duck, and balances the sweet cherries
  • Simple Pear Kale Salad with Candied Almonds and Crumbled Feta – the sweet and savory flavor profile of this salad compliment duck with cherries really well
  • Duck Fat Potatoes – it doesn’t get any better than potatoes roasted in duck fat that are crispy outside and tender inside
  • Easy Butternut Squash Puree with Brown Butter – flavorful on it’s own, but transformed into something spectacular when paired with something like duck breast

More Romantic Dinners to Make

holiday duck breast recipe

Let’s Connect

an edible mosaic submark initials

Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below. You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media.

To stay up-to-date, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
This pan seared duck breast recipe with a quick and easy cherry pan sauce is a beautiful 30-minute main course that works equally well for a romantic date night dinner for two or scaled up for a family holiday meal.

Email This Recipe

Get this recipe link emailed straight to your inbox!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients
 

  • 2 duck breasts 6 to 8-ounces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine I used Meiomi Pinot Noir
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 cup fresh cherries pitted and halved (or thawed frozen cherries)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter chilled

Instructions
 

  • Use a sharp knife to score a diamond pattern on the duck skin (try not to cut into the flesh).
  • Preheat a large, heavy skillet (such as a cast-iron skillet) over medium to medium-low heat. Add the duck breasts skin-side-down. Season the duck with salt and black pepper. Let them cook until the skin is brown and crispy, about 6 to 10 minutes, slowing turning the heat up as the duck fat liquifies. Flip them over and cook until they reach your desired level of doneness, which generally takes about 2 to 4 minutes on the second side (their internal temperature should reach about 130 to 135F for medium-rare).
  • Transfer the duck breasts to a plate and tent it with foil to keep it warm.
  • Remove all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rendered duck fat out of the skillet. With the heat on high, stir in the shallot, cook for 30 seconds, and then add the red wine. Cook for 1 minute, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the cherries, thyme sprigs, and chicken stock. Let the liquid boil until it’s reduced to a sauce, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the butter.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Use tongs to remove the thyme sprigs.
  • Serve the duck breasts thinly sliced across the grain along with the cherry red wine reduction sauce to spoon on top.

Video

Notes

  • Dry Red Wine Suggestions: Any of the following work well in this recipe, and to drink along with this meal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.

Nutrition

Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 191mg | Sodium: 842mg | Potassium: 866mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 390IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 11mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Duck Breast Recipe, Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce, Duck with Cherry Sauce, Pan Seared Duck Breast, Pan Seared Duck Breast Recipe

Share it with me on Instagram and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

pan seared duck breast recipe pin
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Similar Posts