Traditional Cassoulet

Some of you may be enjoying black-eyed peas or Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day.

We live in France. Traditional French New Year foods are foie gras, oysters, snails, champagne….

My personal tradition is to make something early that can cook slowly all day while I relax.

Cassoulet seems a perfect compromise.

After the recipe, for those who like photos, there are assembly photos.

But first let me tell you what cassoulet is…. and isn’t.

Cassoulet is a dish of white beans and meat originating in the Languedoc, in southwest France.  There are three regional variations: that of Castelnaudary (claiming to be the original or authentic), Toulouse and Carcassonne.

In the interest of accuracy I decided to go to the ultimate source: my Larousse Gastronomique.

“The three types should have the following differences: that of Castelnaudary is prepared with fresh pork, ham, knuckle of pork, and fresh bacon skins; that of Carcassonne with the addition to the above of a shortened leg of mutton, and partridges in season; that of Toulouse has added breast of pork, Toulouse sausage, mutton and confit d’oie (preserved goose) or confit de canard (preserved duck).”

Tradition and regional differences aside, when one orders cassoulet in a restaurant one can expect Toulouse sausages, duck confit, bacon, pork, and, maybe, some lamb. The less expensive the setting and price tag, the more sausage and less duck and pork.  Forget the lamb.

As to the rest of the ingredients: garlic and onion are standard, leeks and tomatoes are sometimes; breadcrumbs are used or not; sometimes blood sausage but not often; carrots – yes or maybe no.

And the quantities vary wildly from ‘rub the pot with a clove of garlic’ to ‘peel one complete head of garlic’.

Every home cook will have their own version.

The dish, when finished, should have a lovely crust (with or without the breadcrumbs) and be moist but not have a lot of liquid.

Cassoulet is not:

  • Made with fish
  • Vegetarian (then it would be Baked Beans)
  • Soup or soup-like
  • Fast food

A proper cassoulet takes time – some say all day, some say several days. It’s a great cold weather project.

An Instant Pot / pressure cooker will eliminate the overnight soaking.

Don’t use canned beans – the cooking liquid is an integral part of the finished dish.

Click here to Pin Traditional Cassoulet


Traditional Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a hearty, slow cooked dish of beans and meat. It’s a project that is worth your time. The recipe calls for 5 – 6 duck legs. Duck confit normally comes in a large can with 5 or 6 legs, depending on size.

  • Author: Kate
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Beans: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: One Dish Dinners


  • 2 cups dried white beans (14oz, 400gr), lingots, cannellini, Great Northern
  • 1 whole onion, halved, studded with 2 whole cloves
  • 3oz (90gr) bacon, chopped
  • 2oz (60gr) dry-cured ham, such as Bayonne, Prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, thinly slice, white and green
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 2 tbs duck fat
  • 3 cups (24oz, 750ml) chicken broth
  • 2 cups (16oz, 500ml) water
  • 56 duck legs, confit
  • 6 (20oz, 600gr) thick pork sausages
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes
  • 10 cloves garlic, crushed


  • Instant Pot:
  • Put 1 tbs fat, bacon, ham, chopped onion, leeks, 1 clove garlic in the Instant Pot.
  • Set it to Sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add broth, water, and stir well to scrape up any cooked-on bits.
  • Add beans and stir.
  • Add studded onion halves, bay leaves, bouquet garni, put the lid on, and set the Instant Pot to Pressure, (high pressure) for 40 minutes.
  • Let release naturally.
  • Discard bay leaves, studded onion, bouquet garni.
  • Cook top:
  • Soak beans for four hours or overnight. Drain.
  • Sauté bacon, ham, chopped onion, leeks in fat until bacon is cooked.
  • Add garlic and sauté briefly.
  • Add broth, and stir well to scrape up any cooked-on bits.
  • Add beans, studded onion halves, bay leaves, bouquet garni, and enough additional water (if needed) to cover the beans by 2 – 3 inches.
  • Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  • When done discard bay leaves. bouquet garni, studded onion.
  • Combine the remaining 9 cloves garlic and the tomatoes.
  • Wipe the fat off of the duck legs.
  • Heat remaining t tbs duck fat in a large skillet.
  • Add the sausages and brown them, 7 – 8 minutes. Do not cook completely.
  • Assembling the Cassoulet
  • Put a layer of the beans in the bottom of a heavy pot.
  • Arrange the sausages on the beans
  • Add another layer of beans
  • Layer the tomatoes on the beans.
  • Lay the duck legs on the tomatoes.
  • Top with remaining beans.
  • Add enough bean liquid / chicken broth / water to almost cover the beans.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350F (175C) until you see the top bubbling, about an hour.
  • Reduce the heat to 250F (125C) and continue baking for 3 hours.
  • When the top gets dry and crusty, take the back of a spoon and push it gently into the liquid.
  • If it starts to dry out, add more liquid.


The duck confit comes packed in duck fat – which is great for frying potatoes and keeps a long time (several weeks) in the fridge. Wipe most of it off the duck legs before putting them in the cassoulet.


  • Serving Size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 998
  • Sugar: 4.4 g
  • Sodium: 1536 mg
  • Fat: 62 g
  • Saturated Fat: 20.6 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.9 g
  • Fiber: 11.4 g
  • Protein: 60.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 210.3 mg

Keywords: cassoulet, white beans, duck confit


This is a can of duck confit. There is lots of lovely fat. Save it to use for frying potatoes – or anything that you want to add flavor to.

Duck Confit

First layer 1/3 of the beans in the bottom of a large casserole.

Top with the browned sausages.

Add another layer of beans, 1/3 of them, then spread the tomato / garlic mixture on top.

Lay the duck legs on the tomatoes, tucking them together to fit.

Finally, add the rest of the beans and enough of the cooking liquid to almost cover the beans. Reserve the rest in case you need it later.

Carefully put it into the oven and be prepared for all the lovely smells.

2 thoughts on “Traditional Cassoulet”

  1. I have never had this, I’m ashamed to say. I’ve tried most things though I do have to admit, were I to live in France, I would be having only the Champagne for my New Years meal. The foie gras, oysters and snails…I can do without. I’ve had one oyster in my life. I was a child. It was raw. No one told me not to bite it in half. I call them snot on the half shell now. (sorry)

    • The hubs and his whole family love oysters… I’m with you for the same reason.
      I do love the cassoulet, though…. And the foie gras.

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