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Coffee and Cocoa Duck Breast with Balsamic-Cherry Sauce

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Sliced duck breast with balsamic-cherry reduction

For all of you out there who claim to not like duck, our latest recipe for coffee and cocoa-crusted smoked duck breast with balsamic and wild cherry reduction is set to take your tastes hostage.

Not only does the seemingly odd coffee and cocoa combination in the rub act as a perfect bold compliment to the smokey meat, but the sauce also adds just the right amount of sweetness and tartness to take the duck over the top.

Smoked Coffee And Cocoa Crusted Duck Breast With Balsalmic-Cherry Reduction Recipe

Sliced duck breast with balsamic-cherry sauce
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4.86 from 7 votes
Coffee and cocoa elevate smoked duck breasts, while the balsamic-cherry reduction adds a sweet tang to the finished dish.

difficulty scale


Servings: 2 people



  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 cast iron skillet


  • 2 tbsp. finely ground coffee
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. Domino pourable brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 2 boneless duck breast
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Fire up. Prepare a smoker or a grill for 2-zone indirect cooking. Adjust the smoker or grill to bring the temperature to about 225°F (107.2°C) in the indirect zone and place 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood on the fire.
  • Prep. combine the coffee, cocoa powder, brown sugar, salt, and ancho chile powder in a small bowl and blend well.  
  • Using a sharp paring knife, make 3-4 vertical and horizontal cuts through the fat side of the duck to make a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat. Season both sides of the duck breasts liberally with the coffee and cocoa dry rub.  
  • Cook. Place a small saucepan on the hot side of the grill and add the cherries, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice to the saucepan.  Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes until reduced by 2/3.  Remove and set aside.
  • Set a cast iron skillet on the hot side of the grill and place the duck breasts on the cool side of the grill.  Cover the grill and allow the duck breasts to smoke until they reach an internal temperature of 115 degrees, approximately 20 minutes.  
  • Once the duck reaches 115°F move them to the cast iron skillet fat side down.  Allow the duck to cook until most of the fat has rendered and is crisp, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Turn the duck and cook for another 2-3 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F for medium-rare.  
    Duck breast searing in a pan
  • Remove the duck from the skillet and set on a cutting board skin side up. Remove the skillet from the grill and set the saucepan with the balsamic-cherry reduction back on the grill to warm as the duck rests.
  • Serve. Once the duck has rested for 5 minutes, slice it and serve along with the balsamic-cherry reduction.

Published On: 9/29/2022 Last Modified: 2/15/2024

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