Here at BENSA, we’re often asked what to do with bacon grease, the inevitable by-product of cooking our favorite meat. Our 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.
We think the drippings left over after cooking bacon are like liquid gold, and even created a roundup of 25 Ways to Use Bacon Fat. So today, we’re happy to tackle the topic of bacon grease and answer your questions definitively.
Let’s begin with the toughest question of all:
Is Cooking with Bacon Fat Healthy or Not?
Bacon drippings are commonly used in Southern cooking, in recipes from cornbread 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 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.
Covered, strained bacon fat will keep for several months in the refrigerator.
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 (that’s an affiliate link).
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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