Praise the Lard! How to Make Lard & Why You Should Eat It.

Making lard is easy and there is NOTHING that makes a better pie crust than lard.  Plus shock of shocks … lard is a heart healthy fat just like avocado or olive oil.   All lard is, is slow melted pig fat. Here’s how to make it.

Snow white homemade lard on a spoon with a half full glass jar of lard behind it.

Skip right to the printable tutorial.

Hey, you know that thing you thought about lard being bad for you?  Well it isn’t. So you can just file that thought away with your previous thoughts on eggs, wine, chocolate, coffee, and red meat being bad for you.  I give it a year before we find out  stabbing yourself in the eye isn’t bad for you either.

It seems scientists had jumped to the wrong conclusion about lard many years ago.  The theory was animal fats were bad for you and plant fats were good for you.  Think Olive Oil and Avocado Oil, the darlings of the fat world.  They’re good for you, have high smoking points and are heart healthy.

Well guess what. Turns out lard is that type of fat too. Ergo, lard is good for you. Scientists have recently taken a big backtrack on their analysis of it being bad for you because it’s high in the heart healthy monounsaturated fat.   

Lard is now seen as a fat that’s good for you.  But there’s a catch.  It should be homemade lard.

Grocery store lard has preservatives BHA and BHT added to it so it has a longer shelf life.  Those 2 preservatives are thought to be bad for you.  But hey … that’s this week, right?

Luckily homemade lard is stupid easy to make.

HOW TO MAKE LARD
Ingredients:

Leaf lard (your butcher will know what this is)

Steps:

Step 1: Dice the fat into small pieces or (even better) put it through a grinder.
Step 2: Place the fat into a slow cooker along with 1/4 cup of water.
Step 3: Slow cook on low/medium until all the fat has melted.  If it sticks add a bit more water. This will take several hours.
Step 4: Strain the fat into a jar. I don’t like cheesecloth for this because it soaks up too much of the precious lard.  I prefer a very fine mesh strainer.
Step 5: Store the lard in your fridge.

IDEA: Lard makes the world’s best pie crust and pumpkin makes the world’s best pie. And if you’re going to make pumpkin pie, make it with real pumpkin. 

Pork fat being diced on a wood cutting board. 

1.  Why leaf lard?  Because it’s the cleanest and softest fat on the pig which has no “piggy” smell or taste once rendered. It’s gathered from around the kidneys of the pig.  Fat from pasture raised pork is the best because you are what you eat.  And so is the pig.

Where to find leaf lard? You can get it from a farmer’s market or butcher shop.

Murray Thunberg, owner of Murry’s Farm in Cambridge, Ontario which produces pasture raised heritage breed pork, firmly believes fat from his pigs (which is what I used) is especially good because his pigs are not only pasture raised but they aren’t given any corn or soy products in their diet at all.   I asked him what he thought of leaf fat as being the premium fat for rendering and he laughingly said he can’t tell the difference between lard rendered from leaf fat or other fat.  It all tastes good.

 

Pork fat being prepared to render into lard.

2.  To dice, grind or grate?  Lard takes a long time to render and it HAS to be done at a slow temperature otherwise it’ll brown.  The  smaller your lard bits are the better it will render.  No matter how you get your fat ready (dicing, grinding or grating) it’ll all be easier if you’re working with refrigerated fat that’s easier to grate and slice because it’s firmed up. Room temperature fat is soft, wiggly and harder to work with.

BEST – Grinding 

2nd BEST – Grating or finely chopping in a food processor

3rd BEST – Dicing. It will still work, as I’ve shown in this post, but it’s the most time consuming and least effective for getting the most out of your fat. 

I also should invest in an actual Crock Pot (or any slow cooker)  as opposed to this Instant Pot which I have very unfriendly feelings towards. You can read my unfriendly review of the Instant Pot here. 

Diced pork fat in an Instant Pot, ready to render into lard.

3. Why the water?  Adding a bit of water just helps to stop the fat from burning/browning.

 

White homemade leaf lard on a spoon set on a butcher block countertop.

4. How to store it?  There are a LOT of differing opinions on this on the Internet so take my advice with a few words of caution:  I’m no expert.  But I store my lard in the refrigerator.  

I’m gonna say you could probably just store it on the counter being that fat is a natural preservative AND lard has more saturated fats in it than vegetable/seed oils so it stores longer without fear of going rancid.  Also I think we’ve all become a little crazy when it comes to the fear of getting sick and dying from food.

How to Make Lard.

How to Make Lard.

Yield: Rendered lard

Lard not only isn't bad for you, it's full of heart healthy fats!

