French Honey-Lacquered Duck Breast

Seared honey-lacquered duck breast

Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings

This tempting honey-lacquered duck breast recipe is fantastically easy to prepare and it will create a beautiful showpiece entrée for your guests. Serve the duck with its honey glaze along with colorful steamed vegetables and a rich gratin to create a full, special occasion meal.

The recipe uses duck magret or "magret de canard," the breast of a Moulard duck raised for foie gras. The Moulard is a large bird known for its ample, fatty breast meat. Two-star Michelin chef Andre Daguin was reportedly the first to sear a magret like a steak at the Hotel de France in 1959. The impromptu recipe caught on and is now found in restaurants the world over. 

Magret translates to "breast," and it can technically mean the breast of any poultry except chicken -- the French word for chicken breast is "blanc." Magret almost always refers to duck, however. 


  • 2 duck magrets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: chopped nuts

Steps to Make It

  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Cut small slits in the skin side of the duck breast. The slits should be shallow without slicing all the way through into the flesh.

  3. Season the duck e both sides with the salt and pepper

  4. Sear the duck breasts, skin side down for 3 minutes.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and flip the duck breasts over, cooking them for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

  6. Transfer them to a plate and cover them with foil so they retain their warmth.

  7. Pour off the rendered duck fat and turn the heat up to medium.

  8. Deglaze the skillet with the honey and balsamic vinegar, scraping up the browned bits as the sauce cooks.

  9. Simmer the honey vinegar glaze for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns slightly thick.

  10. Season with just a dash of salt.

  11. Return the duck breasts to the pan, turning them a few times to coat them evenly with the honey glaze.

  12. Carve and serve them immediately, garnished with a drizzle of extra glaze and the chopped nuts if desired.

Cook's Tips

  • Duck magret is best-served medium rare, although this might not suit all palates. 
  • Pour the rendered duck fat into a clean container. Let it cool, refrigerate it, and save it for other culinary uses. It will keep for months and add a different flair to a variety of recipes, particularly potatoes. You can also use it to sear other meats, delivering a unique, extra kick of flavor.