5 Spice Duck Leg Sous Vide with a Cherry Sauce

I’m not sure which is the star of this show. The 5 spice duck legs, cooked sous vide were really easy to prepare and tasted delicious. However, the cherry sauce is a seasonal treat and really added an extra dimension to the lovely duck meat. So, if you are guided by the picture above, it’s the cherry sauce. However, I am as yet undecided as it’s a bit like comparing apples with oranges (Comparing duck legs with cherries will never catch on as an expression.).

We can come back to this particular debate after I show you what to do. Hopefully, I can do that with the minimum of fuss and with some nice pictures too.


This is a very simple recipe. The sous vide duck legs need only the legs, 5 spice powder and black pepper. I used a lot of 5 spice (a heaped tablespoon) and a teaspoon of black pepper. The sauce is slightly more complex. 600 grammes of cherries, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 5cm/2 inch piece of ginger root, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 heaped teaspoon of cornstarch and (not shown) a tablespoon of cider vinegar. I added this late in the process to give a bit more depth to the taste.


Cut through to the bone on each of the legs, knuckle end.

The approach to this was very straightforward. First mix the pepper and 5 spice together. Then cut around the knuckle on the legs, down to the bone. dust the legs with the mixture and seal them in vacuum bags.

Lots of 5 spice. Trust me, it’s not too much.

Throw the sealed legs into a sous vide at 62.5ºC/144.5ºF for 24 hours. The sauce can be done on the day of eating. Pit the cherries with a cherry stoner, if you have one. The stoner is a great, if seldom used addition to my kitchen arsenal.

Stoned cherries. Easy to do with a stoner. Not so without.

Peel, slice and pound the ginger to a paste.

The ginger adds a lovely depth of warmth to the sauce.

Add the sauce ingredients (except the cornstarch) to a saucepan and slowly cook them until the cherries break down. When this is done, mix the cornstarch with a little water and slowly stir in to the sauce.

You know I can’t resist a pouring shot.

Remove the duck legs from the sous vide and place them in a roasting dish. Put the dish in a 200ºC/400F fan oven for about 15 minutes.

I love the look of this sauce.

I served this with a couscous. There is a recipe, if you need one somewhere here on the blog. It worked very well. The duck stands up very well to the 5 spice. A lot of it gets lost in the rendered fat, so don’t be shy. It is a perfect foil for the sweet/sour/umami sauce.

There was plenty of sauce for us to have it twice as shown (two of us eating one leg each twice) and to have it spooned over the breakfast muesli later in the week. So, in conclusion, this is a well-worthwhile dish. But, the star of the show is the sauce. This on the basis that I wouldn’t have duck leg on my breakfast, no matter what. Enjoy.

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Latest comments
  • Looks wonderful, not like the cherry or orange ‘glue’ you used to be served with duck. I bet it was brilliant on the cereal, too.

  • Duck and fruit is such a winning combination! I’ve used warm spices before (along with some sour-sweet apples — Pippin or Granny Smith where I am), but never thought about 5-spice. Reading the cherry sauce recipe and prep is what’s making my mouth water right now, though. As much as I enjoy well-prepared duck, I think that the couscous topped with cherry sauce and some roasted cashews would make me quite happy.

  • Love the duck legs and the use of 5-spice and the idea of the cherry sauce and the use of ginger and the couscous of course ! Not so keen on the cherry harvest being six months hence or my pet hate way in cooking !!! Was brought up on fruit added to meat cooks . . . so this has a delightfully retro quality about it. . . . and the duck will probably be brought to the table cooked ‘my way’ . . . be well . . . . .

  • oh conor
    that cherry sauce! i am drooling over the photo as we speak. and i love duck, but sadly hubby does not so we don’t have it at home. only when i’m out! yummo!

  • Sounds like a gorgeous dish. And looks like one. Now here’s a question that only a fellow blogger would ask: When your hand appears in a photo, are you using the other hand to take the shot? If so, kudos to yo for your dexterity!

  • Love duck and cherry sauce, I’ve done a confit of duck with it. Texture wise, does the duck done sous vide have the same texture as if it was just roasted?

  • That sounds good as well. Thank you Conor, I’ll definitely give this a try. I hope all is well and that you are all healthy and safe.

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