Grilling: Spice-Rubbed Duck Breast

Much like lamb, I'm a lover of duck while my wife is pretty tepid on the meat. So it wasn't until she was out of town that I prioritized this recipe.

Searching for a duck breast recipe that could easily be scaled down to one serving, I came up with this spiced-rubbed version from Bobby Flay that's finished with an orange-blackberry glaze. Sounds delicious, right?

Scoring the skin then grilling the duck skin-side down to crisp it proved to be quite the challenge. Rendering the fat caused constant flare-ups, requiring persistent vigilance to move the breast before it was engulfed in flames. The work was well worth it though—you'll get a nice crunch on the skin with just the right amount of fat hiding underneath.

The flavor wasn't as much of a triumph. Not that the duck wasn't good—when the rub and glaze were well concentrated, the juicy meat had a nice mix of spice and fruitiness. It just fell a little short of my high expectations after reading the recipe. Maybe I'm being too critical, but after perfecting a technique for well-grilled duck breasts, I hope to take them in more exciting directions. This recipe is just the beginning.

Adapted from Bobby Flay

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

Grilling: Spice-Rubbed Duck Breast

About This Recipe

Active time:35 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
Special equipment:Grill


  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground chile de arbol
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 duck breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Type of fire: Direct
  • Grill heat: high


  1. 1

    Bring orange juice to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until juice is reduced by half, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add in blackberries and cook for 2 minutes more. Place a fine mesh strainer on top of a bowl and strain juice mixture into bowl. Discard solids.

  2. 2

    In a small bowl, mix together mustard, paprika, chile de arbol, cinnamon, five-spice powder, and coriander. Set aside.

  3. 3

    Score duck skin diagonally every 1/2-inch. Brush duck breasts all over with oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub spice mixture onto skin side of each breast.

  4. 4

    Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place duck breasts on grill, skin side down, until browned and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and continue to cook, brushing duck every minute with orange-blackberry glaze, until an instant read thermometer registers 130 degrees when inserted into middle of breasts. Remove duck from grill and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve.


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