Five-Spice Duck Breast With Blackberries Recipe (2024)

By David Tanis

Five-Spice Duck Breast With Blackberries Recipe (1)

Total Time
40 minutes, plus 30 minutes' marinating
Read community notes

Once you know the technique, cooking a large Muscovy duck breast is no more difficult than cooking a steak. Fragrant five-spice powder — a heady mix of Sichuan pepper, fennel, clove, star anise and cinnamon — is the perfect duck seasoning, and juicy blackberries make this a brilliant summertime dish. Muscovy duck is found at better butchers, from online sources or even at some farmers' markets. Grill the duck if you prefer, but make sure to keep dripping fat from igniting and scorching the meat. The breast meat is quite lean despite its fatty skin, so it is best cooked to a rosy medium rare or it will be dry. Serve it warm, at room temperature or cold.

Featured in: Duck in Summertime, Spicy and Fruity

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 2Muscovy duck breasts, about 1 pound each
  • Salt
  • 2teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2garlic cloves, smashed or diced
  • 1shallot, finely diced
  • 2tablespoons good sherry vinegar
  • 2tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6ounces blackberries
  • ½cup rich chicken broth

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

143 calories; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 17 grams protein; 512 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Five-Spice Duck Breast With Blackberries Recipe (2)


  1. Trim duck breasts as necessary, removing extraneous fat or gristle. Score the skin side of the breast diagonally with a sharp knife.

  2. Step


    Season both sides of the duck breasts with salt, then sprinkle both sides evenly with five-spice powder. Mix together ginger and garlic and use it to slather the breasts. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. (Alternatively, wrap and refrigerate for several hours, or even overnight; bring back to room temperature before cooking.)

  3. Step


    Place a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, lay duck breast in it skin-side down. Let sizzle gently for 7 minutes, until skin is crisp and golden, adjusting heat as necessary to keep from getting too dark too quickly. Turn breast over and cook 3 to 5 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer should register 125 degrees for medium rare. Remove from pan and let rest for 10 minutes on a warm plate. Drain fat from pan (reserve for another use if you wish).

  4. Step


    Make the sauce: Over medium heat, add shallots to same pan and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add sherry vinegar, brown sugar and half the blackberries, stirring until sugar is dissolved and berries have released their juice. Add chicken broth, raise heat and simmer rapidly until liquid is reduced by half and a bit syrupy. Strain the contents of the skillet into a small saucepan and keep warm.

  5. Step


    To serve, slice duck breast thinly across the grain on a diagonal and arrange on a platter. Spoon the sauce over the meat and garnish with the rest of the blackberries.



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Cooking Notes


Bittman to the rescue:
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 star anise
1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons fennel seeds

T. Smith

A couple of odd things in this preparation struck me immediately. First, putting the shery vinegar in the sauce before reducing means you have cooked off the acid and might as well just use plain sherry. Better to add it at the end to balance the sauce. Second, throwing raw berries in with the concentrated elements of the dish is jarring, roast them lightly first (especially if they aren't super-sweet).


Rather than start the duck over medium high heat, I prefer to put a tablespoon or so of water for each duck breast in a cold skillet, put the duck on the water, and bring it up to heat slowly, then raise the heat.The boiling water will evaporate quickly and help the duck fat render, resulting in a crisp, less fatty breast.In any event, remove excess fat from the skillet a couple times while the breasts cook so it doesn't burn, spatter, and smoke up the place. And save the fat for future use.


Excellent recipe! Used blueberries instead of blackberries, wine instead of sherry vinegar, great.


You don't need muscovy. Any good duck breast with skin is fine, I've found.


First ingredient for the sauce in Step 4.


Delicious! I used a large D'Artagnan duck breast, which took longer to cook than allotted in the recipe. Would make more pan sauce next time.


I made this recipe almost exactly as written and it was terrific! The modification: I needed to deglaze the pan after cooking the duck breasts and before making the sauce: I used a little apple cider vinegar I had on hand and a little cream sherry.

Note that, if you marinate in the refrigerator for several hours and neglect to bring the duck breasts quite to room temperature before cooking, the center of the breasts will be _quite_ rare with the indicated cooking times (but still delicious).


Loved this recipe.. Very easy and impressive! I went a little easy on the five spice powder however, next time will ramp it up as it adds a great aromatic dimension to the dish. Just a note, I like things a little spicy so to to cut the sweetness of the sauce I added a diced chiplote pepper...sweet & spicy! YYUMMO!

