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Pan Fried Duck Breast with Orange Sauce

Duck with orange sauce is a classic combination and here we take a duck breast and pan-fry it to perfection and then make a quick pan gravy.

It is a recipe that feels fancy, but it is quick to make at around 25 minutes and the cold pan method of cooking duck breast is foolproof!

Orange sauce being poured over a rosy pan fried duck breast with crispy skin.

Duck a l’Orange

It would seem that food nostalgia is strong in me at the moment!

Duck with orange sauce or duck a l’orange as I remember it being called is a retro classic that I think deserves to be cooked far more regularly.

First of all, I love cooking with duck, whether it is the breast like my duck stir fry or balsamic and honey glazed duck breast. Or the legs for my duck legs with a tamarind and honey glaze, hoisin duck, duck tagine or even just simply roasted duck legs it is probably my favourite “alternative” meat to cook with.

It is beautifully forgiving to cook, and let’s face it, it just sounds and feels lahdedah and special.

But honestly, this duck with oranges dish is stupidly easy to cook and can be cooked for 4 as easily as it is for 1. Grab yourself 2 pans and go for 8 if you want!

The orange sauce for the duck cooks in the time it takes to rest the duck breasts and tastes divine. Duck with orange is a classic combination and one that I also feature in my duck breast salad recipe.

And the cold pan method of cooking duck breast renders that fat out beautifully.

It creates crispy skin and no mountain of chewy white fat, it is the same technique that I use in my Indian duck curry.

Over head pan fried duck breast with orange sauce served with roast potatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when the duck is cooked?

Buy a meat thermometer, they are cheap and will make you a better cook immediately!

As you can tell I like my duck rare! I cook it until it reaches 53-54°C or 127°F and remove it to rest, it will continue to cook as it rests.

If you want medium, remove the duck at around 60°C or 140°F and well done at 65°C or 150°F.

Why are you not using the duck fat in the sauce?

I have nothing against duck fat, I love the stuff, just not as much as butter, especially in a sauce.

The orange sauce for these duck breasts needs to be silky smooth and that is where the butter plays its part.

Put the duck in a cold pan… REALLY?

Yes! Trust me on this, I spent years putting my duck in a hot pan and searing it off. It almost always results in uneven cooking and lots of white unrendered fat.

The method gives you perfect skin every time, no unrendered fat and beautifully cooked meat.

Just keep the pan at a low-medium temperature. You can tell if you have got it right when the oil very slowly starts to flow after 30-60 seconds and you have got no sizzling.

Pan fried duck breast with orange sauce served with roast potatoes & broccoli.

Serving Suggestions

Duck with orange sauce is oftentimes as close as I get to a roast and I have a few favourites that I love to serve it with.

The first is roast potatoes because yeah roasties! Although after I have par boiled them I like to crush them a little to get more crispy bits.

Then comes simple steamed broccoli, although garlic green beans work well too.

Finally, if I can score some, I make a Jerusalmen artichoke puree. The nutty flavour and creamy texture is glorious with the orange sauce.

You could add braised red cabbage and roasted parsnips would also be amazing!

Pan fried duck breast with crispy skin and orange sauce.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 28cm or 11″ frying pan or skillet.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chipping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
  • A quick read meat thermometer, optional but I think they are an essential piece of kitchen kit.
  • Kitchen tongs.
  • Stirring spoons.
  • Small mixing bowl.
Orange sauce poured over a rosy pan fried duck breast with crispy skin.
Yield: 2 Servings

Duck with Orange Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Welcome to another retro throwback recipe, Duck a l Orange may hark back to the 70's dinner parties but it still has a relevant place on any dinner table if you ask me!


