Pesto Duck Breast

As part of our vacation culinary indulgence, we brought some Duck Breasts that we froze the last time I Broke Down a Duck. On our first day in the Black Mountains of North Carolina, we went big and climbed Mount Mitchell (why ease into things?)…and when we got back to our place, we were starving and wanted something quick and easy to make…so we turned to the duck for inspiration.

When I shared my original idea with my wife, she got a little nervous about it and couldn’t quite imagine the concept working…so instead of preparing the duck the same way, I made hers differently. This basily/garlicky preparation worked out really well, and she quite enjoyed it. If you’re wondering how, I prepared the duck for my meal, check out our Curried Duck Breast Recipe!

We served our duck with a baked potato and Roasted Asparagus!

Time: 15 Minutes


  • Duck Breast
  • Pesto
  • Salt


  • About 30-40 minutes before you plan to cook, pull your duck breast out of the fridge, and set it on a cutting board. Sprinkle both he skin and flesh sides with a little salt, and let sit to get to room temperature.
  • When it’s time to cook, make cross-hatched slices in the skin to allow for rendered fat to drip during cooking. Be careful not to cut through the meat itself.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat a little butter in a cast iron skillet. When it is melted and begins to bubble, add your duck breast so the skin side is facing down against the pan.
  • Sear for 6-7 minutes to brown your skin while the fat renders.
  • When your skin is a golden brown colour and has begun to crisp a bit, flip your meat, and spread your pesto atop the skin.
  • Sear for another 2 minutes, and then transfer your pan to the oven.
  • Roast for 5-10 minutes until your meat reaches your desired internal cooked temperature. We normally target around 150 degrees F, but as a little disclaimer, the FDA suggests 165 degrees F as the safe temperature. Do your research, and make your call.
  • When your meat reaches your level of doneness, remove from the oven, and transfer to a cutting board. Let sit for 5 minutes.
    • Tip: Keep any rendered duck fat! Let it cool, and then heat it in place of butter or oil in your next recipe to give that meal a bit of smoky richness! We did this with our Mutton and Sweet Potato “Casterole,” and it worked really well.
  • Slice, plate, devour, and enjoy!

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