Easy Classic French Duck a l'Orange

Duck a la Orange

Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
580 Calories
24g Fat
91g Carbs
7g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 580
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 14g 72%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 127mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 91g 33%
Dietary Fiber 10g 36%
Protein 7g
Calcium 194mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Duck a l'orange is possibly one of the most copied French recipes of all time. The dish first rose to fame in the 1960s when French cuisine became hugely popular in America thanks in part to this famous recipe. The recipe features seared duck breast glazed with a sweet orange sauce and has been a popular way to cook duck for decades since. 

Orange matches well with duck, as the citrus cuts through any fattiness, yet it remains sweet, unlike lemon. This sophisticated dish is an excellent addition to party menus and romantic dinners. The easy sauce can be prepared ahead of time, and you can sear the duck right before serving.

Always use the plumpest duck breasts you can find. These are often referred to as duck magret in French and have a good layer of fat that is so important in keeping the meat moist and adding tons of flavor. Don't shy away from the fat. Much of it is rendered in cooking and can be used in a host of other recipes, including classic pommes sauté.


  • For the Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons shallots (minced)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (cold)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (divided)
  • 4 oranges (sections cut from membranes)
  • For the Duck:
  • 1 duck breast (cut into 2 halves)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this duck dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prepare the Orange Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a saucepan, boil the sugar and water for several minutes until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden brown color.

  3. Add the sherry vinegar, orange juice, shallots, and chicken stock and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a little less than 1 cup.

  4. Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the pan with 1 tablespoon of orange zest.

  5. Shake the pan over medium heat until the butter has melted and is incorporated into the sauce.

  6. Stir in the orange sections.

  7. The sauce is now ready and can be cooled and stored until you're ready to prepare the duck breasts, or you can set it aside and proceed with cooking the breasts. 

Make the Duck a l'Orange

  1. Pat dry the two half breasts with paper towels.

  2. Slash through the fat on the breast with a sharp knife to create a crisscross pattern. This will help release the fat, and the fat will crisp up when cooked.

  3. Sprinkle both the meat side and the fat with a little sea salt and pepper. 

  4. Heat a skillet over high heat. Sear the duck breasts quickly on both sides, then cook the duck for about 9 to 11 minutes on each side.

  5. Remove the breasts from the pan and place them on a warm plate. Cover with paper towels and leave them to rest for 5 minutes. This helps to soften the duck after cooking.

  6. Reheat the sauce.

  7. Place the duck on a hot plate, either whole or neatly sliced. Spoon the sauce over the duck. Garnish the plate with the remaining orange zest. Serve immediately and enjoy.