After being wrongly accused for generations, lard is finally making a comeback alongside tallow as a healthy, traditional fat.
If you’ve put off rendering your own because you worried it would take oodles of time, I have good news. It’s actually very easy, and today as part of our real food basics series I’m going to show you how.
WHY I ♥ LARD
Curious about the benefits of this under-appreciated fat? Here are my top three:
1. It’s Rich In The “Happiness Vitamin”
Next to cod liver oil, lard is the second richest source of Vitamin D. (1) (2) According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, one tablespoon of lard obtained from pastured pigs has been found to contain up to 1,100 IU of Vitamin D.
Why is this important? Because as I mention in this article on the benefits of sunshine, ““At least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body.” (3)
2. It’s Heart Healthy
Yes, I’m serious. Lard is about 45% oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fats “are responsible for lowering LDL levels while leaving HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels alone.” (4) It also contains saturated fat, which even TIME Magazine now says is beneficial.
3. It’s Affordable & Sustainable
Lard is much more affordable than coconut oil, olive oil and other healthy fats, and it can be sustainably accessed in most areas.
“Pigs are easily adaptable animals that can thrive nearly everywhere. Raising pastured hogs is a practice that produces a sustainable source of meat while improving the health of the environment. By rooting and foraging, hogs help to turn over topsoil and naturally fertilize the ground.” (5)
Lard has a high smoke point (370F) that makes it great for frying, and it’s unique composition also makes it a dream to bake with.
Lard is often the “secret” ingredient behind State Fair blue ribbon pies – if you’ve never experienced the light, flaky texture it imparts you need to put it on your bucket list. But maybe you’re wondering . . .
What Kind Of Lard Should I Use?
Great question! Toxins such as antibiotics that are fed to factory-farmed pigs accumulate in their fat stores, so it’s very important to source your pork fat from healthy, pastured animals. Plus, pastured animals have higher Vitamin D stores.
How To Render Lard In A Crock Pot
How to Render Lard In A Crockpot
- Slow cooker (I use this one)
- pastured pork fat (If you can't find pastured pork fat locally, you can find it online here)
- ¼ cup water (spring or filtered)
Step 1: Cut or grind the fat into small pieces
- Trim away any pieces of meat or blood as you go. When I first started making lard I was very fastidious about cutting away every tiny bit that had color. There's not really any need to do that - just get the big stuff.
Step 2: Place fat in slow cooker
- Add 1/4 cup of water to the slow cooker to prevent the fat from burning - it will evaporate during the rendering process.
Step 4: Check progress and stir
- After an hour, you'll start to see some liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker. Progress! Give the pot a stir every once in awhile until the fat is completely melted.
Step 5: Remove from slow cooker
- When the lard is ready you’ll see brown bits of “cracklings” resting on the bottom of the pot with a layer of fat over them. Time to turn off the slow cooker and prepare to strain.
Step 6: Strain lard
- Pour the contents of your slow cooker over a cheesecloth lined colander to separate the lard from the cracklings.
Step 7: Pour into storage containers
- Pour the lard into jars and set aside to cool on a countertop or in the fridge.
Step 8: Use remaining bits
- Don’t throw the browned bits away! You can use them to make cracklings. (See below for instructions)
Bonus Step: How To Make Cracklings
- To make cracklings, simply sprinkle the leftover brown bits with a little salt and put them in a pan set over medium heat.
- As they cook some of the excess fat will melt away and they’ll become crispy. They’re called cracklings because they often pop and sizzle as they cook.
- Once they’re crispy remove them from the pan and serve. They’re delicious with a little hot sauce and a spritz of lime.
- Craig Fear. 7 Reasons Why You Should Eat Lard
- Collis, Jane (2014) Vitamin D and mortality: meta-analysis of individual participant data from a large consortium of cohort studies from Europe and the United States
- BBC (2019) Sun’s blood pressure benefits ‘may outdo cancer risks’
- Main, Emily (2012) Why You Should Eat More Fat
- Geersten, Lauren (2014) 10 Reasons To Bring Lard Back
Read My Comment Policy
People think I’m a freak, but lard-based “lotion” (more like body butter) is my favorite to use and make! My farmers give me pounds and pounds of undrendered fat and my fridge runs out of storage space pretty quickly. Infusing any animal-based fat, like lard or tallow, with a vanilla bean makes it smell like toasted marshmallows. No joke. Adding some coffee beans and/or herbs to the infusion only makes it better. Once some cocoa butter and carrier oils (olive, coconut, jojoba) are added it turns in to the most luscious lotion. It’s time consuming (mostly hands off though) but turns out so, so, so good!
