How to Render Bacon Fat

How ToBacon

A guide for how to render bacon fat for use in cooking.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

How to Render Bacon Fat

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  • Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make more bacon fat than you end up using, just throw out the whole jar and start a new one.

Never pour bacon fat down the drain! It will solidify as it cools and clog your drain. Either soak it up with paper towels and discard or pour the rendered bacon fat into a jar to save.

Ingredients

  • Strips of raw bacon

Method

1 Cook bacon on medium low heat: Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat. Lay out several strips of raw bacon. Let the strips cook for 10 or 15 minutes, turning them occasionally.

When the bacon strips are nicely browned and crispy, use tongs or a fork to lift them out of the pan and place them on paper towels (to absorb the excess fat) on a plate.

2 Pour remaining fat into a jar: Pour the remaining fat in the pan into a jar, and put the jar into your refrigerator. The bacon grease will solidify to a slightly off-color white. When you cook bacon again, pull out the jar and add more of the excess fat to it.

If you want, you can strain out the solid bacon bits before pouring the fat into a jar. I find that these bits have plenty of flavor, so I don't bother to strain them.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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76 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Jane R Anderson

    This is the only way to cook calves liver and onions

  • Bob Lintner

    Hi,
    I fry bacon in a fry pan and after the grease cools a little I pour it into a mason jar and then refrigerate it. I use it in recipes and it tastes great. I’m going to season cast iron fry pans after I clean them outside. Some are old Wagners and one is a new Lodge I just ordered. Everything tastes better with bacon!

  • Mark

    One way of getting rid of bacon grease is to spray it on the lawn. It used to drive my neighbor’s dog absolutely crazy!

    I don’t fry bacon anymore. It simply makes no sense. I bake it. You don’t have to deal with all that bacon grease erupting from the frying pan and making a huge mess. You also get bacon that’s cooked more uniformly. Use a boiler pan and you still have all the grease. I drain it off and strain it and it goes into the fridge to live to fight another day.

    I typically buy a package of thick sliced bacon. I will then spread out the slices on a broiler pan with a rack. I set the oven to 300 degrees and bake (not broil) a total time of 90 minutes, flipping the bacon over halfway through (45 minutes). Flipping helps to degrease the bacon.

    You’ll need to monitor the cooking process towards the end. Your oven could be hotter or cooler and some people like bacon crispy and some like it fatty.

  • Jack Johnson

    Bacon grease has been a kitchen essential in my family forever. I’ve only seen one other poster who uses the freezer for storage and that’s how I store mine… with a twist.

    My method:

    1. Pour up skillet grease into a container (I use an empty coffee can under the counter) until I get about 2/3 of a can…3 cups +/-.
    2,. Strain grease through cheesecloth into a 4 cup measuring cup.
    3. Pour grease into plastic ice trays, Each tray holds about one cup. Freeze trays.
    4. Store solid cube sized pieces in ziplock freezer bags.
    5. Long shelf life.
    Easy to make and store,. handy to use. Toss a cube or two into a pot of greens or beans or in the skillet for frying

  • Kristine Henshaw

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned making gravy from bacon drippings. We grew up on it. Make a roux with flour. Add milk. Serve with biscuits or on toast. Yum!

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