Seared Duck Breast with Bourbon Cherry Sauce is a crispy fat cap and juicy, tender meat all in one bite! I partnered up with my good friends at Buffalo Trace to take this duck to the next level with a Bourbon Cherry Sauce.

What’s the main ingredient? Buffalo Trace, of course! But don’t worry—there’s still plenty of bourbon left for sipping while we enjoy cooking over an open flame. Have you ever cooked duck before? If not, now is the time!

Post Sponsored by Buffalo Trace.
The Seared Duck Breast served with a glass of Buffalo Trace!

I’ve cooked a lot of great recipes with Buffalo Trace. If you’re into bourbon, you should also check out my shrimp skewers and rotisserie ribs.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Want to impress your friends and family with a dish that’s fancy-feeling but crazy flavorful? This Seared Duck Breast with Bourbon Cherry Sauce is your new go-to. Here’s why you’ll love it:

Searing the breasts locks in all the juicy goodness, so you get a perfectly crispy crust and tender duck meat in every bite. Then there’s the sauce – a sweet and tangy bourbon cherry sauce that pairs perfectly with the savory duck. And to top it all off, a hint of smokiness from the grill adds another layer of complexity. 

Believe it or not, cooking duck breast is surprisingly easy. It uses just a handful of ingredients and comes together in no time. Searing the duck breasts takes just a few minutes, making it perfect for when you have company coming over. You can even save the duck fat to make Duck Steak Frites another day!

The duck breast after flipping so that the fat cap is facing up.

Ingredients

Duck Breast

  • Duck Breasts: Look for whole duck breasts, not halves.
  • Bourbon Prime Seasoning: This pre-made seasoning blend will add a smoky, savory kick to the duck. It’s fantastic on steak and works perfectly on this duck too! If you don’t want to use my seasoning, you can use your favorite poultry seasoning.
  • Chopped Scallions: These add a pop of fresh green color and a mild oniony bite to complement the richness of the dish. Use the green parts only.
  • Sesame Seeds: A classic Asian garnish that adds a subtle nutty flavor.
  • Canola Oil: You want to use an oil with a high smoke point so the oil doesn’t become rancid. 

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Bourbon Cherry Sauce

  • Black Cherry Jelly: This is the base of the sauce, providing sweetness and fruitiness. Look for good quality black cherry jelly, not jam – jam has more liquid pectin, which can burn easily on the grill.
  • Buffalo Trace Bourbon: This adds a touch of boozy warmth and complexity to the sauce. Feel free to use another bourbon you enjoy, but choose something mid-range – you don’t need a top-shelf bottle for cooking.
  • Black Garlic Sauce: Adds a unique savory and umami depth to the sauce. Black garlic is regular garlic that’s been slow-roasted, concentrating its flavor. If you can’t find it, you can substitute it with a teaspoon of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar: A touch of acidity to balance the sweetness of the cherry jelly and bourbon. Use any rice wine vinegar you have on hand.
  • Honey: Adds a touch more sweetness and helps to balance the tang of the vinegar.
  • Sriracha Sauce: A tiny kick of spice to add another layer of flavor. Start with a teaspoon and adjust to your spice preference.

For more sauces, check out my Coffee Crusted Venison Chops, Marinated Steak with Thai Chili Sauce, and Steaks with Gorgonzola Mushroom Cream Sauce!

HOW TO COOK SEARED DUCK BREAST COOKED AND BOURBON CHERRY SAUCE 

Prep

Cooking this recipe is pretty straight forward. Don’t we all love it when delicious food is made using a simple process?! Yes. Yes, we do.

The first step is scoring your duck breast with a very sharp knife. Scoring means making shallow cuts in a tight crosshatch pattern across the breast meat. Compared to chicken or turkey, duck breast has a very thick layer of fat. Scoring allows the fat to render out more easily during cooking. Without scoring, the trapped fat can prevent the skin of the duck breast from crisping up properly.

Then, slather with oil and by Bourbon Prime seasoning and set aside until ready to cook. Next, preheat your grill to 300F. 

Sear the Duck Breasts

Place duck breasts in a cast iron skillet fat side down first. Leave the duck breast here to cook until the fat renders and gives us a really pretty, golden brown crisp skin.

Seared Duck Breast in the skillet on the grill.

Next, flip the duck breast skin side down and let it finish cooking in the rendered fat. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. We want the internal temperature of the duck breast to reach 135F. 

After it hits the desired internal temperature, we’ll let the perfectly cooked duck breast rest by removing it from the hot pan. Next, clean your skillet and place it back on the grill to make the Bourbon Cherry Sauce. 

Make the Bourbon Cherry Sauce

The quick pan sauce starts with the Buffalo Trace. Pour that in first and let some of the alcohol cook out before adding all the other ingredients. After all ingredients are added, stir the mixture. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer together. Remove it from the grill once it reaches a sauce-like consistency and coats the back of a spoon. 

Buffalo Trace pairs well with lots of proteins and can work in great in salmon, chicken wing, steak and even surf and turf recipes!

Why the bourbon cherry sauce?

Every good superhero needs a kick-butt sidekick. That’s exactly what this Bourbon Cherry Sauce is for our Seared Duck Breast. Y’all know I’m a sauce person and you also know I’m a bourbon person, so it just makes sense to put them both together for an epic sauce! 

