Sous Vide 101: Duck Breast Recipe

Sliced seared sous vide duck breast on a white plate with sauce and sautéed greens.

Serious Eats

As a meat that is best served medium rare, duck breast makes an ideal candidate to cook sous-vide. By cooking it at 130°F for two hours, much of the fat under the skin begins to soften and render out while the proteins in it begin to set, making it easier to crisp without shrinking on the stovetop just before serving.

The thickness of the skin means that you can also crisp it more gently post sous-viding, unlike a steak which requires blazing high heat to cut back on cooking time and prevent the interior from overcooking. The skin acts as an insulator, preventing the meat inside from taking on any more color. The result is supremely tender, evenly cooked meat with super crisp skin.

For best results, I like to season the breasts and let them sit uncovered in the fridge at least overnight to allow some moisture to evaporate and concentrate its duckiness. Isn't that just ducky?

Fruity sauces and some steamed greens round out the dish. Try the lingonberry jam from IKEA. It's splendid.

*This recipe requires the use of a sous-vide cooker or the beer cooler hack.

Recipe Details

Sous Vide 101: Duck Breast Recipe

Prep 5 mins
Cook 60 mins
Active 15 mins
Total 65 mins
Serves 4 servings


  • 4 boneless duck breasts (about 5 to 6 ounces each; 150-175g)

  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Season duck generously with salt and pepper. For best results, place on a plate and refrigerate uncovered overnight before proceeding.

  2. Seal duck in vacuum bags. Place in 130°F (54°C) water bath for at least 45 minutes and up to 4 hours. Remove from bags and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

  3. Place breasts skin side-down in heavy-bottomed 12-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet and set over high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, moving and pressing breasts to ensure good contact between skin and pan until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook second side until barely colored, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

  4. Slice breasts crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and serve.

Special Equipment

Sous vide circulator

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
242 Calories
13g Fat
0g Carbs
29g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 242
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 163mg 54%
Sodium 494mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 0mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)