Classic Duck a l'Orange

Easy Classic French Duck a l'Orange

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
580 Calories
24g Fat
91g Carbs
7g Protein
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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 recipe, which features seared duck breast glazed with a sweet orange sauce. 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 be deterred by the fat—much of it is rendered in cooking and can be used in a host of other recipes, including classic pommes sauté (sauteed potatoes). Serve duck a l'orange with simple side dishes like rice pilaf and steamed green beans.

Ingredients

  • For the Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 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.

    Easy Classic French Duck a l'Orange ingredients

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

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

    sugar and water in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  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.

    Add the sherry vinegar, orange juice, shallots, and chicken stock to the sugar and water mixture

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

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

    add butter and orange zest to the mixture in the pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

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

    sauce cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  6. Stir in the orange sections.

    orange sections added to the sauce in the pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  7. The sauce 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. 

    orange sauce in the pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Cook the Duck Breasts

  1. Pat dry the 2 half breasts with paper towels.

    pat dry duck breast with paper towels

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. Slash through the fat on the breast with a sharp knife to create a crisscross pattern. This will help release the fat, which will crisp up the skin while cooking.

    Slash through the fat on the duck breast with a sharp knife to create a crisscross pattern

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

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

    sprinkle duck with salt and pepper

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  4. Heat a skillet over high heat. Sear the duck breasts quickly on both sides, then cook the duck for 9 to 11 minutes on each side. (The USDA recommends cooking duck to 160 F or 170 F, but if you prefer it pinker, cook to medium-rare, 135 to 140 F; it is still safe to eat.)

    cook duck breast in a pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

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

    rest the cooked duck breast on a plate

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Assemble the Dish

  1. Reheat the sauce.

    reheat the orange sauce in the pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. 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.

    Easy Classic French Duck a l'Orange, with a side of orange sauce

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  3. Serve immediately and enjoy.