Duck Breast With Peppercorn Sauce

Duck is one of the most delicious meats you can cook, and a duck breast is an elegant cut perfect for entertaining. This duck breast with peppercorn sauce recipe makes a great date night meal and a nice change from the typical fruit based duck sauces.

Duck Breast With Peppercorn Sauce on a bed of mashed celeriac and a pea sprout garnish on a blue plate

A traditional peppercorn sauce is most commonly seen on steak, such as in the popular recipe steak au poivre. Yet duck breast, which is cooked more similar to steak than chicken, is a perfect accompaniment to this rich sauce.

Many of the sauces for duck breast tend to reach into the more sweet or tart profile. This is because duck is quite rich and fatty. Yet if you are in the mood for an extra savory meal then peppercorn sauce is a nice option. You can read more duck breast recipes here.

I’ve paired this duck au poivre with some whipped celeriac which is a super easy and delicious side dish. You can of course use any side you want, such as mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables. There are more examples down below.

Related Duck Recipes: Pulled Duck Tostada, Duck Tartare, Duck Prosciutto, Duck With Leeks


  • 2 Grade A Duck Breasts – Skin on. You can usually buy these deep frozen at most grocery stores, or fresh from a butcher (especially during duck hunting season).
  • Salt – As needed
  • 100 ml Brandy – You can use a regular brandy, a cognac, or in my case a smoked chacha. Basically the alcohol helps cut the fat and add a nice flavor, but you don’t need to go out of your way to find anything rare or expensive.
  • 250 ml Heavy Cream – This is usually at 36% milkfat, but you can use as low as 18% if it is all you can find.
  • 1-2 tbsp Black Pepper – Start with whole black peppercorns and freshly crack them. I love using whole Tellicherry peppercorns as the flavor is pretty unmatched as far as quality goes.

How To Make A Delicious Duck Breast With Peppercorn Sauce

This easy duck recipe uses the traditional French style of cooking duck breast. Simply take your breasts and score them. Just cut into the fat layer, do not cut deeply into the meat or you run the risk of overcooking the duck. Rub the skin with salt and set aside for ten to fifteen minutes.

I recommend buying Grade A duck breasts as they tend to have an even layer of fat and fully intact skin. This is what you want if you’re looking to make a truly beautiful presentation out of the duck breast.

Place the duck breasts skin side down in a cold pan. Place the pan on the stove and set the heat/flame to the lowest setting. As you notice the fat rendering out, slowly raise the temperature until it is at the max; This takes between 6-9 minutes depending on the number of heat settings you have as well as the thickness of the breast.

When the skin gets crispy and most of the fat is rendered out, flip the duck skin side up and place the pan in an oven at 175c for 4 minutes. Make sure you use an oven safe pan – if you need to switch that is okay.

After the oven move the duck breast to a cutting board and tent with foil while you make the poivre sauce.

Set the pan with the rendered fat and crispy bits on high heat and pour in about 100 ml of cognac or brandy. You don’t need to use something expensive; I actually used a smoked chacha (Georgian pomace brandy) which lent a fantastic flavor to the finished sauce. When the alcohol has reduced by about 50% add in one to two tablespoons of freshly cracked black peppercorns along with a half teaspoon of salt. Let the peppercorns get hot and dispersed, then pour in a cup (about 250ml) of heavy cream. Stir until the sauce has thickened then remove from heat.

duck with easy peppercorn sauce on top of whipped celeriac puree

When the sauce is finished go ahead and plate the final dish. I like to slice the duck breast lengthways and set it on top of some celeriac mash. Then I simply spoon over some of the peppercorn sauce to make it a true au poivre and garnish with some pea sprouts. You can get creative with the garnishes and plating style.

How To Serve This Duck au Poivre Recipe

If you don’t feel like making a celeriac mash or puree, here are a few other side dishes you might enjoy:

  • Mashed or Whipped Potatoes – Always the classic, you can go for a simple mash or a French style whip. If you really want to up the decadence you can do Robuchon style potatoes which are 50/50 tater to butter by weight.
  • Sweet Potato Mash – This sweet take on regular mashed potatoes not only adds a unique new flavor, but a bright pop of color as well. You can make them how you see fit, but I recommend using autumn spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • French Fries (or other vegetable fries) – Playing again on the variation of steak au poivre, you can serve this duck breast with some fries like the classic steak frites you might get at a brasserie in France. If you want something lighter than potato, give daikon a try as it makes a fantastic fry as well.
  • Roast Asparagus – Always a classic pairing with meat, roast asparagus are a delicious option if you want a pure vegetables. Plus depending on how you cook them it is quite a healthy option as well.
  • Zucchini Fritters – If you have the time and want something that takes a little more effort, zucchini fritters are a great pairing with this duck breast recipe. The crispy fritters are a great way to use up extra zucchini, and they taste great drizzled in au poivre sauce. Not to mention the vegetable aspect helps cut the richness from the duck fat.
duck with easy peppercorn sauce on top of whipped celeriac puree

Duck Breast With Peppercorn Sauce

This easy duck breast with peppercorn sauce only needs five ingredients. It is also done in less than a half hour making it the perfect date night recipe for the home cook looking to impress.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine European, French
Servings 2 people
Calories 679 kcal


  • 1 Pan
  • 1 Knife


  • 2 Grade A Duck Breasts Skin on
  • Salt As needed
  • 100 ml Brandy
  • 250 ml Heavy Cream
  • 1-2 tbsp Black Pepper – Start with whole black peppercorns and freshly crack them.


  • Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck breasts. Do not cut into the flesh, simply crosshatch a pattern into the skin and fat. Rub both sides with salt. Set aside for a few minutes.
  • Place the duck breasts skin side down in a cold pan. Place the pan on low heat. When the fat begins to render slowly turn up the heat until it is on max. Do this over 6-9 minutes, or until the fat has entirely rendered and the skin is golden brown.
  • Flip the duck breasts skin side up and pop the whole pan in the oven for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes remove the pan from the oven and move the duck breasts to a cutting board to rest. Tent with foil.
  • Place the pan with the duck fat back on the stove and turn on medium-high heat. Pour in the brandy and cracked peppercorn and let reduce about 50%. Then add the cream and stir until the sauce is emulsified and thickened. Salt to taste.
  • Slice the duck however you want and place it on the plate with the side dish of choice. Spoon over the sauce and enjoy!
Keyword Date Night, Duck Breast, Peppercorn Sauce, Poultry
Follow me on Pinterest!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through the links it allows the site to make money at no additional cost to you. For more information please see Cooking To Entertain’s Policy page.

3 thoughts on “Duck Breast With Peppercorn Sauce”

  1. Angela Stevenson

    5 stars
    I’ve never had duck before but love steak aupoivre so decided this was a good duck entry point recipe. It was very good but I think I overcooked my breast.

    Good news! I now love duck and will definitely be making it again

    1. Thank you for the comment. Duck can be tricky to cook perfectly so it does take a bit of trial and error as you get used to your pan/stove for this meat.
      Check out some more of my duck recipes if you want, there’s plenty to explore 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top