• Share

New Real Grilling: Spice Rubbed Duck Breasts with Orange-Cumin Sauce

Level: Medium
Found in Tailgate Party,   Dinner Party,   4th of July,   Grilling,   Comfort Food,   Main Dish,   Dinner  By
Full Screen
Spice-Rubbed Duck Breasts

It is true with food, as it is with other life experiences like marriage and fashion. Sometimes opposites attract.

For example, take the sauce in this recipe from my book Weber’s New Real Grilling. It begins with the sweet citrusy flavors of orange juice and the brash acidy of balsamic vinegar.

At first those two ingredients seem to clash. But wait -- apply a little heat, add a little sugar and spice -- soon the line that divides sweet and sour begins to dissolve. Instead of clashing, they reach a seamless balancing point where each one makes the other even better.

Overall the sauce is pretty strong in flavor, so it goes well with equally strong meats, especially dark, rich duck, but it is also delicious with pork or lamb.


  • 4 boneless duck breast halves, each about 6 ounces, skin removed
  • 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 Teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1.5 Teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1.25 Teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Cup orange juice
  • .25 Cups balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon orange juice


  • Total Time: 28 min
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 8 min
  1. Prepare the dry rub: in a small mixing bowl, combine all of the coriander, 2 tsp. of the cumin,and 1 tsp. each of the cardamom, salt and pepper.
  2. Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towels. Rub duck breasts with oil.
  3. Rub spice mixture all over the duck. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the grill and make the sauce.
  4. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Prepare the sauce: in a small heavy saucepan, whisk together orange juice, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and the remaining cumin, cardamom, salt and pepper.
  6. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup (3 to 5 minutes).
  7. Reduce heat to medium. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 Tbsp. orange juice and whisk into the mixture. Bring back to a simmer, stirring until sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  8. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the duck over direct medium heat, skin-side down first, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to your desired doneness (about 8 minutes for medium rare), turning once or twice.
  9. Transfer duck to a cutting board. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile reheat the sauce over low heat.
  10. Cut the duck breasts crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Serve the duck warm with sauce.

About the Chef

Man using grill

Jamie Purviance graduated from Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of America (with high honors) before earning a reputation as one of America’s top grilling experts.  He is the author of several cookbooks, with millions of copies sold, and his articles have appeared in numerous publications, such as Bon Appetit, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, Eating Well, Town & Country, and the Los Angeles Times.  One of his books, “Weber’s Way to Grill’, was a finalist for a James Beard Award, and three of his cookbooks have been New York Times Bestsellers. Follow Purviance on Twitter @jamiepurviance and on Facebook.

More Recipes from Jamie

New Real Grilling: Coca-Cola Marinated Pork Tenderloins