Good for you for making some yourself!

Materials

  • Leaf lard
  • Water

Tools

  • Slow cooker

Instructions

    1. Dice the fat into small pieces or (even better) put it through a grinder.
    2. Place the fat into a slow cooker along with 1/4 cup of water.
    3. Slow cook on low/medium until all the fat has melted.  If it sticks add a bit more water. This will take several hours.
    4. Strain the fat into a jar. I don't like cheesecloth for this because it soaks up too much of the precious lard.  I prefer a very fine mesh strainer.
    5. Store the lard in your fridge.

Notes

Leaf lard is supposed to give you a clean, almost sweet flavour for your rendered lard so try and get that if you can. It will have no pork flavor. If your butcher doesn't have it, ask for the cleanest fat they have for rendering into lard.

Cubing the fat works, but if you have a meat grinder, ground lard will render more quickly and evenly.

Perfectly clean lard will store well at room temperature, but I store it in the fridge just to be extra safe. Also, I use it mostly for pie crusts and I want the lard to be cold for that anyway.

I don’t have enough yet but when I stock up on more fat from Murray I’m going to use it  in my deep fryer for making what I suspect will be the world’s best french fries. And you know I’m serious about my french fries.

 

For now, with the jar that I have, it’s going to be used for a deep dish cigarette pie.  Because didn’t you hear?  Those are good for you now too.

Just kidding.  Cigarette pies have an aftertaste.  Blueberry pie it is.

How to make (render) your own lard and why you should. Seems those pesky scientists have backtracked on their original thought that it\'s bad for you. Turns out lard is full of heart healthy fats and makes the world\'s most delicious pie crust. #pies

94 Comments

  1. Glenda says:

    Lost me forever.

  2. ktr says:

    We buy a pig every year and I cook down the lard in an electric roaster. I don’t bother to cut it up in little pieces but it would probably help it cook down faster. We feed the parts that get strained out to the dog and he loves it!

    • Sheryl says:

      I’m a city kid so no raising pigs for me. But I read about how much better lard is for cooking and baking. After a long and unsuccessful search for it in local stores, I found leaf lard on Amazon. YIKES! The PRICE! But I paid it just so I can have the kind of pies my gram used to make. Now I just need a recipe. Any suggestions.

  3. Eileen says:

    Funny…I just made my first ever batch over the weekend. My grandma and my mom always made it. My mom just gave me a smallish pretty beat up enameled pot that I remember as the “Schmalz” pot. I just use the pork fat they sell at the Latino/Asian grocery. And since we’re German I leave the bits in it and use it as a smear for bread – add a light sprinkle of salt and: oh yeah!

  4. Valerie says:

    I believe Julia Child once said that the reason McDonalds used to have the best French fries is because they used lard to fry. They don’t anymore. Which is probably why they were way better back in the 70’s

    • Karen says:

      It was beef tallow. :) And from what I remember, they try to replicate the taste in their fat with an additive now. (I’ve recently been researching McDonalds French Fries) But I haven’t confirmed the additive part is true. ~ karen!

  5. Marisol says:

    I’ve found leaf lard at the farmer’s market (just this last summer) but it’s already been rendered. And has the price tag to match. :( I have to say that 6oz butter and 2oz lard made a delicious crust for my quiche – which was something I also learned to do this past year. Maybe I can find some UNrendered lard next year!

  6. TucsonPatty says:

    Karen, as the second favorite thing about reading your posts for me is reading all the comments, I appreciate that the newest are now at the top of the comment section.
    I am constantly amazed at your ability to find the best and easiest solution to every problem.
    This finally gives me the space to not completely hijack a post for another question that I‘ll bet you either know the answer, or have the means to figure out the answer.
    Why/how do some fill-in-your-email-address-spots automatically give you a keyboard with the ‘@‘ and the ‘.’ on the same keyboard and not have it necessary to go back and forth?
    I know you can go back and forth (on my iPad or iPhone) by holding down the symbol key and sliding to the key you want, but often I can’t seem to be smooth enough to do it correctly, and have to do it over the hard way.
    Thanks for your answer.

  7. Alena says:

    Just the other day, I saw a photo online (I can’t remember what it was I was reading at the time ) but it was from a store and I could clearly see that they had lard. I thought ‘OMG, where is this? Who sells lard?’
    I have never seen lard in the stores where I shop (though I admit I have not specifically looked for it).
    I always miss lard when I make (2x a year, max) potato pancakes (from grated potatoes). Maybe I can use duck lard for that. They just aren’t the same when made on avocado oil (which I use exclusively, except when I make a batch of schnitzels at Christmas, then I buy some cheaper oil).

