How to Render Lard the Right Way (Snow White, Odorless)

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How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

Rendering and using lard has gone by the way side as our fat obsessed culture has taken reluctance to using it in fear of high cholesterol and blocked arteries.  Deemed the “un-healthy” fat, we have turned to vegetable oil which we now know has caused us more harm than good.

One of the outcomes of the campaign against animal fats was the producers response of breeding leaner animals.  Heritage breed animals known for their flavor and juiciness which yielded about 33 pounds of fat was sacrificed for leaner animals slaughtered at younger ages with a mere 10 lbs of fat.  Instead of rosy pink flesh marbled with fat we now have “the other white meat” void of taste and flavor.

It’s a shame as fat from a pastured animal is a mixture of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids.  Most of the fat is made up of monounsaturated in the form of oleic fatty acid.  The same fatty acid in olive oil praised for it’s health benefits to lower your risk of heart disease.

Remember that our bodies need saturated fats. We need it to absorb calcium, nutrients and vitamins including d, e and a. For example, if you’re drinking non-fat milk with vitamin D added by man, your body will have a difficult time absorbing both the vitamin and the calcium since it lacks saturated fat.

One of the many benefits of purchasing pastured pork from a local family farmer is that the meat from that animal will also be rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin d, e and a.  Not only will its fat allow us to absorb those important nutrients and vitamins, but it’s flavor will be unlike any “white meat” you have ever had.

Pork fat’s low level of polyunsaturated fatty acid means that it doesn’t turn rancid easily and is very heat stable making it great for frying.

Where can I buy pork lard or pork fat?

Pork lard that you find at the grocery store is hydrogenated and filled with preservatives and chemicals so it becomes very important to find pork fat from a family farmer,, and render it yourself. The process itself is easy and has been done traditionally for centuries. However, it’s important to learn about the different types of fat from the hog in order to render each appropriately.

Types of Fat From A Hog

Back Fat or Fatback – This is the fat that comes from the back of the animal along with its shoulder and rump. It’s literally the layer of fat directly below the skin. It’s usually sold in pieces and often with the skin still attached. Rendered back fat is great for sauteing and frying.

Belly – The pork belly. Rich soft and firm fat layered with meat (credit helms source). In the United States we use it mostly to cure bacon. That’s right, bacon is cured pork belly! Because of the meat intertwined with the fat it also makes a great roast or check out my steamed pork buns using pork belly.

Leaf Lard – Leaf lard is the fat from around the pig’s kidneys. This is the cleanest fat on the animal and is therefore the crème de la crème of pork fat. This is the fat that you want to make sure to render appropriately in order to have a pure white, odorless lard to use for your pastries. Leaf lard is used to make perfectly flaky pie crusts and traditional Spanish polvorones.

When ordering pork fat from your family farmer ask them to separate the fats.

Rendering lard is a tutorial you can find on many places throughout the blogosphere. However, rendering lard, although easy enough to do, can take practice to get it just right.  Especially if you want to make snow white, odorless leaf lard.

Rendering lard is pretty much just heating up the pork fat slowly so that it melts and separates itself from anything else within the fat.  If the fat is left too long the cracklings will start to burn causing your lard to turn a deep yellow and ends up having a piggie, chicharon type of smell and taste to it instead of being odorless.  If you’re using the lard to fry, this isn’t a big deal.  However if you’re using it for pastries you don’t want a piggie, chicharon flavor to your pie or cookie.  Get the picture?

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

In the picture above the first spoon you can tell is snow white leaf lard and odorless.  The second spoon is off color and yes has a bit of a piggie smell.  It’s still great for frying and sauteing.  However, I do reserve my snow white leaf lard for pastries.

How to Render Lard the Right Way (Snow White, Odorless)

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

Step 1. Cut your leaf lard or back fat into small pieces. *Tip – Ask your family farmer to have the fat ground. The process is much quicker and in my opinion, leads to better results.

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

Step 2. Add 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of a crock pot and add the cut up pork fat. (The water will prevent the fat from burning before the pork fat starts to melt. It will end up evaporating itself out) Set the crockpot on low and let it go for about an hour.

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

Step 3. In about an hour check the crock. It’s important to keep an eye on the crock to make sure the fat doesn’t start to burn. When the fat starts to melt, it will separate itself from the “cracklings,” (crisp residue left after lard has been rendered). At this point after about 1.5 – 2 hours once the cracklings start to settle on the bottom of the crock, it’s done!

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

Step 4. Ladle the melted fat into a cheese cloth lined colander separating the melted fat from the cracklings.

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

The cracklings should not be crispy, they should be soft and ground like.

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

From here, ladle the melted pork fat into pint sized mason jars. The fat should look a pale yellow in the mason jar. Let them cool on the counter. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

You can now return the cracklings to the crock pot and let them go until they have turned brown and crispy. You can use these for different foods or sprinkled on top of salads. They are delicious!

How to Render Lard the Right Way, Snow White and Odorless |

One thing to remember on this entire process is that once the pork fat starts to melt, go ahead and start separating it right away, mix the remaining fat allowing more to fat to render out. There’s no magic number to how many hours it needs to render but really it’s going to take practice. Have fun with it and don’t worry if it smells a little piggie, it still tastes great and the health benefits make this process entirely worth it.

Let’s get back to tradition, let’s render lard.

246 Responses to "How to Render Lard the Right Way (Snow White, Odorless)"
  1. Foy says:

    Love this little tutorial. I always save the fat when I make stock or fry bacon. It usually gets used in pizza crust or in a saute later on. It does look easy and I’d love to keep more on hand for cooking. I just heard about a little family farm not too far away. I’ll have to check and see if they have any heritage pigs.

  2. Great tutorial and information, Diana. Pork fat always enhance the flavor of dish.

    Thanks for sharing this details.
    You have some handsome boys!

  3. valerie says:

    I do not recommend rendering in crock pot. They do not have low enough setting unless you have very high end unit!

    I render mine on the stove on the lowest simmer possible.

    • Valerie, that’s a very good point! I’m going to add in your comment, because I’m sure not everyone has a high end crock. Thanks for the comment 😀

      • Valerie says:

        Thanks for the props! Thats awesome! I am compiling notes and such for our lard rendering demo tomorrow as part of our WAPF chapter meeting and came across this post again. I have learned a few more things since, esp the difference between wet and dry renderings. I just finished the book Fat: an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient. IT is a great book, i got it from the library, but will buy this one soon. In fact, I plan on cooking my way through it! Valerie

      • Bonnie says:

        I loved your post. Very descriptive and helpful. I used a deep stock pot and my crock pot. (Neither are high end.) Crock did fine. Can’t tell the difference between renders. I am a bit freaked about crisping up the cracklin’s. Fry uncovered and deal with the splatter? Man, they make loud pops!

        • Michelle McKeeth says:

          I bought a round metal mess which I put over any anything I’m cooking that has enough fat to splatter, such as bacon, etc. I comes with a handle, and the mes is very fine. Perhaps you could take a look in your store in the cooking knick knacks area. Mine was at the end where we frequently don’t even look. It cost $13.99.

          Hope this helps.

    • Liz says:

      Does anyone have an actual temp. that the lard comes to before the cracklings begin to rise?.
      I am using a small Nesco electric roaster. Liz

      • Quincy says:

        I just rendered 2 kg of fat back using a double boiler. The process was quite long but fantastic results. The water boils at 100 C, the steam rises to heat the glass bowl which contains the fat. Since it is not under pressure the steam temp will not continue to rise. The fat melts slowly around 90 C, the cracklings never burn so no odor and a nice white color.

  4. So brilliant – thank you for the step by step. PS: he’s gonna be a heartbreaker!

  5. Janelle Hoxie says:

    maybe thats why my rendered beef tallow or lard always has a tinge to it and smells a bit is because I do it in a crock pot on low.I will try it on the stove next time. Thank-you for this post!

    That boy is so beautiful and healthy looking!

    • Deb says:

      I also used a crock pot but will do it on the stove next time. I too had the slight tinge but since I don’t bake, it is okay.

  6. Machelle says:

    My grandma made her own lard right up till she moved into senior apartments.Best Pie Crust EVER!

  7. Ralph says:

    I always do mine in a stock pot on an electric burner plugged in outdoors. I set the heat on medium and don’t add any water. I have always had good luck. I begin ladeling it off as soon as it puddles above the chopped fat pieces. I leave it on for 8 to 12 hours. I also stir it often to prevent the cracklings on the bottom from burning. The lard I take off in the beginning is obviously better than the lard at the end, but it is all useable. We have always given the cracklings to the chickens a little at a time. They love em!
    I will try your method. Did it stink the house up doing it in crockpot? Thanks for the info Diana.

  8. Diana Bauman says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments and sharing your own methods of rendering leaf lard! Keep them coming 😀

  9. Stacy Hancock says:

    Thank you for this post! A friend passed this link on to me- we are getting ready to render our own lard very soon. Just spoke with the butcher earlier this week. Unfortunately, didn’t know about having the fat separated or ground. But I’m sure all will be well. It’s a learning experience! Oh, and we bought half a hog from a local farmer that pastured her hogs. Very excited to taste this meat. My mom talks about the old rosy meat they used to get from their hogs, not this ‘other white meat’ business.

