5 Ingredients or Fewer

Melissa Clark's Really Easy Duck Confit

January 27, 2012
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

This is not the confit they teach in cooking school, or the kind served at restaurants. It's the kind you can make any time -- all you need are a few good duck legs, a skillet and some very basic spices. And it's just as good.

Melissa Clark's method is very simple, and the best perk is you don't need to come up with a vat of duck fat before you get going -- you just render some out from the cured duck legs themselves.

Note: This recipe is easily halved. Adapted very slightly from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 8 moulard duck legs (about 4 pounds total), rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed
  1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf pieces. Sprinkle duck generously with mixture. Place duck legs in a pan in one layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. Note: Moulard duck legs can vary in size -- if yours are closer to 1 lb. each, instead of 1/2 lb., add an extra 6-12 hours to the curing time if possible, and increase the spice mix proportionally by weight.
  2. The next day, heat oven to 325 degrees. Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large ovenproof skillet, with legs fitting snugly in a single layer (you may have to use two skillets or cook them in batches). Heat duck legs over medium heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4 inch of rendered fat in pan, about 20 minutes, flip duck legs, cover pan with foil, and place it in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in oven.
  3. Roast legs for 2 hours, then remove foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about 1 hour more. Remove duck from fat; reserve fat for other uses.
  4. Serve duck hot or warm, over roasted potatoes or noodles or bitter salad greens.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • schenck65
  • weekend at bearnaise
    weekend at bearnaise
  • melomel
  • Mrlattecat
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

32 Reviews

Joan H. October 15, 2020
Her Instant Pot version of this is a frigging disaster. It give the burn signal every single time I tried to get it up to pressure. Stop posting that as a valid recipe unless she corrects it.
shelly G. March 25, 2020
My first ever try and It was absolutely beautiful and amazing tasty 😋

Actually with other cookin goin on I finished it up on the searing Weber grille burner
Anxious to use the extra duck fat tooo
shelly G. March 25, 2020
Actually have thank my daughter who suggested to do it when I for the first time bought 2lbs at Whole Foods
schenck65 December 30, 2018
I've made this for years and am considering trying her Instant Pot version this time around. Has anyone tried both ways? I'm not entirely sure the IP will save me time and fuss, but if it produces a more meltingly tender duck then I'm in.
Barrecudette January 20, 2020
I tried her instant pot recipe and it was a disaster--I got the "burn" message even though there was no reason for it. Removed the pot, let it all cool down, tried it again, and got the same message. Now I've transferred everything to the oven, so dinner will be 2 hours late. (When I was desperately searching for answers before moving to the oven, I saw that a few other people had similar problems with her recipe in the IP :( )
Joan H. October 15, 2020
Same for me. Don’t try this instant pot recipe unless you want to be totally frustrated.
Liz B. December 24, 2018
Made this tonight and it was perfect! I've never made duck before, much less duck confit, but the recipe is pretty foolproof and so easy. I didn't have an ovenproof pan small enough for the legs to sit snugly (I only made 2 - definitely wishing I'd bought more so there'd be leftovers) so for the oven portion I transferred them to a small Pyrex with the rendered fat poured in. 1 hour covered at 300, then 45 mins uncovered since I read comments about them coming out dry. Beautifully crisp and flavorful skin with tender meat, and near the end of cooking I took out a few spoonfuls of the duck fat to fry some smashed potatoes in (Alison Roman's recipe - highly recommend). Fabulous meal with an arugula salad, with a red wine cranberry sauce to accompany the duck. Seasoning/curing the night before is so critical! Saving the fat to fry more potatoes in :)
Sandra B. January 3, 2018
Today is my second time making this. The first time I had the same problem as another commenter, legs were way too dried out. This time I roasted 1 hour covered, will try 30-45 minutes uncovered. Hope it works.
CristyLeeNYC April 15, 2018
I've been using this recipe for years and I always do oven temp at 250 or 275. I find that it doesn't add much time overall and the legs are fantastic every time. Hope this helps!
weekend A. January 12, 2015
Do you think this recipe would be doable with chicken legs, if I added some fat to my pan before sticking it in the oven? Or is that blasphemy?
JBF O. October 25, 2014
This was easy and fantastic! I used long island duck legs and followed the recipe very closely. I had 6 duck legs so started 2 in a small cast iron and 4 in a larger cast iron pan. I did not transfer them to a roasting pan. I covered with foil and placed in the oven. After 2 hours the internal temp was already 180 so I uncovered and cooked for another 15 minutes. They were crispy and so good!
JBF O. October 7, 2014
can I use this recipe with duck breasts?
Sharein July 21, 2014
Never tasted duck meat in my life,A hav to make a dish en ntry, then make one on ma husband's Bithd'y... Jesus,,,, a cant waaaaaiiiiiiiiittttttttt.......
melomel November 5, 2013
This looks amazing. Any ideas on what to serve with it? I'd like to make this for my husband's birthday.
Kristen M. November 5, 2013
How about a tart green salad and a potato dish of some sort? A gratin or roasted potatoes would be lovely. Or you could do a warm farro salad, dressed with a little of the duck fat!
Richard M. August 23, 2013
I've just made the dish using Pekin (Long Island Duck)and found that I needed to add a little duck fat from my stash in order to bring the level up to the 1/4". I also tried roasting under the foil at 275 and then turned the oven up to 325 when I uncovered. The results were excellent; flavorful, moist and tender with a lovely crisp on the skin. A real winner and so much more efficient than our old tried and true. We just ordered 20 lbs. of duck legs and also plan to try a chicken adaptation. Thank you Kristen and Melissa!
LauriL September 19, 2013
Trying this today!!!! Thank you Melissa, Richard , Brian, and James!!

