My second favorite thing, next to actual bacon itself, is the wonderful by-product from cooking bacon - bacon grease. There are so many fantastic uses for leftover bacon fat - from simply sauteing vegetables in it to creating a sweet and smoky treat by including it in your next batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Some of the best uses for leftover bacon grease are pretty darn creative - and delicious! You can use bacon fat as a substitute for olive oil and butter, you can bake with it, you can add it to existing recipes to enhance flavor, and you can even use it to season cast iron pans. Read on to see the best uses for leftover bacon grease. You’ll never want to toss leftover bacon fat out again once you see how versatile it is!
Use Bacon Grease in Place of Olive Oil
Or whatever your cooking oil of choice is. I frequently use bacon grease in place of olive oil when roasting or sauteing vegetables. Cooking in bacon fat is the secret to making kale edible. And it’s money on roasted or grilled potatoes.
It’s also fantastic for adding that extra smoky oomph to a pan-fried burger; just add a smidge to the pan as the patties sizzle away. Adding a small amount of bacon grease when cooking lean meats like ground turkey or venison helps ensure that the finished dish is moist AND flavorful. You can also use leftover bacon fat to make shortcut carnitas - like in these recipes for Dr. Pepper Carnitas and for Leftover Pulled Pork Tacos.
If you’re into stovetop popcorn, swap out that oil for bacon grease!
Other things you should definitely cook in bacon grease:
- Fried rice
- Brussels sprouts
Mayo and I have a sordid history, but I am definitively pro baconnaise. Baconnaise slathered on a BLT? Heck to the yeah!
Use Bacon Fat in Place of Butter
Oh yes! There is a lot of debate about how to achieve the toastiest exterior on grilled cheese, mayo vs. butter. But have you tried bacon grease? It’s a contender for sure!
Breakfast foods should definitely be prepared with bacon grease - everything from eggs, to French toast, to hash browns. Toast spread with bacon grease, you’re welcome.
- Fry cubed pieces of bread in bacon fat for amazing croutons.
- Slather it on your next ear of corn instead of butter.
- Instead of a pat of butter, finish that steak with a little bacon fat.
Bake with Leftover Bacon Grease
Replace half of the butter in your favorite biscuit recipe with chilled bacon grease for some bomb biscuits!
The same goes for other baked goods, like scones, cornbread, cookies, pie crust, and more. Replace all or part of the butter called for in a recipe with bacon grease to influence a savory, smoky outcome. Use your best judgment here: bacon fat in shortbread and chocolate chip cookies can be a sweet and savory match, but other varieties may not turn out so great.
Instead of using a cooking spray, rub your baking dish down with bacon grease before adding whatever you’re baking. Something tells me this would be killer for banana bread.
And be sure to rub some of that bacon fat onto russet potatoes before making baked potatoes.
Add Bacon Fat to the Mix
Add bacon grease to your favorite dishes to act as a flavor enhancer. Try:
- Using it as a base for gravy.
- Stirring it into mashed potatoes - is especially awesome for loaded mashed potatoes.
- Using it to make a roux (as a soup base).
- Creating a simple salad dressing, like a warm bacon dressing, perfect for wilted green salads and German potato salad.
- Creating a savory pasta sauce.
- Adding it to refried beans.
- Using it as an ice cream base.
Season Cast Iron
This is the best idea. After cleaning a cast iron pan, it gets a little sad and dehydrated looking. Dry the pan over medium heat on the stovetop, then add some bacon grease. Use a paper towel to rub it in evenly and revitalize the pan with bacon’s healing powers.
I've given you some of the best uses for leftover bacon grease - now here's how you should store those previous leftovers.
Bacon Grease Storage
While bacon fat can eventually spoil, you have a few options when it comes to storage. Recommendations on the shelf life of bacon grease vary, but these are the guidelines I follow.
Sure can! Refrigeration is your best bet if you want to preserve your bacon fat for a longer period of time, but have it available in a form that is readily usable. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
Of course! This is my go-to because I cook with bacon fat a lot. #noshame
You can store bacon fat in a lidded container on your countertop for 4-6 months. I typically make sure to give it a quick sniff test before use if the age of the bacon grease is approaching that 4-6 month range.
Bacon fat can be stored indefinitely in the freezer. Isn’t that wonderful?
To Strain Or Not To Strain
I don’t often do this, but do recommend straining if there are large amounts of solid bits present in your leftover bacon grease. While the solid bits add flavor, they can turn your bacon fat rancid faster.
To remove the solid bits, pour bacon fat through a sieve or cheesecloth while it’s still a liquid. Do this directly into the container you plan on storing it in.
Things To Keep In Mind when Reusing Bacon Grease
Bacon grease has a low smoke point; this means it’s not good for deep frying. But you can add it to the oil you are primarily using to deep fry.
Since bacon grease takes on the flavor of the bacon, you may notice flavor variations by batch. I sometimes add fresh ground black pepper to my bacon, which adds some pepperiness to the leftover bacon fat.
If your bacon grease does not pass the sniff test, i.e., it has an off-putting odor to it, it’s time to toss it. R.I.P. spoiled bacon grease.
There you have it, some of the best uses for leftover bacon grease! How do you use leftover bacon fat? Please comment below to share!