Krystal Wight Armstrong
Erin, do you have any recipes for your lotions? I’ve never made any, but it sounds great!^…
Krystal Wight Armstrong
/\ That’s really weird, I have no idea why the “read more” mommypotamus link showed up in the bottom of my comment there, after I posted it…I’d edit or delete and try over, but you can’t delete comments. Oh well : )
That was weird – I corrected it! 🙂
I made lard my first time on the stove top and it was perfect. I’m using your method tonight and I’m excited to see the results. Slow cooking diced fat now, can’t wait to stir it after the first hour and remove the lid!
Every time I make it, I remind myself to write down some of my measurements, but never do 🙁 If I had to guess based on my “pours” and “handfuls” and the amount I get at the end, this is roughly what I do:
4 c rendered fat (lard is my favorite for the texture, but tallow is amazing as well)
8-12 oz cocoa butter (or other hard “butter” – shea would work just fine)
8 oz coconut oil
8 oz other carrier oil (I usually use a combination of olive, almond, jojoba, argan, vitamin e, tamanu or whatever I find on my “make stuff” shelf
Beeswax – an ounce or two
Smell good add-ins – vanilla beans (for me this is a must-have), coffee beans, dried calendula, dried lavender, dried chamomile, etc (my last batch smelled like s’mores with vanilla beans, calendula flowers and cocoa butter)
Place rendered fat and a couple handfuls of whatever smell good add ins you’re using into an oven safe pan
Leave in a 110 degree oven for 12-24 hours. I sometimes go as long as 4 days because I get too lazy to finish it for a while
Strain. For this step, I first strain through cheesecloth to remove the large bits, then through a coffee filter to eliminate small particles like vanilla seeds. You shouldn’t be able to smell any “animal smell” at this point. If you do, add more smell goods and infuse for longer.
Add cocoa butter, coconut oil and beeswax.
Place back in the 110 degree oven for at least 4 hours. The low, slow melt eliminates the hardened bits of beeswax that sometimes happen.
Stir in other carrier oils.
Let come to room temperature before massaging luxuriously into your skin.
It should be the texture of very thick frosting.
Krystal Wight Armstrong
Well thanks so much for sharing that, Erin! ‘So interesting, and sounds fun. So the lotion is a lot thicker than the more ‘liquidy’ lotion, one would typically find on shelves (since you said it’s like thick frosting)?
I’ll look forward to trying your recipe.
And thanks, Heather, for this tutorial!
(Thanks for correcting that glitch in my former comment, too; feel free to also delete the latter one pointing it out).
Yep! It’s more of a thick body butter than a lotion. Like I said, it’s kind of a pain to make, but I make a big batch and a little bit goes a loooong way. You’ll know you’ve used too much when you feel like a grease slick and can’t open the bathroom door 🙂
Thank you! I made this following your directions and it’s wonderful!
I’m in the process of rendering piles of lard I got from my butcher. He happened to be breaking down several shoulders when I walked in and gave me close to 11 lbs of fat…and from Berkshires! I don’t know that I even want to use this for soap, it’s so fabulous. Maybe keep it for biscuits and pie. Just from handling it, my hands are like a baby’s. I made some tallow, too, but definitely have more lard on hand and I’d like to try your lard balm.
The lowest temp on my oven is 170. I used to have an oven with a pilot light that was great because it was warm enough for yogurt and probably low enough for your recipe, but my current oven won’t go that low. Do you think a crockpot on low with the cover half on would keep a low enough temp? Or just a regular go in the crock on low?
How much longer do you need it’s not in the recipe
sorry, that should say How much leaf fat do you need. the measurements aren’t in the recipe that i can find.
Hey thanks for this tip Erin! 🙂
I would love to get your recipe
Is lard only made from pork fat? I’m curious because I don’t eat pork, but like the idea of cooking with lard. Thanks.
Yes, lard is only made from pork fat, but you can also render many other kinds of fats: beef, lamb, deer, etc. They’re called different things, but it’s the same principle.
Can’t find a field for a direct post, so will post as a reply. I use cracklings in cornbread; stir about 1/4-1/2 cup into cornbread batter (Never use sugar in crackling cornbread) and cook as usual. Great taste and texture.
