Use this easy method to learn how to cook Duck Confit at home. It’s a classic French dish made with duck legs seasoned with fresh herbs and salt. Baked in its own fat, the duck meat becomes tender while the skin crisps.Jump to Recipe
Easy duck confit recipe
Making classic French dishes, like duck confit, doesn’t have to be hard! In this guide, I’ll teach you how to cook duck confit the easy way. No mess, salt-curing, or long waits required.
Confit (meaning “to preserve” in French) is the process of salt-curing meat (usually duck, goose, or pork) before it’s cooked in its own fat. This can be a lengthy process, leaving you waiting for the finished results for up to 24 hours. Luckily, in this recipe, the duck confit is ready to eat in 2 hours.
This easy duck confit recipe has 4 key ingredients:
- Duck legs
- Duck fat
- Fresh herbs
That’s it! In the end, you’ll have tender, fall-off-the-bone meat that will make you feel like you’re dining in a French bistro.
What is duck confit?
Duck confit is a classic French dish. Duck legs are salt-cured between 12 to 24 hours before being slow cooked in their own fat. To finish, the duck legs are pan-seared or roasted at a higher heat to crisp the skin.
When cooked properly, the meat becomes incredibly tender and falls off the bone.
- Duck legs – If you’ve never had duck before, you may be surprised by the flavor! Unlike chicken or other poultry, duck is a fatty meat that becomes very tender and succulent when cooked right. You should be able to find duck legs at your local butcher or in the deli section at some well-stocked grocery stores.
- Kosher salt – The salt is used to season the meat, not cure it. This speedy process leaves you with duck confit in 2 hours rather than several hours or days.
- Fresh herbs – Fresh rosemary, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves perfume the meat and add complexity to each bite.
- Duck fat – If you don’t have duck fat on hand, you can use bacon fat, tallow, or cooking oil. However, duck fat is preferred. Save the duck fat and use it at least 2 more times to make more duck confit! After that, taste it before using as it will eventually become salty.
How to cook duck confit
Prepare the duck legs by patting them dry and seasoning all sides with salt. Use a sharp paring knife to prick the skin at an angle to help release the fat. Try not to pierce the meat underneath the skin.
Place the seasoned duck legs (skin side down) and fresh herbs into a baking dish.
Pour the melted duck fat over the legs in the dish. Cover with foil and place it in the oven to bake.
Once it’s done, you can crisp the skin by pan-searing the legs skin side down in a skillet until golden. Alternatively, turn up the heat in the oven to 400ºF and cook until the skin is crispy.
Serve your homemade duck confit with your favorite French-inspired sides and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- Don’t be stingy with the herbs and salt! They’re powerful flavor boosters necessary for a well-balanced dish. To customize the flavor, season the duck with shallots, garlic cloves, peppercorns, star anise, or coriander along with the rest.
- Use a small roasting pan or baking dish. You want the duck legs to be touching each other but still in an even layer so the duck fat fully covers the tops and sides.
- To tell the duck is cooked through: Run a fork over the cooked flesh to see if it flakes easily, but doesn’t separate from the bone. If it does, it’s ready to be crisped.
- For even skin crisping, transfer the cooked duck legs from the baking dish to a wire rack set over a sheet pan. Bake in a 400ºF oven until the skin is golden and crispy all over.
You’ll often see duck confit served over lentil ragout or as part of a cassoulet in French cuisine. You’re welcome to keep the meal on the traditional side or simplify it by serving the duck next to dinner rolls, a butterleaf salad, roasted potatoes, radicchio salad, or polenta.
Storing and freezing
Store the cooked duck confit in the fridge for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 3 to 6 months. Keep the leftovers submerged in the duck fat in an airtight container to maintain moisture.
If you have excess duck fat, freeze it in a jar for up to 6 weeks.
To reheat, place the duck and fat in a baking dish and bake in a 300ºF oven until warmed through (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Looking for more impressive main dishes?
- Bourbon Braised Short Ribs
- Salmon en Papillote
- Mussels in White Wine Garlic Sauce
- Mustard and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
If you give this easy duck confit recipe a try, let me know in the comments below. I love seeing your pictures too, so please tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog and use #lenaskitchenblog so I can share them on my page!
How To Cook Duck Confit
- 4 duck legs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 12 oz duck fat or more to cover the duck
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C)
- Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels. Season the duck with salt on both sides.
- Using a sharp knife or a metal skewer, prick the skin to help release the fat when cooking. (As you’re pricking the skin, do it at an angle to avoid piercing the meat underneath.)
- Add duck legs and herbs to a baking dish skin side down (use a baking dish that keeps the legs snug together).
- Add melted duck fat, making sure it covers the duck legs. If using butter, melt it first as well.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake on the middle rack for 2 hours.
- If you’d like to crisp the skin and enjoy it after the duck is cooked, I recommend pan-searing the duck leg quarters in a skillet, skin side down until the skin has become golden and very crisp. Or add the legs back to the oven on the top rack and bake skin side up at 450°F until skin is crispy, it takes about 8-12 minutes.
Refrigerate cooked duck confit for up to 1 month in an airtight container with enough fat to cover the legs (they should be fully submerged).
Save the duck fat, it can be used at least 2 more times to make more duck confit! After that, taste it before using it as it will eventually become too salty.
You can also save the duck fat to use later in other recipes. For longevity, it is best to strain the fat before storing. I usually pour it through a cheesecloth and discard the lumps of coagulated fat. Strained duck fat will keep for 6 weeks when strained and kept in an airtight container.