Chicken and poultry, Christmas, Main course

Orange duck breasts

Special christmas dinner : orange duck breasts, the original French recipe

Orange duck is a great classic of French cuisine. This dish is really tasty and rich in flavours. It delicatly combines sweetness and acidity and deliciously awakens our taste buds for the pleasure of your guests.

This French traditional recipe is perfect for a winter lunch or dinner or even a festive dinner such as Christmas or New year eve ‘s dinners.

The traditional recipe is made with a whole duck. I prefer this one with duck breasts, much easier to prepare and to serve. The key success elements of the original orange duck French recipe have been kept but in a more modern way. To be honest, I prefer avoiding to struggle with the cutting of the duck in front of my guests  🙂

Anyway, the original recipe (with a whole duck) is quite close, so if you prefer that original version, you can prepare it that way:

  • You bake your duck in oven
  • You collect the meat juice and remove its fat with a spoon
  • You prepare the sauce with that meat juice and following the instructions of the recipe below
  • You serve the duck with that delicious sauce….

Orange duck recipe

For 4 servings


  • Preparation: 20 minutes
  • Cooking: 40 minutes
  • Total: 60 minutes


  • 2 duck breasts
  • 6 oranges
  • l onion
  • 2 cloves
  • 5.29 oz (150g) caster sugar
  • 4 crushed junipers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • l “bouquet garni” (2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs parsley tied together).
  • 1 cup of Grand Marnier (it’s a French orange liquor). If you don’t find it you can replace it by sweet or liquor-like white wine (the same you will serve to your guests)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1.41 oz (40g) of butter
  • l table spoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Studd the onion with the two cloves
  • Crush the garlic (but keep the peel)
  • Peel 2 oranges removing all the white membrane.  Keep only the juice and the segments
  • Peel the 4 other oranges using a peeling knife then squeeze their juice. Keep the zest and the juice
  • Thinly slice the orange zest
  • Bring to boil a sauce pan of water. Pour the orange zest into the boiling water during 1 minute to blanch them. Drain them. Repeat that operation two times (each time use new boiling water).
  • Put the orange zests into a saucepan with 3.53 oz (100g) of sugar and one cup of water. Let simmer at low heat during 20 minutes
  • In a pan (preferably a cast-iron pan ), brown the duck breasts with the oil, the butter and the remaining sugar (1.76 oz or 50g). Salt and pepper and add the onion, the garlic, the bouquet garni and the junipers.
  • Let brown at high heat during 4 to 6 minutes. Add a glass of water to deglaze and collect all the meat juices
  • Warm in a small saucepan the Grand Marnier (or dry white wine)
  • When the duck breast are well coloured pour over it a glass of warm Grand Marnier (or dry white wine). Leaning away from the pan (with all other combustibles cleared well away from your stove), flambe with a long kitchen or fireplace match. When the flames burn off, add the orange juice.  Close the saucepan and let cook during 13 minutes.
  • Remove the duck breasts and keep them at warm temperature
  • Remove the fat from the sauce with a spoon then let reduce it a low heat. When it’s done, sieve it and add the segments of orange and the zests
  • Slice the breasts, drizzle with the orange sauce and serve with potatoes (mashed, baked or steamed)
  • Enjoy!

Orange duck wine pairing

Wine pairing with a sweet-savoury dish is not that easy. To be a success, it’s alaways better i that case to choose a sweet and liqueur-like white wines such as:

  • Monbazillac
  • Sauternes
  • Vouvray
  • Muscat
  • Gewurtzraminer
  • Jurançon
If you prepare your duck with white wine and not with Grand-Marnier, use preferably the same wine that you serbe to your guests.

Willing to try other festive or Christmas French recipes?


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