How to render lard, the easy way

Farm and Dairy – by Ivory Harlow

A hundred years ago lard reigned supreme. My great grandmother used lard to make everything from lye soap to her famous oatmeal chocolate cookies. Sometime during my grandmother’s era lard fell from grace due to increasing health awareness and cholesterol concerns. By the 1980s my own mother had not only rejected lard, but all real fats including butter. I grew up “enjoying” the florescent glow of margarine.

Today lard is making a comeback. It is a superior fat for making just about everything: flaky pie crusts, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and flour tortillas. I use it to make perfectly fried chicken, popcorn shrimp and crispy hot hushpuppies.  

All about pork fat

You can render lard from any pork fat. The most pure pork fat is leaf fat. It produces pretty, pure white, flavorless lard. If you’re a baker, I suggest rendering lard from leaf fat to avoid porky tasting pie crusts.

Fatback has a higher level of impurities and produces tinted lard. Lard from fatback requires better straining. It adds delicious flavor to refried beans and roasts.

How to render lard

You can render lard on the stovetop, in the oven or easily in your slow cooker.

pork fat
large clear dish
freezer jars.

1. Grind or chop fat into tiny pieces.

2. Place fat in the slow cooker on the low setting.

3. Watch fat melt into a translucent liquid lard.

4. When a sizable amount of liquid has accumulated in the bottom of the slow cooker, strain it through cheesecloth into a clear dish. Look for floaters. Restrain if necessary.

5. Allow rendered liquid to cool slightly. Pour into clean jars.

6. Return remaining fat to the slow cooker and continue to render lard, straining several times as fat cooks down. You are finished when fat stops producing liquid; this will take several hours and multiple strainings.

Storing lard

Although jars can be kept at room temperature, lard exposed to heat, light or oxygen will spoil. I keep one jar at room temperature for easy access and store the rest in the freezer. Frozen lard lasts indefinitely.

About the Author

Ivory Harlow lives and farms in Southern Ohio with her husband, pet turkey “Big Mama”, and other livestock. Be her farm friend at or email . More Stories by Ivory Harlow

15 thoughts on “How to render lard, the easy way

  1. Lard will kill you think of the cholesterol.

    Well I did think and you know what? There are so many things out there aimed at killing me that it is about time I did it my way.

    Good food oh my I live for it. For get tv, travel, sports etc I want a great apple pie and top it with ice cream.

    Chocolate chip cookies to die for.

    Don’;t hold back live it up for tomorrow ye shall die but do it your way eh?


    1. Lard will kill you think of the cholesterol.

      Thats the lie, its the good cholesterol your brain need, check it out!

  2. Remove fat from around your pork leave skin on. Chops, roast what ever. You may want to remove the skin with some fat to put back over a bakeing roast. Chunk fat up with knife. Cutting down to skin if skin on. Place in pot about 1/3 full. Put pot over flame or coals. med. low heat. Let cook while makeing your roast in the pit or grill with lid on. Stir or turn over in pot a few times. When finished cooking remove from heat. Pour threw a strainer with a paper towel in the bottom. Hot oil will go threw a paper towel. Have strainer setting on and draining into you lard pot. Once drained rmove cooked fat and eat the skin lightly salted as cracklings. A Island favoret snack down here. Yes us 3rd worlders have learned a paper towel makes a exilent oil filter when we cook our oil down from our pigs. Oil will not make them fall apart. I use just the cheap brown unbleached paper towel here come on a roll just like you have there. And if you heat your oil when cooking. If you have a strainer with a paper towel in it setting over the oil pot. It will clean the oil as you pour it back into your pot. So it last much longer and does not turn brown as fast. So we have learned down here that a paper towel is the way to strain your oil and make it last longer.

  3. Both lard and vegatable oil is equally bad for you. Just in different ways. So lard is no worse than vegatable oil. Reason for the switch was a add campain to get people to use vegatable oil as that was used to make candles. And with the coming of the light bulb. It became a cheap surpluss oil. So buy the cheap candle oil now avalable. turn it in to cooking oil. hawk it on the radio and newspapers, and make money from it. By telling folk it better for them to eat. That eating part was a lie. Both will kill you you use to much. Just how is the difference.

  4. We do it a little differently on the farm. Start with butchering 3) 800 pound hogs. Keep all the fat except what is needed for sausages. (I have never had a “porkey” taste from any of the fat, regardless of where it came from.) Put the fat into an ancient 40 gallon cast iron witches kettle and boil until most of the fat is rendered. Ladle the lard into quart mason jars and cap. The hot grease will seal the lids as it cools, and it will store indefinitely. It usually takes two loads to render this much fat. Give as Christmas presents to friendly neighbors. Then start making sausage.

  5. They sell bricks of lard in the Puerto Rican grocery stores, (‘manteca’, or something like that) but never in American stores.

    1. Actually 3-lb bricks of lard labeled Armour Lard (with “Manteca” on one side) are sold in the grocery stores here. And I had a slice of homemade apple pie tonight with crust made with lard. Mmm, mmm, mmm, it was good.

    2. They do sell lard in the US grocery stores, but you have to search for it. Usually in the fresh meat section on a upper shelf. The only problem is that it is chock full of preservatives. Not a pure product at all. Also if it came from a GMO fed pig it will also be gmo. Find a friendly farmer and buy from him or her. Any of my neighbors who help me butcher in the fall each receive a portion of the fat rendered plus some of the meat. It’s almost like a party for a week.

  6. Some nutrients are fat soluble. If you restrict fat from your diet, you will end up with a deficiency, and break down in at least one area.

  7. You can also store meats in frozen lard to extend the life of the meat, longer than just putting it in the freezer exposed to oxygen.

    1. Thanks Samuel, you reminded me of stories my mother used to tell about shopping back in the ’30’s as a little girl. She bought fresh sausages from the local store that were stored in the lard barrel. You reached into the lard barrel, sometimes up to your elbow, and searched through the lard until you came out with the sausages you needed. When done you smoothed the lard back over the sausages to block the oxygen. No refrigeration needed. She passed away last year at 98, no problems with eating lard.

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