Here at BENSA, we’re often asked what to do with bacon grease, the inevitable by-product of cooking our favorite meat. Our bacon loving members wonder if it’s okay to cook with bacon fat.
They ask us about how to save it, the best bacon grease container, and the easiest way to discard it. And of course, we love sharing all the ways to enjoy bacon fat in cooking and baking.
We think the drippings left over after cooking bacon are like liquid gold, and even created roundups of best bacon fat recipes and 25 Ways to Use Bacon Fat.
So today, we’re happy to tackle the topic of bacon grease and answer your questions definitively.
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Is Cooking with Bacon Fat Healthy or Not?
Bacon drippings are commonly used in Southern cooking, in recipes from cornbread to gravy to green beans to popcorn.
In moderation, bacon grease can add flavor like nobody’s business.
According to the folks at Fitbit, a teaspoon of bacon grease has 38 calories and zero carbs. (Side note: Do you share our view that one of the reasons the Keto Diet is so popular is because of BACON?)
We feel especially good about saving drippings from top-quality bacon prepared without chemical additives and made from pasture-grazed/humanely raised pigs.
Bacon Grease vs. Butter
Perhaps you’re wondering, “Is bacon grease better than butter?” Or, “Can I substitute bacon grease for butter?” The answer is, it depends.
Nutritionally speaking, bacon fat is actually lower in saturated fat and higher in the good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than butter.
According to the USDA, a tablespoon of unsalted butter has 102 calories, 12 grams of fat and 2 miligrams of sodium; salted butter has 90 miligrams of sodium.
A tablespoon of bacon fat, on the other hand, has 115.7 calories, 12.8 grams of fat and 19.4 miligrams of sodium.
So if you’re watching your sodium intake, bacon grease is actually the lower sodium alternative to salted butter. Unsalted butter would be the lowest-sodium choice.
We sometimes substitute bacon fat for half of the butter in a recipe, with excellent results.
How to Render Bacon Fat
For the very tastiest drippings, cook your bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat. This is a great time to pull out your cast iron skillet, as the drippings will naturally season the pan.
A lower stovetop temperature will keep your bacon from burning, which will in turn make your bacon fat taste better.
Cooking bacon in the oven is another great way to render fat. The slower process reduces the chance of burning.
In general, a pound of cooked bacon will render about 1/4 cup of bacon fat.
How to Save Bacon Grease
First, cool the drippings in the pan to room temperature. To remove any particles from the bacon grease, strain it through double layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a lidded container.
The more clear and pure the fat is, the cleaner it will taste and the longer it will last.
Tightly cover your container and keep it in the refrigerator. Now it’s ready to drizzle over spinach or greens, add to cornbread, stir into refried beans, or use in a batch of Soft Ginger Butter Bacon Fat Cookies.
You can also make Bacon Grease Gravy and use it season a cast iron pan.
Covered, strained bacon fat will keep for several months in the refrigerator and about six months in the freezer. For detailed storage tips, check out “How Long Does Bacon Fat Last?“
The Best Bacon Grease Container
My mother used to collect bacon fat in a clean, empty coffee can. I keep mine in a Bonne Marie jam jar (love that red and white checked lid)!
You can also purchase a fancy bacon grease container with a matching strainer.
How to Discard Bacon Fat
If you’re not going to save it for cooking, we suggest this simple method for easy bacon grease disposal. Cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle to fit a bowl:
Pour the cooled grease in the parchment-lined bowl.
Refrigerate the bowl until the fat hardens.
Remove the paper and grease, and discard. No muss, no fuss!
How about you? Do you save your bacon grease? What are some of your favorite ways to use the drippings?
We’d love to hear how you cook with this flavorful fat.
~ Your friends at BENSA
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12 thoughts on “What to Do with Bacon Grease”
I always have a jar of bacon grease in the fridge. Since I microwave-cook my bacon, it is already strained. (I place the strips in paper towels on a handy microwave bacon plaquet). I use it in so many things, like: sauteing fresh green beans; when cooking limas or other horticultural beans; as the fat in savory scones or biscuits (especially good with cheese added, too); roasting winter squash (acorn halves or my favorite: chunks of kabocha with maple syrup and bacon fat); browning meats (deglaze the pan with white wine and you have a killer sauce base)…I could go ON! The trick is not to use too much, too often. A wonderful ingredient!
Please explain “deglaze” the pan with white wine. TIA
Thanks for these great tips for cooking with bacon fat, Elaine! Your winter squash with maple syrup and bacon fat sounds DIVINE.
I use the bacon grease for cooking fried or scrambled eggs and also for cooking fried potatoes! Can’t beat the flavor it adds to the potatoes and eggs! That’s how my mom used the bacon grease!
Margaret, thanks so much for sharing how you use bacon grease. All those foods sound delicious, and I bet everything your sweet mom cooked in bacon fat tasted soooo good. We’ve been making homemade hash browns fried in a little bacon fat and butter, and they are tasty, too.
Sounds great! Will try it!
Instead of using oil to pop popcorn, I use bacon grease. Gives the popped corn an amazing flavor!!
Great tip for making tasty bacon-enhanced popcorn, Pamela. Thank you so much!
Holy crap. What bizarro world have I stumbled into??
Eliza, I was tickled to find this site. Great tips and fun recipes — thank you! I always use bacon grease when I’m making a roux for gumbo, and of course in biscuits too. And I was tickled to see that you keep your bacon grease in a Bonne Maman jar, as I have an identical one for bacon fat in my fridge! :)
I’ve always said, God did a wonderful thing when he created bacon!!
This website is great! My favorite use for bacon fat? . . . when I make fried cabbage and noodles [haluski] I fry the chopped cabbage and some onion in a mix of butter and bacon fat, before adding the cooked noodles. Usually steam the cabbage first to tenderize, and also add more butter when mixing in the noodles to coat them and prevent sticking.
Also, I find that you can get good clean fat from frying the bacon on a non-stick griddle and catching it in the drip pan. And I have had good luck freezing my rendered bacon fat for later use.
I microwave the bacon and save the fat to start my wood stove. It smells terrible so you have to get the door closed quickly. It burns hot and gets the wood going in no time.