  10. We are lucky enough to have access to lard from a local farmer and it certainly does make all the difference! So true and so sad about pork these days. Dry and flavorless, most of it…

  11. Good for you! What a great post, Diana. So few people know how to do this. However, I do wish that local meat processors/lockers still knew how to render lard, and did it properly. There is a lot of lost knowledge on the part of the processors due to a lack of interest by the public over the last couple of decades. I have purchased lard through farmers that was not what I expected, largely due to a lack of communication between farmer and processor. Hope that changes soon.

  12. Beth says:

    Thanks for not only the tutorial but the additional information as well. It’s nice to have it all in one place. I’m waiting to be able to get some fat and look forward to rendering – okay, I’m actually excited about rendering!

  13. sonia says:

    Wow…this is amazing, I’m really tempted to try this recipe soon…thanks for sharing !

  14. Hi Diana! I am so with you on this! I got instruction from Butter at hunger and thirst to render my pastured leaf fat in a good quality crock pot in my garage! It works like a charm and is very easy. I did it a few times before realizing that my Amish Milk Club offers pastured pork lard, snowy white and delicious at a very reasonable price, so I buy that now along with some awesome grass fed beef tallow! Eating these natural saturated fats is so good! Seriously, I can FEEL my heart and my body opening up to them when I eat anything made with them. I do hope more people will realize that without intake of saturated fat, to make cells, hormones, lay down bone, absorb fat soluble vitamins, you absolutely cannot be healthy! GREAT article! Alex

  15. Janet says:

    My grandfather was the butcher in a small town in Montana. He used to get complaints on lard-rendering day (made people hungry!) until my grandmother started frying doughnuts in the lard and selling them for 10 cents a dozen. Yum!

    • Stacy Hancock says:

      That is such a cool story, Janet!

    • Annie says:

      My grandmother (another Montanan) lways fried her doughnuts in lard or beef tallow; she said you could get those fats hot enough without smoking to seal the outside of the doughnut and they never absorbed much oil, soo yummy!

      • Lina says:

        I just started making my own donuts because I have a dairy sensitivity (because all commercially produced donuts have milk in them and I can’t live without them!) and I fried them in the beef tallow that we rendered from our side of grass-fed beef that we got last fall. It was amazing both in taste and because, like you said, I can get it hotter than other oils without smoking.

  16. Reinhild says:

    hi, outstanding blog page, and an amazing understand! one for my bookmarks.

  17. Liz H says:

    Add a sprig of rosemary while rendering lard – helps keep it white and cuts that piggie smell. If you live at altitude a slow cooker will be too hot – I use a large Le Creuset pan on a low burner plus with a heat diffuser.

  18. Is there anyway to take the slightly smokey smelling lard and get it to the snow white oderless kind? I tried lard cookies, and uh, they didn’t work out. I love using lard though!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Not that I know of Emily. Once it has a bit of a smell, I think it’s in there for good. However, If the smell is not too strong, I don’t know how much that would effect your cookies. I might give it a try.

  19. Journey11 says:

    Very thorough article, thanks! My interest in rendering lard began with wanting to use it in homemade soaps, but I am now starting to see it’s value in cooking. You are right–my Granny always cooked with lard and lived to be 91. It’s the hydrogenated, over-processed oils and fats that are unhealthful.

  20. A great tutorial. I have so much fat that the butcher gave us. It’s been sitting in my freezer. I have been to afraid to do anything with it.

  21. Megyn says:

    Question: I bought non-hydrogenated lard from a small Mexican meat market. It has that “piggy” smell you were talking about….and it’s definitely not white, or even yellow – it’s brown. Having never used lard before, I thought this was just what it was supposed to look like (although I expected it to be white before I bought it). Is this a bad thing? If this means that it’s not very good quality, and I really need to be rendering my own lard from a local pork source, how much should I expect pork fat to cost?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Megyn. Thanks for stopping by! I’ve also purchased lard from the Mexican meat market and the reason it’s so dark is because it’s the lard they have rendered from making chicharones. Fried pork skin. They need it to get super crispy so the lard does get dark and definitely has that piggie smell. Is it a bad thing, no. You can still use it and any Mexican knows that it’s way healthier than the hydrogenated shelved stuff. It will make an outstanding tamale or you can use it to fry with, however, that lard is most likely from confined animals. So the vitamins and nutrients will not be in it as compared to an animal pastured by a family farmer. It’s one thing to keep in mind. If you want it pure white, yes, you’ll have to render it yourself. How much it costs completely depends on the family farmer. Some will practically give it away as many people don’t want it. I would look up a local family farmer through and start asking about costs. It shouldn’t be too much.

  22. I did render lard in a cheap crock pot just started on keep warm then as it started to heat up turned it to low. The end results were great snow white lard.

  23. Jessica says:

    I am going to render my first batch of lard this weekend. Thanks for all the tips with this website!
    Don’t be too hard on the meat processors/butchers… most want to continue to make the lard and sell the cracklings, but the USDA and the FDA has put such strong regulations on them – most can’t afford to make it.
    For instance, if our local processor wants to make it again he has to add-on a totally seperate room to comply with “food safety standards.” He got out of the lard and cracklings business four years ago because financially he couldn’t comply with the USDA Regulations.

  24. Bethany says:

    Hey Diana, I just found your blog and now I see you everywhere… strange. Anyway so this week I got 25lbs of mixed pork fat and I need to render it. It isn’t ground, though I’m going to grind it myself since I have a meat grinder. My question is – you said that most crockpots on low is still too high. Mine has a “warm” setting just to keep food hot after it’s been cooked, do you think that would work? I’d rather use the crockpot instead of a stockpot because my husband keeps thinking it will stink up the house when I’m rendering, so I was hoping to stick the crockpot out in the garage while it’s doing it’s thing.

    But I definitely want the least amount of piggy flavor, since I will be using it for some baking. I don’t do a whole lot of baking but I do some. I recently stopped eating almost all veggie oils, but I need something tasteless for frying sometimes.

  25. Juliet says:

    I recently found a local, organic farm through eatwild dot com. I’ve got some pork fat rendering on the stove as I type :)

    I think organic and pasture-fed is extremely important for quality and health. I keep reading articles about how we store toxins in our fat and how animals do as well. I don’t want to be eating pesticides, hormones, GMO proteins, etc. in my lovely lard. :)

  26. Linda says:

    Hello Diana,

    Thank you for your post. I have been doing a good amount of research regarding the benefits of healthy animal fats. I became interested in rendering fat last Christmas when I looked into making my own Tamales (which I did not end of making. Maybe this year.) While researching Tamales, I read about leaf lard and the yummy pastry it makes.

    Your post was timely as my husband’s office is holding a pie contest and I now had a new goal for learning how to render leaf lard. I purchased my fat from the Amish here in Southern MD. They lump all the fat together and by the looks of things, I had a lot of fat back (I have another source for the holidays to pick up leaf lard to render.)

    The process was daunting as I cubed my 10 pounds of fat with a cost of $3.00. The results were perfect. I used your method of crock pot. So easy!!! My crock has high, low, and warm. I switched between low and warm throughout the process. I had my first batch of lard within 1.5 hours. I continued to render for 10 plus hours.

    I also tried a small batch of wet rendering. Too much work. I also tried a small batch on the stove top. Again, too much work.

    My pie crust came out tasty and flakey. I used the following recipe… from Epicurious.

    Blessing, Linda

  27. Stephanie says:

    My grandmother’s generation used lard excusively. They all lived, very healthily I might add, into their 90’s. My Great Aunt lived until 101 and her husband to 96. They were mentally sharp all that time, too.

    Another benefit of lard, it fills you up! You eat less!

    Something to think about. So many “healthy substitues” just don’t fill you up and you end up eating more.

    I am glad to be returning to the old way of doing things. Just makes more sense with our health and our land.

    PS–I had my first urban farm mere blocks from you! Now in Beaverdale.

  28. JUDY says:

    I have been home rendering lard for over 40 years. My favorite way is to put the ground up fat in a roaster pan. I use the inside pan of a large Nesco type electric roaster. I put it in the oven at 325 to 350 degrees for 2 to 3 hours. I stir it every 20 to 30 minutes. I then strain it through a metal strainer. I don’t mind the little crumbles at the bottom of the fresh lard containers. Don’t cover the roaster because the moisture has to excape. I have refused to use Crisco and only cook and bake with my own lard. Check at any local meat markets. My butcher will give me the lard for just a few dollars for their time to grind it. Otherwise they throw it out. It is the only thing to use for flakey pie crusts. You can reroll the dough several times and it still stays tender.

