Classic Duck Confit Recipe

a close up image of duck confit legs on a plate with sauce, on a table with more food

One of my all-time favorite dinner recipes! Classic duck confit is the ultimate duck recipe! Whole duck legs are first dry brined, then slow cooked completely submerged in duck fat until the meat is super soft and tender. Once cooked, the legs are then roasted until golden and crispy. The duck meat is super tender and flavorful, and literally slides right off the bones!

I love to serve duck confit with a simple plum sauce, duck fat potatoes, and a simple salad! This delicious duck recipe is a great option for holidays and special occasions.

Ingredients for Duck Confit Recipe

A classic duck confit recipe requires just a few ingredients! Here are my tips for the main ingredients you’ll need for the recipe. Find the full list of ingredients in the printable recipe card below.

  • Whole Duck Legs – with the skin intact. I get mine duck legs at Whole Foods. You can typically find duck meat frozen throughout the year. Make sure to thaw the meat first before starting the recipe.
  • Duck Fat – you’ll need approximately 1 cup of duck fat for each duck leg. Most stores will carry duck fat in the freezer section, as it keeps well frozen. Thaw the fat in the refrigerator before beginning on the recipe.
  • Fresh Thyme & Rosemary
  • Garlic & Shallots
  • Sea Salt & Black Peppercorns
  • Plum Jam – for making red wine plum sauce. This easy sauce pairs very well with the rich duck confit!

Supplies & Tools for the Recipe

Need some supplies or tools to make duck confit at home? Shop my Amazon Affiliate links for the items I use and recommend. See Disclosure Statement.

several dinner plates of duck confit with potatoes and sauce, on a table with sauce bowl

Step #1: Dry Brining the Duck Legs

Duck confit is incredibly easy to prepare, but it does take a little bit of time as there are a few steps involved in the process. The first step is dry brining:

  1. Prepare the roasting pan first. You can use a ceramic casserole pan, or a stainless-steel roasting pan. Spread the sprigs of rosemary and thyme onto the bottom of pan. Thinly slice the garlic and shallots and add those to the pan. Sprinkle in the peppercorns.
  2. Remove defrosted duck legs from packaging, rinse the legs, then pat them completely dry with paper towels.
  3. Season the duck generously all over with sea salt or Kosher salt, gently rubbing the salt onto the skin and meat.
  4. Place the duck legs into a large casserole; they should lay flat in one layer, not overlapping each other. Place the pan into the refrigerator, uncovered, and brine the duck for 24 to 48 hours. Keeping the duck uncovered will dehydrate the skin, resulting in crispy skin at the end.
several duck legs in a casserole with fresh herbs, peppercorns, and garlic
Dry brining the duck is an important step! Leave it in the refrigerator uncovered.

Step #2: Rinsing the Duck Legs & Starting the Confit

  1. Preheat the oven to 215°F.
  2. Once the duck legs have dry brined for 1 to 2 days, remove them from the refrigerator. Rinse the legs well under cold water, then pat them completely dry with paper towels.
  3. Discard the brine seasonings – garlic, shallots, herbs – and wash and pat dry the roasting pan. Place the rinsed duck legs back into the roasting pan, arranging the legs in a single layer, slightly touching each other. The duck should not be packed too tightly together!

Step #3: Preparing the Duck Fat

If you purchase your duck fat frozen, make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight prior to cooking the duck.

  1. You’ll need approximately 1 cup of duck fat for each duck leg. If you purchase your fat frozen, defrost it ahead of time in the refrigerator.
  2. Once the duck is brined, prepare the fat. Transfer the duck fat into a large pot and heat it over medium heat until it reaches approximately 215°F to 225°F.
  3. Carefully pour the hot duck fat over the duck legs. The legs need to be completely submerged in fat!
  4. Place a sheet of parchment paper that fits nicely into the pan over the fat and duck legs. Use the end of a spatula or spoon to gently push out any air bubbles or pockets, so the paper lays smoothly and directly over the fat. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
a large casserole filled with yellow liquid on a table
Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the duck legs and gently press out the air bubbles. The paper should lay smoothly over the top.
a foil wrapped casserole dish on a table
Cover the pan tightly with foil to prevent moisture from escaping the pan during baking.

Step #4: How to Make Duck Confit

Roast the duck legs at 215°F, covered with foil the entire time, for 8 hours. Do not open the pan during the cooking process.

Once the duck has cooked, remove the roasting pan from the oven. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet, then gently lift each duck leg out of the fat using a spoon or spatula and place it onto the wire rack, spacing the legs apart a few inches.

  • The meat will slide right off the bones, so do this very carefully!

Preheat the oven to 450°F. This next step you’ll want to complete right before serving. Roast the duck legs arranged on the wire rack for 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy on the outside, then serve with your choice of sides and plum sauce.

a closeup image of duck legs submerged in duck fat, in a casserole
The duck legs will be super tender and the meat will fall right off the bone once baked. Remove it very carefully from the pan.
several pieces of roasted duck legs on a wire rack
Place the duck legs onto a wire rack on a baking sheet. Roast at 450F until the skin is crispy and golden.

Easy Plum Sauce for Duck Confit

One of my favorite condiments for duck is this easy and delicious red wine plum sauce with balsamic! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Pour the wine into a small saucepan, and add the chicken broth, duck fat, and balsamic vinegar. Cook the mixture over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, until the wine is reduced in half.
  2. Add the plum jam next and continue to cook and reduce the sauce for another 6 to 8 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened.
  3. Remove the sauce from heat and keep it covered and warm until ready to serve. Add a few spoonful’s of sauce for each duck leg.
a closeup image of plum sauce in a ramekin on a table with fresh rosemary
Red wine plum sauce is the perfect complement to the rich duck legs.

