How to render lard


These days, the fats I use in my kitchen look vastly different than they did even a few months ago. While I’d long ago stopped buying canola oil (it’s often rancid at the time of purchase, and during processing the omega-3 fatty acids actually turn into trans fats similar to those in margarine), I was still most often drizzling my cast iron skillet with a healthy dose of olive oil.

Don’t get me wrong — I love olive oil, it’s one of my favorite fats, ever — and is the safest vegetable oil to use. But the more I read, the more I became convinced that I should not use it for high-heat cooking, but only for dressings and drizzling, or cooking at lower temperatures. When olive oil is heated near the smoking point, the monounsaturated fat (75% of its makeup) also turns into a trans fat.

So these days, when I’m going to sear meat, or saute vegetables at a high temperature, I reach instead for coconut oil or rendered animal fats — chicken fat skimmed from stock-making, bacon fat reserved from the pan, duck fat purchased from my local butcher, or pork lard — this, I render at home.

Something I’m doing today — and while I posted about it last winter, I didn’t give very detailed instructions. All you need is a crockpot, a fine-meshed sieve or cheesecloth, and glass jars to store your finished product. In fact, the most difficult thing about rendering lard will likely be finding the leaf lard (high-quality fat from around the kidneys) you’ll need to get started (leaf lard is different from rendered lard, you can read my original post to find out how). Since the nutritional value of animal fat depends heavily on how the animal ate and lived, I recommend buying from a local farmer who can tell you exactly how the pig was raised. They should be free to roam and root, and eat quality grain when not foraging.

Thanks to my pig farmer, Mandy, for providing these directions on her family farm’s website (I’m paraphrasing, but following the original instructions exactly — click on the link for “pie crust,” she provides a great recipe using your finished lard!).

Recipe: Pork Lard (how to render)


  • 1-3 pounds leaf lard (the high-quality fat taken from around the kidneys of a pig)


  1. Chop the leaf lard into small (1/2″) chunks. Add to a slow-cooker along with 1/4 cup of water.
  2. Cook on low, stirring about every half hour or so. After several hours, the fat will melt away and leave the cracklings floating on top. Do not let the cracklings burn, or the lard will have an off-flavor.
  3. Scoop out the cracklings with a slotted spoon (yes, you can eat these!). Strain the fat through cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve into clean glass jars.
  4. Store in the refrigerator (will last 6-8 weeks) or freezer (up to a year).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.



This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.


8 thoughts on “How to render lard

  1. I strain it into a glass container, let it solidify, and store it in the refrigerator (use within a week). I also pour it (when still liquid, but not super hot) into ice cube trays in 1 Tbsp portions. Freeze, pop out, stick in a ziplock, and pull out tablespoons as I need them (throw them frozen into a hot pan).

  2. So during “processing” the omega-3s in canola oil turn into trans fats. You mean while it’s being produced? So that by the time I purchase it, they are already trans fats? Or it’s rancid? Yikes. I was sooo raised in the camp of “bacon fat bad, margarine good”. While I stopped using plain old margarine a long time ago I still have a ways to go in reteaching my brain a new perspective on fats in general. Do you have any recommendations for good resources?

    1. Yes, while it’s being produced. It does take a re-training of your brain, thinking about fats. Animal and tropical fats (coconut, palm) are very stable, even when heated — vegetable fats are not. Quality sourcing is very important, with all fats.

      As far as resources, I have a book you can borrow ; )

  3. My great-grandmother, my grandmothers, and my mother were great mountain cooks. The very best, really. And they always used lard. 🙂 I grew up with lard being the main fat used. So, it’s really funny to have such a gourmet as yourself espousing it when I doubt anyone would have ever called these ladies gourmets. But everyone said their food was delicious. In fact, just the other day, I asked my oldest son what he remembered the most about my mother and he smiled a dreamy smile and said “Her cooking!” 🙂 Now I can refer my husband to this post when he catches me using it and is, well, skeptical.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s