    • Mary W says:

      I bought a pound of lard packaged like butter in a grocery store. It is NOT the kind I used when I was young but nasty and I threw it away. I’m sure it wasn’t leaf lard! That you need to make for yourself which is well worth the trouble. I envy Karen making french fries and know it will be the best she ever ate.

    • Terry Carpenter says:

      Lard is usually found in the “ethnic food” aisle.

  8. Tricia Rose says:

    When I make spare ribs I boil the ribs first and usually get round 8oz of beautiful lard to bake with, I just wait til it’s cold and take it off the top (then the cooking water can be reduced to a wonderful broth).

  9. Suzanne says:

    Not understanding the dates on these comments.

    • Teri on the wet coast says:

      Indeed. I don’t see any mention of this being an update of a previous post. Curious.
      That being said, I’ve rendered beef fat but never pork so this is good info.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suzanne! It’s a previously published post that I rewrote and updated the photos for. ~ karen!

  10. Debra Rose says:

    Karen, God bless you. I have been wondering how to do this for ages.

  11. Mliss says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this Neapolitan Lard Bread. Now that I know how to make lard I have no more excuses.
    http://www.ciaoitalia.com/seasons/20/2020/neapolitan-stuffed-easter-bread

  12. SueB says:

    I might be completely making this up but if I~ want to strain something wet through something like a muslin cloth, I always soak the cloth in water first. Then it’s already taken up something wet and whatever you’re straining can pass straight through instead of being wasted soaking into the muslin.

    Like I said, I could be just making something up though. Maybe the lard would just displace the water – it doesn’t seem to, but I haven’t scientifically tested it or anything.

  13. Melissa Keyser says:

    My parents raise a few pigs every year, and I always request all fo the fat. I don’t have your fancy instapot, so I render it down on the stove. Not hard, it just takes forever. My only tip is make sure you shower afterwards. When you go to bed, you think you smell fine. But waking up the next morning smelling like cooked fat is not good.

  14. Jani says:

    Sweet!! Since I have a lard ass I can now say that I can make my own lard to plump it up even bigger!!

  15. Erin says:

    Perfect timing. Last fall, we bought half a pasture-raised pig for the freezer. Now we are just down to the odd bits. Recently, I was looking at the two packages of fat and thinking, “I really gotta find out how to render this.” Now to adjust the directions to a non-electrical appliance. (Or go visit a friend with a crock-pot and a connection to the grid for half a day!)

    • Karen says:

      Do you ever cook in a hole in the earth? Or have a cob oven? I have a hunch if you were to leave the fat in the cob oven once it cooled down over night it might do the trick. It just has to be low enough temp so that it doesn’t burn. ~ karen!

      • Erin says:

        I have a bake oven in the top of my masonry stove. Perhaps after my next fire (cold this weekend, eh?) I could set it in there.
        Hole in the earth – heh.

  16. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Karen..my Mom always made the best French fries and fried potatoes with lard which was bought from the farmer..his was probably more like yous is without any added stuff…I’m talking about this was in the 50s -60s…

  17. sarajane says:

    Can you render lard in a crock pot, if you haven’t succumbed to the Instant-Pot mania, yet? (providing you can find leaf lard…)

  18. karin says:

    Curious, how much does leaf lard cost? And who can tell me the difference between tallow and suet? I’ve used suet before in an old german stollen recipe and it is almost impossible to find now.

    • Evalyn says:

      Lard is from the fat of pigs. Suet is the white fat from beef, used for cooking. Tallow is the yellow fat from beef and sheep, used for making candles and bird seed blocks.

  19. Kelli says:

    Honey, I don’t NEED to MAKE my own lard. I have a more-than-ample supply.

    I just need to know how to harvest the stuff. And if I can make a buck from it, so much the better! :-D

  20. Stephanie says:

    I’m going to try this – I use lard for pies and a couple of other things already. That being said, I have to disagree about the best fries in the world – duck fat rules when it comes to the best fries in the world.

  21. Amie says:

    Should fat from different animals be separated and made into different lard batches? Any taste or implications from mixing chicken with beef?

    And those with reactions to high fat food, is lard alright for you in baking? The hubs is sensitive to any fat left on a pork chop, so I’m reluctant to feed him a pie with lard in the crust. I may love it and have no reaction, but his stomach won’t.

