15 Best Sauces To Serve With Duck

Duck's rich, succulent meat, distinct flavor, and crispy skin make it a top contender for the world's most sophisticated poultry. Whether we're dealing with duck breast or whole roasted duck, this bird can be prepared in a variety of ways, each one exalting the main ingredient in a different manner through cooking methods and accompaniments.

Sauces, in particular, can help improve the experience of eating duck, but before we delve into those, we should first make a note of the best ways to prepare the bird in the first place. When cooking with duck, it's important to buy meat that is as fresh as possible. For this, you should consider checking out the butcher and looking for plump meat and supple skin. After that, you'll want to remember to take your duck out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature before cooking to avoid an uneven distribution of heat once on the fire. Finally, don't forget to score the skin of the duck breasts to ensure the fat sitting underneath it comes flowing forth. If you follow these steps, you'll be in good shape by the time you serve your duck, which should strictly be placed on top of whichever sauce you choose rather than under it — this will ensure the duck skin remains crispy. Speaking of sauces, let's take a look at some of the best ones to pair with your freshly cooked duck.

Honey-citrus glaze

Honey and lemon make a winning combination; one place in which this is supremely evident is on or around duck. Our honey-lacquered duck breast recipe is a case in point. To make this, arm yourself with 3 whole tablespoons of good honey and start the process by seasoning your duck thoroughly. As you sear the duck on both sides, mix that honey together with some orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch. Remove the duck from the pan and use that same implement to cook the sauce. This recipe is not only delicious, but it proves that it's possible to make a fancy duck dish in 10 minutes flat.

Meanwhile, our crispy roast duck recipe will definitely take longer than that, but it is no less delicious. For this one, you'll need to pour lemon juice into the duck's cavity and roast it at 475 F for 10 minutes, then at 300 F for 50 minutes. After that, you'll need to periodically turn the duck as it cooks for a total of about 3 hours. During this time, the honey-lemon glaze will come together as you mix lemon juice with honey and fresh thyme before simmering it in a pan. Brush the duck with this glaze before roasting it for another 15 minutes at 475 F. In both these recipes, the tart citrus will cut through the duck fat as the honey boosts the richness of the duck.

Pomegranate sauce

There's something about sweet and tart sauces that just make duck taste beautiful. Even more than chicken, duck accommodates the extra sweetness from fruit, sugar, and honey, while the tartness brings out deeper flavors from this typically dark meat. One such sauce is made from pomegranate juice, and you can prepare it yourself at home.

Start the duck breast with pomegranate sauce by preparing and cooking your duck breasts in a pan until the skin is crispy. Add butter and thyme and continue to cook while basting before slipping the meat into the oven and baking it at 350 F for about 5 minutes for a medium level of doneness. Set the duck aside and pour the pomegranate juice into the same pan with star anise and chicken stock until the sauce has thickened. Serve the sliced duck breast on top of the sauce. Garnish with some pomegranate seeds for an extra pop of flavor.

Soy sauce

Peking duck is famous the world over because it's a good recipe that has stood the test of time. It should be no surprise, then, to find soy sauce on this list. Not only because it's a prime ingredient in Peking duck, as Mashed's recipe developer Ting Dalton explains, but it can also boost plain white rice served with pieces of Peking duck — a great way to use any leftovers you might have.

But first things first. To make this particular Peking duck, prepare a whole duck, then combine the soy sauce with salt, honey, vinegar, and boiling water. Brush this over the skin of the prepared duck and let that marinate for about an hour before brushing on another layer. Let the duck marinate again in the fridge for up to two days. Finally, roast the duck for 15 minutes at 420 F, then for 1 hour and 10 minutes at 300 F. Although this recipe may take some time and advanced preparation, in the end, it's a fairly simple way to pair duck and soy sauce effectively.

Apricot Chutney

It's been established that sweet and juicy fruits, especially those with an element of tartness, make excellent accompaniments to rich, fatty duck. But since we can't try all the fruit in the world, we're focusing here on the best options and apricots –- with their delicate, warm flavors –- are definitely among these options.

