Duck Tacos

5 from 12 votes
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I don’t know why it took me so long to post this recipe, as these duck tacos are a perfect thing to do with confit.

Duck confit, if you are not familiar, is duck or goose that is salted, then slowly cooked in its own fat until it is meltingly tender, and then, often, crisped up before you eat it.

All the fixings for duck tacos arrayed on a table.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Duck confit is one of those easy recipes that takes a while, but it’s all pretty passive time. You need to salt duck legs or goose legs for at least eight hours, then pack them in duck fat and slowly cook for anywhere from four to twelve hours. I go over a number of ways to make confit in my book Duck, Duck, Goose, and I do have a duck confit recipe on this site.

It is also a perfect make-ahead meal. Once made, duck confit will keep in the fridge for a month or more. Perfect for duck tacos. 

Armed with your über tender legs, you chop the meat and crisp it in some of that fat you cooked it in, with one secret, albeit optional, ingredient: achiote verde, which you can find in most Latin markets or online. Or you can make it.

Here’s how: Mix into a paste 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons oregano (Mexican if you can get it), 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 clove, 5 allspice berries, a pinch of cinnamon all ground together with a roasted head of garlic (here’s how to roast garlic), plus about a tablespoon of vinegar.

The effect is amazing, and will take you to tropical Mexico if you’ve ever been there.

That’s the base of these duck tacos, but you’ll want lots of taco accompaniments to go with it. Good corn tortillas (I make my own), some crumbly cheese, something crunchy like diced radishes, cilantro and a salsa of your choice.

Duck taco meat in a bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

It is springtime as I write this, so we have nopalitos in the markets now. Nopalitos are young paddles off the prickly pear cactus. I mix these with some corn kernels and my regular tomatillo salsa verde. It is really, really good. Better than I’d thought it would be, actually. Incidentally, the tomatillo salsa is also a make-ahead thing, as it can be canned and kept in your pantry.

But don’t get all hung up on it. Use any salsa you like with your duck tacos. Salsa morita or salsa negra is a good call, and if you like things spicy, try my salsa de chile de arbol.

Duck confit tacos, which some chefs call duck carnitas tacos, which is, more or less, also accurate, are best on corn tortillas, but you can use flour if you feel strongly about it. The meat can be made up to three days in advance.

All the fixings for duck tacos arrayed on a table.
5 from 12 votes

Duck Tacos

You will need duck confit to make this, but know that once confit is made it keeps in the fridge for a month or so, and freezes well. If you made the achiote verde it will keep a long time in the fridge. The salsa will not, however. You need to eat that within a day or so. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 2 pounds duck confit, chopped (see above)
  • 2 teaspoons achiote verde (see above)
  • 1 cup chicken stock


  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa verde (see above)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 2 cactus paddles, diced
  • A pinch of baking soda


  • diced radishes, cheese, cilantro, for garnish


  • Have everything set before you begin, as this will come together quickly. Either buy or make the achiote verde, and make the tomatillo salsa verde ahead. 
  • Boil the diced cactus paddles in salted water for 12 minutes. After they've boiled 5 minutes, add a pinch of baking soda; this helps the cactus keep its color and reduces slime. Shock the cactus in ice water to cool. Another tip: If you have tomatillos, which you will if you make the salsa yourself, drop a handful of the papery husks into the cooking water. This also helps eliminate slime.
  • To finish the salsa, mix together the salsa verde, the corn and the cooked, cooled cactus paddles. Set aside. 
  • Lay the chopped confit in one layer in a large frying pan with as much of the confit fat as you like; I use a good 1/4 cup. Sear over high heat for 90 seconds without touching so you get some crispy bits. Stir, and add the achiote verde and the chicken broth. Boil this away until the pan is almost dry again. When you hear the cooking switch from boiling to sizzling, turn off the heat.
  • Serve with warm tortillas, the salsa and any other accompaniments you'd like. 


I used 6 specklebelly goose legs for what you see in the bowl. Four or 5 domesticated duck legs would be equivalent, as would about 12 to 18 mallard legs. 


Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 494mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 248IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. We have tacos on a regular basis, but my husband claims this is the finest taco dish he’s ever eaten. The flavour is fantastic, and it’s simple to prepare. Strongly suggested.A

  2. These duck tacos are unreal. The prep while somewhat involved, is part of the love for the food. Whipped some of these up with a few early season teal from this season. I’ve tried many of hanks recipes and have only been impressed.

  3. Holy O-Face Batman! Halved the recipe since I only has two pounds of mallard wings and legs. Put them in a two day cure, a four hour confit-esque sous vide bath, and then a quick crisp with the achiote verde and I have never tasted anything like this. So good, even my wife who for some misguided reason refuses to eat duck, slaughtered three tacos by herself. They’re absolutely divine and a new go to.

  4. Wow. This was fantastic! Thanks for another awesome recipe Hank. Making my own achiote verde also helped me feel more legit so double bonus!

  5. Made this with Snow Goose leg Confit, turned out absolutely amazing! The flavors are out of this world and I have a new favorite food!

  6. So awesome! Dying to try this, right down to the blue corn tortillas (being in the Bay Area I know right where to go on 24th St. to get housemade blue corn masa, OR the tortillas if feeling lazy.) I love your recipes and guidance/tips. I was searching for alternative to making duck confit and came across your killer good recipe for “Quick roasted duck legs”. … will those work well in this recipe instead of confit?

    Also, love your Green Achiote recipe … way good!

  7. Future me: “It’s really not worth the time dealing with the legs and thighs, just breast ’em out.”

    Future waterfowl hunting buddies: “Really?”

    Future me: “Yeah, definitely. Tough. Gamey. No good. Just to do you a favor, I’ll take them off your hands. Y’know, to be nice.”

    Absolutely killer recipe. Never again will goose thighs or legs go wasted in my presence, that’s for certain.

  8. Hank: I’ve tried the confit and it came out way too salty. What did I do wrong? I can’t think of anything I added too much of.

    1. Justin: I guess there was just too much salt for your taste. Only way to deal with it now is to add more duck, unsalted, or add diced potatoes, also unsalted.

  9. We make tacos quite frequently, but my husband has declared this the best taco recipe he’s ever had. Flavor is awesome and it’s easy to make. Highly recommend.

  10. Man, this looks delicious! Duck confit takes a long time to prepare, so this is a great recipe — you want to enjoy it for as long as you can. Also, I recently made achiote verde for the first time, and came out REALLY well. Very proud of myself. And I’m so glad you mentioned the nopalitos. I recently had these in salsa verde for the first time, and they were FANTASTIC.

  11. This is great! I am not a big duck fan but the way you talk about it and photograph it I’m sold! looks absolutely delicious!