What are you supposed to do with pork fat? In this article, we’re going to cover how to make lard, the benefits, how to use lard, and why you want to make it from home using pork fat. It’s easier than you think! 

Customers filling out their wholesale pork cut sheet will often reach out and ask if they should get the pork fat and what they can do with it. People are often surprised to hear that lard is one of the easiest food items to make and that the health benefits far surpass those of plant-based vegetable oils and even Crisco. While hunters will grind pork fat into their venison sausage, lard has many uses in the kitchen. 

how to make lard

What is Lard

In short, lard is rendered down pork fat. Heat and time, y’all. While lard purists will lean only toward leaf fat, fat from inside the cavity, we’ve always made lard from the leaf fat and back fat, fat just under the skin of the back.

A hog will generally produce on a few pounds of leaf fat, but hog farmers can expect a hog to yield about 15 pounds in back fat. Using all of fat the animal provides will get you plenty of lard. 

While all breeds of pigs have enough fat to render into lard, there are two general classifications of pigs – lard and bacon. Lard breeds are raised for cooking oil and mechanical lubricants. They are compact, thick, grow quickly on corn, and produce a significant amount of fat.

Bacon breeds are long, lean, and muscular. The breed we raise, Yorkshire, is a bacon breed. Developed to grow slower to produce more muscle than fat and to eat a variety of foods, such as high protein feed, dairy by-products, vegetables, small grains, and legumes. 

Most breeds raised today are bacon breeds. Shortly following World War II, Western civilization began to vilify animal fats and push shortening, thus resulting in a decrease of lard breeds. Rendering pork fat into lard and beef fat into tallow was considered unhealthy. In the last several years, nutritionists and researchers have restored the view of healthy animal fats.  


Where to Get Pork Fat

Farms, like us, who sell direct to consumer often carry packs of pork fat for purchase, or offer the option to purchase bulk pork where customers can select to get the pork fat. Not local? Search for local pig farmers in your area. Local butchers will also carry pork fat and likely have an abundance.  

how to make lard

Health Benefits of Lard

Animal fats, including lard, have serious health benefits compared to their inflammatory cooking oil counterparts. That’s right y’all, butter is better. Animal fats, like lard, are lower in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and don’t contain the trans fat that is found in many vegetable oils. Pork fat is one of the richest dietary sources of Vitamin D when the pigs are exposed to sunlight. 

Animal fats have a very high smoke point, reducing the likelihood that it will oxidize when cooked. They also help lower cholesterol levels, promote healthy cells, and reduce the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. 

Fasten your seat belts. Alternatively, hydrogenated oils, like margarine or shortening, are produced starting with vegetable oils – soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola. These oils are already rancid from their extraction process and mixed with nickel oxide, tiny metal particles. The oil and nickel oxide mix is subject to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high temperature reactor. Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed in to give it better consistency. High temperatures again for a steam-clean to reduce the odor, bleach to remove margarine’s natural grey color, and finally flavors and dyes are added so it resembles butter. 

You’ll only find lard, tallow, and butter in our kitchen. That’s for sure. 

What to Do with Lard

Use it exactly as you would any cooking oil. It’s high heat, doesn’t oxidize easily, and is a whole food. Fry up your eggs, prep your baking pans, or use it for fried chicken. You can also use it in making the flakiest pie crusts, biscuits, and more. One thing to mention is that lard, cooked properly, will not give your food a pork flavor. 

How to Make Lard

Lard is so easy to make, it doesn’t even require a recipe card. Pro tip: Work with cold pork fat, it is much easier to work with. Take your pork fat and cut it into one inch, or smaller cubes. Put them into a crock pot. Set the crock pot to low. Over time, the liquid and solid will separate. The liquid is the lard, the solids are the cracklin’s.

This process will take a several hours. Periodically, give it a stir. Over time, the crackin’s will sink and then rise. When they rise, the lard is ready. If you aren’t sure, you’ll start to notice that the cracklin’s aren’t rendering down any further. Use a cheese cloth to strain and carefully pour the liquid into quart mason jars. As the liquid cools, it will turn into a beautiful white solid. Put the lid on and store in your pantry for 6 months. 

Throw the crackin’s in a skillet and fry them up – delicious!