    • judy says:

      I love all of these ideas for rendering lard. I have searched everywhere for instructions on how to pressure can the lard. You can can just about everything, why not lard. Any ideas? Thanks

      • Diana Bauman says:

        Judy, I’ve never canned lard, but I’m sure it can be done. If you hear of anything, please let us know 😀

        • Rebecca says:

          In old times, they just rendered the lard, filled crocks, and set them covered in their fruit cellars. No other processing was used. I fill scalded jars with the hot lard to within 1/8-1/4″ of top, wipe the rims very thoroughly with paper towels, then seal with hot lids, just as you would with regular canning. I do not process them in any other way. They all seal and store indefinitely on my pantry shelf (cool cellar). Easiest canning ever. Hardest part is making sure there is no residue of grease on the rims.

          • Kelly says:

            Once you clarify butter (ghee) it is shelf stable all on it’s own. I don’t see why the same wouldn’t be true for rendered lard. Rebecca’s way actually sounds safer. Pressure canning fat sounds like an explosion waiting to happen.

      • Ed Lotterman says:

        No need to pressure can. You can process in a boiling water bath, If you don’t have a canning boiler, you can do a few jars at at time in a stock pot. If you put the jars in the boiling water when the lard is just rendered, a 15-minute boiling is probably enough. Store on a shelf in the basement for at least a year. You can also try the upside-down technique a lot of us use with jams or jellies. Fill the jar, put on lid and band, then invert on a cutting board or upside down sheet pan for 5 minutes. Then turn around onto the jar bottoms. The lids will start popping down in minutes.

        I bought 22 lbs of ground, fresh lard from a small-town butchering business today. Total was $6.00, so less than 30 cents per lb.

  29. Jan says:

    I needed lard to make homemade soap, excellent for removing stains! I decided to purchase the lard, recalling my mother rendering lard for her baking 50 years ago. I will now do the same thing, using it for my homemade buns and crust. Thanks so much for the article, I actually remembered all that my mother did and it was identical to what you mentioned. I did place mine in a 275 degreen oven, in a cake pan, watching it closely and then straining it. It was in the oven for about 2 hours.

  30. Steve says:

    I’ve recently come down with a food allergy, so one of my goals for 2012 is to go as natural as possible. I am a relatively young dude, 25, and perhaps it’s how my generation was brought up, but I grew up in a world of germ and spoiled food paranoia. My mother never canned food, but my grandmother did, sadly she passed away before I could learn some of these skills.

    You noted that store bought lards have preservatives and other chemicals. Without preservatives perhaps the food would spoil more quickly.

    SO: my compound question to you is this: What is the proper way to store the lard, how long will it keep, and how does one know if it has “gone bad” over time?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Steve, thanks for stopping by. When I make a batch of lard, I freeze all but one pint sized mason jar of lard at a time. The jar in my refrigerator will keep for about a month and the lard in the freezer about 6-12 months. I hope this answers your question.

  31. Anne Johnson says:

    I was told that if you seal the jars while they are hot they can be stored on a shelf. I did not see anything about this in your article. Is there a method that will allow shelf storage?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Anne, I do know when mason jars are very hot they can self seal, however, I cannot say the lard will not spoil using this method. For my own peace of mind, I freeze my jars. If space is of concern, once the lard has cooled, I would put them into freezer bags and lay them flat, stacking one bag on top of another.

      • Cathy says:

        Or, pour the warm/hot lard into ice cube trays, freeze, then pop out the cubes later and store in a big gallon zip lock. This way you can grab out lard in 2 Tablespoon increments. I do this with all of my fats that I render, including leaf tallow, lard, and turkey and chicken fats as well as homemade butter and buttermilk. So easy for use later!!!!

        • Cathy says:

          Store the gallon zip lock in the freezer, that is. :)

        • Bill Hedman says:

          I’ve also done the ‘ice cube’ thingie; an excellent idea for fats, and various stocks. A good idea (or warning) is to label what is in the tray or freezer bag. Chicken rocks may go fine with vodka, but pork fat does not go well with rum.

    • Carol says:

      I’ve been rendering lard for the last 5 years or so. I render a year’s worth (15 qts.) of lard at a time using the hot canning jar method to seal and it stores beautifully in my root cellar. The only failures I have had are from canning jars I suspect were not cleaned properly (mold growth – 3 jars total ever) or lard that was not strained well enough (smelly at the bottom off the jar – 4 jars total ever).

  32. Nicole Rowe says:

    Oh, and we bought half a hog from a local farmer that pastured her hogs. Thanks for the info Diana. Another benefit of lard, it fills you up!

  33. JaimeG says:

    Is this type of lard the best to fry in for a deep fryer? The directions actually say to not use lard, but it could be referring to the commercial type. But I don’t know what to try. I’ve read otherwise that palm or coconut oil are safe oils for the deep fryer.

    Is a deep fryer a waste and would a deep pot be easier (haven’t opened the box!)? How many times can you reuse it to fry?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Jamie. I don’t own a deep fryer so I’m not really sure. However, the only downfall to it is if you left the oil to harden at room temperature in the machine. It will solidify as it cools. Back in the day, McDonalds used beef tallow (beef fat) in their machines to fry their french fries. Reusing the oil is really dependant on what you use it for. If you use it to fry some potatoes, definitely save it. You can use it again. However, if you use it to fry up some breaded chicken, it will be dirty and probably best to discard it. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Steve K says:

        I use lard to deep fry my fish in Canada and use it over and over. I always pour off the top oil and leave the crumbs in the bottom. The oil has to be cool enough to handle but not solidify, so it will pour. It is very important to have the oil at 350 – 360F using a liquid cooking thermometer so the oil doesn’t burn. We have found that on a 7 day trip with a fish fry every night, we would feel lousy if the fish was cooked in anything other then lard. I would assume this is because lard digests better. The key to using the lard again is that it is used for the same kind of foods. I also save used lard oil in the refrigerator if it will be used soon.

  34. Lisa says:

    Your child is beautiful. What gorgeous eyes.

  35. Sue says:

    I’m one of those local farmers raising heritage hogs (Large Blacks) on pasture! Even though I’ve heard raves about pastured pork, I never tasted it until yesterday, when we got the meat from our first pig back from the butcher. It is absolutely succulent. Dark pink, moist, flavorful. The fat has a creamy consistency, and when I bit into it there was a burst of flavor that took me immediately back to my childhood dinner table.

    I was nervous when the butcher kept commenting on how little meat there was, because there was so much fat. He’s not a big fan of pastured meats, but he’s a great butcher who came to my farm, stunned the pigs as they slept, bled them out and gutted them on the spot. No stress hormones here! He helped me collect the blood, and I made blood pudding that morning.

    The butcher separated the leaf lard from the fatback, and following your directions, I’m going to render the lard today. Then I’ll take some of the lard and fatback to the local chef who buys my pastured eggs to spark some interest in these by-products from my pigs.

    I just discovered your site this morning. What a great find! I’ll be snooping around to see what other treasures await. Thanks for the information.

  36. Leah says:

    Thank you so much, I’ve rendered quite a bit since finding this site, and this week it’s definitely kept me occupied – my butcher gave me all the fat from his last pig! Sadly, I’ve only been able to stomach the ‘first render’, I guess I have developed my own little way of doing it. I just do the first go ’round, but grind it myself and cut out all the meat. The end result is pure white, almost completely odorless. Only a very very faint piggy smell. I do not let the granules of cracklings get dark at all, only tan. I tried this time to make a second render and get the cracklings to be crispy, but the odor was just too much, I could not stomach it, just too ‘piggy’ for me I suppose. I use the lard for frying and breadmaking.

  37. Sara says:

    Was wondering if you had a conversion for using lard instead of vegetable oil in baking recipes? If a cake recipe calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil/butter/etc can I substitute 1 cup of lard?

    Thanks so much!

  38. Kitty says:

    I can remember helping my mom render lard when slaughtering hogs more than 35 years ago. I decorate cakes and have gotten away from using shortening for making the icing (which uses 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter) and using all butter. The problems I have found are the consistency needed for certain decorations and the butter icing melts more readily as I hold the bag of icing. I wonder if this snow white lard could replace the shortening in the recipe or would it only be good for baking and cooking?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Kitty. I’m glad you asked that questions because I decorate cakes to 😉

      I definitely know what you mean about using the shortening to make your icing, the Wilton method. I used to use that method as well and have since switched to all butter using Alice’s buttercream recipe from Savory Sweet Life,

      It holds up beautifully. The only thing is when using all butter you can’t smooth with Vive paper towels, however, dipping your icing spatula in warm water and moving quickly leaves smooth results as well. The top wedding cake in my gallery above uses Alice’s buttercream recipe.

      I have thought about trying lard, but haven’t as of yet. I say give it a try and see how it works out. If you do, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know how it turns out 😀

  39. Daryl Ann says:

    Just came across your website. I love this tutorial on rendering lard. I have rendered beef fat for tallow, but not tried pork. I will have to try it now that I have the knowledge to do it. Thanks so much.

  40. pk says:

    Hi Diana! You only mention pork fat in your article, not beef. Same process…same results..same uses?? I’m rendering some this coming weekend so I need to know! :)

    Also, my grandma always rendered in a roasting pan in the oven…225 Any comments?