  • 2 Duck Breasts
  • 30g (1½ Tbsp) Honey
  • 3 Oranges
  • 2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 200ml (¾ Cup + 1 Tbsp) Chicken Stock
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) Butter
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 Tbsp Cornflour (Cornstarch)
  • ½Tsp Salt
  • ¼ Tsp Pepper


  1. Zest all three oranges.
  2. Cut two of the oranges in half and juice them.
  3. Top and tail the final orange then place it on a cutting board and cut off the skin working in a "barrel shape". Then take a sharp knife and remove the segments by cutting along side the thin white membranes.
  4. Score the skin of the duck breasts in a diamond or cross-hatch pattern making sure you do not go through the flesh then season the duck with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Place the duck in a cold frying pan or skillet (28cm or 11") on the hob, (do not use a nonstick pan). Turn the heat to a low-medium temperature.
  6. Allow the duck to cook for 8-10 minutes pushing down occasionally to prevent curling at the corners and when the skin is crispy and golden flip over and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches the required level of "doneness".
  7. Remove the duck and set aside covered with foil and allow it to rest for the time it takes to make the sauce.
  8. Drain the fat from the pan (DO NOT THROW IT AWAY use it to roast potatoes!). Then rturn the pan to a high heat and add the butter.
  9. When the butter is foaming add the star anise, chicken stock, red wine vinegar, honey, orange zest and orange juice, keeping back 1-2 tablespoons. Reduce the sauce over a high heat by at least half.
  10. Whilst the sauce is reducing mix together the cornflour with the orange juice and mix to form a slurry.
  11. Stir the cornflour slurry through the sauce to thicken slightly.
  12. Add the orange segments, and stir to heat slightly.
  13. Finally, carve the duck breast adding any resting juices to the sauce and serve topped with sauce.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 755Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 356mgSodium: 431mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 5gSugar: 30gProtein: 63g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Rosie L

Wednesday 22nd of May 2024

Orange sauce easy to make tastes delicious

Brian Jones

Monday 3rd of June 2024

Glad you enjoyed it Rosie.

Jan Mackenzie

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Made this meal. No star anise available but delicious even without it. One query: what does 3/4 + 1Tbsp mean? 3/4 (pint?) does not equate with 200 ml. Will make this again certainly, especially as I do not have to use both hob and oven for it as many other versions do. Thank you. Jan MacKenzie

Brian Jones

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

Hi Jan...

Thanks for spotting my omission, it's 3/4 Cup plus one Tablespoon, which comes in at 195ml and it's aimed at helping my US based readers out, although it would seem that it may have confused them more lol.

I'm glad that you enjoyed this, I love cooking duck using this method, it renders the fat out beautifully and like you sat, avoiding having to fire up the oven for such a short period of time is a real energy saver.

Thanks again.


Tina Swallow

Sunday 30th of January 2022

I have made your duck breass with orange sauce twice now and this is a gorgeous recipe & looks so impressive too! Many thanks x

Brian Jones

Saturday 5th of February 2022

Thanks Tina, glad you enjoy it.

John Bruce

Thursday 30th of December 2021

I happen to have acquired two duck breasts. I happen to have an urge for a bit of authentic retro dining and your recipe looks like the real thing. So tonight, Pan fried duck breast with orange sauce, according to your recipe, accompanied by Frank Sinatra, Ray Conniff and James Last it is. I'll let you know the outcome... but I am looking forward to it very much. Cheers!

John Bruce

Friday 31st of December 2021

@Brian Jones, Dear Brian. Fabulous! A truly epic recipe. As the Carpenters sang... "It's yesterday once more". Was 15 in 1970 and can vouch for the authenticity and yours was the perfect orange glaze. Ray Conniff did indeed provide the perfect ambience whilst all that was missing was original Ercol furniture, a lava lamp and Scheurich vases. p.s. Co-incidentally, I live in Birmingham. ATB.

Brian Jones

Thursday 30th of December 2021

Enjoy, I'm far too young to vouch for the authenticity ;) but I love this recipe and had it on Boxing day :D


Friday 1st of December 2017

This is such a mouthwatering dish. I've been cooking with duck lately (confit last week and duck fat in my braised beans last night!) I am putting this on my to do list -- maybe for company this weekend. It looks do-able!

Brian Jones

Monday 4th of December 2017

Yay for a fellow duck cooker, we are in the minority but such a great meat!

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