Deer is the leanest animal that exists. When was it you skinned a deep and found fat anywhere on the animal?
J Pro: I can’t say I’ve ever skinned a deep, but DEER have plenty of fat on them in late summer and autumn, when they like many other mammals pack on fat to prepare for winter, or in the case of bucks, the rut. If killed at the right time of the year, they’ll have plenty of fat just beneath the skin. Not as much as on domestic animals, but if you harvest a red, moose, or fallow at the right time of the year, you can cut several nice kg’s worth of fat from them.
There is fat on a deer. It does not taste as good as pork or beef. It’s there but in a small percentage compared to lean meat.
I do it for years: pig, boar, pig, duck fat…just instead water I put a bit milk and recently I tried it with chillies and garlic – absolutelly heaven with roast potatoes:)
Bernie’s my kinda cook…
My grandmother made lard from goose fat.
When I clicked the link to ‘order pork fat online,’ I had to smile because some lovely friends at our church own Tendergrass! So glad you support them 🙂
They are a great company! 🙂
I clicked on the link to order port fat but got a page not found error. Can you please let me know? I have a feeling I get get some from my local Faraway, but just in case….
Both my kids (11 and 2) LOVE warm cracklings!
Would it work in a pressure cooker? Our crock pot is out of commission right now.
I’m not Heather, but I’ve been doing this rendering thing for years….
No, a pressure cooker won’t work in this case. You need the low and slow melting qualities of a slow cooker. You can replicate the results on the stove on your smallest burner on very low heat, but will have to watch more carefully that you don’t “over-render” the fat, which although edible, ends up having a slightly burnt, almost rancid flavor.
Really, because mt electric pressure cooker will turn the fat from pigs feet into liquid within two hours! Plus you do t have to worry about the water evaporating and burning the fat! I found this sire looking for something to do with all the grease I have left after making broth with them, my problem is I put a medium size piece of smoked pork in with the pigs feet, so the grease isn’t white! I was wondering how to clean it up if that’s possible?
I do mine in the oven because I do not have a crock pot at this time. A suggestion by Heather in her book explaining how to render tallow.
Is this process exactly the same for beef tallow?
Yep! It’ll work the exact same way for suet (beef) to turn it in to tallow, chicken fat to turn it in to schmaltz and duck fat to turn it in to liquid gold 🙂 Duck fat cracklings are just silly good!!!
How long is lard good for? 🙂
Do you cover the crockpot during this process? All your photos are with the cover off and the water needs to evaporate. Thx.
How long does this keep?
How long can finished lard last? Thanks.
I would say a few weeks on the counter and months if stored in the fridge.
I just tried my first attempt at rendering the fat from a 1/2 pig we bought. The resulting liquid was brown, while your photos show it beautifully clear. Did I overcook it? (The farmer gave me a very large bag – I think all the fat from all the pigs because no one else wanted it. So I had a large crockpot full of fat and it took overnight and still had fat pieces in it.) Any suggestions for next time would be appreciated.
Me, too! I qill taste it when it cools- if it tastes burned, I may cry a little!
I know this is an old comment, but for the sake of others who might read this – if the lard has a beautiful, deep golden color, it’s not a problem. Animal fat is only white when they are fed a diet high in grains, which is cheap but far from optimal. On a healthier diet, the fat will be a bit more yellow, and the melted lard/tallow will be a deep gold.
If it was literally BROWN, it must’ve been contaminated. But as long as it doesn’t taste bad, I doubt it was bad.
I disagree… my fat comes from a farmer who is usda organic pasture raised, grass fed you name it healthy pigs… google serendipity farm in Wolverine Michigan and you’ll see an amazing farm. My lard comes out Snow White and THAT is what you are aiming for.
Same here. Mine turned out white and it’s from pastured pigs. It looks beautiful!
I have checked their web page. Unfortunately they do not deliver by mail this time.
Karen--Over the Hillside
Hi– I scored a local pig so I’ve been working with getting the fat rendered. I was a little worried because the last bit wasn’t melting. Thanks for the photos showing this was normal. I’ll be turning that into crackling.
One other concern of mine–the lard is not solid at room temperature and has remained quite soft even when refrigerated. Does this mean my local piggy raised on fall apples, veggies and other local yummies did not make much saturated fat?
I also, make creams and had decided to try the lard. Happy to see I’m not reinventing the wheel.
