Easy Duck Confit

A quick and easy method for making duck confit (2 hours versus 2 days).

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Duck legs (at least one per person)
  • Salt

Method

1 Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels. Find a needle or a very pointy knife and prick the skin of the duck all over. Focus on the skin that covers fat. Do your best to avoid piercing the meat itself by pricking the skin at an angle over the drumstick and the center of the thigh. You are doing this to give the fat that lies under the skin a place to seep out – if you don’t do this, it will be far more difficult to get crispy skin.

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2 Salt your duck legs well, more than you think you ought to, actually. Let them rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. Don’t worry, they’ll be fine.

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3 Put the duck legs in a small casserole, skin side up. How small? You want it just big enough to hold the legs. Put a thin sheen of oil or melted duck fat on the bottom of the casserole, then place the duck legs in close together but not overlapping.

4 Put the casserole in the oven and turn it to 300 degrees; if you have a digital oven, you could even go down to 285 degrees. Do not preheat the oven. You want to cook the duck as gently as possible.

Walk away and watch football, go shopping, read a book or something. How long? Every duck has a different level of fat, so I can’t tell you exactly. But it will be at least 90 minutes, and two hours is better. After 90 minutes, check the duck: It should be partly submerged in melted fat and the skin should be getting crispy.

5 When the skin is starting to look crispy, turn up the heat to 375 degrees. Check after 15 minutes. You’re looking for a light golden brown. If you missed some spots with the needle and there are places where the skin won’t crisp that’s OK – better that than burnt skin elsewhere.

6 Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before eating. Save the accumulated fat for cooking vegetables, other meats or for keeping your skin shiny. I strain the fat through cheesecloth, but you really only need to do this if you are saving the fat for several weeks or months; strained, it will keep for 6 months tightly covered in the fridge. Well wrapped, the duck meat itself will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

What to do with your lovely duck legs? Why eat them. You can just gnaw on the legs and let the luscious fat dribble down your chin, or pick off the skin and eat it – it is hard to re-crisp it later – and then strip the meat from the bones and use it in a salad, with beans or rice, or in with pasta.

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Comments

  1. Deb

    Hi Elise, We are Americans living on a barge in France – yes, it is a dream life! Duck and goose is readily available and cheap. We were first turned on to Confit de Canard by friends in the Netherlands who asked us to bring cans of it with us when we visited. Thinking it an idiosyncratic request we dropped the cans off and later showed up for dinner and what a dinner it was! DELICIOUS confit de canard! After removing the duck from the grease in which it comes encased they laid the legs in a casserole, topped each with a sprig of fresh rosemary, popped it in the oven until heated through and crispy on the outside, Voila! The canned is so good and easy to keep on hand but now will buy only fresh while I can – thanks for the recipe!

  2. Garrett

    I was so nervous to learn to do this. Duck confit – it sounds so French, so difficult; and I’m a baker, not a cook. Yet, this was crazy easy to put together. The duck was absolutely delicious and the fat that was rendered has already been used to saute some oyster muchrooms with garlic and lemon resulting in one of the best mushroom dishes I’ve ever prepared.

  3. Avi

    This looks great and I’ll have to try it as soon as possible. I never cooked duck before so I have to ask – is it possible to do the same with chicken (and get the same result?)

    Sorry, but chicken doesn’t have enough fat to make this work exactly. What you could do is put down a layer of olive oil – or better yet, rendered chicken fat – in the casserole and see how that works. You need the meat to be gently bathed in fat. ~Hank

  4. Perri

    This looks great! Sometimes when I make Duck Confit the duck comes out too salty. I have even rinsed the salt after marinating for a bit. Any thoughts on how to avoid this?

    Real duck confit is supposed to be salty, as it is a cured product meant to be stored at cool room temperature for months. You are right in rinsing off the salt, however — I do that even for the regular confit. This recipe should not have that problem. ~Hank

  5. Adam Z.

    Great tip. Though it looks a little bit more like duck legs braised in their own fat than it does like traditional confit.

    From what I gather, the traditional method is not actually all that much more involved than this. It’s 20 minutes of work covering the duck in salt and spices, then a 24-hour hands-off wait, then 2 hours worth of cooking time the next day.

    The main advantage I see here isn’t the ease of the process, but the fact that it doesn’t require finding a good supply of rendered duck fat. That problem is what has always kept me from doing it the long way.

    Adam, you’ve cracked the code – that is exactly what this is! The traditional method requires far longer than a 2-hour cooking time. When I do it the duck typically needs 4-8 hours at 200-225 degrees. I’ve gone even longer. You can skate around the need to buy a mass of duck fat by using a vacuum-sealer to encase your duck legs in 4-5 tablespoons of fat, rather than 4-5 cups. ~Hank

  6. Jack S

    Look amazing. Will this only work with the duck legs? If I have a whole duck can I quarter it up and do this with the legs/thighs in one casserole dish and then in a seperate small dish, cook the breasts the same way? Thanks for the recipe.

    I’d recommend using the breasts for something else – they are best cooked medium-to-rare. ~Hank

  7. Kareen F.

    This recipe looks great! We are French living in Hawaii and duck is what we miss the most! We don’t have duck here, do you have any suggestions on how to buy special order duck? Also, can you look into posting an easy pate (pah-tay) recipe? Thank you!

    I bet you could find duck somewhere in Hawaii… And I’d be happy to post an easy country-style pate! ~Hank

  8. Hungry Mike

    What a wonderful idea, but why did you omit the herbs and spices that are used in the classic confit marinade?

