Juicy sous vide duck breast with crispy skin on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccolini.

Juicy Sous Vide Duck Breast Recipe with Crispy Skin

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Our sous vide duck breast recipe is great for an upscale meal during the holiday season when you’re cooking for a smaller group or for a special occasion dinner party to make a gourmet meal at home with minimal effort.

Compared to a different way to prepare duck, like traditional methods such as roasting duck or making duck confit, cooking duck sous vide is a foolproof way to make juicy duck without the risk of overcooking, and always creates consistent results.

Slicing the fat cap on a duck breast.

This recipe can be adapted for as many duck breasts that you’re looking to cook. While we list the serving size as just two, for a date night at home for the two of us, you can cook as many duck breasts as you need.

Tender duck breasts bring a lot more flavor compared to other poultry like chicken or turkey, so it’s a great way to add flavor to your table.

Duck breast being prepared using a sous vide machine.

What is the Sous Vide Method of Cooking?

Sous vide means “under vacuum”.

It sounds fancy, but consider it a new aged crock pot. All you need to do is put the sous vide machine in a tub of water, set the temp, add your food to a sous vide bag, and let it cook in the hot tub.

It’s an easy way to cook food without the risk of overcooking it, and always getting perfect results.

We’re experts on the sous vide cooking process. One of our earliest television segments that we recorded was teaching the world about sous vide cooking on KXAN Studio512 back in 2016.

Since then, we’re mastered how to sous vide just about every meal including:

Sliced medium rare sous vide duck breast.

Why Sous Vide is the Perfect Way to Cook Duck Breast

  • Flavor: The duck cooks in its own duck fat, which incorporates a lot of flavor since it cooks in its own juices. This is one of the biggest benefits of sous vide cooking.
  • Juicy: Using a sous vide ensures you achieve a perfectly cooked medium rare duck breast. There is no risk of overcooking the duck with a sous vide as long your temperature setting is correct.
Sliced medium rare sous vide duck breast on a cutting board.

Sous Vide Duck Temperature Chart

The sous vide precise temperature control helps you achieve your exact internal temperature.

While the USDA recommends an internal temperature of 165 degrees F for duck and wild game, most restaurants cook duck to medium rare internal temperature. This ensures the duck isn’t dried out and we think it’s the perfect temperature.

This also ensures that the texture and the juiciness of the meat is optimal. 

If you are looking for a different doneness, use this sous vide temperature chart to set your immersion circulator accordingly. The cooking duration does not change.  If you’re planning on finishing the duck in a pan to crisp the skin we don’t recommend going above medium rare to give you more wiggle room in the pan. 

Desired DonenessDuck Breast Sous Vide Temperature Setting 
Rare125 degrees F
Medium Rare130 degrees F
Medium140 degrees F
Medium Well150 degrees F
Well Done165 degrees F
A slice of medium rare sous vide duck breast.

Sous Vide Cooking Time

When cooking duck breast in the sous vide, you can cook it from anywhere from 2-4 hours.

We typically cook duck breast in the sous vide cooker for 2 hours. 

If you leave your duck in the sous vide for longer than intended, it will not overcook the meat, but the increased sous vide time will change the texture of the meat as the muscle fibers continue to break down.

No one wants mushy meat, so we do not recommend cooking the meat for longer than 4 hours.

Sous vide duck getting laid in a cold pan in order to get crispy skin.

How to Get Crisp Skin on Sous Vide Duck

The key to getting crispy skin on duck is to sear the fat cap after the sous vide cooking process.

Start by thoroughly drying off the fat cap with a paper towel, season with sea salt and start by placing the duck skin side down in a cold pan. 

The duck skin fat will start to render as the skillet heats up, then the fat will crisp up in its own fat in the pan.

This creates the best results when making a medium rare duck breast with perfectly textured skin and rendered fat.

Using a vacuum sealer to make sous vide duck breast.

Equipment Needed for Sous Vide Duck

Before you start preparing your sous vide duck breast, ensure that you have the following equipment for the recipe.