In particular, we recommend this recipe for duck breast with apricot chutney. You can even make it in the fall since it calls for dried apricots instead of fresh ones. After you prepare your duck breast and season it with Chinese five spice, sear it on both sides before baking it at 450 F for 3 minutes. Remove the duck from the pan while leaving some of the fat behind, then mix in minced onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute everything for a few minutes before adding orange juice and chicken broth. The apricots finally go in at the end, along with some dried cherry and orange zest. Cook until the mixture becomes a warm, glazed chutney, and serve it on top of the duck.

Orange sauce

The famous duck a l'orange, a classic French dish, is an obvious way to prepare duck, so we're going to give you something a bit off the beaten path –- a Sicilian dish that showcases some of the best Italian cooking while still making use of plenty of oranges, which grow juicy and plentiful in Sicily.

The best way to prepare this Sicilian spiced duck breast with preserved orange is to start by toasting dried orange zest, fennel seeds, sweet paprika, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, and smoked paprika in a pan before passing it all through a spice grinder. Use this to season the duck, which should then be left to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Meanwhile, saute the shallots before adding crushed red pepper, freshly squeezed orange juice, and chicken broth, each at the opportune moment. Then add the rosemary, thyme, garlic, and orange zest — this yields the orange sauce you'll be serving with the duck breast, along with preserved orange slices.

Cranberry salsa

Many duck recipes focus on roasting whole birds and searing duck breasts, but some, such as our duck confit tacos, highlight the wonders of using leftover roasted duck. For this, you'll need to have some shredded duck confit that you've already prepared yourself at home or purchased from a reputable source.

Once that's settled, combine cranberries, diced jalapeno, sugar, lime zest, and water in a saucepan and heat the mixture for about 10 minutes before adding apple cider vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Finally, after preparing the cabbage slaw and heating up the duck, it's time to assemble your tacos: Warm each tortilla before filling it with the duck meat, purple cabbage slaw, and spicy cranberry salsa. And in the true spirit of tacos, you may also garnish with extra jalapeno slices, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges. Turn this recipe into a quick weeknight meal by preparing all the ingredients beforehand and storing them in your fridge until showtime.


Applesauce is a simple thing that can go a long way toward improving the flavor of duck. The sweetness from the apples combines with the duck to create a bright fall flavor, while the lemon juice in the sauce provides that welcome tartness that helps bring out the rich flavors from the fat. Finally, the simplicity of this recipe means that all you have to do is serve the applesauce alongside your duck, which can be cooked any way you like.

The key, then, is to serve the duck with good-quality applesauce, preferably homemade. Any of your favorite recipes will do, but for a step up, try using one or more of our recommendations on how to add flavor to applesauce. For example, leaving the skins on can add a subtle and pleasant bitterness to the sauce, offsetting the sweetness of the apples. You can also try mixing in some ripe pears, which will add flavor while allowing you to bypass the addition of sugar almost entirely.

Hoisin sauce

Duck is a strong and sturdy bird with a robust taste, so it can handle pretty much any flavors you throw at it, even all at once. This is most sumptuously exemplified by the combination of duck with hoisin sauce, which includes sweetness, saltiness, spiciness, and even umaminess. This sauce practically contains every type of flavor known to humanity, all of which converge beautifully on duck.

Hoisin can be applied to duck in several forms. It can be slathered on as BBQ sauce, brushed on in a Peking duck or a Cantonese duck recipe, or as a drizzle on top of duck tacos or pancakes. In other words, if a dish has both duck and hoisin sauce, it's probably not going to be bad. And although hoisin tends to contain high amounts of sodium, according to Organic Facts, as well as carbohydrates and fat, it's not all bad. Thanks to sesame, garlic, and pepper, it also contains some magnesium, calcium, and iron.

Pepper jelly

Most duck recipes you'll find on our site or partner sites will focus on the whole bird or the breast. But in truth, we're completely in favor of using as many parts of an animal as humanly possible, down to the art of making homemade chicken stock with the leftover carcass of a roast bird — something that can be done in the exact same way using duck.

So, in that spirit, we present this delicious grilled duck hearts recipe with pepper jelly courtesy of The Publican in Chicago. To make this unusual sauce, saute peppers and onion before adding vinegar, sugar, and pectin. Meanwhile, prepare and sear the hearts before dipping them in the cooled pepper jelly. Cook them for a few more minutes until caramelized. Serve them over toast with homemade butter cheese and escarole salad, taking care to smear more pepper jelly on the bread.