    Or this is yet another way to make sure the baked goods are left just for me :D

  22. Mary W says:

    My neck of the woods is in Florida – rural NW central FL but with a Super Walmart that helped to close the couple of grocery stores we had (with butchers). We have to drive over an hour to the closest Publix into Gainesville (go Gators) to find a butcher. I’ve asked them before and they say they only have certain cuts of beef to “butcher” so no bones, etc. Publix is a great grocery store but just wouldn’t survive out here in the boondocks where lots of people still raise and butcher their own meat.

  23. Kat says:

    I just brought home two American Guinea Hogs last week. They’re going to give us a lot of lard. I’m so excited!

  24. Cindy Marlow says:

    I got the healthy memo on lard about 7 years ago when we raised our first pig. I bought Lard: the lost art of cooking with your grandmother’s secret ingredient (from the editors of Grit magazine). If you love making it old school, give it a look.

  25. Bunguin says:

    Homemade food products = good, but mucho work (or expensive).
    Factory/commercial made food = bad, but convenient.

    There, I just solved the ‘what is bad vs. good for you’ problem.

    Funny part is, i think we all intuitively know this. We might eat Doritos and the like anyway, but we all seem to know this fundamental rule, but somehow chooe to ignore it? For some reason scientists have to spend all this extra time and effort to prove it to us, but it seems silly. (And i know… Scientific Method: Question, Research, Hypothesize, Experiment, Analysis/Conclusion, Result and all – it just seems …. ironic).

  26. Garth says:

    Lardy, lardy… Excellent post Karen. Make my own lard, eat butter, put whipping cream in my coffee and on my steel cut oats (with raisins and a touch of maple syrup)

    The best book I’ve read on this topic is The Great Cholesterol Myth by Bowden & Sinatra (not Frank :-)

    Science has proven there is no link between dietary cholesterol and blood serum cholesterol… and it has certainly been true for me… I’m seventy-two and weigh 172 (5’9″ tall). Have very low cholesterol, take no meds, pop out of bed every morning… and see my homeopath once a month – she’s amazing.

    There’s a really good blogger’s summary of the book in the website link.

  27. danni says:

    Leaf lard definitely is best for pastries etc, no flavor, where the other fat does.
    I have a guy who raises chickens, 100% free range and organic, and the eggs are superior, (as you well know!) and he branched out into heritage Berkshire pigs. When the cut sheet came out people were pretty grossed out that I said yes please to the lard… fools.

    • Karen says:

      I’m gonna get an order of both and see if I can tell the difference. Like I said, Murray – who raises the heritage pork – says he can’t tell the difference at all, so now I’m curious. ~ karen!

  28. I can’t wait for carbfest 2017: pizza, quiche and lemon tarts.

    Oregano apparently still has your donkey milk moisturizer…. thought I raised her good… sheesh…she PROMISED to mail this week… 🙄

  29. We’ve been making our own lard for years. My favorite use for it is cookies. Those big soft oatmeal cookies – lard. Even bakeries use lard in them. And they’re way easier to whip up than a pie.

  30. Renae says:

    I’m working on being more farm-y, but I don’t know if I can go so far as to use pig fat in a fruit pie. You are straight up legit.

    • Garth says:

      Lard was the only thing our mothers and grandmothers had for baking…

    • Karen says:

      :) You really can’t taste it at all Renae. Cross my heart. ~ karen!

      • Diane says:

        My neighbour and I bought a hog last year lovingly raised on a local farm. We finally rendered the fat into lard last fall. All of it. All the beautiful fat from that yummy hog. We got about 20 lbs of lard. 20 lbs!!! I started given it to foodie friends as hostess gifts! Anyhow, it does have a different flavour and some people think it is too strong… so I cut it half and half with butter in my pastry. Perfect for all pies (even fruit.) Only 9 lbs left to go….

    • Renae says:

      Why is my giant head in this reply? 😂

  31. Silvie says:

    that calls for a steak and kidney pudding

  32. Jan Hekhuis says:

    Can beef far be used? I’m not crazy about the smell of pork fat cooking, although I realize that’s hotter than rendering. I’ve used store bought lard to make shortbread and biscuits (as an experiment) and honestly couldn’t really say they were better or much different than those made with Crisco. Course everybody knows that frying in lard is what used to make McDonald’s french fries better than the competition’s, but the food police pressured them into changing that how many years ago?

    • Jan Hekhuis says:

      read that “beef FAT” LOL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jan! Beef fat is tallow and to be perfectly honest with you I haven’t researched it like I have lard. Mainly because it isn’t commonly used in pie crusts or for frying. It *can* be used for both those things but normally isn’t so my hunch is it isn’t as clean tasting (no taste) as lard. ~ karen!

