Duplex stainless steels (DSS) involve two ductile phases, i.e. ferrite and austenite, with a proportion of each phase around 50%. The main advantage in comparison with other austenitic and ferritic stainless steels is the excellent combination of high strength and corrosion resistance together with good formability and weldability. Unfortunately, DSS present in general a poor hot workability. Standard hot ductility tests like hot tensile or hot torsion tests are always helpful to compare the fracture resistance of two very ductile materials. A new method based on the essential work of fracture (EWF) concept has been used in order to determine the hot cracking resistance. The EWF concept was introduced to address ductile fracture based on the entire load-displacement response up to the complete fracture of a specimen and not from the initiation measurements such as in classical fracture mechanics concepts. The aim of the method consists in separating, based on dimensional considerations, the work performed within the plastic zone from the total work of fracture in order to provide an estimate of the work spent per unit area within the fracture process zone to break the material. This method proved to be very well adapted to high temperature cracking. Two different duplex stainless steels have been characterized by the essential work of fracture method. Examination of the fracture micrographs and profiles match the EWF results. This method turns out to be a discriminating tool for quantifying hot cracking and to generate a physically relevant fracture index to guide the optimization of microstructures towards successful forming operations.