Duck meat is just such a great meat to serve. The skin crisps up beautifully if cooked right, and leads way to juicy, soft meat beneath.
Duck is considered to be a luxurious meat, so it can be a bit confusing when deciding on what to serve with it.
Do you serve fancy sides? Do you serve something simple that compliments the flavor of duck? It can be difficult to know which route to take.
So, what should you serve with duck breast? There is quite a bit that you can serve with duck breast, whether it is a rich, fruity sauce, or vegetable side such as potatoes, greens, or even sweet potatoes. You can pair many different vegetables and sauces with duck breast, but the flavors should complement the rich flavors of duck.
You don’t have to break the bank serving the most luxurious sides with duck; with some delicious sauces and vegetable dishes, you could make the most amazing duck breast meals!
We’ll provide a list of some of the best sides and sauces to serve with duck breast, but first, let’s explain a bit about duck breast to gain a better understanding of what pairs well with it.
The Beauty Of Duck Breast
Duck breast is a favorite meat of many. The best, and most popular way to cook duck breast, is by pan-searing it first and then finishing it off in the oven.
This allows for crispy skin on the outside, and soft, tender, and juicy meat on the inside.
Duck does have a strong flavor, and although it is considered to be white meat, it is darker and tastes similar to red meat, more so than it is similar to chicken.
It is fattier than chicken too, but this allows it to remain moist and tender when cooked. Duck skin is also thicker and fattier than chicken, so it crisps up perfectly when done right.
This dish is rich and flavorful, and pairs well with quite a few different sauces and sides.
However, some duck, depending on the quality and how it was prepared, can taste quite gamey. If this is not a taste you enjoy, consider pairing foods or sauces that will mask or neutralize the gaminess.
What To Serve With Duck Breast
You can be fairly creative with what you serve with duck breast, as this rich but versatile meat lends itself to different flavors quite well.
However, there are some sides and sauces that pair best with duck breast, so have a look through the below list to find some ideas on what to serve the next time you cook up some delicious duck breast.
1. Orange Sauce
Orange sauce and duck breast are a match made in heaven. The high-fat content of duck does mean that it can be fairly oily or greasy, and the zesty, citrusy orange sauce really helps to cut through the fat perfectly.
There are some simple orange sauce recipes that you can use, with most using concentrated orange juice.
You could also get the orange juice fresh from the source and squeeze an orange into the mix, with some pulp and zest to make it extra flavorful.
The duck breast really does work well with the freshness of orange sauce, and while it is a common pairing, it is popular for a reason!
2. Potato Dauphinoise
Potato dauphinoise is a dish that is often found on the side of duck breast, and this is because the two just go so well together.
Duck is a rich meat, especially when cooked right, and it still has all the fatty juices and tender meat inside, and to accompany this, you want to go for a rich, decadent side dish too.
Potato dauphinoise is crispy on the top and wonderfully creamy below. The mix of cream and garlic pairs so well with the duck breast, and it is fairly easy to make as well.
3. Redcurrant Gravy
A sweet redcurrant gravy or redcurrant jus is an ideal pairing with a dark meat such as duck.
It also sounds super fancy too – but redcurrant gravy can be really easy to make. You can use some pre-made gravy, some hot water to deglaze the pan, and some redcurrant jelly.
Cook it off and heat it for a while, and the deglazed juices from the pan, the gravy mix, and the redcurrant jelly help to make a beautifully rich, but still sweet, sauce that can be lathered on top of duck breast to bring out the rich flavors.
4. Sweet Glazed Carrots
Sweet glazed carrots add the perfect balance of sweet and savory to a duck breast dish, and the carrots work to give the plate a beautiful pop of color too!
Slice some baby carrots into fingers, and cook them in a pan (using the pan that the duck was seared in helps to add flavor) along with butter, honey, and some fresh parsley.
Fry them off and then bake them in the oven until the carrots become shiny, glazed, and cooked through.
To sweeten them more after cooking, you can sprinkle some sugar on top of the carrots!
5. Sticky Sauce
The rich meat of duck is so great with a sweet, sticky sauce. The crispy skin of duck breast is also ideal when paired with a sticky sauce, and it is a great way to make the most of it!
A sticky sauce is also pretty simple to make as well, with a mix of balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, honey, and lemon juice. Mix all of these together and marinate the duck breast in the sauce overnight or for a few hours.
This gives the duck breast time to absorb all of the flavors of the marinade, and when cooked, this marinade creates a sticky sauce that just finishes off the duck breast perfectly!
6. Sweet Potato Mash
Sweet potato mash is so flavorful and comforting, and it is so simple to make. The sweet potato goes so well with the rich flavors of duck meat. The sweetness of the sweet potato balances off the flavor of the dish well.
You just need some good-quality sweet potatoes to peel and chop and boil until they are soft. Drain the water and add in a scoop of butter and seasoning, and mash until it is smooth.
You can keep the sweet potato mash a little more chunky – but that is up to you!
This dish is perfectly rounded off with a good jus or gravy over the duck breast and sweet potato mash, to tie it all together.
7. Grilled Asparagus
Grilled asparagus can add a fresh and crunchy addition to a duck breast dish. These springtime vegetables are worth the preparation.
You just need to grill the asparagus in some olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Grilling the asparagus helps to soften it, make it less fibrous, and bring out a delicate sweetness in the spears.
Grilled asparagus is also a low-calorie side, and it is packed with different nutrients and vitamins, so it is a really beneficial side dish to serve with duck breast, which is also a healthy meat to include in your diet!