Tips for Scaling the Recipe

My classic duck confit recipe is easy to scale up or down, depending on how many servings you need.

  • I recommend having 1 large duck leg or 2 smaller ones per serving.
  • You’ll need 1 cup of duck fat per duck leg to cover the meat completely in fat. Add 1 cup for each additional duck leg when increasing the recipe.
  • Make sure to use a corresponding size roasting pan. Use a smaller casserole dish for 5 to 6 legs, or a larger roasting pan with the rack removed for 8 to 10 or 12 pieces.
several plates on a table containing roasted duck legs with potatoes and sauce

Serving Suggestions for Duck Confit

Serve the duck confit as soon as possible once the legs are roasted. Plate the confit with your choice of sides and the plum sauce. I recommend a starchy side dish, plus a refreshing salad to cut through the richness of the duck. Here are some side dish recipes that I love with duck:

a closeup image of roasted potatoes in a serving bowl garnished with rosemary, on a table with salt and pepper shakers
Easy Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes
a bowl of salad with pears, cheese, frisee lettuce, and shallots; on a table
Frisee Pear Salad with dates and blue cheese
a closeup image of roasted sweet potatoes in a bowl, on a table
Maple Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes

More Recipes to Try!

Enjoyed this delicious and decadent duck recipe? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to love!

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a pinnable, closeup image of duck legs on a plate, with text overlay - 'Duck Confit with red wine plum sauce, with duck fat potatoes'

Classic Duck Confit Recipe

45 minutes prep + 8 hours 15 minutes cook + 1 day Brining Time
6 duck legs
Learn how to make the best classic duck confit with my easy instructions! Get the softest and most tender duck meat, slow roasted and served with plum sauce.

Ingredients 

For Duck Confit:

  • 6 large whole duck legs, with skin; see instructions for scaling the recipe
  • 6 cups duck fat
  • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 medium shallots, slices
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp sea salt, or Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns

For Plum Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup red wine, such as Cabernet
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp duck fat
  • 1/2 cup plum jam or preserves
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Dry Brining the Duck:

  • Prepare the roasting pan first. You can use a ceramic casserole pan, or a stainless-steel roasting pan. Spread the sprigs of rosemary and thyme onto the bottom of pan. Thinly slice the garlic and shallots and add those to the pan. Sprinkle in the peppercorns.
  • Remove defrosted duck legs from packaging, rinse the legs, then pat them completely dry with paper towels.
  • Season the duck generously all over with sea salt or Kosher salt, gently rubbing the salt onto the skin and meat.
  • Place the duck legs into the pan; they should lay flat in one layer, not overlapping each other. Place the pan into the refrigerator, uncovered, and brine the duck for 24 to 48 hours. Keeping the duck uncovered will dehydrate the skin, resulting in crispy skin at the end.

Preparing for Cooking:

  • Preheat the oven to 215°F.
  • Once the duck legs have dry brined for 1 to 2 days, remove them from the refrigerator. Rinse the legs well under cold water, then pat them completely dry with paper towels.
  • Discard the brine seasonings – garlic, shallots, herbs – and wash and pat dry the roasting pan. Place the rinsed duck legs back into the roasting pan, arranging the legs in a single layer, slightly touching each other. The duck should not be packed too tightly together!

Preparing the Duck Fat:

  • You’ll need approximately 1 cup of duck fat for each duck leg. If you purchase the fat frozen, defrost it ahead of time in the refrigerator.
  • Once the duck is brined, prepare the fat. Transfer the duck fat into a large pot and heat it over medium heat until it reaches approximately 215°F to 225°F.
  • Carefully pour the hot duck fat over the duck legs. The legs need to be completely submerged in fat!

Cooking Instructions:

  • Place a sheet of parchment paper that fits nicely into the pan over the fat and duck legs. Use the end of a spatula or spoon to gently push out any air bubbles or pockets, so the paper lays smoothly and directly over the fat. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
  • Roast the duck legs at 215°F, covered with foil the entire time, for 8 hours. Do not open the pan during the cooking process.

Roasting Instructions:

  • Once the duck has cooked, remove the roasting pan from the oven. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet, then gently lift each duck leg out of the fat using a spoon or spatula and place it onto the wire rack, spacing the legs apart a few inches.
  • Take extra care when transferring the legs from the fat. The meat will want to slide right off the bones!
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. This next step you’ll want to complete right before serving. Roast the duck legs arranged on the wire rack for 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy on the outside, then serve with your choice of sides and plum sauce.

Making Plum Sauce:

  • Pour the wine into a small saucepan, and add the chicken broth, duck fat, and balsamic vinegar. Cook the mixture over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, until the wine is reduced in half.
  • Add the plum jam next and continue to cook and reduce the sauce for another 6 to 8 minutes, whisking occasionally until the sauce is thickened.
  • Remove the sauce from heat and keep it covered and warm until ready to serve. Add a few spoonful’s of sauce for each duck leg.

Scaling the Recipe:

  • You can increase or decrease the recipe depending on how many servings you require. I recommend 1 large duck leg or 2 smaller ones per serving.
  • For each additional leg, you'll need to add a 1 cup of duck fat to completely cover the legs. Use a larger pan for more duck legs; they must be cooked in a single layer.