Duck Breasts Crusted with Chinese Five-Spice

Wild Muscovy Duck

Wild Muscovy Duck

By Cat, 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I love to eat duck, both domestic and wild. When I was in my 20s, I was introduced both to duck and Chinese spices at a small family-owned restaurant in Portland, Pot Stickers and Sizzling Rice. But I never learned to cook duck (and to render its fat) until I decided to try a recipe for Duck à l’Orange in McCalls Cooking School book (a gift from my Mom). July 2020 update: I just added Duck à L’Orange to Cat’s Kitchen.

For more about Chinese Five-Spice, or to make your own, see my article on Herbs & Spices: Blends

See also: 1. Duck (About)2. Poultry & Fowl Menu; 3. Herbs & Spices: Blends

Duck Breasts Crusted with Chinese Five-Spice

This recipe is adapted from FineCooking, originally by Allison Ehri Kreitler (1) and serves 2.

Chinese five-spice contains powdered spices for all 5 basic flavors of Chinese cooking (not 5 specific spices): sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. See Curries & Blends for more, including links to recipe for your own blend.

Ingredients & Equipment:


  1. Trim visible fat and sliver-skin from flesh side of the duck, leaving tenderloins attached, if present. Don’t trim the skin side, but score the duck skin in a crosshatch pattern, which allows the fat to cook out.
  2. Mix five-spice with salt and pepper, then rub all over the breasts.
  3. Render fat from skin for 15 minutes in cast iron skillet; see Duck (About) for more detail.
  4. Continue to cook until the skin is dark golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes total.
  5. Flip with metal spatula, carefully loosening the skin if it’s stuck to the pan. Increase heat to medium, and finish cooking until the second side is golden and the meat is done to your liking, another 3 – 7 minutes, depending on thickness. An instant-read thermometer should register 135°F for medium, which will still be pink and juicy.
  6. Transfer breasts to a cutting board, skin side up, to rest about 5 minutes. Serve whole or sliced at an angle into medallions.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • FineCooking recipe suggests serving with wild rice and toasted almond pilaf , and sauteed Asian greens seasoned with a touch of sesame oil.
  • Or serve with steamed brown rice and braised greens, and accompany with slivered, toasted almonds.


  1. Fine Cooking: Chinese Five Spice-Crusted Duck Breasts (

About Cat

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