    Your sister in Christ in FL

    • Diana Bauman says:

      When rendering beef tallow, you don’t need to be as finicky with it since it won’t be used for pastries. However, I do have friends that make soap with tallow, so I’m sure you’d want it clean and using this same process if you do need to use it for something delicate like that. Beef tallow is great for frying. Especially french fries! As far as using a roasting pan in the oven on a low setting, of course. Once you start rendering any kind of animal fat you’ll figure out what works best for you 😉

      • pk says:

        THANK YOU. And I’m SOOO glad you wrote that about the use for beef tallow. I was planning on using it for frying…but had NO idea that the finished product won’t be fit for other uses if desired. I don’t eat pork…but maybe I’ll have to get some leaf lard!! Grateful…

  41. Danielle says:

    Thanks for your instructions. I got a free ham from the grocery store for the Easter holiday, and I had a lot of fat left over. I did not want to throw it out, because it seemed wasteful, and I found your post through a Google search for “pork fat”. I can’t wait to try to render the fat and cook with it. I was event thinking of making a candle out of it, but I have never done that before, so I am not sure if it would work. Anyway, thanks for the informative post!

  42. cindy says:

    I read that soda added to pork fat, was a way to end up with white lard. They said use, “A teaspoonful of soda added to 5O lbs. of lard stock while cooking will make a much whiter product.” The book was written in 1923.

  43. shaggyshack says:

    I just did this yesterday! From our own hbomegvrown pig! My kids came in and said what smells good! I can’t wait to use it! The begining fat was allot clearer than the end!

  44. Rita says:

    love this simply put directional guide.
    We get our lard along with bones from a local meat locker. Doing our own broth and lard is a healthy way to go. Looking for all the ways I can to be self sufficient in using herbals, canning, and safer methods for every aspect in leading a healthier lifestyle. Want to get away from all the chemicals and synthetics~and go to everything natural. Am looking forward to learning more ways to do so

  45. Ian Applegate says:

    Have any of you tried dog or cat lard? It’s illegal here in the States but I used to eat the lard (along with the meat) of dogs and cat regularly in Zhuhai, China. Delicious! Dog and cat lard are really a delicacy since these animals don’t have a high fat content so a lot of them need to be slaughtered to provide a sufficient quantity of fat. I personally don’t think eating a dog or cat is different from eating a cow or a pig. Are we God that we can say cows and pigs can be eaten and yet dogs and cats cannot? In Asian cultures, dogs are reared just the way we rear cows. Meat is meat and for a meat eater to think otherwise is to be a hypocrite. Also I LOL’d at the people talking about humane slaughtering. Are you guys serious? You’re fricking killing an animal so you can eat its flesh, of course it’s the most painful and traumatic thing you can do to it. Most people conveniently ignore the fact that an animal had to die for them to feast of its flesh. I personally kill and slaughter my own livestock so I can fully respect the immense sacrifice my animals are making for my taste buds. The problem with meat eating though is that we become soulless monsters. I bet you this, if someone ground up your dead mother’s flesh and made burger patties with it, you would eat it with relish and not even know it’s human flesh!! I’m addicted to the taste of meat though so I don’t really care about any of that stuff LOL.

  46. Cat MacKinnon says:

    i know your post is well over a year old, but i recently decided to start rendering my own lard and i love your tips! initially, i started rendering lard just to keep on hand to season my new cast iron pan (i threw out my old non-stick pan: it was no longer non-stick, and i was starting to become a bit troubled by the whole “cooking with Teflon” thing.) anyway, virtually every website i read stated that the best things to season your cast iron pans with is either lard or vegetable shortening. i figured that, since i bacon at least once a week, i’d just save the fat instead of buying Crisco (since i’d never use it for anything else anyway.)

    once i started saving my bacon drippings, i began cooking with it quit a bit instead of vegetable oil (which i only use for one or two things now, when i need something with a high smoke point.) it’s wonderful, and i ALWAYS cook my eggs in bacon fat now, and they’re delicious (almost as good as eggs cooked in duck fat, which is pretty much the most mind-blowingly BEST eggs you’ll ever have! even if you only cook duck once, absolutely save the fat and use it for your eggs the next morning!) i’ve come to discover why my grandmother used to save ever last bit of her pork fat and bacon drippings!

    here’s what i do to render from bacon (i haven’t had the chance to get really good leaf lard yet, so my bacon lard is mostly used for savory foods. plus, i don’t bake anyway, so i’m not worried about a slightly “piggie” taste.) depending on how fatty the bacon i get is, i’ll either cook the bacon first over medium-low (any higher and i have a bad habit of either over-cooking it or outright burning it, and i prefer my bacon to be slightly chewy), and after taking it out of the pan i’ll let it cool for a couple minutes (as well as turning the heat under my pan down to almost the lowest setting, 1 or 2 on my electric range.) after the bacon (and pan) has cooled, i’ll cut off any large sections of fat from the bacon strips, return the fat to the pan and continue cooking it for as long as i think it can go to render most of the good stuff out. by cooking the bacon FIRST, it makes it easier to separate the fat from the meat (and i get to eat bacon while the fat slowly finishes rendering.) otherwise, if the bacon has huge areas of fat, i’ll trim that off first, and then finish rendering after i’ve cooked the bacon, using the same super-low heat.

    once i’ve got the fat rendered as much as i think it can go, i’ll pour it through some cheesecloth into a recycled pickle jar (i always keep the pickle jars i get from the store after i’ve eaten all the pickles, clean them and reuse them for all sorts of different things. depending on the brand, sometimes you can even get Ball-brand jars, although they don’t have the two-piece lids.) anyway, i’ll suspend some cheesecloth into the jar like a funnel, fold the extra cheesecloth over the lip (threaded part) of the jar, and hold it in place with a rubber band. this way i can pour directly from my cast iron pan with both hands (and those things are HEAVY!) i’ve never had a problem with the jar cracking from the fat being too hot, but if you keep you lard jar in the fridge, it would probably be a good idea to take it out of the refridgerator and let it come to room temp first, just to avoid shocking the glass with high heat (which might cause it to crack.)

    the nice thing about doing it this way is that it keeps my cast iron pan perfectly seasoned with minimal work, and i’m getting lard out of it at the same time. kills two birds with one stone! i only ever put my pan through one intial hour-long seasoning season, then cooked a couple batches of bacon in it and it’s been super-non-stick ever since! i actually tried seasoning it with that Sno-Cap lard from the grocery store on the first try, and it had this really weird “burning chemical” smell, so i scrubbed it with steel wool and started over (the new Lodge Pro pans are “preseasoned” from the factory, but they really do benefit from at least one good proper seasoning session anyway. they also come coated with a food-safe oil to keep from rusting in transport, and while it’s harmless, it can make food taste a little funky, so i used the Alton Brown* method of scrubbing my new pan with hot water, dish soap and steel wool, and then doing a “proper” seasoning. it was worth it!) the Sno-Cap lard is terrible: it’s hydrogenated (which i didn’t care too much about because i only bought it to season my pan and not to actually cook with), but something in it made it smell really weird and “chemical” as it was seasoning (which does put off a lot of smoke.) it worried me, so i used pure soybean oil the first round, and then cooked up a couple batches of bacon. it worked brilliantly!

    i now save every last drop of bacon fat (strained of course), and it’s great for all sorts of stuff, not just seasoning cast iron! i will say that honestly, the flavor isn’t “piggie” so much as a mild smoke-taste: most American bacon is smoke-cured. i wouldn’t use it for sweet pastries, but it would probably work great for savory breads or pizza crust or something. the flavor is slightly noticable, but not strong or offensive.

    one more thing: i try to get to farmer’s markets when i can, although there aren’t too many in my area. however, i discovered that if you take to local heritage hog farmers and ask that they save fat for you, they’re usually more than happy to! most of the time, they bring the cuts of meat to the market that people expect: loin roasts, pork chops, ribs, that sort of thing. they keep some of the fat for themselves, but most of it gets tossed. if you ask them to keep it for you, they’re usually more than happy to save some for you and sell it to you for dirt-cheap…i just tell them how much i’d like, and they’re happy to bring some, and they sell it to me for about $1-$1.50 a pound. they get to make a little extra money, and i get a lot of nice heritage pork fat for next to nothing (however, they usually won’t grind it and i have to trim it a little, but it’s not a big deal. put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes and it’s super-easy to slice and mince with a kitchen knife.) i don’t get leaf lard though: the heritage hog farmers are smart and they tend to keep that for themselves;) they’re willing to sell it to me, but it was too expensive to be worth it, because i don’t bake and i don’t need super-pure lard. i just can’t justify spending $5-$10 per pound just for fat!

    anyway, thanks again for your tips! not only is lard delicious to cook with, but it’s pretty much the perfect fat to season cast iron pans (that’s how our grandmothers did it, after all!) if you want to get free-range-raised pork fat, go to your local farmer’s market and just ASK the hog farmer: most of the time they’ll be happy to save as much fat as you want, as long as they think you’re going to buy it…it doesn’t really cost them anything to save it, but they just want to know it’s worth packing up and bringing with them. buy a few pork chops, or a roast or something from them, give them your number (or get theirs), and just let them know how much you want the next week, and they’re almost always happy to oblige (just DON’T flake out and not show up for your order! that’s just rude, and it costs them precious space that they could’ve used to bring more profitable cuts with them. operating a small artisinal farm means razor-thin profit margins, and it’s not okay to order something and then blow them off. you won’t make any friends doing that.)

