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How to Sous Vide Duck Breasts

Well-cooked duck breast is a real treat. Tender, juicy and topped off with extra crispy skin, it’s often the main attraction of any dish. The precise cooking method of sous vide is the ideal way to cook duck. The low and slow sous vide process renders the fat so it crisps perfectly in a hot pan, keeps the meat moist and juicy, and prevents the duck from drying out.

Follow this simple guide to prepare perfectly moist and tender duck breasts, every time.

Temperature and cooking times for duck breasts

TempuratureTimeResult
130°F*1-3 hoursRare and pink, slightly chewy
135°F1-3 hoursSlightly pink, tender, and juicy
145°F1-3 hoursLess juicy but still tender
*Please note that some of these temperatures are lower than what the FDA recommends. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness.

Like most sous vide meats, the longer you cook, the more tender your meat will become. Duck breasts are fatty so a longer cook time will give the fat a chance to render, making it easier to crisp the skin during the searing stage.

Follow this link to find out more information about Suvie cooking times and temperatures

Ingredients and Tools

  • 2 boneless duck breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Equipment

  • Suvie or an immersion circulator
  • A large pot (if using a sous vide wand)
  • Vacuum sealer and bags or Freezer safe sealable plastic bags

Directions

If you’re using an immersion circulator, pre-heat your water bath to the desired temperature.

Pat the duck breasts dry.

Using the sharpest knife you have, scour the skin with a crosshatch pattern. Try to avoid cutting into the flesh of the duck if you can.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place duck in a plastic bag and vacuum-seal.

Follow our guide if you are using the water displacement method

If you are using Suvie, use the following settings:

My Cook > Multi-Zone Settings

Protein: 130-145 degrees, 1 hour- 3 hours (or follow our Protein Cooking Guide)

Vegetable: 0 minutes

Starch: 0 minutes

Once the cook is finished, remove the duck breasts from the water bath or pan. Remove the duck from the bag and pat dry with a paper towel

Finishing

Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. There’s more than enough fat in the duck skin so there’s no need to add oil. Once the pan is hot place the duck breast skin side down in the pan. Press down to make sure that as much of the skin is making contact with the pan as possible. Sear for 1-2 minutes. Once the skin is browned flip the breasts over and sear the bottom for 1 minute.

Remove from pan and serve.

Recipes to try

Duck Breast with Toasted Farro, Shaved Fennel, Arugula and Grapefruit Salad

FAQs

Is it safe to cook duck below 165°F?

The USFDA recommends cooking duck to an internal temperature of 165°F. Foodborne bacteria will be killed almost immediately at this temperature which makes it the safest. However, duck cooked to lower temperatures for longer periods of time are just as safe.

Can I use any type of plastic bag?

You can, however, make sure that they are made from polyethylene. Some branded bags are made using polyethylene which is a BPA and dioxin free plastic that can safely handle sous vide cooking temperatures up to 190°F. Some generic branded plastic bags are made using cheaper polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which cannot handle high temps and contains chemicals that can leach into food. 

Can I use frozen duck?

Yes! This technique will work with frozen duck breasts. If you’re cooking straight from the freezer just add an additional hour to the sous vide time. 

Can I use bone-in duck breasts

You can, just add about 30 minutes to the cook time.

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