  • Sharp Knife: While every kitchen should be prepared with an arsenal of quality knives, it’s especially important when preparing a duck breast. Scoring the fat cap helps the fat to render during the cooking process.
  • Sous Vide Immersion Circulator: This sous vide machine perfectly regulates the water temperature, which, in turn, cooks your duck to that precise temperature. 
  • Water Bin: While you can just use a large stock pot for your water bath, we like to use a large 18 quart container (it’s also the perfect size for a turkey brine) or a dedicated sous vide container with a lid.
  • Vacuum Sealer: Using a vacuum sealer with a vacuum bag is the most effective method to ensure there is not much air left in the bag. This helps to ensure the duck doesn’t float while in the sous vide bath.
  • Sous Vide Bags: We like to use a sous vide bag that is compatible with our vacuum sealer, but if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, just use a high quality freezer ziplock bag and use the water displacement method to remove excess air from the bag.
  • Skillet: You can use a cast iron skillet, a stainless steel skillet, or a carbon steel pan. The key is just to ensure when you sear the duck fat after sous viding, you start skin side down starting from a cold pan, then turn the heat to medium-high heat. The fat cap will ensure the meat does not get overcooked while the fat and skin crisps up.
Juicy sous vide duck breast with crispy skin on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccolini.

What to Serve with Sous Vide Duck

We created a full blog post of What to Serve with Roast Duck, but some of our favorite sides are:

Juicy sous vide duck breast with crispy skin on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccolini.

Sous Vide Duck Breast Recipe

Prep Time: 2 Minutes

Cook Time: 2-4 Hours

Additional Time: 10 Minutes

Serves: 2 filets (or more if desired)

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck breast filets (8 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place your sous vide wand in a water bath and set your immersion circulator to 130 degrees F to preheat your water. If you would like an internal temperature different from medium rare, refer to the sous vide temperature chart above.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score the duck fat cap in a criss cross pattern.
  3. Season both sides of the duck breast with salt and pepper, rub it into the meat, and place the duck in a vacuum-sealed bag or resealable plastic bag with the air removed from the water displacement method.
  4. Add your bags into the sous vide water bath container until they are completely submerged, you may want to use sous vide clamps or sous vide weights with a sinker to ensure they don’t float to the top.
  5. Once your duck breast has been in the sous vide for 2-4 hours, remove the bag from the water bath and remove the duck breasts from the plastic bag.
  6. Use a paper towel to thoroughly dry both sides of the duck. Season the skin of each duck breast with salt, this will assist in crisping the skin.
  7. Place the duck skin side down in a cold pan and turn the heat to medium high.
  8. Cook until the fat is golden brown and crisp.
  9. Let the duck rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Notes: Duck can be sous vide and stored in the fridge in the sous vide bag leading up to the searing as an easy way to meal prep.

Juicy sous vide duck breast with crispy skin on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccolini.

Juicy Sous Vide Duck Breast with Crispy Skin

Yield: 2 filets (or more if desired)2 filets (or more if desired)
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 12 minutes

Looking to cook juicy, medium rare sous vide duck breast with crispy skin? This guide will walk you through all the steps to mastery!

Ingredients

  • 2 duck breast filets (8 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place your sous vide wand in a water bath and set your immersion circulator to 130 degrees F to preheat your water. If you would like an internal temperature different from medium rare, refer to the sous vide temperature chart above.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score the duck fat cap in a criss cross pattern.
  3. Season both sides of the duck breast with salt and pepper, rub it into the meat, and place the duck in a vacuum-sealed bag or resealable plastic bag with the air removed from the water displacement method.
  4. Add your bags into the sous vide water bath container until they are completely submerged, you may want to use sous vide clamps or sous vide weights with a sinker to ensure they don’t float to the top.
  5. Once your duck breast has been in the sous vide for 2-4 hours, remove the bag from the water bath and remove the duck breasts from the plastic bag.
  6. Use a paper towel to thoroughly dry both sides of the duck. Season the skin of each duck breast with salt, this will assist in crisping the skin.
  7. Place the duck skin side down in a cold pan and turn the heat to medium high.
  8. Cook until the fat is golden brown and crisp.
  9. Let the duck rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Notes

Duck can be sous vide and stored in the fridge in the sous vide bag leading up to the searing as an easy way to meal prep.

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Juicy sous vide duck breast with crispy skin on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccolini.

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