Ducasse was born in Orthez in southwestern France and was educated on a farm in Castel-Sarrazin. In 1972, when he was sixteen, Ducasse began an apprenticeship at the Pavillon Landais restaurant in Soustons and at the Bordeaux hotel school. After this apprenticeship, he began work at Michel Guérard’s restaurant in Eugénie-les-Bains while also working for Gaston Lenôtre during the summer months. In 1977, Ducasse started working as an assistant at Moulin de Mougins under legendary chef Roger Vergé, creator of Cuisine du Soleil, and learned the Provençal cooking methods for which he was later known. He currently holds 21 Michelin stars.
Ducasse's first position as chef came in 1980 when he took over the kitchens at L’amandier in Mougins. One year later, he assumed the position of head chef at La Terrasse in the Hôtel Juana in Juan-les-Pins. In 1984, he was awarded two stars in the Michelin Red Guide. In the same year Ducasse was the only survivor of a Piper Aztec aircraft crash that injured him severely.
In 1986, Ducasse was offered the Chef position at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo, with management including the hotel's Le Louis XV. After assuring himself that the Hotel's other restaurant operations were operating well, Ducasse continued to run management.
In 1988, Ducasse expanded beyond the restaurant industry and opened La Bastide de Moustiers, a twelve-bedroom country inn in Provence  and he began attaining financial interests in other Provence hotels. On 12 August 1996, the Alain Ducasse restaurant opened in Le Parc – Sofitel Demeure Hôtels in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The Red Guide awarded the restaurant three stars just eight months after opening.
Ducasse came to the United States and in June 2000 opened the Alain Ducasse restaurant in New York City's Essex House hotel at 160 Central Park South, receiving the Red Guide's three stars in December 2005, in the first Red Guide for NYC. That restaurant closed in 2007 when Ducasse chose to open a restaurant in Las Vegas named Mix, which later went on to earn one star in the Michelin Red Guide. In early 2008, Ducasse opened Adour, at the St. Regis Hotel on 16th and K Street in Washington, DC, and has also opened a more casual Bistro Benoit New York, at 60 West 55th Street.
Ducasse became the first chef to own restaurants carrying three Michelin Stars in three cities. The New York restaurant was dropped from the 2007 Michelin Guide because the restaurant was scheduled to close. Ducasse has become known through his writing and influences. Ducasse is also only one of two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars throughout his career.
He has been special guest in the US and Italian versions of MasterChef. In 2013 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement on The World's 50 Best Restaurants List.
Ducasse was a French citizen by birth. However, on 17 June 2008, he became a naturalized citizen of Monaco. He chose Monegasque citizenship in order to take advantage of the principality's tax rates.
Alain Ducasse's restaurants, cooking schools, cookbooks, and consulting activities had revenues of $15.9 million in 2002. Since that time, Ducasse has been expanding his reach. Alain Ducasse has also opened a cooking school for the general public in Paris and another for chefs (ADF), which also works for the European Space Agency to develop astronaut meals to be taken into space. Ducasse has also authored numerous books, with the most famous being Alain Ducasse Culinary Encyclopedia.
In 2005, Ducasse opened his first Asian restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. Ducasse's restaurants include:59 Poincaré (Paris, France)
Adour (New York, USA) - Closed 17 November 2012
Restaurant Le Meurice, Alain Ducasse (Paris, France)
Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee (Paris, France)
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (London)
Aux Lyonnais (Paris, France)
Allard (Paris, France)
La Trattoria (Monaco)
Beige (Tokyo, Japan)
Benoit (Paris, France) - bistro
Benoit (Tokyo, Japan) - bistro
Benoit (New York, USA) - bistro
Esprit - bistro
Idam, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha-Qatar gastronomy restaurant
La Cour Jardin (Paris, France)
Mix (Las Vegas, USA)
La Terrasse du Parc
Le Jules Verne (Eiffel Tower, Paris, France)
Le Louis XV (Monaco)
Le Relais du Parc (Paris, France)
Le Relais Plaza, Hotel Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)
La Bastide de Moustier (Moustier Ste Marie, France)
MIA cafe, at Museum of Islamic Art, Doha-Qatar
Tamaris (Beirut, Lebanon)
Rivea (London) Bulgari Hotel
Spoon (Beirut, Carthago, Gstaadt, Mauritius, Hong-Kong)
Trattoria Toscana L'Andana (Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosseto, Italy)
In 2004 Alain Ducasse opened a restaurant in a resort near Biarritz, in the French Basque Country. However, after several bombing attacks by Irrintzi, an armed Basque nationalist organization, which accused him of being a speculator and of "folkloring" the Basque Country, Ducasse decided to leave the Basque Country.
In 2010 Ducasse opened a miX restaurant at the W Hotel in Vieques, Puerto Rico,but he closed it in 2012.