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The 15 Best Bacon Grease Substitutes

Bacon grease is a popular cooking fat because it adds an extra smoky flavor to whatever dish you are making. However, if you don’t have any on hand or you don’t want to use it due to dietary restrictions, here are some great alternatives!

Close up of bacon sizzling in bacon grease
Dana Fidler / Shutterstock

What is Bacon Grease?

Bacon grease is exactly what it sounds like—the grease you get after cooking bacon. People also call it bacon fat or bacon drippings.

When you cook bacon, the meat renders and releases fat. After eating the bacon, you can collect the grease and store it in a container until it becomes semi-solid. You can even store it in the fridge or freeze it to use when needed. It can last 3 to 6 months in the fridge and can be stored indefinitely in the freezer.

How Bacon Grease Is Most Commonly Used?

I love using bacon grease as a cooking oil to add a smoky, savory meat flavor to variety of dishes. Often thrown away, bacon grease can be used to fry items such as hush puppies, hash browns, and eggs. You can also use it to add extra flavor to roast vegetables or burgers on the grill.

Bacon grease is an easy way to add bacon flavor to a dish without adding bacon itself. I’ve seen it used as a base for gravies, a spread on cornbread, and even mixed into savory dishes such as mashed potatoes. The possibilities are endless for this sometimes overlooked ingredient!

Substitutes for Bacon Grease

1. Beef Fat

Beef fat is the rendered fat or grease from cow meat. You can collect it by cooking down beef or beef trimmings. However, I prefer just to buy it from my meat market or grocery store meat counter. It works as a great substitute because it has a similar texture to bacon fat and meaty taste, although it is missing some of the smoky flavor. You can use it as a replacement for bacon grease in savory dishes such as frying eggs, potatoes, or steaks.

2. Lard

Close up of lard in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  Though it has a more subtle flavor, lard makes a great bacon grease substitute.
Constantine Pankin / Shutterstock

Lard is rendered animal fat that is solid white in appearance. This is a more convenient alternative to bacon grease because you can buy it from the store and keep it in the pantry rather than needing to cook bacon and pour the grease into a jar.

Although lard almost always comes from pork, it has a much more subtle flavor and can lack the smoky depth that I look for in back grease. However, it is still a great substitute as a frying oil for deep fried foods such as chicken or fries.

3. Butter

Close up of a stick of butter.  Being a versatile ingredient and widely common, it is a very convenient bacon grease alternative.
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock

Probably the most common alternative, butter is found in almost every fridge at any given time. This is a great vegetarian alternative to bacon grease.

It has a similar rich texture but lacks the smoky, bacon flavor of bacon grease. The neutral flavor makes it a perfect replacement in most dishes, especially breakfast dishes such as eggs and casseroles.

4. Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)

Chicken fat, also called schmaltz, is what you get when chicken skin and scrap bits are melted down to form a golden fat. Chicken schmaltz has a similar meaty taste to bacon grease, but is lighter and a good alternative for people who can’t eat pork products. It goes great when cooking root vegetables, such as potatoes, roasting meat, and even poured over popcorn.

5. Duck Fat

Close up of duck thighs cooking in duck fat.  The rich meaty flavor of duck fat make it a great substitute for bacon grease.
James Nicholas Peterson / Shutterstock

Duck fat is similar to chicken fat except that it can have a slightly richer taste. Duck fat is rich and smoky in flavor, but healthier than bacon grease because it is higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or healthy fats. It is a great substitute for bacon grease if you want the rich flavor but are trying find a slightly healthier alternative. However, duck fat can sometimes be hard to find. 

Duck fat is a great bacon grease substitute when cooking poultry, potatoes, or searing meat.

6. Goose Fat

Close up of goose fat in a jar.
Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock

Goose fat is very similar to both duck and chicken fat. Goose fat doesn’t have as intense of a flavor as duck fat, so it won’t overpower your dishes, but will still add a richness to meals. Goose fat is great for roasting potatoes, chicken, and even frying eggs.

Like duck fat, goose fat may be a little hard to come by.

7. Tallow

Tallow is fat, usually beef, that has been cooked down and rendered into a semi-solid form with a texture similar to lard. Although beef tallow an be rendered from any area of the cow, it often rendered from the hard fats around the kidneys called suet.

Tallow can also come from other meats such as mutton. It has a higher melting point than conventional beef fat, but lower than bacon grease. I like to use it to add a slightly meaty taste for fried foods.

8. Ghee

Close up of ghee in a measuring spoon.  Like butter, this is a versatile and flavorful ingredient making it a great bacon grease alternative.
marekuliasz / Shutterstock

Ghee is an Indian clarified butter—butter which was strained of all its water, leaving behind the fatty, good bits. Ghee has a richer taste and thicker texture than regular butter, making it a robust replacement for bacon grease.

It is a great vegetarian and vegan replacement for bacon grease and can be used it in almost any situation, from deep-frying, stir-frying or as a spread.

9. Olive Oil

Olive oil being poured into a ramekin.
Elena Veselova / Shutterstock

Olive oil is one of the most popular fats in the world. This oil comes from pressed olives and originated in the Mediterranean region but is popular around the world.

