Szechuan Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

Duck breast with plum sauce a a nice play on a classic combination that is stupidly quick and easy to cook and is always a bit of a crowd pleaser

Vertical image of duck with plum sauce against a red background

Duck seems to have a great affinity with plum sauce and my absolute favourite way to have it is with a whole roasted duck breast that is wonderfully rosy pink in the  middle. I am certainly not one of those people that balk at the idea of meat that is cooked to varying degrees of rare or medium.

But I am equally not one of those people that tell others what they should like either.  So I will give some approximate cooking times for duck breast for varying degrees of ‘well done ness’ further down the page.

Duck breast is a fairly rare treat for us and I am not sure why because it is relatively cheap here in Hungary and I really should cook with it more.

I may be going soft and having half a dozen of the comedic creatures running around our garden all year long is having some influence. Don’t tell my friends though. However the annual tradition of making plum sauce  in the Jones household almost always sees duck on the menu!

Square image of a pan roasted duck breast on a white plate against a red backdrop

It seems to be a meat that many struggle to cook.

I personally think it is all down to the fact it is cooked far too long and rested for far too short a time even if you like your duck breast well done it takes no time at all for it to cook and you are left with the most tender juicy piece of meat with so much more flavour than chicken.

I know I have banged on about this before but the key to roasting any meat is to use a meat thermometer.

I am not a kitchen gadget freak, in fact beyond my stick blender and a meat grinder all I own is my trusty meat thermometer.  Simply put the probe into the thickest part of the meat as soon as you take it out of the oven take the reading and set it to rest once you have reached your desired cooking point.

Internal temperatures for Roast Duck Breast.

  • Rare:  57°C
  • Medium:  62°C
  • Well Done:  67°C
Vertical image of duck with plum sauce against a red background
Szechuan Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

Szechuan Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Duck breast with plum sauce a a nice play on a classic combination that is stupidly quick and easy to cook and is always a bit of a crowd pleaser


  • 2 Duck Breasts
  • 1 Onion, Top and tail the onion and slice into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Szechuan Pepper Corns
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 150 ml Plum Sauce, It is really easy to make your own, check out my recipe here


  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
  2. Toast off the Szechuan pepper corns in a dry pan over a medium high heat for two minutes and grind in either a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder
  3. Turn up the heat under the pan to a high heat
  4. Take your duck breasts and ensure that the skin is very dry and then score in a cross hatch pattern about 1cm regular intervals ensuring that you do not cut through to the meat
  5. Sprinkle over the Szechuan pepper and then add a good grind of black pepper and a generous grind of sea salt
  6. Place both duck breasts skin down in the dry hot pan and allow them to sit there and do not move them. As they sear for 4-5 minutes the fat will begin to render from the skin, as this happens through in the onion wedges and check to see that the duck skin has a nice colour
  7. Once the duck fat has rendered and a nice colour has appeared on the duck skin flip over the breast on to the meat side and transfer into the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes
  8. There is a guide to the internal temperature of a duck breast just to the left
  9. When cooked to the desired stage remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes
  10. In the still hot pan add the plum sauce to the onion wedges and bring to temperature then serve with the duck breast
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 777 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 326mg Sodium: 1067mg Carbohydrates: 67g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 7g Protein: 63g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

58 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. I have tried before to cook duck and each and every time was a disaster. I am hoping next time will redeem myself following your recipe! Loving the plum sauce addition

    • I hope you nail it this time, cooking the breast on it’s own is a little easier than a whole duck, the main thing to do is avoid over cooking as it can become tough very quickly.

    • Thanks Florentina, the plum sauce is one of our favourite preserves, a really versatile treat that gets lots of outings over winter.

  2. o.m.g. savior!! I cannot find any good Szechuan in my new neighborhood in New York. I miss this style of Chinese food. Definietly trying this one, Brian!!

  3. thanks for this primer, Brian. It may be just the nudge that I need to summon the courage to try this duck preparation; one of Scott’s favorite dishes!

    • Cheers Dan, duck does seem intimidating but it really is very easy to cook with so long as you do not over cook, if that happens I find it gives your jaw too much of a work out… I hope Scott enjoys as much as we did!