    otherwise, if you have a local butcher (we’ve got a local butcher shop chain that has about five shops around Colorado), they’ll also usually be happy to get what you want. they place that i go to gets most of its meat from local farms across the state, and again, they’re more than happy to make a few extra dollars for a couple pounds of fat. these places are especially good if you need it during the winter or months when it’s too cold for outdoor farmer’s markets. you might have to pay just a little more (because the butcher is handling to sale), but it’s still super-cheap and they might even be able to get you better deals on stuff like leaf-lard because it’s more “secure” for a farmer to deal with a retail shop rather than directly with a consumer.

    just some things to think about (also: sorry that was so long…i didn’t mean to ramble on, but i didn’t want to leave anything out either!;)


    • terry clements says:

      father in law was a butcher I told him of my rendered bacon fat from an old traditional English pig in other words fat laden.
      We spread bacon lard on toast with a sprinkling of salt beautiful spread very lightly.
      Just eating roast potatoes cooked in pork lard form Christmas day fantastic :-)

  47. Bryan says:

    It has been a few yrs. since I rendered lard, but I liked the cracklins, and want to do it again. I have always done it in an oven on a heavy cookie sheet, and that is what I would recommend as the safest way to do it. I can set the temp., and don’t have to stay with it all the time. I remove lard from time to time as it cooks out. I don’t see any need to continue to cook lard that is already rendered, and if I happen to over cook the last little bit trying to get the cracklins done, I didn’t ruin all of it. Hot craklins on bread sure are good.

  48. Joel says:

    Nice tutorial. Have access now to leaf fat from Ossabaw Heritage Pigs-so i’m cooking it down right now!

  49. Stephinie says:

    Thank you for the information & tutorial. I so appreciated it. I’ll be sharing this as a reference for our farm to share with customers. I was one of the few patrons who took two bags of pork “cubes” home to render. I’m looking forward to cooking & baking with it!

  50. Great tutorial! I just discovered that the “100% pure lard” I have been buying is also loaded with preservatives. I have been thinking my pastries and homemade soap are preservative-free and healthy! So now I have some local pork fat and here we go… wish me luck! Thanks.

  51. Julie says:

    I know this may be a dumb question, but when using the crock pot, do you leave the lid on or off? I’m about the render my first batch of leaf lard and I’m aiming for the “snow white” look :-) When cooking regular recipes in the crock, it seems that water is contained, so I wasn’t sure how it would evaporate when rendering if the lid was on. Thanks!

  52. Lynn Dils says:

    I have rendered lard from back fat. It’s white and not porky tasting at all. I use it for frying, sauteing, and roasting with great results. I tired making pie crust with it, though and found that the melting temperature is so low that I end up with a gooey mess – even when starting with small pieces of frozen lard. Any suggestions? Does leaf lard have a higher melting point?

  53. LaDonna says:

    We are getting ready to have a whole hog processed & I was wondering if we could render it in a dutch oven over a fire with a tripod fairly easy. Also about how much heat & how long it would take. I know the amount of coals under it will make a difference too. And does the weather outside make a difference, have always heard that cooler weather is perfect.

  54. jana says:

    I rendered the lard following the above instructions. It took a bit longer. the lard is pure white, but creamy (not fluffy). Did I do something wrong?

  55. eric says:

    just did my first batch, perfection! the process was simple but painstakingly careful and watchful. Now I have perfect golden fat, placed into muffin tins for freezing will then vacumm seal portions fo rthe holiday baking. Thanks to my butcher who sent me 5 lbs of leaf lard from his organic pig farm.

  56. angie h says:

    We are getting our first 1/2 hog this fall and I was wondering how much lard I could expect to render from it (leaf and back fat). Thanks! I realize it depends on the size of pig, I’m just looking for a ball park figure. It is a pastured pig.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      It depends on the size and also the breed. A Berkshire, heritage breed, for example, is known for it’s high fat content. So you’ll get much more from it than a standard breed. I probably render out about 8-10 pints from my yearly Berkshire. Hope that helps :)

      • Diana Bauman says:

        One more thing, Angie, if you’d like more to use throughout the year, it’s a good time to ask your farmer for extra fat from other hogs. You’ll be surprised at how many people that buy a 1/2 or full hog pass on its fat. So, most likely, they’ll have more to sell especially if they know someone will buy it.

  57. eric says:

    so I used my lard for the first time to fry some chicken tenders, will taste in a few mins, the lard did come out snow white but using it to fry with no other fat or oil there was an aroma to it-not orderless but not a bad smell, it is animal fat-not sure how the family will feel about the aroma-they are not home but cant wait to try it wit butter for baking

  58. Thank you! Do we leave lid on crockpot? Can the lard be stored at room temp?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Rachel, well, it can be left out for a week or so. I wouldn’t leave it out any longer. I keep about 2 pints in my fridge and I freeze the rest. That way I’m sure it will stay fresh.

  59. Great blog. Just rendering pork fat on my woodburning stove from the Berkshire pigs that cleared our back garden this summer. Very reassured by your comments re the health benefits!

  60. David Maren says:

    Thanks for this great post! We sell our own unrendered pastured lard on our website and lot of our customers ask about how to render it. You site is a great resource!!


    David Maren

  61. Evram Fodrek says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the great article. When I mark lard I have a brown jelly like substance at the bottom of the filtered jar. I am unable to filter it out. Is this an indication that I am doing something wrong such as overcooking. The lard is pure white. Also wouldn’t the cracklings be full of free radicals as you are raising it beyond the smoking point of lard? Thanks again.


    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Evram, you’re lard should be just fine. It’s just picking up bits and pieces that will naturally settle. Lard has a very high smoke point, so you really won’t have to worry about going over that. Hope that helps!

  62. stacy says:

    Thanks!! I render deer fat for making soap. Comes out white as snow but I still get a tinge of odor? Any suggestions to cut the smell? I render mine on the stove, and put it through a triple cheesecloth twice.

  63. terry clements says:

    brilliant website :-)
    Already done some but would have been more confident of results if I had read this first.
    I know were there is a freezer full of real white pork fat from old traditional breed of Large Black pigs need to soft talk my Aunt feel a rendering session coming on :-)

  64. Dick O. says:

    All the articles talk about how to render fat. No one mentions how much lard is produced from so many lbs of fat. How many lbs of leaf lard would I need to produce 8oz or 1 cup of lard?

  65. Kimberly B. says:

    My lard is very thin, almost pourable. Do you know why this happened or what i can do to get it to set up?

  66. Jyll says:

    Thanks to your invaluable information, I rendered four quarts of the most beautiful, snowy white lard on Saturday. Sunday night, I put it to the test with a crust for apple hand pies. The crust was amazing and it was so satisfying to have a deeper relationship with producing the food. Thanks so much for this post and for the photos, which especially helped as the lard was ready to skim.

  67. Robin Gilmor says:

    What is the shelf life of rendered pork fat,?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Robin, I freeze my lard. Frozen, It keeps fresh for about a year. At room temperature, I can keep it out for about a couple weeks, in the fridge for about 2 months.

      These are just time frames that have worked for me.

  68. Deb says:

    Purchased our first field raised hog this winter. I am so glad that I found your blog first! I rendered the back fat first, using the crock pot method and it worked great! I have the leaf lard yet to do, and I may try the oven method this time. Thank you so much for the blog, it is invaluable for those of us who are trying to feed their family more healthy, natural foods.

  69. pam says:

    Hi, sorry about being late.

    i found your site via searching

    i tried your method. & the lard turned out to be a little brown (more like brownish yellow, or yellowish brown).
    the burner was on low (3/10) & it did not seem burned or smoked during the process.

    it smells a lttle “porky”
    do you think it’s still usable?


    do you think it

  70. Can you freeze the cracklings, before they are crispy for later use? I just rendered enough fat the lard and cracklings make about 10 quarts.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Debra! Yes, you can definitely freeze cracklings! To make them crispy again, defrost and then heat them up in a cast iron skillet. If you have chickens, they love them to 😉

  71. Rachel says:

    Thanks for teaching me how to do this. I found your recipe a year or two ago and have been using it successfully ever since.

  72. Ross Hill says:

    When you start rendering lard or poultry fat(I use and save both)the first skimmings will have a lower melting point than the later ones. When placed in tall jars at room temperature for 24 hours some of the component fat will harden and become opaque and settle in the jars. The later skimmings will have a larger amount of fat that settles at room temperature. Some of the fat may remain liquid down to about 67 to 69 degrees. If the fat is chilled quickly it won’t separate in this manner. If your nice white lard melts and then rehardens without returning to its original appearance, melt it completely and stir it well and chill it quickly.

