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Sear-Roasted Duck Breasts with Grapefruit-Balsamic Sauce

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Seared duck breast, cooked to rare or medium rare, satisfies like steak. The rich, refined sauce, which is so good you’ll want to lick it off the plate, can be made ahead; not only is this great for entertaining, but it also means you can pair the same sauce with chicken or beef, or even asparagus, if you like.


  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. strained fresh grapefruit juice (from about 2 large grapefruit)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 lb. boneless duck breasts
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 450
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 250
  • Fat (g): 28
  • Saturated Fat (g): 13
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 195
  • Sodium (mg): 380
  • Carbohydrates (g): 21
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 28


  • Combine the vinegar and sugar in a wide 2-quart saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reduces to a syrup, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and 1 cup of the grapefruit juice and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Whisk in the cream and boil until the sauce reduces to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Trim the duck breasts of excess skin and fat, and score the skin in a 1/2-inch crosshatch pattern, cutting almost but not quite through to the meat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk 1 Tbs. of the remaining grapefruit juice with the honey and allspice. Brush the mixture all over the duck, working it down into the crosshatches. Season generously with salt and pepper, and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.
  • Heat a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Put the duck in the skillet, skin side down, and cook, occasionally spooning off the excess fat as it renders, until the skin is very dark and much of the fat has rendered, 7 to 9 minutes.
  • Flip the breasts, transfer the skillet to the oven, and roast until rare (125°F) or medium rare (135°F), about 5 to 8 minutes for small breasts or 8 to 12 minutes for large. Transfer the duck to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Gently reheat the sauce, if necessary. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. grapefruit juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the duck and serve with the sauce.

Make Ahead Tips

The sauce may be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Save your duck fat: strain the fat you spoon off as the duck breasts cook, and refrigerate it in a covered container. It’s especially good for frying potatoes, and will keep for months.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • acusma | 03/24/2021

    I made this last night and it was amazing! the sauce was out of this world and the cooking instructions for the duck were perfect.

  • lynnebair | 02/04/2020

    I was cooking just for myself so halved the recipe. But sauce came out watery anyway. The concept is still appealing so Ill
    try again, with smaller amounts of sauce ingredients. I hope to get a more concentrated sauce.

  • Anyuta | 02/15/2016

    This is a fantastic recipe. We literally licked the sauce off our plates. Will definitely make again.

  • Urbnspice | 12/03/2015

    This is a lovely dish and one that I will make again. The recipe introduction stated that the sauce would be spectacular and it is! It is truly delicious. Well done, Chef Ash.

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