Bacon grease, also known as bacon fat, is the golden liquid that remains in the frying pan after cooking bacon. It’s often discarded as waste, but did you know that bacon grease can actually be a delicious and versatile ingredient in the kitchen?
Most of us will remember our granny or even our mothers having a can or jar of bacon grease somewhere close to the stove. Not only is it a great way to save money, but once you learn how to use bacon grease, you have a super simple way to add amazing flavor to your cooked meals and sides. In fact, in my home, we often refer to it as liquid gold.
It might seem as if adding bacon grease to your food could only be used with one or two dishes, but the truth is that there are many ways to use bacon grease that can add huge amounts of flavor and depth to your cooking.
Is It Worth Saving Bacon Grease?
One of the best things – and what I feel is the main reason saving bacon grease is worth it – about using bacon grease is that it’s a free ingredient. If you cook bacon regularly, you’ll have a ready supply of bacon grease on hand.
Even if you don’t eat bacon often, you may not have much leftover bacon grease. If this is the case, you can always ask your local butcher for some bacon fat so you are able to render it at home. Obviously buying bacon fat is not free, but it shouldn’t cost you too much.
How Do You Filter Bacon Grease
Some people use their bacon grease as is with no filtering. I prefer mine to be filtered. This is incredibly simple to do.
First, you can filter bacon grease by using a mason jar, a jar ring and a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Use the ring to hold the filter in place and pour your grease through it. Allow the grease to drain through the filter and place the lid on the jar when you’re finished. This way does take a bit of time depending on how much grease you have.
The second way is much easier, but also more expensive. You can purchase a bacon grease can with a built in strainer lid. This makes things much simpler, but it also does not guarantee your bacon fat will be as filtered as you may want.
How to Store Bacon Fat
The reason I prefer to filter my bacon fat is that it helps it last so much longer. Bacon fat, when properly filtered, is shelf stable for up to 6-months with no refrigeration provided it is stored in a cool, dry place. Storing it in the fridge can extend that shelf life to as much as 9-months.
No matter how you choose to store it, you should be sure the container is airtight. Doing so will ensure your leftover fat lasts as long as possible without going rancid.
How Do You Store Bacon Grease Long Term?
If you want to store your bacon fat for longer, you will need to freeze it or properly prepare it for long-term storage. You can keep it shelf stable with no refrigeration needed by pressure canning it.
Before we go into that, know that pressure canning bacon grease is not an approved canning method. However, if you choose to do so, you will pressure can it for the meat times for your altitude. Pints are canned for 75 minutes at the PSI for your area and quarts for 90 minutes.
How to Use Bacon Grease in Cooking
Bacon grease is a great addition to savory dishes, adding depth of flavor and richness. Here are some ways to use bacon grease in your cooking:
One of the easiest ways to use bacon grease is to roast vegetables with it. Simply toss your favorite vegetables in melted bacon grease, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven until tender and caramelized. Not only does the bacon grease add flavor, but it also helps the vegetables to cook evenly and stay moist.
Frying eggs in bacon grease is a classic breakfast dish. The bacon grease adds a smoky flavor to the eggs and helps them to cook evenly. To fry eggs in bacon grease, heat a tablespoon of bacon grease in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny for a tasty eggs over easy breakfast.
Bacon grease is also great for sautéing greens, such as kale, collard greens, and spinach. It’s also great for brussels sprouts and asparagus! Simply heat a tablespoon of grease in a skillet over medium-high heat, add your greens, and sauté until wilted and tender. The bacon grease adds flavor and richness to the greens and helps them to cook evenly.
Leftover bacon fat can also be used as the base for a delicious gravy. To make gravy with bacon grease, simply melt two tablespoons in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in two tablespoons of flour and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in two cups of milk and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, whisking occasionally, until the gravy has thickened.
Bacon grease can be used as a replacement for butter or oil in cookie recipes. The bacon grease adds a subtle smoky flavor to the cookies and helps them to stay moist and chewy. To use bacon grease in your cookie recipe, simply substitute it for the butter or oil in the recipe, using the same amount.
It’s especially good in chocolate chip cookies!
Making Pie Crust
Bacon grease can also be used to make a delicious and flaky pie crust. To make a pie crust with bacon grease, simply replace half of the butter or shortening in your favorite pie crust recipe with bacon grease. The bacon grease adds a savory flavor to the crust and helps it to brown evenly.
Bacon grease is also a delicious topping for popcorn. Simply pop your popcorn, melt a tablespoon of bacon grease in a saucepan, and drizzle the bacon grease over the popcorn.
Pancakes and Waffles
Bacon grease can also be used to add a savory twist to your pancakes or waffles. Simply substitute a portion of the butter or oil in your pancake or waffle recipe with bacon grease. The bacon grease will add a delicious smoky flavor to your breakfast dish.
Finally, it can also be used to make a unique and delicious caramel sauce. To make caramel sauce with bacon grease, simply melt a tablespoon of bacon grease in a saucepan over medium heat. Add one cup of sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in half a cup of heavy cream. The bacon grease will add a subtle smoky flavor to the caramel sauce.
How to Use Bacon Fat When You Cook
When using bacon grease in your cooking, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Store it properly: Bacon grease should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to nine months.
- Strain it: When transferring bacon grease from the frying pan to a container, be sure to strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any bits of bacon.
- Use it sparingly: Bacon grease is high in fat and calories, so use it in moderation.
- Combine it with other oils: To avoid overwhelming your dish with a smoky flavor, you can combine bacon grease with other oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil.
- Experiment with different dishes: Don’t be afraid to experiment with bacon grease in different dishes. It can add a unique and delicious flavor to a variety of dishes, from roasted vegetables to caramel sauce.
Bacon grease is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can add depth and flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. From roasting vegetables to making pie crust, there are many ways to use bacon grease in your cooking. However, it should be used in moderation due to its high fat and calorie content. So, the next time you cook up some bacon, don’t throw away the bacon grease – try one of these delicious ways to use it instead!