Do you want all the richness and silkiness of bacon grease, but don’t have any on hand? The good news is that there are many excellent stand ins that can be used in cooking, seasoning skillets, and more! Here is a list of the BEST bacon fat substitutes.
Bacon fat is a common element in a lot of homes that use old fashioned and traditional cooking methods. Since it is would otherwise be a waste product, thrifty home cooks have made use of this liquid gold for centuries. Not only does it impart a savory, smoky flavor, but it also features that same classic umami that bacon itself has.
But unless you keep a large storage of bacon grease on hand, you may find yourself in need of a bacon fat substitute. The good news is that there are plenty of delicious options to add to your biscuits, cornbread, gravy and more!
Best Bacon Fat Substitutes for Cooking
The good thing about fat substitutes is that they can all be substituted at a 1:1 ratio. Since the nature of fats is that they are almost entirely composed of fat, they are easily substituted for one another.
To add that signature smokiness, I recommend adding a tiny drop of liquid smoke if you have it on hand. Although it won’t be the exact same as bacon fat, it will add the smoky flavor and be a perfect compliment to the dishes bacon fat is most often served with.
Lard is made from the rendered fat of pigs, making it an excellent bacon fat substitute. Since they both come from the same animal, lard and bacon fat are very similar in consistency, texture and flavor. Lard most often is very lightly flavored, or completely flavorless if purifying is part of the rendering process. Home rendered lard will have more pork flavor, while store bought lard is most often hydrogenated, making it flavorless.
2. Lardons or Bacon
Chances are, if you’re looking for a bacon fat substitute, you don’t have lardons (small cubes of fatty bacon) or bacon on hand. BUT, if you do, I highly recommend that you try rendering your own bacon fat. This is the best substitute for bacon grease, since you are just making your own! To render, simply cook the lardons or bacon on medium heat until crisp. Remove the cooked bacon or lardons from the pan and reserve the pan drippings. Allow to cool if you need your fat to be a semi-solid consistency.
3. Chicken Fat AKA Schmaltz
Rendered chicken fat (also known as Schmaltz) is a great substitute for bacon fat. It has a very similar consistency and is a semi-solid at room temperature. Schmaltz also has a lovely savory flavor that is perfect for roasting potatoes, cooking eggs, or adding to gravies. It does lack a smoky flavor, so adding a tiny drop of liquid smoke can help the flavor come a little closer to bacon.
4. Duck or Goose Fat
Duck or goose fat is a fabulous stand in for bacon grease, and has a signature flavor all its own. Since it is a rendered animal fat, it is very similar to the consistency of bacon fat and makes a great substitute. Again, it does lack some of the smokiness, but I would not add liquid smoke, as its flavor is unique and beautiful on its own. It’s not a staple in French cooking because it lacks flavor, I’ll tell you that!
Tallow is rendered from beef or mutton fat, and has traditionally been used as a cooking fat, as well as a way to make candles. It’s a delicious and stable fat that is completely solid when chilled. It has a slightly beefy flavor, so it is considerably different than using bacon, but still makes an excellent substitute.
Almost everything is better with butter, right!? Butter is one of my personal favorite fats to use, as the flavor just cannot be beat! While it does not taste like bacon, it does have a slightly nutty flavor and savoriness that is perfect for cooking. It also has a silky mouthfeel, making it an ideal cooking fat for low and medium heat applications. If you are substituting butter for bacon grease, be sure to use a lower cooking temperature, as butter can burn very easily.
7. Refined Coconut Oil
While virgin coconut oil has a strong coconut flavor, refined oils are flavorless and can work in a pinch. It is crucial that you use refined coconut oil, as even the slightest coconut taste can very easily ruin a dish! So if you only have virgin coconut oil on hand, skip it and use one of the many other stand ins available.
8. Ghee or Clarified Butter
If you have access to (or can make your own) ghee (or clarified butter) is one of the better bacon fat substitutes. It has a slightly nutty flavor and similar flavor as butter, but a much higher smoke point, making it a great option for high heat cooking. It adds a lovely brown color, and it’s very aromatic as well. A semi-solid at room temperature, it has a similar consistency to bacon grease and makes a good substitute.
Whether or not you can substitute bacon grease for butter depends on the recipe. Most recipes can easily substitute butter for bacon grease, but you may need to melt the butter to get it to be the right consistency first. A good rule is to bring the butter to whatever consistency the bacon fat would be (semi-solid, liquid, etc).
The best substitute for bacon grease in cornbread would be melted salted butter. If you have it available, clarified butter or ghee would be an even better substitute, as these have a higher smoke point and won’t burn as easily as butter will.