Duck with orange sauce, or duck à l'orange, is a French classic that is simple to make and delicious.
Rather than wrestle with a whole duck, this recipe uses duck breasts, for quick and easy cooking.
The orange sauce for duck breast is also equally good with chicken or other game birds.
It's ready for serving in less than 30 minutes., so no slaving away in the kitchen!
Perfect for entertaining or a special dinner at home, this dish is a family favourite, that I hope you love as much as I do!
Duck à l'orange is classic that was extremely popular in restaurants in the UK in the 70's and 80's and is still very popular today.
Duck breast is a popular cut of meat in France, and it's still regularly on the menu in restaurants. It's often served carved in slices with a rich peppercorn sauce, an orange sauce or a creamy mushroom sauce.
This is a great dish for entertaining, as you can make the orange sauce in advance and just reheat before serving.
❤️ Why you will love this dish
- Ready in just 30 minutes.
- Elegant entertaining idea.
- Easy to cook.
- Prepare the orange sauce for duck breast in advance.
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- Duck - boneless duck breasts with an excess overhanging skin trimmed. Sometimes duck breast are large enough to feed 2, so slice in half lengthways if you prefer.
- Salt - flaked sea salt.
- Pepper - freshly ground black pepper.
- Wine - dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc.
- Orange - Seville oranges or other variety.
- Sugar - white granulated sugar.
- Vinegar - apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- Cornflour - or cornstarch.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found at the bottom of the article.
- Frying pan / skillet
- Wooden spoon
- Sharp knife
Pat the duck breast dry with kitchen paper. This will help it to brown and crisp up.
Use a sharp knife to score the fat diagonally, both ways. Try to avoid cutting the flesh. This helps to get the heat to the fat quickly, to get a golden and crispy skin.
Season both sides with the salt and pepper.
💭 Top Tip - How to salt meat before cooking
There's a lot to be said about the timing for salting meat before it is cooked.
- If it is salted an hour before cooking the moisture is drawn out by the salt, but is then reabsorbed, so the meat stays moist while it is cooking.
- If the meat is salted 15 minutes before cooking, for example, because you are preparing something at the same time, then the moisture escapes from the meat and it will be dry when cooked.
- To avoid doubt, generously salt the meat just before it goes in the pan, under the grill, (broiler), or on the grill.
Put the duck breast skin down in a cold frying pan.
Cook over a medium to high heat for about 5 minutes, until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
Turn the fillets over and cook for 1-2 minutes until all sides are seared.
💭 Top tip
- Duck breasts vary in size and thickness so it is easier to use a meat thermometer to gauge when the meat is cooked to your liking. It should be about 140°F / 60°C for medium and 155°F / 68°C for well done. Keep in mind that it will carry on cooking when you take it out of the oven, so check the temperature after 10 minutes of cooking.
While the duck is searing and cooking make the sauce.
Use a sharp knife to cut the rind from one of the oranges and shred it into thin strips.
Juice the oranges and the lemon.
Put the sugar and vinegar in a saucepan over a medium heat.
Stir while the sugar dissolves until the mixture turn dark brown.
Add the brandy and juice and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes
Add the orange shreds to the pan.
Mix the cornflour with the water and stir into the sauce.
Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes until the mixture is thickened and glossy.
Check the seasoning before serving.
Carve the duck into slices and serve with the sauce on the side.
⏲️ Cooking time
If the frying pan is ovenproof then place in a preheated oven at 200 C/400 F/180 FAN/Gas 6 for 12 - 15 minutes for a medium roast.
Otherwise, transfer the duck to an ovenproof dish.
When the duck has finished cooking, loosely cover with foil and let it rest in a warm place for 5-10 minutes.
This allows the juices to be absorbed into the meat and makes it really easy to carve.
🥗 Side dishes
Duck with orange sauce is best served with vegetables and potatoes that aren't in a sauce.
Try these side dishes:
- French peas with lettuce
- Potatoes Parisienne
- Honey glazed carrots
- Cavolo Nero Kale
- Braised red cabbage
- Crispy smashed potatoes
- Potatoes Rissolé
- Potatoes Boulangère
- Roast Savoy Cabbage
- Green Beans Almondine
- Celeriac Purée
- French Peas
- Chateau Potatoes
- Alcohol - if you prefer not to use the brandy or wine then replace the liquid with chicken stock.
- Vinegar - white wine vinegar can be used instead.
- Chicken - use chicken breast instead. If they are skinless they will just need a couple of minutes to sear each side before going in the oven. Check that the juices run clear before allowing them to rest.
- Lemon - swap the oranges for a lemon sauce but you may need to adjust the amount of sugar before serving.
- Refrigerator - store the duck or sauce covered for up to 5 days.
- Freezer - leftover sliced duck is perfect for using in stir fries so I like to freeze any leftover duck. Wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months. The sauce can be frozen for up to a month.
- Reheat - reheat in a frying pan or wrap loosely in foil and place in the oven at 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4. Leftover duck with orange sauce is perfect with some five spice mixed in and served with rice as a fakeaway Chinese dish.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Make the orange sauce for the duck breast in advance. Cool, cover and refrigerate until required.
Duck is considered a red meat like lamb or beef, so has often been served rare like steak.
Historically, duck has not been raised like chicken, so has less of a chance of salmonella. However, there is still a risk that there is a level of bacteria that could cause illness.
If you are in any doubt at all, cook the duck until the juices run clear.
People often believe that duck fat is bad for you as we are often advised to remove the fat from chicken.
Whilst it is not exactly a superfood it does contain a good level of monunsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and also vitamins and minerals. These fats can help to lower cholesterol.
In comparison to coconut oil it is much healthier, but it still not as healthy as olive oil.
More duck recipes
Duck with Orange Sauce
- Frying pan / skillet
- wooden spoon
- sharp knife
- 500 g duck breast 4 breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 150 ml white wine
- 3 oranges
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon brandy
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 tablespoon water
- seasoning to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/180 FAN/Gas 6.
- Pat the duck breast dry with kitchen paper and score the fat diagonally, both ways.
- Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Put the duck breast skin down in a cold frying pan and cook over a medium to high heat for t 5 minutes, until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
- Turn the fillets over and cook for 1-2 minutes until all sides are brown..
- Put the duck in an ovenproof dish then roast for 12 - 15 minutes for medium.
- Loosely cover with foil and let it rest in a warm place for 5-10 minutes.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the rind from one of the oranges and shred it into thin strips.
- Juice the oranges and the lemon.
- Put the sugar and vinegar in a saucepan over a medium heat.
- Stir while the sugar dissolves until the mixture turn dark brown.
- Add the brandy, wine and juice and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes
- Add the orange shreds to the pan.
- Mix the cornflour with the water and stir into the sauce.
- Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes until the mixture is thickened and glossy.Check the seasoning.
- Slice the duck before serving with the sauce on the side.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.
Game bird and duck recipes to try
🍲 Food Safety
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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