Edgemont Kathy

A great recipe! However I find most blackberries at the store are terrible. Used 1/2 bag of Wymans frozen mixed berries last night - let them thaw on a plate for about an hour - for one large duck breast for two of us. Just toss the all the berries in (where he says add 1/2 of the blackberries) and smush them around, then finish with chicken broth and boil down. No need to strain! It was delicious and super easy!


I have made this many times and it’s my go-to duck recipe. I usually like fresh aromatics/herbs but for this recipe I prefer garlic powder and ground ginger. The fresh garlic and ginger tends to burn while the ground versions lend the flavor without burning. aside from that I make this recipe as written and it is delicious every time!


Great recipe! Cooked some spinach in the duck fat after cooking the breast. Didn’t have chicken broth and so I substituted Marsala wine. Good choice I guess cause it was delicious! Smashed the berries in the sauce a bit and served the sliced breast with the spinach and mashed potatoes. Five star dinner and not difficult!

Five spice duck breast

Excellent. Took more time than in recipe. Served with simply roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes (salt pepper tiny bit of chili powder, not too much oil)Read D’artan website for detailed cooking instructions. Also understand what type of breast i have.


This dish was brilliant. Sauces usually take more time to thicken for me so I made it before the duck. I trimmed fat/excess skin from my duck breast to render the fat, utilizing it for the red onion, though I subbed shallot as I needed to use that up. I also roasted my blackberries per suggestion of another reviewer. I cannot wait to make this again for guests.

Chef Carlos

The only issue with this recipe for me is getting the sauce right, I have had trouble reducing it effectively (especially after forgetting the chicken stock). Too watery and it ruins a fantastic dish

Rick Teller

Good, not difficult. Thick breasts need a little more cooking time to reach safe temperature. Given that the rendered fat is spiked with 5-spice, garlic, and ginger, plus a fair amount of fond from the pan, I'm not sure how I'll use it, but I'll think of something.


I followed this recipe not for the 5 spices, but for the blackberry sauce and basic cooking of duck parts. I didn't have shallots so I used 1/2 a jalapeno for the sauce. SOOO good!

sue montgomery

I just made this in Provence. Absolutely amazing!!! I served it with green beans and new potatoes roasted with thyme in the rendered duck fat. For a starter, we had chanterelles in garlic cream sauce on toast (slathered in olive oil). For dessert, luscious peaches with crème fraîche. OMG. The best meal worthy of a Micheline star or two. I was skeptical of the spices on the duck but it was delicious.

Laura G.

Love this and: I make my own spice powder so I can omit cinnamon and cloves (I use star anise, fennel, pepper). Marinating a couple of hours lets flavors permeate the skin and meat. I like to start the breast (skin-side down) in a cold pan, brown slowly over low/medium-low heat, draining fat as it renders, flip when most of the fat is out and skin is dark, sear on either edge, and then cook about five minutes on the other side--total of 15-20 minutes before resting.


I spiced a whole duck with the ginger/garlic/5 spice combination, roasted it at 425°F according to epicurious's 'crisp roast duck' instructions (which puts some water in the drip pan before roasting), and made this sauce using the liquid portions of the pan drippings (skim the fat off) instead of chicken broth. (I forgot to pre-order duck breast before a holiday and they only had whole ducks.) Substituted blackberry balsamic instead of sherry vinegar + sugar.PS: try 5 spice duck fat on popcorn.

Chef Carlos

I cooked this with small duck breasts from California I found at Whole Foods, they were the prefect size. Made the recipe as written but squashed the blackberries a bit to juice them, then strained the sauce. Really good. The big challenge with duck breasts in general is cooking them so you get a mix of medium and medium rare, since there’s always someone who wants medium. I may try to finish these in the oven at 325 to get this level of doneness. Otherwise, open a nice bottle of Syrah.

barbara gill

followed the recipe liked it but skin did not crisp. what did I do wrong.


Made exactly as written except I subbed blackberries for the juice from two blood oranges. This was a fantastic restaurant quality meal with minimal effort (I used 2 frozen ginger pods from TJ’s). Great for a dinner party. Next time I will double the amount of sauce.


This was fantastic! My first time making duck and the recipe was incredibly easy and delicious! Going to be a repeat recipe.

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Five-Spice Duck Breast With Blackberries Recipe (2024)
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