Our sous vide duck legs are succulent, tender, and rich. It is a lot like traditional duck confit but without the need for tons of duck fat!
Thanks to a sous vide that does all the work, the duck legs slowly cook in their own juices and rendered fat at a precise temperature. A quick blast under the broiler finishes the duck legs with a crisp and golden brown skin. You will be amazed at how tender, moist and juicy they taste.
This recipe is a twist on duck legs confit, that much loved French classic recipe. Duck legs confit, done the traditional French way, is made by slowly cooking the duck legs covered in several cups of duck fat. It is an ancient art of preservation that allowed people to store duck legs safely for long periods.
The cooking method allows the connective tissues in the meat to break down and get very tender. However, traditional methods are fussy and require copious amounts of duck fat.
The sous vide is a game-changer and the perfect method for cooking confit-style duck legs.
You don’t need to purchase several jars of duck fat. Actually, you don’t have to purchase any duck fat. The fat rendered from the meat as it cooks will surround the duck legs and stay in constant contact with it because there is no air space in the sous vide bag.
What is the Sous Vide Cooking Method?
The Sous Vide cooking method is a French-inspired technique that cooks food in airtight plastic pouches submerged in a water bath. The water bath is set to a precise temperature, which ensures even cooking of the food.
The Ingredients for Sous Vide Duck Legs Confit
Obviously, you will need a sous vide immersion unit. If this is something that has been on your bucket list, maybe this is the day for that purchase. There are quite a few different machines on the market but personally, I love my Anova! I saw it at Costco and it included the unit, the container, lid and a stainless steel rack for a reasonable price.
Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:
- Duck legs
- Kosher salt
- Fresh garlic
- Fesh thyme leaves
- Fresh thyme sprigs
How to Cook Sous Vide Duck Legs:
Cooking with a sous vide is so easy, the following is a brief run-down of the process but please scroll to the bottom of the post for the printable recipe card and the full instructions.
Prepare the sous vide cooker.
- Preheat the water bath with your sous vide unit.
- Pat the duck legs dry and apply the seasoning.
- Place the duck legs in a vaccum seal bag or reasealable bag.
- Seal the bags with the vacuum sealer or the water immersion method.
- Place the bags in the water bath and set the timer.
- When the timer goes off, remove the bags from the water bath and sear the duck legs until crispy.
If you plan to serve the duck immediately, open the bags and transfer the duck legs to a plate. Be careful to not spill any of the broth as it is like gold! Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve for another use. The fat will separate from the broth and rise to the top. You can scoop the fat off and use it to sear the duck.
Tips and Tricks:
- Keep the top of the vacuum bag free of oil and salt so that it gets a good seal. Fold the top of the vacuum bag over about four inches creating a cuff. Once the duck legs are inside the bag, flip the cuff up and seal it with the vacuum sealer.
- If you don’t have a vaccum sealer, double bag the duck legs to protect against any water leaks.
- Use a kitchen clip to attach the sealed bag to the container.
- Water will evaporate after a couple of hours. To prevent excessive evaporation, cover the container with a lid or some plastic wrap.
- Check the water level occasionally, adding additional hot water if necessary. The duck must be submerged the entire cooking time.
How Long to Sous Vide Duck Legs
You have a few options for time and temperature. Each of the following options will give you amazing sous vide duck legs confit.
|Temp and Time
|Texture of the Duck Legs
|150°F for 16 to 24 hours
|Very juicy and slightly firm meat
|158°F for 16 to 20 hours
|Rich, juicy, tender meat that pulls away from the bone easily
|170°F for 10 to 18 hours
|Rich, delicate meat. Meltingly tender and juicy. Falls off the bone easily
|175°F for 10 to 18 hours
|Rich, delicate meat. Meltingly tender. Slightly dry (no juices). Falls off the bone when touched
Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:
Beef Burgundy a slow-cooked beef stew made with chunks of tender beef, red wine, carrots, mushrooms, bacon, onions, and other aromatics. This is a classic French stew that is rich, hearty and flavorful.
If you are looking for that special event, sure to impress, dinner entrée then this Salmon with White Truffle Beurre Blanc Sauce is it! A rich classic French beurre blanc sauce enhanced with white truffle gratings then spooned over a thick broiled salmon fillet! This is a decadent date-nite dinner for two.
Another classic recipe direct from France comes this Salade Lyonnaise with Poached Duck Egg! is the star ingredient. The salad combines the slight bitterness of the fresh frisée greens, salty pancetta, caramelized onions, creamy poached egg and a garnish of crunchy croutons.
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- 4 whole duck legs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Set the sous vide cooker to 170°F (see notes for optional times and temperatures).
- Remove the duck legs from their package and pat dry with paper towels. Place flesh side up on a cutting board and salt liberally then spread the garlic on the legs and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
- Place legs in vacuum seal bags or zipper-lock bags with two legs per bag and add additional sprigs of thyme. Seal the bags with the vacuum sealer or the water immersion method.
- Place the bags in the water bath and set the timer for 10 hours (or up to 18 hours but longer than 18 hours tends to change the texture of the meat when the temperature is set at 170°F). Cover the water bath with a lid or plastic wrap to minimize water evaporation. Check the water level occasionally and add additional water to keep the duck submerged.
- When the timer goes off, remove the bags from the water bath (see the notes if you are not serving immediately). Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Open the bags and strain the fat and juices through the sieve.
- The duck fat will separate and float on top of the juices. Spoon the fat off and place it in a small dish. Reserve the juices for another use, it adds great flavor to pasta dishes.
- Pat the duck legs dry with a paper towel and brush lightly with the duck fat.
To Sear on the Stove-top:
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the duck legs, skin side down, and cook until crisp and well-browned, about 5 minutes.
To Brown Under the Broiler:
- Move the oven rack to the upper position so it is 4-6 inches from the heating unit. Turn the oven to broil and allow to heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Place the duck legs on a baking sheet, skin side up, and broil for 2-3 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
- If you have frozen duck legs, thaw the packages of frozen duck legs in the refrigerator overnight.
- The duck legs can also be cooked in their frozen state but the time needs to be increased by 1 hour.
- If you are not serving the duck immediately, leave the duck legs sealed in their bags with their fat and liquid. Refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then place the unopened bag into a bowl of hot tap water for 5-10 minutes to take the chill off and melt the fat. Proceed with step 6 above.
- You can add additional seasoning if desired. Use your favorite fresh herbs, rosemary, tarragon, lavender or a combination of herbs. Try adding a teaspoon of orange zest to each package or use Spiceology poultry seasoning.
- If you don't have a vacuum sealer, you may want to double bag the duck legs to ensure the water does not seep into the bag while in the sous vide bath.
- We tested this recipe at different temperatures and times. Ten hours at 170°F was the most approachable from a timing perspective and gave the duck meat a rich, succulent texture that fell of the bone. Additional times and temperatures that work well are listed below.
- 150°F for 16 to 24 hours (juicy and slightly firm meat)
- 158°F for 16 to 20 hours (rich, juicy meat that pulls away from the bone easily)
- 175°F for 10 to 18 hours (rich, delicate meat, slightly less juicy. Falls off the bone easily)
Optional times and temperatures
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 736mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 25g
Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.