It is a healthier and vegan-friendly alternative to bacon grease, though lacks the meaty, smoky flavor.

I would use it in recipes where the taste of bacon grease is not important and where the cooking temperature isn’t very high (olive oil has a low smoke point). It’s perfect for roasting chicken and vegetables, or cooking fish.

10. Peanut Oil

Peanut oil boiling in a pot.  It's high smoke point make it a great bacon grease substitute for frying.
Georges Creations / Shutterstock

Peanut oil comes from pressed peanuts. If you want an oil with a strong, smoky flavor closer to bacon grease, roasted peanut oil is a great option. This is another vegan-friendly substitute for bacon grease.

Peanut oil has a much higher smoke point than olive oil, making it a perfect for frying oil. I like using peanut oil to fry turkeys, fish, and chicken.

11. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil next to an avocado.  This is a very healthy alternative to bacon grease.
Olyina V / Shutterstock

Avocado oil comes from the pulp of the avocado plant. It has earned somewhat of a reputation as a superfood thanks to its healthy properties. Being rich in oleic acid and other unsaturated fatty acids, it is a much better for your heart health than other fats, including bacon grease. 

This is also a great vegan substitute for bacon grease.

Its high smoke point makes it a great fat to use for deep frying. I would use it to sear fish, fry chicken, or deep-fry tempura-battered vegetables.

12. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil in a jar next to coconuts and a wooden spoon.
Miguel Angel Gomez Ramos / Shutterstock

Coconut oil comes from coconuts and is also a great vegan substitute for bacon grease. Unlike most vegetable oils, coconut oil is white and solid when it sits at room temperature, with a similar look to beef tallow. It has a slightly sweet flavor that it imparts in your dish whenever you use it for cooking. 

A high smoke point and rich texture make it a good bacon grease substitute. However, be cognizant of the scent and taste when using. If you don’t want a slightly coconut taste in your dish, you can buy unflavored coconut oil or use another alternative. It works best as a bacon grease substitute when roasting vegetables, sautéing chicken, or in stir-fries.

13. Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable shortening is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, or vegetable oils that have been processed with hydrogen. The result is a fat made from vegetables that is actually solid at room temperature, just like bacon grease. It has a rich texture, also like bacon grease, but lacks the smoky flavor of bacon. It’s not the most healthy bacon grease alternative, but it gets the job done if you are in a pinch.

Vegetable shortening is perfect to use when frying food such as meats or french fries. You can also use it in baking recipes to make food more tender. This is also a good vegan alternative.

14. Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil on a store shelf.  Being one of the most common oils in Western kitchens make this a convenient substitute for bacon grease.
Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock

Like butter, vegetable oil is one of the most common fats people have in their homes, making it a great substitute for bacon grease if you don’t have time to run to the store. It comes from any plant-based source, including sunflowers, soybeans, and grape seeds and has a neutral taste.

Vegetable oil is a versatile replacement for bacon grease in most recipes including frying eggs, potatoes, and meat. However, like several of the other plant-based alternatives, it lacks the smoky, meaty taste you would normally get from bacon grease.

This is also a great vegan alternative.

15. Sesame Oil

Close up of sesame oil with sesame seeds in the background.  Like bacon grease, sesame oil has a strong smoky flavor that can be tasted in the finished dish
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Sesame oil comes from sesame seeds and is primarily used in Chinese and East Asian cooking to fry food and to add flavor during cooking. Sesame oil has a smoky, rich flavor that is not quite the same as bacon grease, but has some similar notes. Like bacon grease, it adds a strong flavor to whatever dish it is used in. 

You can use sesame oil for a variety of things, including frying fish, vegetables, and meat. However, it is not most people’s preferred frying fat since it is more expensive than other fats. You can use it at the end of the cooking process to add more flavor to your food.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are good vegan substitutes for bacon grease?

There are a lot of great options for those looking for a vegan alternative to bacon grease including vegetable oil, olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, vegetable shortening, and peanut oil. I would consider how you want to use the replacement and the flavor you are looking for when determining the best vegan alternative for your dish.

What are healthier substitutes for bacon grease?

You have lots of options when if you are looking for healthier alternatives to bacon grease. If you are looking to keep the meaty flavor, I would try chicken or goose fat (schmaltz). If you want a strong, smoky flavor (though somewhat different) in a plant-based alternative, I would use sesame oil. If the meaty flavor is not as important for your dish, olive oil and avocado oils are great all around healthier alternatives.

Final Thoughts on Bacon Grease Substitutes

Using bacon grease is a great way to add the full bacon flavor to any dish whether frying, roasting or mixing into a dish to add flavor. However, there are lots of great alternatives if you don’t have bacon in the house, don’t feel like cooking bacon, or are cooking for people who are vegetarian, vegan or don’t eat pork, here are a variety of substitute options that you can try out.

For more great substitute ideas check out the following articles:

Top 10 Lemongrass Substitutes

The 15 Best Substitutes for Beef Broth

Top 8 Substitutes for Guajillo Chiles

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