  4. Wow, that looks delicious. I have only had duck in a restaurant and never thought of trying it myself. You make it look easy.

    • Thanks Melanie, it really is very simple, duck does not really take a lot more work than chicken although if it is overdone it can be pretty hard going on the gnashers 🙂

  5. This looks awesome! I order duck when I go out a lot, but have never made my own. Your delicious looking photos have inspired me to give it a go! I’m saving this recipe for later!

  6. WOW! I’m drooling over this juicy duck breast! Duck is so flavorful, especially with that crispy skin. The homemade plum sauce sounds so good too! Gotta try this soon! By the way, your photos are stunning!

    • Thank you very much, duck really is a wonderful meat that is woefully underused, I am just as guilty of that as anyone and I really do mean to use it more often.

  7. I saw the plum sauce recipe the other day but had no idea what I would do with it. Love the look of this dish!

  8. Wowzers! Your duck looks mouthwatering awesome! My husband loves duck and I am starting to like it… just looking at your photos makes me love it! And your plum sauce…yum!

    • Thank Cassandrea, duck does seem to be somewhat of an acquired taste not sure why as it is fairly mild in flavour unless it is wild but it is certainly not served very often so think it is a bit of an unknown… Enjoy the plum sauce 😀

  9. I did miss that plum sauce recipe ;), but you made me curious to try, so saved that one! I love duck, but I never cooked/roasted it myself. I’m gonna try it, but first I got to find a decent meat thermometer.

    • Thanks Niels, meat thermometers are pretty much all the same, a digital one does help with instant readings and they are pretty cheap but I find them invaluable.

  10. I’ve only had duck a few times and have never cooked it, but it sure is good and your recipe looks amazing!!! Maybe I need to break out o my comfort zone and give it a try.

    • Thanks Renee, cooking with the breasts only is a really great introduction to cooking with duck as it is a really quick and tactile way of cooking and you can see and feel what is happening, a whole bird is a little more challenging. I hope you give it a go as it is a great piece of meat to break up the usual fare 🙂

  11. Gorgeous! As a small child we had duck every Christmas, it was not like this! This sounds and look so very appetizing. I have to try this for a date night in with my husband. This meal is made for music and soft lighting. 🙂

    • Hope you Enjoy Tina. When I was very young we used to have Goose at Christmas but that quickly migrated to Turkey but as there is only myself and my wife we often do a whole duck as it is a reasonable size and the duck legs after are great in a salad 🙂

  12. This recipe has my husband’s name all over it! He is a sucker for duck and plum sauce together – I’ll have to make it for him!

  13. You know, I’ve never been a huge duck fan, but this recipe is making me re-think my stance on the fatty bird. I love crispy skin and szechaun. Making your own plum sauce sounds far more appetizing than getting it out of a plastic packet in the take-out bag. Oh boy, I could also think of a ton of things to do with the rendered duck fat!

    • Thanks Leslie don’t get me started on duck fat, oh the roast potatoes 😉 The plum sauce is a real keeper and I always have jars of the stuff knocking around for everything from cheese sandwiches to grilled pork chops.

  14. Brian, this dish looks absolutely stunning – not to mentioned cravable and mouth-watering. I’m sitting at my desk at work. It’s 10:40am, and I’m now starving for duck. Good Lord, it looks phenomenal! Your recipes and photos are such an inspiration to newbies like me. Cheers!

    • Thank you so much Byron, I’m a newbie too, I only started in April and Food Styling is my nightmare at the moment and I never seem to be happy so your comments are gratefully recieved 🙂 I’m with you on the craving inappropriate foods in the morning though, I do a little bit of food surfing in the morning before breakfast and often find myself hankering after something that is definitely not appropriate at 7am 😮

    • It definitely should not scare you but I can understand as it is a piece of meat that can turn pretty inedible and tough as old boots if it is over cooked, but get it right and it is delightful 🙂

  15. I ate this once a long time ago, and now I know I have to have it again, thanks for the recipe, it looks amazing.

    • ha ha I’ll trade you plenty of duck for some of your delicious lamb and mutton which is a real headache to find here in Hungary 😉

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