  73. Christina Merriweather says:

    Could you please tell me where to buy leaf lard, so that I can render some lard? I live in Belleville, Michigan.

  74. Heather says:

    I came across your site looking for a how to on rendering fat to make soap, but now I believe Ill keep some for tamales! But I did want to ask you if it has to be stored in the refridgerator? I buy lard from the little mexican stores and just store it in the pantry until I use it all up. Have I been all wronge on how to store it?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Heather, the lard from the store is shelf stable because it’s been hydrogenated. The lard you render yourself will go rancid if left out too long. A week, maybe is okay. I store mine in the refrigerator and any extra in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. I hope you like those tamales!!

  75. Melissa says:

    Great post! I have only rendered Beef Tallow in the crock pot, and it DID stink! I had it going on the porch with an extension cord! It turned out very white and I used it in my soap. I have not tried the lard yet. It is true, I TOO have always thought lard was bad, but it was the TYPE of lard I was thinking about! We have a Certified Organic Farm here in Skagit Valley WA where we buy our meat from. I will have to see how much/lb the leaf lard is. We do have some fat left over from the whole pig butchering we did over the 4th. I will have to melt it & see!

  76. Tara says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have my first little batch (2 lbs) of lard rendering in the crock pot right now. I hope the heat setting is low enough. I found you by googling “render lard,” but now I’m going to explore the rest of your blog.

  77. Mayme says:

    How much pork fat did you start out with to have it done in 1.5-2 hours? I filled my large crock pot up with what I would guess was about 8 lbs of fat. Mine was not ground, just cut into chunks, but it is still not all done and it has been about 6-7 hours. I have been straining some off here and there, but it’s going to still take a long while still to be finished. Next time, I will try grinding it first, as I’m sure that will make a huge difference :)

  78. Emily Sullivan says:

    Knowledge is a dangerous thing! I love your blog posts Diana. But now, I don’t think I could eat another grocery store chicken or use vegetable oil for sautéing. I am so impressed with your food skills. I wonder how long the transition from providing most of our food for ourselves to buying it all at the grocery store took. I love the convenience, but I know it’s so commercialized. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  79. Frank says:

    Good instruction on rendering pork fat into lard. I usually took the skins and fat from pork shoulder and other pork meats, put in bag of fats in freezer until I got big enough for some Ball Jars then I will render it into the lard. One of my favorite is have lard to fry the eggs or sautee the onions. Right now, I have gotten and save good bacon fat for “later”. Thank you for wonderful blog posting.

  80. Cindy says:

    I recently was in Galveston TX and got the best dark flavorful fresh lard at a Mexican meat market to use in tamales we were making. OMG,…heavenly. The leftover we used to fry eggs and potatoes and that was delicious. They make it in a huge copper pot just like in Mexico. If anyone is near Mexican meat market you may find it. I am anxious to try your method for some for baking. As an Iowa girl, now in Kansas City, I had a lot of good pork in my childhood from my dad’s friend’s farm…we lived in Iowa City. I had forgotten about how my grandmother made lard pie crust so I am anxious to try it. Thanks for sharing your skills….

  81. Mirkwood Designs says:

    I grew up with lard-only pastry, but when I became and adult, the quality was never quite right. Turns out the difference was that leaf lard (which I knew as a child) is very different from the lard sold in tubs in the grocery store. Once I found a purveyor of leaf lard online, the pastry joy returned, and now I have happily found a local source. I shared your rendering tutorial on my FB page to help educate others in the truth of healthy fats and the deliciousness of leaf lard in pastry. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  82. Sj Smith says:

    I think this is how I first found your website a year or two ago! I still haven’t tried it; but am glad to know I can. Maybe this year. : )

  83. Sj Smith says:

    I think this is how I first found your website a year or two ago! I still haven’t tried it; but am glad to know I can. Maybe this year. : )

  84. Maggie says:

    Diana, I’m getting ready to render my first pork fatback. I’m really excited to try this. I’m wondering if I need to first cut off the skin before chopping it up to cook it, or do I chop it up skin and all? Thanks! Really enjoyed reading and hearing your passions!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      If the skin is still on your fat, just add it right in! After taking out what you need for your lard, let the skin and all continue to crisp up. It’s called chicharones and taste so great when it fries in it’s own fat and turns crispy 😉

  85. Cheryl says:

    I first looked at this tutorial by searching “render pork fat”. I want to make some suet cakes for me and for my son-in-law who is an avid bird feeder. However, Now I see all the other things to do with “clean” lard and will be more careful when I render the fat down. Thank you for this great page. The photos make it perfect.

  86. Danielle says:

    I have a question. If it’s already mentioned in the comments, sorry. How important is the source of the pork? I don’t have access to organic pork or anything like that. If the pork is filled with hormones, will the fat be too? Can you talk to me about the hormones in pork? Thanks!

  87. Connie says:

    Happy New Year! Yesterday I rendered some pork fat by your recipe and it turned out great! Thank you for the tutorial to show us how to do things our Grandmothers always knew but we have forgotten. Today I’ll make a batch of soap with one of the pints.

  88. Lauri says:

    I did it!! I rendered lard for the first time today and it was so easy. Can I assume that the leaf lard would be cut up into smaller chunks and the back fat would tend to be rolled in long tubes? I received it from a friend who slaughtered 4 hogs. I assume she gave me all 4 hogs but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of fat. My 1st crock pot yielded 2 pint jars and a bottom full of crumbles. Does this sound right? My crock was not “over” full being my 1st time. I wanted to see if it worked and it did. Thank you so much.

  89. Hillfarmer says:

    My parents butchered our own hogs and rendered lard. We had a lard press that squeezed the lard from the cracklings. You get a lot more lard that way. The cracklings were very compressed and very hard.

    One point you did not mention is you need to cook all the water out of the lard or it can get rancid. Properly rendered lard does not refrigeration to keep.

    It is easy to tell when all the water is cooked out of the lard. Drop a drop of water in the pot. If the water sizzles and steams immediately (be careful it may splash hot grease) the lard is ready. If the water just goes in quietly you need more cooking.

  90. Anne says:

    I work in public health and have never heard that lard is healthy. In fact hundreds of studies indicate the opposite advice. The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and National Kidney Foundation all recommend lean meats and use of vegetable oils over animal fats. You’ve written very nice advice on rendering lard which I followed and thank you for, having been given leaf lard from a friend, and as they say “all things in moderation.” But I do worry about the advice you are sharing which may place people’s health at risk.

    National Kidney Foundation:

    American Heart Association:

    American Diabetes Association:

    The National Library of Medicine is a great way to find studies and learn about health information:

    While we all may know individuals who were fortunate to live long and healthy lives even if they did not follow health guidelines (my own grandmother lived to be 97 while being a smoker; although she did develop cancer); studies are based on effects across a large population, not just the few.

    • Ted E. says:

      Hey Anne,
      I realize this reply is pretty late to your post but, I do think you need to recheck your facts. I’ll make just two points: 1) The studies you site purporting to show that the saturated fat in lard is unhealthy, were probably done using hydrogenated vegetable oils not lard. Despite what the authors may claim. 2) If you do some background checking, you will find that all of the organizations you have listed as being the “gospel” on nutrition, receive huge amounts of their funding from the food processing and hydrogenated vegetable oil industries. So to think that they are unbiased “consumer watchdogs” is laughable.

      • Jewell says:

        Ted, it’s NEVER too late to point out things like tat – evidence that people are still reading it!
        I’m a (grass) farmer x eight years. Over 50% of my caloric intake is meat based, and I eat anything I want to, and as much as I want to. I’m 55 years old, and now weigh about five pounds less than I did in high school – and my blood lipid numbers are ALL in the “ideal” ranges. While I keep an emergency inhaler on hand for my asthma, I take no regular medications – not even pain relievers.
        Ten years ago, I lived in the ‘real’ world, ate processed foods and factory-farmed meat (very little meat). I was the archetypal ‘low-fat’ devotee; if it came in ‘fat free’, I bought it. I would never have dreamed of using an animal fat (which I now use exclusively, except olive oil for cold dishes. Despite a physically demanding job, I bounced between twenty and forty pounds overweight, was always dieting, was on numerous prescriptions, and was arguing with my physician about whether my gallbladder needed to come out…
        The only thing that’s really changed is my diet; the physical labor rate is similar. I have not dieted since I came to the farm- life is good.

  91. Ron says:

    I want to make my own lard here in Thailand. I always save the fat after roasting pork belly but I would like to try your recipe. What temperature do you call low? The lowest on my slow cookers lowest is 94c. Is that low enough do you think?
    Thanks for your help>

  92. Aimee says:

    I am about to try my first rendering of pork lard. After reading the recipe, I had a question. Is it about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total? After Step where you check it in an hour, it says about 1 1/2 to 2 hours after the cracklings fall to the bottom, it will be done. So those 1.5 to 2 hours are extra on top of that one hour after which you check it? Hope this makes sense. Thank you!