Thanks for the wonderful information. I have been raising pasture Berkshire pork (known as the lard pig) for the last 4 years. I have reluctant to try making lard until I read your post. I have a batch in the crock pot now. I can’t wait to see how it works. Do you have any other suggestions for the extra parts of hogs?
Hi! I have rendered tallow and lard before and I just got a large quantity of pig fat! So excited! My question is about storage – Do I keep it in the fridge? How long will it store for? Thanks!
oh, I just saw your response to someone else’s similar question. Thanks 🙂
I have friends following a clean eating plan that says you shouldn’t eat pork. Their reasoning is that pigs cannot sweat so they are full of toxic gunk that would normally be sweated out by other animals. I value your opinions and would like to know, What are you thoughts on this?
I wanted to make it, and order the lard from the web page from here. It does not work. It gives me a error code. Can you update it please.
I saw someone else ask about whether or not you are supposed to put the lid on the crock pot at all during this process, but it was never answered. So, I wanted to ask again before I try this.
I want to try making beef tallow in the crock pot, but I want to put it outside so that it doesn’t smell up the house, and keeping the lid on would keep bugs and such out of it. 🙂
Yes, you put the lid on. I just updated the post to make that more clear – thanks for your comment!
also – how much fat = how much lard?
I did the crockpot method, but after I put it into jars, there is about 1/3 of it that didn’t turn hard. It’s just sitting on the top still in the liquid state. What did I do wrong and can I fix it?
I keep a cup of this in the fridge always on hand, but prefer to store my rendered fat in the freezer in 1 cup mason jars and bring out as needed the day before to thaw at room temp.. If in a hurry, the microwave – on low – can soften the fat quickly. Love using this in many recipes; spiced cakes, pancakes & waffles, cookies and a must for frying. I collect the fat scraps when trimming meats and freeze them in freezer bags until I have collected enough to render a batch – also loving the cracklings – NO WASTE!!!! Many thanks for the info (I do love the versatility of my crock-pot ).
hi. I just did some lard in my crockpot and i think there was still some water in the lard as it didn’t fully harden overnight. I’m worried that it will spoil. Is there anyway to fix this?
So I have been rendering lard on low for nearly 24 hours and I still have about an ninth of fat still to go. How much longer am I looking at here? I put in just over 5 lbs.
There are so many comments here I hope I’m not missing the answer to my question, but, I rendered my own lard the other day for the first time. I cut it has small as I could. I noticed that while it was cooking it had a slight odor but I figured thats normal since it’s melting fat. It took about 6 hours to fully render on low in my crock pot. Now, my lard came out perfectly white and soft, but, it still has that odor it had when it was cooking. Even after the first hour of it cooking so it’s definitely not from it over cooking. What is it I need to do to help this? Would this have something to do with the fat absorbing scents at the butchers or another reason? I’m so upset because I want to use this as much as possible but the taste makes me sad 🙁
I have found that crock pots run too hot , increase the smell of ‘pork’ . Instead I use oven overnight on 110F , as I make skin cream from it I do not want bacon scent.. NOTHING covers that up , oven worked much better for me .
I tried to buy fat from the source you mentioned in this page. All they sell is bacon, lard, and skin.
Can you recommend me a good source that I can buy good, quality fat from. I really would like to make greaves. I love them. The lard would be a bonus.
I love this method of rendering lard. It’s so simple and easy and a lot safer than a stove-top method! I get my pork fat from a local pig farmer and I think it’s important to point out that you don’t want just any pork fat–especially if you don’t want that “piggy” odor in your lard.
The first time I made it I just asked the farmer for some fat, not knowing that not all fat is created equal. My finished product smelled like bacon grease. And while I do love bacon, I didn’t want my pie crusts to taste that way. Anyway…, long story longer, I found out that you have to ask for ‘leaf fat’. I believe it’s over the kidneys, but don’t quote me on that. The important thing to know is that it’s very clean and and your lard will be pristine and odorless! So, remember, LEAF FAT. It will make all the difference!! Thanks again for this awesome, easy and quick method!
I love it.
Just make yourself some pulled pork in the pressure cooker/canner and skim the fat layer off the juice. You would pour all the leftover liquid (that you won’t be using in your recipe) in a clear bowl or gallon freezer bag as I did. I froze it. The next morning, the creamy white lard is sitting there just waiting to be scooped off. Don’t get any of the liquid below in it as it does not store well and could make your whole batch go rancid or spoil soon.
