Beer Sauce with Duck

4.84 from 6 votes
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If you are looking for an unusual sauce with duck, give this Scandinavian beer sauce a go. It’s easy, quick and great with duck breast, venison, beef or pork.

Beer sauce with duck and currants on a plate.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Duck breast. Beer. Wild berries. What’s not to love? Nothing, if you eat this as a dish. This is one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Taken separately, you’ll wonder what the fuss is all about. But together, this is a perfect balance of meaty, fatty, salty, tart, sweet and bitter.

I owe my inspiration for this dish to an old Icelandic cookbook by Nanna Rognvaldardottir called Icelandic Food & Cookery. Her dish is done with wild goose, and geese would work perfectly well here, but so would venison tenderloin; I used mallard breasts.

Her sauce with duck is thicker, cooked longer and uses different berries. I lightened things up and cooked the meat a lot less, and added some preserved golden currants I picked in Nevada last summer. My pickled blueberries recipe is another great option here. 

The essence of this dish is the beer sauce. You marinate the duck (or goose) in a dark, malty beer — I used a weizenbock from Germany — plus some beer vinegar. Regular malt vinegar also works, but is less flavorful.

Cooking with beer is different from cooking with wine. With wine, you need to worry about acidity and tannins ruining your dish. With beer, it’s bitterness. That’s why I call for a malty beer. Any malty beer will do: bock, porter, stout, Scottish ale, dunkelweizen or Belgian tripel. You might try this with a Belgian sour beer, too, for a different effect; my guess is you won’t need much added vinegar to balance it.

After the meat rests in the marinade for a while, you boil it down with stock or broth to make what the French call a jus, but what I call a pan sauce with duck. I use homemade duck stock, which isn’t too salty, but if you are using store-bought, get the low sodium kind and keep tabs on the sauce as it boils down — a salty broth can ruin it.

The berries are a must. Without them, you get a deep sense of “there’s something missing” from this dish. No currants? I get it. They’re hard to find. Use cranberries, lingonberries, tart huckleberries or blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or the like.

The key is tart and just a little sweet. Oh, and if you use cranberries, let them boil in the sauce just until they begin to pop; cranberries need a little cooking.

What to serve with this? My immediate thought was mashed celery root. Any mashed vegetable would be good here, from potatoes to parsnips to squash. A more traditional offering might be some dark, crusty rye bread.

And obviously this is beer food. Malty beer.

duck with beer sauce
4.84 from 6 votes

Beer Sauce with Duck

I used mallard breasts, preserved currants and a German weizenbock for this recipe, but you can substitute in what you have available. Domesticated duck, goose, or whatever -- but it needs to be a little fatty to balance out the sauce. I've already mentioned what sort of berries would work as alternates, and as for beer it just needs to be dark and malty, not hoppy.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds duck breasts
  • 1 cup dark, malty beer
  • 1 small onion, minced, about 3/4 cup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 5 juniper berries, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons beer vinegar or malt vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon duck fat, lard, butter or cooking oil
  • 3 cups duck stock or beef stock
  • A handful of currants, lingonberries, cranberries or some other, tart berry
  • Smoked salt (optional)


  • In a lidded container large enough to hold all the duck breasts in one layer, stir together the beer, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries, salt, and beer or malt vinegar. Add the duck breasts skin side up. Ideally, you keep the skin out of the marinade; this will help it crisp better later. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  • Remove the duck breasts from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Pour the marinade in a pot with the 3 cups of stock and turn the heat to high. You want to boil this down 10 about 1 1/2 cups, for the pan sauce.
  • While the marinade is boiling, heat the duck fat in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Sear the duck breasts in the usual way, and set on a cutting board to rest.
  • Taste the sauce as it boils down so it doesn't get too salty; store-bought broths and stocks can be really salty, and you don't want to ruin your sauce. It will be a little bitter -- that's the beer. Once the salt content is to your liking, turn off the heat and adjust with a little more beer vinegar.
  • To serve, slice the duck breast and salt it with the smoked salt. Pour some of the sauce down on the plate, top with the duck and toss a handful of berries on the plate. Serve with dark, crusty bread or with mashed root vegetables or potatoes.


Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1588mg | Potassium: 721mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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  1. Thank Hank great recipe! I’m clearing out freezer getting ready for this years season. I bought some cranberries today and was looking for a recipe I could use my purchased cranberries with my last two duck breasts. The Beer Sauce is spot on. I was drinking the sauce off the plate! I have two goose breasts that I plan on making jerky. I used your jerky recipe with goose breast during last years season. They came out great! I was wondering if you know when your Duck, Duck, Goose cookbook will be back in print? I love to dream a little before the season kicks off. I have your upland game cookbook and really love it. I have worked my way through quite a bit of the recipes. The best thing I learned form reading your upland cookbook was you can take well loved classic recipes and they transfer right over to upland game. Thanks for all you do, I really enjoy your work on Insta and You Tube.

      1. Thanks. I am making this soon with a friend’s wild goose breasts.

        I did find dried juniper berries. Would those work and if so, still use five?

  2. Hi Hank – When I made this recipe, I thought I had seen a recipe for duck breast kabobs…now I can’t find it! Was I just imagining this??

  3. Hi Hank – what is the goose equivalent to 4 duck breasts? Or just breast-weight in general. (My larger Canada breast half = just over 1lb)
    And this may be an ignorant question, but when you say “4 duck breasts”, is that both halves? (2 ducks’ worth)

    Thanks! (and love all your recipes. Use them for birds, fish, small, and big game.)

    1. Troutprospector: I’d use just one Canada goose breast half. Generally you want to serve each person somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 pound of meat here.

  4. going to try this with some fresh Muscovy I just butchered from a farm i got them from. tried the paraffin method with them. did not work. Got it down to the white fluffy down but there is just something about the skin of those birds it is so fragile it just breaks like nothing with just a bit of plucking. drives me nuts and leaves me with having to skin them all the time. But I’m not going to store buy when I can get the duck for 10 dollars from my local farmer. Such lovely red meat.

  5. I don’t have duck stock (I purchased a duck breast from Whole Foods) and we don’t eat beef/pork due to an allergy. Would a deep roasted chicken stock work ok? Or another suggestion?

  6. Hank, fresh out of duck breasts (OK, I didn’t have a chance to hunt this fall). However there were fresh venison streaks in the freezer and they worked just fine. We used blueberries we had frozen this summer and some butternut squash. The combination was fantastic! I will hope for some North Dakota mallards next fall and keep this receipt close.

  7. Hank:
    Wondering if you have any experience cooking with Aronia berries? Or the common name would be black chokeberry. They are tart and very high in anitoxidants. I was reading this duck recipe and thougt they may work.

    Love your recipes!

    Tom Kuball

  8. Today was opening day for waterfowl in Maryland. Limit of geese taken. I am going to try this with fresh wild goose breast.

  9. This may be a stupid question, but are you using skin on or skin off breasts for this recipe.

    Thanks so much. Love your recipes. I have never made such good wild food until I started following you.

    1. Josh: If you look at the pictures, you will see it is skin-on. Could you do this with skin-off? Yeah… but the fat in the skin is really needed to balance everything going on in this dish.

  10. Wow! This looks awesome and yet another great way to prepare Duck. Love that you include so much information surrounding your recipes. Hope you found our note on your windshield today Hank…just wanted to say “hi” and express how very much we enjoy your blog 🙂

  11. Hey Hank!
    Now you are speaking my beer language. I have gotten some Geese so far this year. Looking forward to trying this out!
    Have you tried Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale yet?

  12. This looks delectable! I sorely regret moving away from my duck-hunting friends in NorCal. Fresh duck. Sigh.

    On an unrelated note, have you visited Mimi Thorisson’s blog, Manger?