    • Grammy says:

      I remember going to a nearby town to McDonalds (that was when there wasn’t a McDonalds on every corner — or even in every town) just to get those french fries. Everyone knew that there were no better fries in the world. But that was when they started out, and deep-fried them in a mixture of beef and pig fat. When they changed the recipe in response to people freaking out about lard, the fries were never the same. I wouldn’t walk across the street for them now. Now I want to go out and buy a pack of cigarettes.

  33. MaryJo says:

    Real lard makes excellent flour tortillas, too. Yummmm. My grandmother always rendered fat from chickens, geese, and ducks and it made fabulous pastries like danish rolls and kolaches.

  34. Kelly says:

    Got a big bag of fat in my freezer waiting to be rendered…thanks for reminding me! AND thanks for reminding me and others like us that it’s totally acceptable (maybe even cool) to have your own lard and raise your own chickens etc. in a world where most people turn their noses up at this stuff. By the way, I have always saved bacon grease to fry eggs (and other stuff) in. It’s the newest trick for chefs to make eggs taste great-DUH!

  35. Gilly Bean says:

    This sounds like something I can do! LoL.

    Homemade soap?!? Also interesting.

    I was told a few weeks ago that splinters are now good for you because they kick start your immune system. So, next time you feel a cold or the flu coming on go play with rough wood…..?

  36. Barb says:

    Oh yes! I have rendered lard like this often! Putting it through the grinder does make it much easier to separate those odd little bits. Makes lovely pure white lard, or tallow as well.

    TIP: Those old polyester shear curtains make great repurposed mesh strainers (for many things). This lard is WONDERFUL for making your own soap – I dare you!

    • Jan Hekhuis says:

      What’s the difference between tallow and lard?

      • Teri says:

        Lard is from pigs. Tallow is rendered from beef fat but to specifically be called tallow it must be rendered from the fat around the kidneys. Tallow is a very hard fat and actually makes the finest soap, lard is a softer fat but still makes a nice soap.

        • Barb says:

          Yes, that’s right. Some love the use of tallow for frying as it can withstand higher temperatures. Our beloved ‘Hutches’ Fish and Chips uses tallow for the frying. They have been around since 1946. Tallow is also great in soap but too much and it gets so hard that it shatters if dropped in the shower. Might have been that I had rendered grass-fed beef leaf fat. It ends so pure white, shiny and hard like white chocolate.

          You’ll catch yourself showing it off to people…

        • Teri says:

          As we segue into another area for Karen to explore – hand made toiletries…
          She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and make face cream and soap with the dripping!
          You listening girl? In your spare time of course.

  37. Robert says:

    Ha! I can get it crazy cheap around this parts at any butcher shop!

    • Karen says:

      Crazy Mexicans. Selling pig fat for cheap. ;) Try it! It makes a stunning pastry. I’ve already turned mine into a leek quiche and little lemon curd tarts which I can’t stop eating. I’m thinking I might have to do a post on them. ~ karen!

      • Tina says:

        Oh yes, please! I love lemon tarts! However be advised I’m diabetic so I’ll have to adapt it to use Splenda.

      • Mary W says:

        I used lard eons ago when we had our own pigs BUT pies and biscuits will never, in the history of ever, be that good again. Until I make my own again. Thanks for this lesson. My crock pot was broken but I now have a reason to replace it. Pie! Pie! I love pie. tender, flaky, completely cooked on the bottom, pie. One question – can you solve the mystery of disappearing butchers? Here in my neck of the woods, they don’t make butchers anymore. It’s all prepackaged. I can’t even get soup bones or bones of any kind, even for the dog. No mystery I bet – just money.

        • Karen says:

          OH! I have no idea. Around here there are plenty of butchers. Even the regular grocery stores have them. Just last week I didn’t notice a blade roast in the meat counter at the grocery store and rang the buzzer for the bank of the meat department and asked the butcher for a blade roast. He asked how big I wanted it, went back and cut it for me. :/ Where is your neck of the woods? ~ karen!

        • Carolyn Boyd says:

          Ah, Karen; you have the glorious Fortinos in your ‘hood. You have no idea how I miss them! Here in Nova Scotia we have a few small butchers in the city who sell grass fed meat, but the supermarkets are packages all the way. No sides of beef hanging in the back. I always visit Fortino’s when I’m back up visiting in Upper Canada :)

      • Mary W says:

        Yes to the lemon curd tarts. Hate the name – curd, yuk. But LOVE them anyway. Little ones make it easier to eat the whole batch since you only have one at each “break” lol.

  38. Suzanne Herbruck says:

    Snort, not pig, human. *-*

  39. Paula says:

    “hearth healthy”?

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