One of my favorite things about duck breast is its simplicity. You do not need to do much with it to have a great meal.
That said, I still like to pair my duck breast with sauce.
In my opinion, the best sauce for duck breast is plum or blackberry sauce.
However, there are many more excellent sauces you can pair with duck.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Best Sauce for Duck Breast
Duck breast pairs well with sweet sauces. Often these are fruit-based sauces. Some are sweet with no savory ingredients, but others have savory ingredients, which I prefer.
Blueberry sauce with duck breast is probably one of the most popular sauces served with the individual breast.
Some of the other sauces on the list, such as the orange sauce and plum sauce, are more popular with a whole duck, but blueberry beats them for the breast alone.
This sauce is one of the sweetest on the list and, in fact, could probably be used over ice cream for dessert, depending on if you add extras or not.
Perhaps one of the reasons this sauce is so popular with duck breast is because of America’s fondness for sweet cuisine, as we mentioned earlier.
Nevertheless, this makes for a fantastic dish and is one of the easiest sauces to make.
This dish is so easy you can prepare it from scratch and be eating it in 30 minutes.
Like many other sauces on the list, this one also coincides well with duck season, as blueberries are ready to be picked around the same time.
Like with the blackberry sauce, I have made this sauce with and without wine.
Without the wine, I did find it a little too sweet for the duck but great for ice cream.
With the wine, it was still very sweet but perfect for duck breast. I should mention that both recipes had sugar.
If making this without wine, I recommend adjusting the sugar content, but not too much, as you will need it to form a syrupy consistency.
Blackberry sauce for duck doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, which is a pity as the seasons coincide perfectly.
I got fond of making this sauce in early duck season. It aligns perfectly with wild berry season and duck season; a morning walk on the bank of the local river could give you an abundance of the two main ingredients, wild duck and wild blackberries.
There are two ways of making blackberry sauce, with or without wine. I struggle to choose between them, to be honest.
Without wine, you are left with a sweet sauce that does pair well with duck. Typically when making this sauce without wine, I add soy sauce to add a little extra tartness to the recipe.
When this sauce is made with wine, you get a more sweet and tart sauce, which we have established works well with duck.
I like this sauce because it is not as sweet as other sauces we have mentioned. Blackberries have a natural tartness to them.
However, if you find that they are still not tart enough, you can substitute dewberries for blackberries. These berries are a cousin of the blackberry and are very similar in appearance and taste.
However, the dewberry is more tart than the blackberry, allowing you to forgo the wine.
Plum sauce has been enjoyed with duck for many years. This combination actually originated in China and is very common for deep-fried dishes in Cantonese cuisine.
Typically it is this sauce is paired with roast duck, but I’ve tried it with pan-fried duck breast many times, and it pairs extremely well.
I find this sauce works better with wild duck breast than farmed duck breast. I think the “gamey” taste of wild duck blends well with this sauce.
Chinese plum sauce is similar to many of the other sauces I recommend here, being that it’s sweet, but what I think really separates this sauce from the others is the hidden spices in the aftertaste.
Many people are familiar with sweet and sour sauces from Chinese cuisine, but plum sauce should not be confused with these.
Plum sauce is a sweet and tart sauce. The tartness really works with the savory flavor of the duck.
Plum sauce is not difficult to make, but it may be a little more involved than some of the others on this list.
Orange sauce and duck is a timeless classic and one of the first things people think of as a sauce for duck.
Orange sauce is so well known for duck, that it is known as “duck sauce.”
The origins of this sauce are not exactly known, but it’s a common belief that it is of European descent.
The exact region is likely France or Italy, with people arguing for both sides.
However, today it is mostly known as a french dish, and quite a famous one at that, thanks to Julia Child’s addition of duck à l’orange in her cookbooks as well as many shows.
Similar to the plum sauce, orange sauce is sweet and tart, although this one has a hint of sour taste to it also. But the most important taste of duck orange sauce is its bitterness.
What really stands out with this sauce is the citrus notes that pair really well with the duck breast.
There are many variations of orange sauce for duck, most of them are great, but you will need to find which one you like best.
When I first tried this recipe, it was in chef school and was made with Cointreau; ever since then, this has been my preferred approach.
Typical recipes, especially for duck à l’orange, do not call for any liqueur; they also call for the whole duck.
If you have time, it’s great, but if not, don’t worry; the breast alone with orange sauce is divine.
If you’ve tried this dish recently, you may think it’s too sweet, but I implore you to try another recipe.
Typically this dish is oversweetened in America. Many people do not use the right orange juice and add too much sugar and other sweet additives.
The sauce is actually called bigarade sauce which translates to bitter sauce.
Duck à l’orange may sound intimidating, especially with all the hype, but it’s a simple orange sauce.
Most importantly, for this sauce to work, work you need the right ingredients; forgo the urge to make it sweeter you will thank me later.
This sauce is very different than most other sauces on the list, yet it is an excellent complement to duck breast.
Ideally, you should try to use wild-sourced mushrooms if possible. You can use one type of mushroom or multiple types.
I like to use porcini and chanterelles when I can find them. But I always have dried porcini at hand.
Note that dried mushrooms have a more intense flavor than fresh mushrooms.
While this sauce pairs well with farmed raised ducks, it’s much better with wild-sourced ducks.
The earthy flavor of the mushrooms, coupled with the rich flavored wild duck breast, make for a pleasing umami dish.
There are a few ways to prepare the mushroom sauce for duck breast; it can be made with or without wine, with or without cream, or with only stock.
I prefer the latter method as I don’t want the dish to get too heavy or too rich.
So there you have it. The best sauce for paring with duck breast is some kind of sweet and tart sauce. For me, that is either plum or blackberry.
Orange sauce is also quite good and is one of the most popular, but it takes a little more skill to get right.
In my quest to find the best sauce for duck breast, I made multiple sauces. This is an option you could try; it makes for an interesting meal.
The great thing is it’s not complicated; duck breast is easy to cook, so your focus is mainly on the sauces, which for most of them, are also relatively easy.
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 shallot diced
- 1 clove black garlic
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 pounds plums
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large shallot
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 3 tablespoons chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 ounce dry wild mushrooms or 10 ounces of fresh wild mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- Add the blueberries, vinegar, and red wine to a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency.
- Add the shallots and black garlic to a lightly oiled pan and saute over low heat until onions are translucent.
- Add the blackberries, vinegar, and chicken stock. Squish the blackberries with a spoon or potato masher.
- Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Serve whole or pass through a strainer for a finer sauce.
- Boil the plums in water until soft. When the plums are soft, use a spoon to squish them and remove the pits.
- Add in all the other ingredients and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thicker consistency and the flavors blend.
- Blend the sauce in a food blender or use a hand blender to blend the sauce into a puree.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat
- Sieve in the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux until it gets a light browning (approx 5 minutes)
- Add in the vinegar and Cointreau and cook for 3 minutes, then add the chicken stock.
- Begin whisking in the orange juice until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
- Melt butter in a pan over medium heat; add in garlic and saute for 2 minutes
- Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
- When the mushrooms have absorbed the butter, pour over the wine and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until wine is reduced by half.
- Pour over the stock, add the cream, lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thick and creamy.
Rusty enjoys connecting food and nature and has done so since a child. He was fortunate enough to explore cuisine worldwide and work at great European restaurants. He now enjoys thinking up new recipes that he can find around him in nature in North America.