  93. Southern Gal says:

    My husband’s grandmother passed away eight years ago at the age of 92. She made her own lard and always used the cracklings in cornbread. The best cornbread I’ve ever put in my mouth! Now I’ve got to try this myself. Thanks for the recipe!

  94. Rachelle says:

    I have rendered lard in the past on the stovetop and found that, even though it turned out just fine, the smell is very strong during the rendering process. So when I read this post I thought I would give it a try to see if it was less smelly while rendering, which it was. :-) However, I noticed when I poured the finished lard into the jar that there was a slightly darker, cloudy substance that settle at the bottom of the jar. I have not had that happen with any other batch I’ve ever done before. I was wondering if you knew what would have caused this and if there is any reason I shouldn’t use it. I’d appreciate your feedback. :-)

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Rachelle, what did you use to strain your fat with? It could just be cloudy from being a mixture of some of the pork solids. I wouldn’t worry about it at all since it’s all edible anyways. Let it harden. I’m sure once it’s solid and taken on a white color, you won’t even notice it.

      • Rachelle says:

        Thanks so much for responding! I used a stainless steel colander and cheesecloth just as I have in the past. The lard did turn out very white once it solidified, but the layer at the very bottom retained the slightly darker color even after it solidified. Oh well, as you said it’s all edible but I was just curious about it. Thanks again for taking the time to respond, keep up the good work! :-)

        • Ramsay de Give says:

          Hi all –

          I just followed your lead on this site and did this last night. I ended up with the same as above; a nice top white layer, and then a much darker layer below. You think they are both fine to use? They have been sitting out for the evening so should have definitely solidified, but I do notice there are two separate layers. Thanks so much! You’ve got me hoooooked on this process. I love it.

  95. Amanda says:

    How do you store lard? I have been storing mine in my pantry (my house runs hot), sealed tight, but recently read I should be freezing or putting in the fridge to keep from spoiling or getting rancid. My lard has been in the pantry for 6-7 months and still smells and tastes fine. Thoughts?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Amanda, it’s really up to you. In days of old people didn’t have refrigerators or freezers and stored their lard just as you do. I’ve had many people tell me that they store their lard in the pantry and it stays fine that way as well. If it works for you, I’d go with it 😀

  96. Stefanie Gaytan says:

    I have mine in the crockpot as instructed but its been 4 hours and it isnt even close to being completely liquid. Im not sure what to do….

  97. Theresa says:

    Holy cow – did this last night, as I scored some leaf fat from a local butcher shop who were processing pigs yesterday.

    Is it normal for it to stink so bad? I mean, it doesn’t smell rancid, just gross. But I have a strong sense of smell. I did render it like you show here, and it looks very white. But when I reheat it, it still has that gross smell. I have a very strong sense of smell, so maybe it’s just me. Definitely NOT odorless.

    I will say I tried a small amount to make my refried beans, and they were really tasty, but not sure I could use it in pastries. I didn’t process it a long time, and my “grounds” were light colored like yours as well.

    My last thought – maybe it stinks because the fat is around the kidneys and needs to be soaked or something?

    • Theresa says:

      Did I mention I have a strong sense of smell? Geez, sorry I repeated that.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Theresa, I’ve had others tell me that it’s stunk as well. I’ve never had that experience so I’m not sure why. Maybe someone else can chime in??

    • Stefanie says:

      Theresa – I have the same problem. it takes all night for the fat to render down and my whole house stinks and the end product always STINKS when I use it. not sure what to do. Directions say that it takes an hour or two and I have to do it all night long. I cannot get it snow white or even close to odorless :(
      It’s backfat by the way….help please!

  98. mary beth says:

    How much lard would be rendered from 5 pounds of fat back?

  99. Gin says:

    Have you ever tried rendering in the oven on a low temp setting? I’ve been doing that for the past two years, using a roasting pan and checking every 10 mins or so. The increased surface area of the large roasting pan helps the fat to melt nicely and evenly, and if you keep the temp low you don’t have browning issues.

  100. TnAndy says:

    2.5 hrs total ? I put a FULL pot of fat on this morning at 8am, and as of 4pm, it was still not melted completely. Put two more different crock pots on around noon, and they look barely melted, even running all 3 on high at different times.

  101. Joan says:

    Same here. It has been 2.5 hours and most of the 3lbs of fat is still solid. I am using a newer crockpot with warm-low-high settings. (Rendering on low.)
    The instructions say to remove melted fat as it becomes available, but I’m afraid of straining very small amounts through cheese cloth as I think it might mostly get absorbed in the cloth.
    Advice please?

  102. Anita says:

    Hi! If a recipe calls for melted lard, can I use soft lard? (I just ordered the Leaf lard.)

    Thank you!

  103. Billy Copas says:

    Love this!

    I made about 12 quarts of lard this spring off of the hogs we raised.

  104. Lindielee says:

    What’s a city gal supposed to do? I living in southern California – no pigs around here. Would a health food store have good quality pig fat?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Lindielee, I know quite a few families that live in Southern California that buy directly from family farmers. I wonder if you can visit a farmers market and start inquiring there.

  105. ET says:

    Nice article! I moved to Tokyo recently and hadn’t expected to be able to cook with good fat again (I loved rendering tallow in the US) but discovered relatively cheap blocks of pork fat locally, and this post is a good motivator to try it out. Granted, I’ll probably have to give away a lot of it for lack of storage space, but that just means I’ll make more friends. :) Thanks!

  106. Regina W says:

    I did this today. I read through a bunch of comments and ignored most of them (lol) so it’s likely anyone reading this comment will ignore it, too, but oh well.

    First off, I used my relatively inexpensive and simple crockpot (brand name). I tried to control the temperature by turnig low on for a few minutes, then flipping it off, but ultimately that proved to be a pain. The comments about only doing it in a crockpot if you have a really good one are true: the low on standard crockpots is to hot. I will definitely be doing this in a stockpot on our stove next time.

    Second, I will plan for it to take all day. It might not if I use a constant source of low heat but my on-off-on-off crockpot method, though effective, has taken forever (this also might have to do with my fat–which was mixed type, not leaf fat alone). I almost switched to my stockpot part way through, but I only have one big one and it was reserved for soup for dinner. (Note to self: get a second stock pot.) 😉

    Third, I will do it again because this is such a great use of something most people throw away. Even though my lard this time is a bit “piggy”, it will be perfect for frying and using in the pastry crust for meat pies.

  107. patricia says:

    Hi Diana, great information, thank you very much!
    when rendering pork fat as described, do you render all the different fats from different parts of he pig together?
    Do you have all fats ground first if possible?
    i am buying 1/2 an organic pasture raised pig and have never rendered pork fat.
    thank you,

  108. Ted E. says:

    Hey Diana, Great informational post/blog. I did my first rendering today. It was 12 pounds of nice, clean beef fat from a reasonably local butcher. I cut it up and ground it myself, which was quite the adventure in itself. Brought back memories of my anatomy classes in med school.
    The rendering took several hours in a 6 quart crock pot. The color was a nice pale yellow. The smell was only a faint clean beef one. I filled 12 pint Mason jars. Most of which are destined for the freezer. I do have several questions however.

    First, How much headspace should I allow in those jars, to be safe? (I left roughly 1 inch when filling.)
    Second, How much actual flavor (taste) would you expect tallow to have?
    Third, Why is tallow not generally used for baking. Which is what I believe you mentioned?

    Thanks very much for your consideration and help. Ted

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Ted, first of all congratulations! I’m always left so satisfied after rendering a new batch of fat! I would leave at least 1 1/2″ to be safe. the fat can dome up in the middle while freezing. Tallow is going to have a deeper flavor than pork lard. It’s why the fat of choice to bake with is pork since it’s more or less flavorless. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it. By all means, give it a go. Especially in savory foods like pot pies, crackers, and breads. Let us know how it turns out!

      • Ted E. says:

        Thanks Diana. It was a lot more involved than I anticipated but, I’m sure as I continue to do it in the future, it will get easier. Next project will be “pastured” pork fat!
        As far as getting the greater headspace is concerned, can I just take a spoon and carve out some of the fat in each jar? Would it be smarter to re-heat the tallow to an almost liquid state and pour the excess out?
        All of the jars are currently in the fridge. I have plenty of room in my big freezer for them. Oh, just thought of something else. What’s the smartest way to mark the jars as to content? Thanks again. I’m sure we will be chatting again soon.

    • Regina says:

      Ted – can you tell me about how many pounds of ground fat fit into your 6 quart cooker at one time?

  109. Jewell says:

    Just a note, because so many people in the comments seem less-than-pleased with their results. I raise 100% grass-fed beef, and have a friend who raises pastured pork. I have only rendered pork fat six times, but I have a six foot chest freezer nearly full of 5lb blocks of tallow and suet, so while my lard experience is less than many of you, I ‘have it covered’ in beef fat, LOL. However – I do know the animal parts of the equation well.

