There are so many great bacon grease substitutes and alternatives out there! Even if you are vegan, you can find one. One secret to getting as close to bacon grease as you can is to use a little bit of liquid smoke. This one step will boost any replacement you use!
What Is Bacon Grease?
Bacon grease is the fat that is separated from bacon through the process of rendering (heating bacon and melting its fat). Bacon grease is often used for frying bread or omelet in the same pan where the bacon was fried. However, bacon grease can be bought in bigger quantities and used for many different recipes like stove popcorn, grilled cheese, hash browns, gravy base, roast veggies, and biscuits! The smoke point of bacon grease is 162C/325F.
Bacon Grease vs. Lard
While both are rendered from pig’s meat, bacon grease has a smoky flavor and salt that lard does not. Lard is a great substitute for bacon grease! To make lard taste like bacon grease add some smoked salt (or liquid smoke with regular salt). The smoke point of lard is 374F/190C.
Note: making your own smoked salt or liquid smoke is pretty complicated and requires special equipment, so I recommend buying them already made.
There is no rule on how much smoke to add to lard, so add a little bit and adjust to taste! I especially like using lard in my GF peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, dairy-free cherry muffins, and rice flour chocolate chip muffins.
What Is Smoke Point?
The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil or grease starts burning. Generally, you don’t want them to burn thus be careful to choose the type of oil or cooking fat according to the heat you are going to be applying to the dish. I have included the smoke point of every bacon grease substitute for you to make the best-informed decision on which substitute to pick!
Animal Fat Substitutes
Beef Tallow (Beef Fat)
If you are avoiding eating pork but are ok with other types of meat, then beef tallow might be an option for you. As lard, it doesn’t have the smokiness of bacon grease, so make sure to add some smoked salt or liquid smoke with regular salt. The smoke point of beef tallow is 480F/250C.
Chicken Skin Grease
Did you know you can get a flavorful bacon grease substitute if you fry chicken skin? This option does take away the skin from your future chicken roast but you can use the crispy skin you fried and add it to the plate later! The smoke point of chicken fat is 375F/190C.
Butter is a great bacon grease substitute if you use 82-86% butter. However, butter has a lower smoke point (302F/150C) so you should be careful not to burn it. A great alternative to butter is clarified butter (or ghee) which is made by melting butter and scooping out the clear part. The smoke point of ghee is 465F/240C.
Other Animal Fats
You can also use duck (smoke point 375F 150C), goose (smoke point 375F 150C), sheep (smoke point 420F, 215C), lard (the smoke point is 374F/190C), or any other animal fat to substitute for bacon grease. As I mentioned above, make sure to add the smoke and the salt to come as close to the bacon flavor as possible!
As hard as it is to create vegan substitutes for such things as bacon grease, it is not at all impossible! You will need to do a little bit more work than simply frying up some bacon, though. To create the best experience get smoked salt (liquid smoke), onion and garlic powders, and nutritional yeast. All of these ingredients are vegan, yet, they make up for the loss of the umami and smoke flavors in the vegan substitutes!
Heavier Options (Think More Filling)
Peanut oil – is mostly used in Asian cuisine. The smoke point is 449F/232C.
Vegetable shortening – great in both cooking and baking. The smoke point is 360F/180C.
Avocado oil – is a more expensive option but depending on your country or State can be a more available one. The smoke point is 520F/270C.
Sesame oil – definitely more expensive but good if you are making Chinese food. The smoke point is 410F/210C.
Lighter Options (Less Filling)
Sunflower oil - the smoke point is 232C.449F,
Olive oil - the smoke point is 410F/210C,
Canola oil - the smoke point is 399F/204C.
Don’t forget to add the nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders, and smoked salt to make up for the flavor loss!
Get my FREE list of smoke points for each bacon grease substitute in a PDF!
How to store
If you have leftover grease or oil of any kind, store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator after straining it and getting rid of the remaining food pieces. Smell the oil or grease before using it, if it has a sour or strange smell, don’t use it. Generally, it should keep for about a month in the refrigerator but it will also depend on whether or not you exceeded to smoke point of that specific oil or fat during cooking.
For a more extensive guide on storing used cooking fat or oil check out this article on oil storage!
Oh, and whatever you do, don't pour oil down the drain if you don't want to have trouble with the kitchen pipes! The best way to discard oil or grease is to pour it into a trash can.