Plum sauce

There's something about duck that just screams fall. It could be because of the darker color of its meat compared to chicken, or it could be the simple fact that it goes so well with so many fall fruits. Indeed, duck really shines whenever it's paired with plums, which are in season from July to October throughout much of North America.

Although any type of plum jam, compote, or sauce will likely pair nicely with your duck breast, we have one particular sauce in mind: the condiment that comes in a little pouch and is a staple of many Chinese restaurants. Plum sauce is similar to hoisin, but it differs in that it also contains actual plums, along with chili, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. As such, it tends to be sweeter than hoisin. This sauce can be paired with many different duck dishes and will yield superior results if you use a homemade version.

Red wine reduction

For when you want a more savory duck recipe than something jam-packed with various fruits but don't want to get into anything too fancy, we offer up our red wine reduction sauce. This delight pairs well with duck because of the tang the red wine provides, coupled with the attenuating effect of the butter. In other words, it gives the meat a burst of flavor without going too far and taking over completely.

To make it, you'll only need a few basic ingredients, including some good, dry red wine, of course. Start by sauteing shallots in good olive oil, then add the red wine and beef stock. Once this mixture has been reduced by half, finish it off with the butter, giving it a nice, rich creaminess, and some chopped rosemary to give it a herbaceous spin. This is a great recipe to know for duck, but it can work equally well with pork.

Cherry sauce

If you ever end up with some extra Chianti on your hands, and for some strange reason, you don't want to drink it, you can use it to make this exquisite duck with cherries and Chianti. This recipe works especially well when the cherries are in season –- meaning at their juiciest, sweetest, and most succulent.

Prepare it by baking the fresh cherries with orange juice and sugar for 25 minutes at 350 F. You could serve your duck with just this, which would be amazing. But we shall press on. The next step is to boil the wine with some sugar and then simmer it until the volume has reduced. Meanwhile, prepare and fry the duck breasts. Separately, combine the cherries and wine and cook to create a thick reduction. To serve, place the sauce on the plate and top with the duck breasts. To further enjoy the richness of the sauce, serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta, both of which will do an excellent job of soaking everything up.

Lavender honey

We know that lavender and honey go well together, and we've proven that honey and duck go well together. So it only makes sense that lavender, honey, and duck will make a fine trio. But you don't have to take our word for it. We have a fine roast duck with lavender honey recipe available to showcase exactly what we mean.

Make this at home by grinding lavender flowers, thyme, black peppercorns, and sea salt to a powder you will then rub onto the duck. Roast the duck at 400 F for 1 hour and ¾ and then cover it with a mixture of vinegar and chicken stock along with some honey. Bake the duck again, for about 15 minutes, while repeatedly basting it and adding more honey and lavender powder. Serve with root vegetables roasted in some of the duck's own fat. Baby turnips make an excellent choice.

Salsa Amarillo

Many of the duck recipes we see are based on French, Italian, or Chinese cooking. But South America, too, can hold its own when it comes to preparing good duck. One such example is these spicy duck skewers with salsa amarillo, a recipe inspired by Peruvian cuisine but which makes use of spices from around the world.

You can make this salsa by blistering bell peppers on a grill or under the broiler and then "sweating" them for about 15 minutes to help you remove the blackened skin. Finally, chop the peppers and combine them with green onions, white vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, water, and a mixture of smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Zap everything in a blender and serve the resulting salsa with the duck, which should have been marinated in red wine vinegar and the same spice mixture before being skewered and grilled.


Sweet and sour sauces are not just the domain of Chinese cuisine. Italy has its own version, which it calls agrodolce, literally meaning sour (agro) and sweet (dolce). Like its Chinese counterpart, this sauce is made with a blend of sugars and vinegars, including red wine in this case.

This sauce, and its many variations, pairs well with a wide range of savory dishes, including roasted vegetables and grilled meat, such as pork or duck. You can purchase this Italian sauce in several specialty stores, but the best thing to do is to make agrodolce yourself at home, especially since it's very simple. At its core, it's a mixture of sugar, red wine vinegar, and red wine, but you can also make it by sautéing chilis, red wine vinegar, honey, raisins, and red pepper flakes into a sauce or by cooking up some onions, garlic, nuts, capers, and herbs along with your core ingredients. Any of these would be lucky to be served with your fine cut of duck.