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.
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
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.
- Strips of raw bacon
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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