    There are several factors that are more important than the temperature you render at, and they are (almost) entirely out of your control. This applies to beef fats as well. These are in reverse order of impact:
    1. The breed of pigs or cattle the fat came from. While a small number of breeds are used commercially, with the increase of ‘homesteading’ farmers, many of the less-common breeds are finding their way into the processors now. (if the friend who gave you pig fat has ‘Red Wattles’ in the east coast area, LMK!!)
    2. The animals’ diet before processing. ‘Pastured” pork still required supplemental grain, so there is less variance from animal to animal relative to diet than beef has, but, factory-farmed pigs have no pasture at all, so there IS going to be a difference. 100% Grass-Fed beef tallow (and suet) has a significantly different fatty acid profile from grain-fed beef fats; so much so that it melts, on average, at 10 degrees lower temperature. (see Nutrition Profile on our website for test results)
    3. The age of the animal at processing. *Most* pigs are harvested between nine months and one year of age. However, some are harvested FAR later. The usual case is animals kept for breeding stock that either did not breed or produced inferior offspring.
    There is a tremendous difference in the makeup of the fats after an animal reaches full maturity. Sitting in my pantry is a three and a half gallon bucket of ‘lard’ from a 600lb sow that would not breed; a ‘white elephant’ gift, if you will, It is darker than wet sand, smelly as can be, and will not harden at a temperature above freezing; it is fit only for (scented) soap. (The reason I came to read this was in hope of finding a ‘magic bullet’ to clean it up.)
    Mature cattle fat, instead of the white, flaky fat of a 2yo, is greyish and oily looking when fresh. Generally speaking, if the fat you are starting out with looks oily before warming, the animal was older than optimum and you will get a softer, darker, stronger smelling product.

    I know of one ‘trick’ that can be used on beef fats to reduce the odor. Won’t eliminate it entirely, but will reduce it significantly. Beef fat melts at 90 to 122 degrees, depending on the animal’s prior diet, age, etc. It can be taken to 180 degrees F without any risk of damage. After the initial rendering and filtering (I use a restaurant oil cone filter system; inexpensive [if you render a lot], easy and works great, esp. for large quantities) bring it near the 180 mark, and put clean, peeled potato slices in it. I use one medium potato for each half-gallon of tallow, sliced about half an inch thick. Hold it at temperature until the slices have ‘skinned over’ and you *think* they might be starting to brown. Remove the fat from the heat, and the potato slices from the fat. You can re-filter and pack at this point if you’re satisfied with it. If not:
    Let it cool slightly (150 or less), and if the odor is still objectionable to you, flush it with water – pour warm-to-hot water against the side of the pot furthest from you in about equal amounts to the tallow. Stir it for a minute, then set it somewhere cold to separate and harden. Cut the hardened fat to remove it from the water below, drain it, and re-melt it to evaporate the water out. Repeat flushing if you wish – I haven’t noticed any difference after the first three flushes.

  110. Julia says:

    when I render lard I always number my jars. #1 rendered first is the best odor free lard. then I use it accordingly. The lower numbers for pastries then the higher numbers (which are porky smelling) for cooking potatoes or pot pie crust, etc. I start with separated leaf lard so I have a #1 leaf lard and a #1 lard lard. I also fill quart jars 2/3 full and freeze.
    After reading this I do think I tend to let my cracklins get too crispy. I think it made my last lard porkier than usual this time.

  111. Regina says:

    I found a local farm offering pasture raised pork fat (ground). Can anyone tell me about how many pounds of ground fat will fit in a 6 Quart Slow Cooker? I have no idea how much to purchase…

  112. chris says:

    hello diana,
    thanks for your blog. i just came home with my leaf lard , all 70 lbs. of it. it was a special order form the pork store. it cost me a buck a pound. all fresh looks great . im a total believer in the benefits of this kind of fat . since switching my family from veg. oil my sons and daughters acne is gone as well as mine and my wife’s roseacia. the dermatologist thinks it was the nickel in the veg. oil. anyway i have a question. my oil fresh out of the pot has the color of lemonade, a tiny tinge of green . whats up with the color it cooks off fast should i cook it longer perhaps a higher temp.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      No, that’s a good color! I definitely wouldn’t turn up the heat. Once it cools and hardens it’ll turn a nice snow white 😀

      • chris says:

        thanks for your confirmation. processing 70 lbs was a little messy but worth the work. leaf lard is so much faster to render than other kinds of fat.
        HELP FULL TIP i cut the lard into 1 and 2 inch pieces and put about 2 lbs in a large pot. added a cup of water. once the fat got gelatinous. i used a braun hand mixer to further break up the pieces. boiled it until there was no more steam, then strained it. each batch took 20 minutes? and it came out great . out of 78 lbs i got 65 lbs. of lard. and 7 lbs of that was fat attached to sinue and too difficult to separate. hardly any waste in my book. by the way the waste makes great crab bait.

  113. Hi, everyone-
    I render pork trimmings in wide mouthed canning jars in a large crockpot filled 2/3 full of water on the medium setting. No “burnt” smell, and no cleanup; just skim the floating scraps regularly to cook later. Strain for baking; if using for cooking, it goes unstrained into the freezer (the waterless fat doesn’t expand, so the jars don’t break).

  114. Mike G says:

    I have been reading about how it really is a good idea to render your own lard, so after many months of not having done it—I recently found a source of some good pork fat thanks to finding a small mom and pop shop that processes meat for area farmers and hunters bringing in deer and other game animals not too far from me in central Florida—it has been hard to find a source of such fat because around here—-there was not a great tradition of “butcher shops” like I had when growing up Ohio in Cincinnati.

    All of the “meat shops” that I do find near me—-they have some good meats, but it all comes to them prepackaged and frozen. Around here–such meat does include things like “gator.”

    I had not thought of using a crock pot, I have decent one but think that even at the low setting–might be too hot. I do have the original version of the electronic steam cooker that you see on the TV infomercials. It has a crock pot setting–I was wondering if anyone has used one of those and what sort of results they got.

    I had the fat in the freezer, and not long ago put it in the fridge for a slow thaw, but in a few days, I am gonna give it my first shot at doing this.

    The fat is a mix of leaf and pork belly, so I hope that mix works out OK.

    I guess this is going to be both a situation of being “trial and error” and “on the job training.”

    I do plan to use my lard for both baking and general cooking once I get the process down.

    I have worked as a professional cook over the years, but honestly, I never did render lard—I was a cook in the military and later did lots of work for large catering companies. In the service due to needing to stock large amounts of food for a large number of people, all of our basic ingredients used in food prep came in highly in processed form from major food suppliers and even though in pro catering—we’d make our mainline food products from high quality fresh foods, we still would rely on pre-processed items like lard for the “secondary” ingredients both out of ease of use, storage and cost.

    Of late—for my own cooking purposes, I have gone to a policy of using as many high quality ingredients at all stages of my cooking as possible and that includes wanting to “up my game” on my baking by using high quality, not store shelf lard because I have been experimenting with “old school recipes” on things like making classic Southern cakes and other baked goods.

  115. Leslie says:

    I recently rendered 10lb of fat into lard. I canned it in a pressure canner. After the jars cooled the lard is part solid and part liquid. I am not sure why. Any ideas?

  116. Val says:

    While the method described will certainly work and give you useable lard, it’s important to remember that part of the “rendering” process is to separate the fat from the connective tissue AND the water.

    Starting to ladle off and put the lard into jars *before* it has had a chance to boil off all of the water will give you a product that is more likely to to become rancid and not have as good as a shelf life. Better to NOT drain off any liquid lard until the whole batch has had enough time to cook.

    As for temperature, water boils off at 212F – so a temperature *slightly* above this is required – and keeping it that that slightly higher temperature until the bubbling (water bring driven) stops is the “how long”. It will depend on how big a batch, your heat source, and the fat itself. DO watch the temperature because going much over about 240F will give your lard too much “cooked” flavor and possibly darken it.

    We use a heavy-duty, 8 gallon stainless brew kettle (from a brewing supply store) that has a bottom tap – making getting the hot lard out of the kettle without spills much easier and safer. We use a “Camp Chef” propane burner and do it outside. Saves a lot of kitchen cleanup!

  117. Cheri Cywinski says:

    Hi! I rendered lard for the first time yesterday. My question is this: I poured the melted lard into two quart mason jars. Once the lard turned solid, I noticed about an inch or two of liquid in the bottom of the jars… What can I do?? Should I reheat the lard and cook it awhile or just drain it off? My leaf lard came from an organic farmer so I am hoping I can save what fat I have already rendered. Thanks! I’m enjoying all the comments here…

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Cheri, if there’s a bit of liquid in the bottom, no harm will come since all of the fat on top will preserve that liquid anyway’s. You won’t use it, but it won’t spoil and it won’t spoil the fat.

  118. Audrey says:

    When you render leaf lard, does the fat have to reach a certain temperature to be safe?
    I am right now in the process and have removed my first few cups of fat. I pulled out my mini cupcake pans, put mini
    cup cake papers in, 1 TBLS of fat in each. Now they are sitting at room temperature. When can I freeze them?

  119. Audrey says:

    What temperature does the leaf fat have to reach to be safe?
    Also what color should the leaf fat be before cooking? I received one package that was really white and the other 5 lbs was pinker in color.

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