8. Spinach And Pomegranate Salad
Pomegranate seeds work well with the flavors of duck meat. They are sweet and sour at the same time, and this can bring about light and fresh aspects to the dish.
To make a great salad to serve with the duck breast, you can mix pomegranate seeds with some baby spinach leaves and fried mushrooms if you want. To top the salad, you can make a soy and honey dressing.
Some sliced radishes are also a great addition to the salad – and all of the flavors create a fresh and vibrant side to the rich and decadent duck breast.
9. Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts can be a nightmare food for some, but this is because they have not eaten brussel sprouts that were prepared properly!
Done right, brussel sprouts are a great side dish to duck breast. Brussel sprouts also taste best when cooked in duck fat – so the two really do work hand in hand.
Once you have pan-seared the duck breast, do not clean the pan. Throw in some chopped brussel sprouts and cook them in the fat and juices left in the pan.
If needed, you can add in a tablespoon of water for more moisture. Toss the Brussel sprouts until they are soft and beginning to brown.
If you want to add more flavor to the duck-fat fried brussel sprouts, you can throw in some chopped-up crispy bacon to add some saltiness to the side dish.
Even better, cook the bacon in the same pan as the duck, and then the Brussel sprouts, so they absorb as much of the fat and juices as possible!
10. Wild Rice Pilaf
Wild rice pilaf can add a comforting side to a duck breast dish.
To make the wild rice pilaf more suited to the rich, decadent flavors of duck breast, you should add in some dried fruit such as cranberries and sultanas, as well as some sliced almonds.
The fruit helps to balance out the savory side of the duck breast, and the almonds add a delicious crunch and new texture.
Wild rice pilaf also keeps you fuller for longer, making it a great idea for lunch or dinner!
11. Sweet Chili
You could cheat and use a sweet chili sauce from a bottle, but to really appreciate the flavors, you should whip up your own while cooking the duck breast.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add in some olive oil. Add two cloves of chopped garlic to the pan, along with finely chopped chili (the amount of chili used will depend on how hot you enjoy your food).
Let these fry, and then add in a tablespoon of water and two tablespoons of sugar.
Leave this to cook and let the sugar melt. Then add in chopped cherry tomatoes and a small amount of balsamic vinegar.
Leave this all to cook together until it thickens down to a jelly consistency. Serve this sweet chili sauce alongside the duck breast. The sweet and spicy flavors really compliment the rich dark meat of duck.
12. Creamy Polenta
A duck breast dinner will be wonderfully complete with some creamy polenta on the side.
Polenta has a deliciously creamy texture, and with some parmesan and herbs, it carries a good amount of flavor that holds up well to the richness of duck breast.
Polenta, contrary to popular belief, is actually fairly easy to make with the right ingredients.
The whole process takes around 30 minutes, and you could even make it the day before and just heat it up to serve with duck breast at dinner time.
13. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are so classic and so simple, but they are a must with duck breast! Mashed potatoes can be made so flavorful and creamy, and served with duck breast, is a great match.
It is a really good idea to serve mashed potatoes with duck breasts if you have a good gravy or sauce to drizzle on top of both the meat and the mash.
You can either make the mashed potatoes simple with some butter and seasoning, or you can add in some garlic, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and more, toasting it in the oven and creating a golden toasted top.
Make sure you have enough gravy and sauce to share with the mashed potatoes, as it does a great job at absorbing the sauces and flavors.
14. Tenderstem Broccoli With Chili
Tenderstem broccoli is a light and crisp side to serve with duck breast.
On its own, it can be fairly bland, but if fried with lemon zest and chili, it can hold a delicious burst of flavor that pairs well with the richness of duck breast.
It is also low-fat, which is a bonus if you are watching your calorie intake!
15. Plum Sauce
Plum sauce is an ideal sauce to serve over some duck breast (and maybe mashed sweet potato or stewed onion and cabbage).
You can either use ready-made plum sauce, or make your own with some chopped red plums, brown sugar, a dash of soy sauce, and some star anise. Allow it to cook down until thick and sweet!
16. Sautéed Spinach And Mushrooms
Sautéed spinach and mushroom is super easy to make, and you can whip it up while the duck breast is in the oven cooking.
Add some olive oil to the pan you cooked the duck breast in, throw in some garlic and the mushrooms, allow to sauté, and then throw in some spinach.
Leave to sauté and cook down together, add in some salt and pepper, and then serve alongside the duck breast.
The Best Side With Duck Breast
Duck breast is a rich, decadent meat that pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients.
A good side such as dauphinoise potatoes, spinach or sweet potato mash, and a sweet and savory sauce such as orange or plum sauce, make for the perfect dish!
Have a look through the above sides and sauces to serve with duck breast to find your perfect pairing.
How Long Should I Pan-Fry Duck Breast?
Prepare the pan for the duck breast by placing it over medium-high heat. Lay the duck breast down in the pan, with the skin side facing down.
Leave to cook until the fat starts to seep from the duck, and then add in the garlic and thyme to cook in the fat.
When this happens, turn the heat down and then cook for around 15 minutes (it might take 20 depending on the thickness of the duck breast). The skin should be crispy and brown.
What Temperature Should Duck Breast Be Cooked To?
Duck breast should be cooked to an internal temperature of 170°F. This heat ensures that any harmful bacteria are killed. If you want the duck to be medium-rare, it should be cooked to 135°F.
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