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Cooking With Bacon Grease

Cooking with bacon grease is a common practice in households across the South. Bacon grease is more than a cooking substitute for oil or butter; it’s an important part of Southern cooking.  

mason jar of bacon grease with a spoon in it

If you have a Southern Mother, you probably grew up with a jar of bacon grease in your refrigerator. My mother refers to it as liquid gold. Cooking with bacon grease aka bacon fat is an old school way of utilizing all the food in the house (nothing goes to waste) & adding flavor to soul food recipes.  

What Is Bacon Grease & Why You Should Use It

Bacon renders lot of fat when cooked. Bacon grease is the leftover fat. There are many reasons to cook with bacon grease. For one, bacon grease is affordable. Food prices are currently at an all-time high. You can utilize leftover bacon grease in any recipe that calls for oil or butter. It also adds flavor. Bacon grease is might not be the healthiest fat but it’s packed with flavor.

uncooked bacon on a wooden cutting board
Only 1 ingredient: bacon

How To Make Bacon Grease

You only need 1 ingredient to make bacon grease – bacon. Cook the bacon using your preferred method. Cooking bacon in a pan will produce bacon solids. Solids are the burnt particles from the bacon. As discussed below, some solids are good but if there’s a lot you may want to strain them out.

bacon cooking in a cast-iron skillet

How To Collect Bacon Grease

There’s no wrong or right way to collect leftover bacon grease. Most people will tell you to pour the grease into a jar while it’s still warm. I have seen some people wait until the grease has cooled completely and solid before scooping it out. Both ways work. Use the method that works for you. 

warm unfiltered bacon grease in a black skillet

To Strain Or Not To Strain

Bacon solids add flavor to the bacon grease but too much will turn your batch rancid quicker than normal. Depending on the amount of solid bits in your grease, you may want to strain it before storing. If you choose to strain your bacon grease, do so by pouring it through a sieve, cheesecloth, or coffee filter. You can do this directly into the jar you plan on storing it in.

bacon grease in a mason jar with a lid

What Type Of Jar To Use

You can pretty much store leftover bacon grease in almost any type of container. The old school is to use a leftover glass jar like an old jelly or jam jar. These days the most popular way to store bacon grease is in a mason jar. Just be sure to use an air-tight container.

What To Cook With Bacon Grease

The sky is the limit when it comes to cooking with bacon grease. Sear your next roast in bacon grease or add it to your cornbread! Bacon grease can be used as a butter or oil substitute in almost anything: eggs, pancakes, cookies, etc. It has a low smoke point so it’s not good for frying but it can be used in baking or for sautéing vegetables and meats. When you are ready to cook with your leftover grease, use the solid grease or reheat it on a low heat until it becomes a liquid again. 

side view of mason jar of bacon grease with a spoon in it

How To Store Bacon Grease

Whether or not you store bacon grease in the refrigerator is apparently debatable. Personally I store mine in the refrigerator because that’s how my Mother stored hers. My Grandmother collected her bacon grease in a tin container next to the stove-top. Almost daily she added bacon grease or whatever other grease she had from cooking. We never got sick but I did not adopt this habit. I store mine in the refrigerator & I suggest you to as well.

Store bacon grease in an air-tight container. Bacon grease keeps for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Can you freeze bacon grease? Yes! Leftover bacon fat will keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.

2 mason jars of bacon grease, one opened with a spoon in it

Things To Keep In Mind…

  • Bacon grease has a low smoke point so it is not good for frying. You can add it to the oil you are using for frying.
  • Bacon grease will take on the flavor of the bacon. Your batches will probably vary by taste.
  • Never discard hot bacon grease in the trash or down the kitchen sink drain. If you are not going to save your bacon grease, the best way to discard it is to let it cool completely so you can scoop it out and put in the trash.
  • If your bacon grease has is putting off a bad odor or if there’s any mold, it’s time to toss it away.
mason jar of bacon grease with a spoon in it

Recipes That Can Use Bacon Grease

Southern Green Beans & Potatoes

Black Folks Shrimp & Grits

Patti Labelle’s Sweet Potato Pie

Beef Tripe & Beans

Jiffy Cornbread

What’s your favorite use for bacon grease?