Butter is great, but if you've cooked with lard you know that pork fat can be even better. If you don't keep (or can't find) really good leaf lard, there's an easy way to make something similar at home while you make breakfast. Bacon grease is functionally the same thing as lard. It's rendered pork fat and you can use it in so many different ways.
The main difference between lard and rendered bacon fat is the taste. Bacon drippings (the fat that drips off of bacon when you cook it) is going to have a strong bacon flavor, where lard is taste-neutral. But given that bacon flavor is good, you can use that difference to your advantage when cooking some things.
First things first, though. To cook bacon in a way that renders the bacon fat in a way you can save it, you need to cook the bacon low and slow. While you can do it on the stovetop, be careful not to burn the bacon. The best way is to cook the bacon in the oven with a rack set inside a sheet pan. The bacon cooks on the rack, and the pan catches the rendered fat.
Pour the bacon grease into a glass jar with an airtight lid. You need to pour the fat while it's still warm and in liquid form, but make sure the jar you put the grease in is safe for high temperatures. It's best to pour the fat through a strainer or cheesecloth to catch all the bacon bits. Refrigerate the jar of bacon grease; it will keep up to a month as long as you keep it in the airtight container.
10 Delicious Ways to Use Bacon Grease
If you make your popcorn on the stovetop, use bacon fat instead of vegetable oil or butter. The flavor is outstanding. You can also use the same idea for roasted nuts or a snack mix.
2. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The only way to make grilled cheese better is to add bacon. Swap bacon grease in for butter and make your grilled cheese extra special.
3. Pie Crust
Using lard in your pie crusts makes for tender, flaky crusts. Bacon fat is the same thing, but you'll want to save this use for savory pies, like pot pies.
4. Roast veggies
Roast your sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, green beans, red potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and any other vegetable that loves high heat with bacon grease instead of olive oil.
Swap the vegetable oil or butter in your cornbread for bacon grease. It's such a simple change, but it adds such a depth of flavor to your cornbread.
6. Fry everything
Drop a spoonful of bacon grease in your cast iron skillet and use it to fry, well, anything. Eggs. Hash browns. Fried rice. Quesadillas. Anything you'd use oil for, try leftover bacon grease instead.
7. Killed lettuce
In Appalachia, there's an early spring dish known as killed lettuce. You take early spring greens and wilt them by pouring hot bacon grease on the greens. There are different ways to make this into a dressing, but you can also toss the greens in vinegar and simply pour hot bacon fat over your salad. Add some eggs (either fried or hard-boiled) and chopped bacon and you've got an excellent salad. And you don't have to only use lettuce; this idea makes for a tasty spinach salad as well.
8. Gravy or bechamel base
Any time you have to make a roux, you can use bacon grease instead of butter. Use that roux for gravy (also, bacon grease biscuits and gravy, please) or for any dish that uses a bechamel (white) sauce like mac and cheese.
If you've never made mayonnaise at home, you should. While it might take a little bit of practice on the technique to get the mixture to come together, it's so worth it. Plus, making your own mayo means that you can use bacon grease instead of oil and your mayonnaise becomes baconnaise and, well, that's the best DIY of them all.
10. Chocolate chip cookies and brownies
As evidenced by the plethora of maple bacon cupcakes out there, we all love sweet and salty. So add bacon grease as part or all of the fat in your baked sweets for an amazing flavor. Or use it in savory baked goods (bacon scones, anyone?) for that smoky flavor.
+1 more for your craft room
You can use bacon grease to make a bacon candle. That's right; you can DIY a candle that smells like bacon. All it takes is bacon and beeswax, plus a sturdy glass container and a wick. Don't blame us if burning this candle makes you hungry all the time!
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