Molly2 April 11, 2013
Is it possible to refrigerate the morning of rather than 24 hours ahead?
Kristen M. April 11, 2013
It's definitely possible, especially if your duck legs are on the smaller side -- the seasoning and curing may not be as thorough, but it should still be very good.
Mrlattecat July 17, 2012
I made this tonite and it was great! My only modification was to reduce the cooking time by one hour; I cooked covered one hour ( with foil) and uncovered about 50 min. It was perfect! Thank you sooooo much!
gastronomic N. May 17, 2012
I've been looking for an easier duck confit recipe to cook and this is definitely it! Can't wait to test it out.
LeBec F. May 16, 2012
kristen, If someone didn't have the right size saute pan for fitting in their oven,I'm thinking that this recipe could just as well be started in a saute pan and then transferred, w/ melted fat, to a ceramic or metal baking dish or pan. Do you agree?
Kristen M. May 16, 2012
Yes, absolutely -- also a good solution if your skillet isn't oven-safe. Just make sure the legs fit snugly in the pan (so that the fat comes midway up the legs), and that there is a tight cover for the first part of the oven time.
JohnSkye April 23, 2012
i've tried these twice now with legs/thighs about 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound (each) ... i followed the recipe ExAcTLY the first time ... 2 hours coverd, 1 hou uncovered, and while the flavor was very good, they were, well, pretty over done and dried out ... so the 2nd time i roasted them for only one hour covered, then an hour uncovered, and they were MUCH better ... good flavor and still soft, but also still a bit overdone ... the only thing i'm doing different than the recipe is putting on a lid (on a 10" iron skillet) rather than covering it with foil ... this can't be the problem, can it? ... do i just have a hot oven, or what? next time i'm niot sure what i'll do ... maybe 45 mins and 45 mins???
Kristen M. May 16, 2012
So sorry I missed this question and that you've had lackluster results. Are the legs nice and snug in the pan? A too-hot oven or a too-loose lid could also be contributing factors -- the fat should just be at a gentle simmer, and should come midway up the legs in the pan once they're flipped.
Nili May 30, 2012
I know this is quite late but I think the lid may indeed be the problem, especially if it is cast iron. There is a significant difference in the rate of heat transfer you will get in a skillet with a heavy black cast iron lid as opposed to a thin reflective aluminum foil lid. The black iron absorbs a tremendous amount of heat from the oven and then radiates that heat inward toward the food. The foil on the other hand reflects a significant amount of the heat from the oven away from the food beneath and although it too heats up and radiates heat inward, it does so at a much lower rate then the iron lid. That difference, once understood, can be exploited to speed up or slow down your cooking depending on your need.
Kristen M. May 30, 2012
How interesting -- I've never thought of it that way. Thanks so much for sharing.
mvangraaf April 17, 2012
How should I prepare ahead and re-heat?
Store in duck fat?
Prior to serving next day, sear in duck fat and then heat in oven?
Put right in oven, skin side up and heat?
What temp?
Thank you!
Kristen M. April 18, 2012
Hi there, I posted this answer to your question on the original blog post about a month ago -- hope this helps!

"So glad you liked it! You could certainly make ahead -- mid-afternoon would be fine -- and either heat up in the oven or by searing in a skillet with a bit of the fat (or a combination -- sear, flip, roast in the oven till warmed through). Also, with all that duck fat, you might consider Nigella Lawson's roasted potatoes."
ejm February 29, 2012
ohhhhh soooooo goooood, have to go get more duck legs. This more than fills in for the real thing. I let them cure for about 36 hours and oh so very very good
Kristen M. January 30, 2012
Hi Jim -- for me, 4 legs fit perfectly in a large cast iron skillet. Another option for whole ducks is Merrill's Slow Roast Duck -- it's an excellent recipe: http://food52.com/recipes/9115_slow_roast_duck
Jim B. January 29, 2012
I just received two whole ducks from a friend who just returned from Long Island. I've been thinking of what to do with them, and this looks like a great start, even though I'll only have 4 legs.

Thanks for the great idea, as I've always wanted to try a confit, but admittedly was a bit intimidated by the googobs of duck fat required for the traditional approach.