Rendering Bacon Fat

Rendering Bacon Fat

A Simply Recipes reader recently asked in the comments, “Where do I get bacon fat?” Great question, especially considering that we use bacon fat (also called bacon grease) around here in many of the recipes.

I remember as a kid looking into the fridge and seeing a jar of solid white stuff and wondering what it was. When my mother told me it was bacon fat, well that somewhat grossed me out for a while, for decades actually.

It wasn’t until I got into cooking again in my 40s, that I gained a new appreciation for this readily available, highly flavorful cooking fat.

Just last week my mother used a little bacon grease to cook up some spring peas. I would have eaten every one of them if manners allowed.

How to render bacon fat

At risk of stating the obvious, you render bacon fat by first cooking bacon. The trick is to cook the bacon slowly, on medium low heat.

I do this on the stovetop in a cast iron pan, because cast iron retains heat and helps you cook bacon more evenly. Also the bacon fat will help season the cast iron pan. But any pan will do.

When you’re done cooking the bacon, remove it from the pan and pour the bacon fat into a jar. If you plan on storing the bacon fat for more than a few months, strain out the solids first before pouring it into a jar.

How to store bacon fat

If you use bacon fat regularly in your cooking, you can store it right on your kitchen counter for a week or two. Otherwise you’ll want to keep it stored in the refrigerator.

The enemies of all cooking fats are light and air. Exposure to sunlight and oxygen will accelerate a fat going rancid, which is why it’s best to store bacon fat in the refrigerator.

If you don’t filter out the solid bits, the fat can last a couple of months in the refrigerator before it starts to go rancid. If you do filter out the solid bits, the fat can last up to a year in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze bacon fat if you want to store it even longer.

What to cook with bacon fat

Bacon fat is such a flavorful fat to cook with. We use a generous amount when making Mexican refried pinto beans or black beans.

Bacon fat is fabulous for sautéing brussels sprouts.

You can also use bacon fat to brown rice for a rice pilaf or for making scrambled eggs.

Basically you can use bacon fat for frying anything that would benefit from having the bacon flavor!

When cooking with bacon fat, spoon it out from the jar. Usually half a teaspoon is all that is needed to give a flavor boost to what you are cooking.

Article updated, first published in 2007

Ingredients

  • Strips of raw bacon