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How To Cook Duck Breast on the Stovetop

Duck breast with golden crisp skin and a deeply rich and rosy interior can be better than a steak. I often wonder we don’t cook more of it at home. I admit I often overlook this date-night alternative, but it truly has all the ease of chicken breast and decadence of steak. You won’t need more than a pan and a few simple prep tricks to make a gorgeous duck breast at home that rivals any restaurant prix-fixe entrée.

Prep Time

    •    Prep time: 15 minutes
    •    Cook time: 20 minutes
    •    Yield: Serves 2


    •    1 tbsp kosher salt
    •    1 large Yukon gold potato
    •    2 skin-on White Pekin duck breasts (about 6 ounces each)


  1. Score the duck breast skin: About an hour before cooking, remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator and their packaging. Use a sharp knife to score the skin: Make 3 to 4 parallel shallow cuts into the skin, but not through it, in one direction, then make 3 to 4 shallow cuts in another direction, making a cross hatch or diamond pattern. Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towels.

  2. Season with salt and rest for 15 minutes: Season the breasts on all sides with salt (you might not use all the salt; that’s fine). Set aside and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the potato into small 1/2-inch cubes.

  3. Start in a cool pan to render out as much fat as possible: Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a large cast iron skillet and turn the heat to medium. You want to crisp the skin slowly, driving out as much of the fat as possible.

  4. Cook on the first side for 6 to 8 minutes: After 6 to 8 minutes, the pan will have filled with a substantial amount of fat from the skin. The skin should be a very dark golden-brown.

  5. Flip the breasts and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until they reach 135°F: Flip the breasts and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the potatoes to the pan right after you flip the breast. Cook until the breasts are plump and register 135°F in the thickest part of the breasts for medium-rare.

  6. Rest the duck for 5 minutes and continue to cook the potatoes until crisp: Remove the duck breasts to a clean plate or cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Continue cooking the potatoes, stirring regularly, until they are golden-brown on the outside and tender inside, 5 to 7 minutes.

  7. Slice the duck breasts and serve with the potatoes: Slice the duck breasts on the diagonal and serve over the potatoes with any accumulated juices on the resting plate.

This great family recipe is thanks to The Kitchn Recipes at


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