This Bourbon Cherry Sauce is made with sweet black cherries which pairs perfectly with the vanilla, oak and molasses flavors of the Buffalo Trace. 

I balanced some of that sweetness by adding sriracha, but overall, the purpose of this sauce is to add some sweetness to the final dish. The sweetness of the sauce will help to cut through some of that salty fattiness we get from the seared duck breast.

Bourbon Cherry Sauce simmering together.

​Slice the Breasts

Now, our favorite part. The part where we enjoy this delicious Seared Duck Breast with Bourbon Cherry Sauce!

I placed each of my rested Seared Duck Breast on a cutting board and cut each one into slices. Then, I placed a couple spoonfuls of the Bourbon Cherry Sauce across each sliced duck breast. From here I garnished with sesame seeds and chopped scallions. That’s it! Serve it straight from the cutting board. Best enjoyed with friends and family. Cheers!

Tips for Seared Duck Breast

  • Before you even think about cooking, use paper towels to thoroughly pat dry the skin of the duck breasts. Excess moisture is the enemy of crispy skin!
  • Always start with a cold pan over medium-high heat. This allows the skin to slowly render fat, ensuring a beautiful, crisp texture. Don’t be afraid to let the pan get nice and hot – the key is even heat, not scorching.
  • Make sure your duck breasts are at room temperature before starting the cooking process, as this allows them to cook more evenly. 

More Pan-Seared Recipes

How to Store Leftovers & Reheat

Cool the duck breasts completely and place them in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze them for up to 3 months. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Before reheating, make sure the duck breasts come to room temperature. Let the sauce thaw in the fridge before reheating.  

To reheat, heat in a large skillet with oil or rendered duck fat over medium-low heat until warmed through. Reheat the sauce in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until warm. 

Seared Duck Breast plated and ready to serve.

What to serve with pan-seared duck breast

Seared duck breast with bourbon cherry sauce is a show-stopping main course, but don’t forget the sides! To create a well-rounded meal, choose side dishes that complement the richness of the duck without overpowering the palate. Classic pairings like roasted sweet potatoes or vegetables pair perfectly with this duck breast recipe. 

Seared Duck Breast Recipe FAQs

Why score the fat cap on the duck breasts?

One of the most distinctive features of a duck breast has to be the fat on top of the duck breast. It’s incredible in the way that it’s pretty much the same depth across the top of the breast and is thick enough to add a ton of flavor, but not too much to overpower the protein. 

One of my favorite ways to prep duck breast is to score the fat cap using a crosshatch technique because there are multiple benefits it provides. 

The first one being that it increases the surface area of the fat. This helps us render more fat when we actually go to cook the duck breast. 

Secondly, it allows for more flavor penetration to the protein. When scoring the duck breast, I don’t actually want to cut into the protein. Rather, I just want to slightly reveal it. 

As the duck breast cooks, these crosshatches will help absorb and hold flavor onto the meat. This makes each bite flavorful and delicious. 

Can I make this recipe on the stovetop?

Absolutely! Heat a heavy pan, sear duck breasts skin side down until crispy, then flip and cook briefly on the other side. Rest the duck while making the Bourbon Cherry Sauce in the same pan. Slice, drizzle with sauce, and enjoy!

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Seared Duck Breast with Bourbon Cherry Sauce

Seared Duck Breast with Bourbon Cherry Sauce is a delicious, sweet sauce on a savory slice of duck!
Author:Derek Wolf
No ratings yet
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 People

Ingredients 

Duck Breast:

  • 5 Whole Duck Breast
  • 1.5 tbsp Bourbon Prime Seasoning
  • Chopped Scallions for garnish
  • Sesame Seeds for garnish
  • 1 tbsp Canola Oil

Bourbon Cherry Sauce:

  • 2.5 tbsp Black Cherry Jelly
  • 3 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 1 tbsp Black Garlic Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tsp Sriracha Sauce

Instructions 

  • Begin by patting all of the duck breasts dry of excess liquid.
  • Next using a really sharp knife, score the fat side of the breast using a crosshatch pattern. Try to gently score so that you do not cut into the meat.
  • Turn the duck breast over to the flesh side, lather with oil and season with my Bourbon Prime seasoning or your favorite steak seasoning. Set the duck aside until ready to cook.
  • Preheat a medium heat fire (around 300F) for direct grilling.
  • Add your duck breast, fat side down, to a cold cast iron skillet.
  • Place the skillet over the fire and press firmly on each duck so that the fat sears evenly. Let the duck simmer fat side down for 12-15 minutes over medium heat until the fat is golden brown.
  • Flip the duck breast over to the flesh side and cook for 1-2 minutes until the internal temperature is 135F for medium rare.
  • Pull the duck off and let it rest for 5-7 minutes.
  • As the duck rests, strain and save the cooked duck fat and clean out the skillet.
  • Add the skillet back to the fire and crank up the heat to medium high (375F).
  • Deglaze the skillet with your Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Let simmer for 1 minute, then add the rest of the ingredients for the Bourbon Cherry Sauce.
  • Let the sauce simmer until thickened (about 6-8 minutes). Make sure to stir frequently. Once the sauce is done, pull it off and let cool.
  • Slice your duck breast and top with the Bourbon Cherry Sauce. Top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnish. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1Duck Breast | Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 56g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 218mg | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 781mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 153IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 13mg

Derek Wolf

Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

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