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+ servings

Five-Spice Duck Breast

For this superbly simple and sexy recipe, homemade five-spice seasoning is the freshest, and it’s fun to make. But you can also grab a ready- made spice blend from a well-stocked grocer. Be sure to start this recipe in advance: the uncooked duck benefits from lingering with its spice rub for a few hours. Also, keep in mind that smaller duck breasts cook faster.
Servings 6


  • 1 tablespoon ground star anise (about 5 whole)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 (8 to 12-ounce) duck breasts
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • Generous pinch flaky salt


  1. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the star anise, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the fennel seeds to the hot pan and toast, shaking continually, until fragrant and a little darker, about 3 minutes. Cool on a plate, then grind both spices in a clean spice or coffee grinder to medium-fine. Transfer the spices to a small bowl and mix in the cloves, cinnamon, and pepper.

  2. Using a sharp paring knife, score the skin of the duck with a slight surface cut in a crisscross pattern 1⁄2 inch apart to help render the fat and allow seasoning to penetrate. Rub and coat the duck with the salt, five-spice seasoning, and olive oil. Refrigerate until use, ideally
at least 3 hours. 

  3. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Set the duck skin-side up in the skillet and sear for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook skin-side down to render the skin until nearly all the fat has been rendered and you're left with a crispy, thin layer of skin, about 9 minutes. Turn over and cook until duck breasts are medium rare, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and let the duck rest for 7 minutes, then cut into thin slices, drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with flaky salt, and serve.