Duck breast cherry sauce

Roast Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce

Duck breast with cherry sauce is a classic and for good reason. Fruit works so well with gamey meat like duck or venison and a cooking cherries down in a rich meat jus results in an incredible sauce.

Cooking duck breast is difficult but this recipe includes some fool proof tips to ensure that you get perfect results, every time.

Just like duck à l’orange, duck with cherries is a classic French dish dating back to the Middle Ages. Steeped in history it’s an really traditional dish – to the point where it’s hard to find on restaurant menus – even in France!

duck breast cherry sauce recipe

How to Cook a Duck Breast to Perfection

Getting crispy skin and blushing pink meat can be hard to achieve when cooking duck – especially when you’re cooking more than 2 breasts at the same time.

The key to cooking duck, stress free, is to render the skin in advance. Duck is perfectly fine sitting out at room temperature for a few hours and it means that as soon as you want to eat, you can put it in the oven to cook the flesh.

roast duck breast and cherry sauce

Do you need to score the duck fat? I don’t believe it’s necessary to score the skin. Why? It takes time to do and it effects the presentation after it’s scored. It can also lead to the flesh overcooking when rendering the fat. Pressing the duck breast into a pan ensures that it renders properly leaving a crispy thin layer of fat on the duck.

In this recipe I make a sauce with really good, home made, gelatinous chicken stock. Using the same pan I render the duck fat in, I fry off aromatics and deglaze with Madeira wine. Crushed, fresh cherries are added and the sauce is simmered until it’s nice and thick.

As soon as you’re ready to eat, just put the breasts in the oven at 150c/302f until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 54c/130f (for medium rare). You can check this with an instant read digital thermometer.

What You’ll Need

To make Roast Duck Breast & Cherry Sauce, you’ll need:

duck breast cherry sauce ingredients

Duck breast: You can buy duck breasts separately in most supermarkets or butchers. A more cost effective solution is often to buy a whole duck and butcher it yourself. This also means you can use the carcass for the sauce! If you don’t have access to duck you can use pork or venison.

Chicken stock: Home made chicken stock is needed for best results. Using store bought will result in a thin stock as it doesn’t have the gelatin that real stock does. If you’re using stock bought, add 1/2 tsp of gelatin powder or use a cornstarch slurry to thicken it up.

Cherries: Fresh cherries are best! Cook this recipe when they’re in season (May-August). Frozen cherries can work but you’ll need more to get the same flavour. Avoid using cherry juice as this will turn your sauce extremely sweet.

Wine: I use Madeira (which is a fortified wine) but you can use white or rosé wine.

Aromatics: I like to use shallots, mushrooms, garlic and thyme for the base of the sauce to add depth of flavour, umami and fragrance.


Makes enough for 2 main portions.

  • 2 duck breasts, skin on
  • 500ml, home made chicken stock
  • 30ml Madeira or white wine
  • 120g or 15 cherries, crushed with your hands
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 small mushroom, finely sliced
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Vinegar, as required

How to Make Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce

  1. Season your duck breasts well with salt and reserve in the fridge for 30 minutes. Dab with kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture.

  2. Place a non-stick frying pan and place on a low-medium heat. Add duck breasts and apply pressure with a hand or spatular. The fat will slowly render. Occasionally drain fat and reserve. Keep on doing this until a good amount of fat has been rendered and the skin is brown and crispy. This can take around 10-15 minutes. Ensure that even pressure is applied the entire time. Once you’re happy with the skin, remove the breasts and excess fat from the pan. Do not place the breasts back in the fridge – they’re fine at room temperature.

  3. Place mushrooms into the same frying pan and sear until they’re brown. Add sliced shallot, garlic and a sprig of thyme to the pan and cook until the shallot and garlic are soft.

  4. Deglaze the pan with wine and reduce until sticky. Add the stock and crushed cherries to the pan.

  5. Bring a to a simmer and reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon.

  6. Pass the sauce through a sieve into a clean pan. Season to taste with salt and vinegar.

  7. When ready to eat, place the duck breasts into a 150c/302f oven and cook until the breasts reach 54c/130f internal temperature at the thickest part. Let rest on a warm plate for 12 minutes.

  8. Slice the duck, reheat the sauce and eat immediately with duck fat potatoes.

Discover more French 🇫🇷 recipes here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Complete Guide to Saint Tropez
Saint Tropez france

The Complete Guide to Saint Tropez

Saint-Tropez has to be one of the prettiest coastal towns on the French Riviera

Guide to Les Goudes in Marseille
Les goudes Marseille

Guide to Les Goudes in Marseille

Les Goudes is a stunning fishing village south of Marseille on the very end of

You May Also Like