Smoked Duck Legs Sous-Vide


It is wonderful how much culinary inspiration I get from other bloggers and my followers. Today’s recipe was inspired by Cecil Brewer, a follower who e-mails me his ideas and recipes. Cecil uses a slightly different technique because he uses a brine instead of a dry rub and he smokes the duck legs much longer at a lower temperature (which I can’t do with my tabletop smoker), but the spices and the idea of combining smoking and sous-vide to prepare duck legs were the main factors of this recipe. And so it was definitely inspired by him. I really like the combination of smoking and sous-vide, because the smoky flavor penetrates deeply into the meat during the sous-vide cooking. The flavor of this duck leg is simply divine. The texture is like confit, but less greasy. Thanks for the inspiration, Cecil. Here’s what I did…



For 2 servings

2 duck legs, 500 grams (1.1 lbs) total weight

2 Tbsp smoking chips or dust

For the dry rub

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry thyme

1/2 tsp ground bay leaf

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground fennel seed

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

1/4 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper



Combine the ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl…


…and stir until the mixture looks homogeneous.


Rub the duck legs with this mixture on all sides, making sure to use all of the mixture.


Vacuum seal the duck legs with the dry rub, and refrigerate for 48 hours. Classic duck confit recipes use a higher amount of salt and a shorter time. In such a recipe, you control the saltiness of the duck with the resting time. In this case, we actually wait until the salt has been distributed evenly throughout the duck meat. Because we use only 1 teaspoon (7.5 grams) of salt for 500 grams of duck legs (including the bones), and not all of the salt will be absorbed by the meat, the salt concentration inside the meat will remain below 2%.


After those 48 hours, take the duck legs out of the bag and rinse them well under cold running water to remove any remaining salt and spices.


Set up a tabletop smoker with 2 Tbsp of smoking chips. I used mesquite, but other types of wood are fine, too.


Add the duck legs, light the smoker…


…close it, and smoke for 15 minutes.


This is not enough to cook the duck legs, but it is enough to smoke the outside.


Allow them to cool before vacuum sealing.


When they are cold, vacuum seal them, and…


…cook sous-vide for 8 hours at 82C/180F. Some smoke may leak into the water, that is nothing to worry about. It is however a good reason to throw away the water instead of re-using it to cook something else.


Pour the juices from the bag into a saucepan…


…and reduce them a bit if needed (taste them first!). Because the duck legs were cooked at such a high temperature, the juices won’t coagulate.


You could crisp up the skin a little with a blow torch before serving. Because of the shape of duck legs, in this case a blow torch works better than a frying pan.


Serve the duck legs with the juices.

Wine pairing

This is great with a smoky pinot noir, such as a Spätburgunder from Germany.


Many pasta dishes are great for a weeknight meal, as they take no longer to prepare than it takes to cook the pasta. Pasta with Rabbit and Fennel is another example of such a dish, not a classic Italian recipe but something that came around from what I had in my refrigerator. The combination of fennel and rabbit worked out nicely. Rabbit loin is very tender and has a nice subtle flavor to it.

12 thoughts on “Smoked Duck Legs Sous-Vide

  1. This dish, like your others, Stefan, sounds and looks delicious. Not having a smoker nor sous-vide equipment, this dish is beyond my reach. I have looked into smokers but, I’m afraid to tell you, sous-vide shall remain a bridge too far. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great idea, Stefan! A nice twist to the “old school” confit de canard.
    I’m making it now (just vacuum sealed the legs with rub). Left the cinnamon out, because we often think it’s too predominant and we don’t like that. I also fresh bay leafs and thyme instead of dried.
    The only thing I weighed was the salt (just to be sure I used the right amount) and then I realised your spoons are a lot bigger than mine 🙂 So quantities in grams instead of spoons are better for me.
    I’m very curious how the duck legs taste after smoking and cooking.
    We’ll know this saturday.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, look forward to what you think.

      By the way, it may be a good idea to invest in a set of standardized measuring spoons. 1 Tbsp, 1/2 Tbsp, 1 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1/4 tsp, 1/8 tsp. The official size (everywhere but Australia) is that 1 Tbsp = 15 ml and 1 tsp = 5 ml.


  3. Just washed salt nd spices of the legs. It smells a little bit middle eastern. So maybe I’ll combine it with bulgur. But first I got to smoke them.
    Q1: did you put any (duck) fat in the bag when cooking sous vide?

    PS I’m a litte bit too accurate, so I rather weigh than scoop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you cook the duck legs at high temperature (80C) I do add a tablespoon of duck fat.
      To weigh spices, you’ll need precision scales that show 0.05 grams. I think it’s too finicky.


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