Easy Crispy Duck Breast (Paleo, AIP, GAPS, Wahls, Whole30)

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crispy duck breasts on a white plate

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke


This might be the simplest recipe I’ve ever prepared, and the most delicious. My friend Karen was raving about the decadence of duck, and I’ve been testing out different ways to prepare it ever since. My first efforts in the oven weren’t very successful, so I decided to switch to a skillet. I scoured food magazines and cooking forums, gleaning various tips, and tried lots of different methods before settling on this combination. To me, it’s perfection, yielding a crispy skin, tender meat, and plenty of duck fat leftover for future cooking projects. Added bonus? It’s easy and fast to prepare.

Where to Buy Duck

If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, Local Harvest is a website that connects consumers with local farmers. Enter your zip code and the word “duck” in the search box, and see if there’s anyone near you.


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Easy Crispy Duck Breast (Paleo, AIP, GAPS, Wahls, Whole30)

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  • Author: Eileen Laird
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings



  1. Pat duck breasts dry with a paper towel.
  2. Using a sharp knife, crosshatch the skin. (If you're not sure what this means, here's a picture.) You want to cut through the skin, but not so deep it cuts into the meat. The fat lies between the skin and the meat, and the crosshatch pattern allows it to render as it cooks.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of duck breasts with sea salt and then put them skin-side-down in a large, cold, dry skillet. Cover with a fat splatter guard, if you have one. Otherwise, leave the skillet uncovered.
  4. Turn heat to medium and set timer for 15 minutes. That’s approximately how long it takes for the fat to melt out from under the skin and into the pan, which allows the skin to turn crispy. It might take a few minutes less or a few minutes more, so keep an eye on it.
  5. Once the skin looks thin, golden and crispy, turn the duck breasts over and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from pan and allow to rest 5 minutes. Then carve into diagonal slices.
  7. Save the rendered fat to cook other things, and keep it stored in the refrigerator. Root vegetables are especially delicious cooked in duck fat.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Courses
  • Method: Stovetop

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21 comments on “Easy Crispy Duck Breast (Paleo, AIP, GAPS, Wahls, Whole30)”

  1. I’m alone for Christmas this year and decided to treat myself to a duck breast for supper! I can’t wait to use this recipe. I’m making creamed spinach and smashed potatoes as sides. Wish me luck!

  2. Delicious! My duck breasts didn’t slice, though, but rather fell apart. Still very good. Any idea why they would have done that? I did get them free through work secondhand d and I think the chef had already done something (confit?) to them.

    1. It sounds like they were already cooked, Megan, so you cooked them twice, hence the different result. I’m glad they were still tasty, though!

  3. Donna Allgaier-Lamberti

    My husband is a hunter. I’ve also fixed duck like you fix a turkey; in a roasting pan (with lid), with vegetables (carrots, cabbage, squash, onions) and plenty of moisture (chicken broth etc.) Bake at 350 for about an hour depending on the size and how many you are cooking. Watch carefully. It can be delicious this way.

    1. Nice! I’ve never cooked a whole duck before. I imagine the veggies are decadently delicious with all the rendered duck fat.

    1. Hmmmm. That would be a totally different recipe, since this one depends on the fat and skin. If it were me, I would heat a good amount of duck fat in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the skinless duck breasts maybe 5 minutes per side, adjusting the time up or down depending on the size of the breasts. You have a nice friend!

  4. My husband loves Duck and I just so happen to have two beautiful duck breasts already scored and waiting on me to come back to them. 🙂 We’re definitely looking forward to trying this tonight.

  5. i almost laughed when i saw this recipe because i found a duck breast at the store today and got it!!! it was $12 but it’s my birthday tuesday so i figured i’d splurge. i’ve never tried it before so i can’t wait to use your easy recipe!! i’ve made duck legs many times in the oven and it always turns out AMAZING.

      1. this was the bomb!! besides the fact that my duck skin was kind of burned after only 7 minutes, it was still very tasty!! once i flipped it, i cooked for other side for maybe 5 minutes for a medium rare duck.

        1. Did you start with a cold pan? That was the key to mine not burning. Your stove might run hot though, and if that’s the case, try medium-low next time. I’m glad you liked it anyway. I could seriously eat this every night! But I won’t 🙂

          1. Yes it was cold. I actually just got it for my bday!! Ive never used cast iron before so i figured id try it with this. I love crispy skin so i will know how to cook it at a med low heat next time. It was beyond delicious!

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