As far as deer fat, I’ve found it to be waxy, and leave a funky coating in my mouth. Granted, it wasn’t rendered. My question, if anyone knows, is, could rendered venison tallow be mixed with beeswax to dip homemade candles? Is imagine that they’d be rather smoky candles, but in an emergency, would this work? Anyone who knows can answer, if you like.
Yes, you can absolutely utilize venison tallow for candles. You do not even need the beeswax–although that does create a more temp stable candle. 😉
I hope to try this soon. When I was growing up we raised and killed our own hogs and we cooked lard too. The lard was surly great to have and so useful but the cracklings…That’s what we were waiting on by the large pot in the yard. Oh Yeah. Could not hardly wait for them to come up and go into the lard press and out. We had the salt shaker ready and Mama would always bake a pan of sweet potatoes to eat with the cracklings. We stood by the pot and ate like we hadn’t eaten in days!!!! Thanks for the recipe, will be trying to soon.
I tried rendering chicken fat in the crock pot and it seemed to work fine, but the end result is that there is a golden layer in the bottom of my jar and a wide creamy layer on top. Now, the next day there is also a buttery looking layer on top! Is this normal?
Such a fantastic tutorial – thank-you! It made my first experience making lard very straight forward and easy 🙂 Thank-you again!
I made beef bone broth and saved the tallow that rose to the top. There is still a little bit of jellied broth attached to the fat. Should I remove it somehow or cook it off? Not sure how to proceed. Please help. Thank you.
Like Sally, I’d like to know how much fat = how much lard.
I have 4 # of leaf fat, and would like to know how many jars to get ready.
I used 7 lbs lief fat and got approximately 11 cups of lard.
Thanks! I put it in the crockpot and going to sleep, hopefully in the morning I’ll have a pot of beautiful lard!!
My dairy farmer sells pastured pork fat and when I asked to purchase some, she gave me about 20 pounds worth for $5! I just had mine rendering in the crock- pot for almost a full day and the fat never browned. Did I do something wrong?! I’m interested in making the cracklings but I’m not sure if I can.
I’m confused because other websites say not to let the fat brown or even become golden or else it will have a piggy taste in the end. How does yours end up snowy white after it solidified if you let it get to 240F? I had 4 pigs’ worth of fat in my freezer and the first two batches I waited for the cracklings to sink but by then the lard was golden brown. It lightened up a bit but is not the snow white that is depicted in your photos. I tried another batch with the crock pot lid OFF and added about 3/4 Cup water to 5 qt fat, and did not let it brown at all, stirring it much more frequently, like every 10 min instead of every 30 min. I strained it much earlier than the rest, like after 1 hr of cook time compared to 3 hr. The result was a nice snowy white. The cooled lards taste according to their color. The snowy white has a neutral creamy flavor, the golden one is almost neutral and the dark golden tastes like Bacon fat. My crock pots do run high but this lard making is somewhat of an art I think. I’m on my last batch now and left the lid on for the first 20 min to let it evenly heat up and it’s already starting to turn golden. ☹️ I added even more water to this batch than the previous ones, about one cup to 5 quarts fat. I checked the temp and it’s only 75F. How disappointing. Maybe I’m better off doing the heavy stock pot on the stove like another site rec. Or maybe I just need to stir it earlier and never put the lid on. Or maybe I just need a new crock pot. ?. Now to try my hand at cracklings!
Great information. Guess I’m missing this, but are you using the crock pot on low or high? Thank you
Just FYI: BOTH the low and high settings on a crockpot are EXACTLY THE SAME! I contacted the make of my crock pots, and was told they should be called SLOW COOKERS and NOT crock pots, as the eventual temperature is the same, it just takes longer at the low setting to reach that temperature, which is around 278*, I believe. Contact your crock pot maker and find this out for yourselves.
Hey Heather! I have a lovely 10 pound bag of pastured pig lard in my freezer now. Our friends raised the pigs and they have it pressed like ground meat before packaging so it is sort of grated, which makes it SO easy to use quickly for recipes. I totally recommend freezing it then grating it to store!
I rendered some pork fat I had gotten from a farmer who raises pigs “naturally”. There is a liquid on top of whitened solid. How can I remedy this situation to have it all stiffen? I put in a cup of water in my crock pot. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
Thank you for the information.
I have tried to use your sours to buy pork fat. It takes me to the lard. I really want to make my own lard. Can you update it please.