Why You Should Stop Throwing Out Bacon Grease

You may deem the grease seeping out of crispy cooked bacon as the not-so-nice stuff; popping up and burning you when you crank the heat too high. But believe it or not, bacon grease may be your cooking friend. Its the salty pork fat that adds a delicious undertone to dishes, yielding layers upon layers of flavor that will have eaters questioning the secret ingredient. The problem is that everyone seems to throw the good stuff away. Whether you toss the hot grease out or pour it into a jar only to scoop it into the trash once solidified, you're taking an extra step rather than keeping your kitchen's liquid gold. 

While the term liquid gold can be referred to as the starchy pasta water that thickens sauces, it's also another name for bacon fat. The two ideal ways to render out the fat are cooking in a cast iron pan over medium-low heat (per Simply Recipes) or baking it at 250 degrees F for two hours (per True Primal). In fact, according to Food Network, cooking bacon in a cold pan is key. The slow heat progression allows the fat to melt out and release even easier. Now that we know how to release the most bacon fat, let's talk about how to use it.

You can add bacon fat to many different things

It's as simple as replacing cooking oil with bacon fat at a 2:1 ratio, or butter with bacon fat at a 1:1 ratio (per MyRecipes). Wide Open Eats uses the pork-flavored grease to cook things like popcorn, grilled cheese sandwiches, and roasted veggies. The site even recommends adding it to baked goods like cornbread, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and pie crust. This balances out the flavor, giving a salty and sweet combination that many love. It can also be used to scramble your morning eggs, sautéing rice for pilaf, or cooking up refried beans with a dollop of it in the pan (via Simply Recipes). The options are endless and a little goes a long way. 

The Pioneer Woman is an advocate for using it when you can, offering even more innovative ways to cook with bacon fat. And, let's face it, when you run out of butter or olive oil, having bacon grease on hand may save you a trip to the store. The goal is to get into the habit of cooking your bacon low and slow, yielding more bacon fat for saving. So next time you cook some up, take Simply Recipe's advice to set you up for success by having a jar on hand for easy pouring and storing, and a strainer for when you want it to last you a while. Finally, the days of bland food are over!