    It makes the recipe more versatile. I was going less for faux French confit than I was for the luxuriousness of what confit does to duck and goose meat. If you want to add herbs or spices you could add some thyme or allspice or the like to the fat once it is liquid — otherwise you are not going to get the flavor into the meat without a long marinade, and the point is to make this process quick(ish) and easy. ~Hank

  9. Maggi

    Oh my goodness! If anyone is wondering what to do with the leftover duck fat, it makes the most magnificent french fries you will ever eat.

  10. Anna

    Mmmmm, I’ve been thinking about duck recently. We’ve been in a bison, venison, pork and chicken routine; duck might be just what we need for some variety.

    I will second the recommendation to save the fat. My German friend loves to smear duck or good fast on bread, like butter (schmaltz?).

    I have a couple big jars of Rougie French duck fat I bought online from Mother Linda’s website (no affiliation) that I love for roasting root vegetables. I don’t keep vegetable oil in my pantry any more (nasty stuff, for all sorts of reasons). I save EV olive oil for salad dressings and mayonnaise (never used for cooking with more than low heat). Rich, traditional saturated fats are far better for medium and high heat cooking – more resistant to heat damage/oxidation due to low PUFA content – and the rich flavor is far superior, too.

    The other night I made the best braised cabbage & root veggies from my CSA farm produce box – substituting duck fat for the olive oil. Everyone raves when I make these veggies, but sometimes I don’t dare tell them about the duck fat (some people are incredibly lipophobic).

    Actually, I cook with pork fat too. I keep containers of strained bacon fat and strained pork fat in the fridge, and I also keep ghee (clarified butter) in the cupboard with the coconut oil. My great-grandmothers would approve, though I know my grandmother and mother would be horrified. C’est la vie.

  11. Liane

    How fatty is this recipe? Is the meat dripping at the end of it? Does it taste really luxurious? I ask because I would LOVE to make this recipe but my husband has been less excited about rich meals lately. We’ve been eating a lot of spaghetti as a result. I think my love of roast chicken has gotten the best of him. I might have to make it while he is away.

    Uh, I think you ought to wait until your husband’s away for this one. It ain’t low fat… ~Hank

  12. alex g

    i’m sorry, but doesn’t confit mean preserved? This seems to me like being a simple roast duck legs recipe.
    I apologize if i’m wrong. I like your blog very much. All the best.

    Nope. Confit does not mean preserved. It means slowly cooked in fat or oil. You are correct, however, that real confit is salted for a day before it is cooked, and then it can be preserved in fat for quite some time. The point of this recipe is to get close to the flavor of a proper confit without the days’ curing time, and without extra fat. ~Hank

  13. stephanie

    I have a convection toaster oven (Cuisinart, from Costco) and am wondering whether you think this recipe might work in there, or if the gradual slower cooking provided by a regular oven would be better. Thanks for providing a user-friendly recipe! Can’t wait to try it.

    I don’t know, but you could give it a go, I guess. Just keep an eye on the temperature. ~Hank

  14. Dawn

    Hank,
    Thanks for this easy recipe! The legs are in the oven now. My husband and I are making cassoulet and did not want to skip the duck confit! Can hardly wait until the whole dish comes together tomorrow!

  15. monique kidd

    Hi You say 300 or 285 degrees – is that Centigrade? My oven only goes up to 240!

    No, it is Fahrenheit. ~Hank

  16. Karen

    Hi Hank, I made this last weekend – it was fabulous ! Anyway, I’m planning on serving it tomorrow (T-day). Could I make it today and re-heat tomorrow or would that dry it out ?

    Yep, you can make it ahead, and then let it cool, skin side up, in the fat in the pan. Just reheat it gently, at maybe 300 degrees, in the fat. ~Hank

  17. mari

    hi hank, would you advise rinsing off the salt after the marinating then proceed? or it will be fine as is? i worry because i have people eating who are watching their salt intake. just to be safe how much is more than you’d normally put? thanks

    Yes, it is OK to rinse after marinating. As for an exact amount, I’ve never measured, because duck legs are not all the same size, but it’s at least a couple tablespoons. ~Hank

  18. Lisa

    Hi! I was wondering if I can make this with goose legs using the same method? Do I still have to poke holes in the fat with goose legs? Also you mentioned in the beginning to smear duck fat. I only have duck fat. Can I use that ok with goose? Would you do a gravy with this? Thanks!

    Yep. Duck and goose are virtually the same in the kitchen, so the duck fat will be fine, and yes, you will need to poke holes in the fat of the goose legs. Only difference is that the goose legs light take a little longer to cook. ~Hank

  19. Stevenlgb

    This was a great dish and my friends loved it. My home smelled amazing when I got back from running errands. The only thing that we all commented on was that it was a bit salty. I will not use the salt so freely next time but you still need that salt. Served this over a bed of white kidney beans and blanched asparagus. I will make this again. I served 4 people for under 15 bucks.

  20. Lily

    I tried this with terrific results – thank you for the recipe! (Also, due to time I actually had a refrigeration period after the initial low-temp cooking, then popped the duck back in for the higher-temp finishing and it was still great. I suspect it’s best when all done at once, but if you need a quicker dinner option that is a viable approach.)

    Now my question: Can you tell me where you got that gorgeous rectangular dish that the duck is in? (Pattern name?) Thanks.

    • Elise

      Hi Lily! So glad you liked the duck confit recipe. As for the dish, it was a gift from a friend who bought it at Crate and Barrel. The backside says only, “Crate & Barrel, Made in Portugal”. I wasn’t able to find more the last time I went to Crate and Barrel, but perhaps you might be able to find the pattern on Etsy or Ebay?