Pieces of animal fat on a chopping board with a small knife and the words "animal fat benefits and uses"

Animal Fat Benefits and Uses: Plus 35 Common & Surprising Types

Animal fats have got a bad rap over the years. Our minds have been implanted with images of clogged-up arteries like gunk-filled sink waste pipes.

But is this justified?

Recently it’s been coming to light that animal fat is not the villain it’s been made out to be. In fact, perhaps it’s the man-made highly processed seed and vegetable oils that are the cause many of the health issues we’re seeing these days.

When I changed my diet in 2016 to cut out all highly processed food and eat whole food – something similar to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would’ve eaten – that meant eating only animal fats from then until now.

Shortly after I changed my diet, a light bulb switched on in my brain and over the next few months, my excess weight dropped off despite not doing any substantial exercise.

It went against everything I was led to believe about the food we should eat.

But thinking about it, it makes complete sense – we’ve been eating animal fat for millennia. Our body has evolved and is finely tuned to process it.

Animal fats, and especially tallow, is used for many things beyond cooking, wind out more in my post Beef Tallow Uses.

Anyway, enough of my waffle, let’s dig into the world of animal fat.


  • Animal fats offer essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins for health benefits, without the trans fats you get from highly processed seed and vegetable oils.
  • There are many types of animal fats that are used from the obivous to the surprising.
  • Various animal fats impart unique flavors to dishes, from duck fat’s savory taste to bacon fat’s smoky flavor.
  • Rendering and storing correctly is key for sustainable sourcing of animal fats with culinary possibilities ranging from roasts to pastries.

The Health Advantages of Animal Fat

Variety of animal fats in containers

First, let’s dispel a common myth – dietary cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are not one and the same. It’s a misconception that often taints the reputation of our much-loved animal fats, including lard, tallow, and yes, even bacon fat.

But the truth is, these fats are not the villains they are often made out to be. In fact, when sourced from high-quality foods like meat, eggs, and fish oil, they can be a part of a healthy diet and protect against chronic inflammation and heart disease.

Many have been conditioned to believe that saturated fats are detrimental while vegetable oils and vegetable fats are beneficial. But what if we told you that the story isn’t that black and white?

Unlike their vegetable counterparts, different animal fats are devoid of harmful trans fats. This alone can make them a healthier choice for cooking. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

These fats are also a source of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, which we will explore in the following subsections.

Hence, be it for a dedicated gourmet or a casual home cook, it is high time animal fats were acknowledged for their significant role in our diets. Their health benefits extend far beyond their delicious taste, offering an array of nutrients that are crucial for our well-being.

Let’s further explore the nutritional benefits of these fats.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Animal fats are like a treasure trove of fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K gleam brightly in this category, each playing a crucial role in supporting our overall health and well-being.

Think of Vitamin A as the night watchman of your body, promoting normal vision and supporting your immune system. It also aids in reproduction and growth, and ensures the proper functioning of your heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

Vitamin D is your body’s trusty sidekick in maintaining bone and dental health, thanks to its role in facilitating calcium absorption in your gut.

Meanwhile, Vitamin E is the unsung hero that protects your cells from oxidative damage, promoting overall cellular health.

Last but certainly not least, Vitamin K is the master of coagulation, playing a pivotal role in the blood clotting process and maintaining optimal bone density.

With such a team of superheroes working behind the scenes, it’s clear why animal fats hold such nutritional clout.

Essential Fatty Acids

It’s time we discuss omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These essential fatty acids, which your body can’t produce on its own, are crucial for maintaining optimal health.

And guess what? They’re found in abundance in animal fats. The specific content of these fatty acids can differ among various animal fats, but their presence is constant.

It’s not just about their presence, though. These fatty acids play a vital role in our bodies, from supporting brain function and maintaining eye health to reducing the risk of heart disease.

And the best part? When cooked with animal fats, your meals gain not only enriched flavors but also a significant nutritional upgrade.

It’s a win-win situation, wouldn’t you agree?

No Trans Fats

Now, it’s time to tackle the pressing issue – trans fats. These harmful fats, commonly found in many processed vegetable oils, have been associated with:

  • Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
  • Raised LDL cholesterol levels
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol levels
  • Obesity and certain cancers

It is important to be aware of the negative effects of trans fats and make healthier choices when it comes to your diet.

But here’s the good news: animal fats are naturally free of these detrimental trans fats.

This is due to the absence of the hydrogenation process, which is used to solidify liquid vegetable oils and extend their shelf life, but unfortunately, also converts unsaturated fats into trans fats.

So, by cooking with animal fats, you’re not only adding a boost of flavor to your dishes but also making a healthier choice for your heart and overall well-being.

35 Types of Animal Fat: From the Obvious to the Surprising

  1. Lard: Perfect for making flaky pie crusts and pastries.
  2. Beef Tallow: Ideal for deep-frying due to its high smoke point.
  3. Butter: Great for baking, sautéing, and as a spread.
  4. Chicken Fat (Schmaltz): Used in traditional Jewish cooking, like matzo ball soup.
  5. Duck Fat: Excellent for roasting potatoes, giving them a crispy texture.
  6. Bacon Fat: Adds flavor to sautéed greens or cornbread.
  7. Goose Fat: Common in European cooking, especially for roasting vegetables.
  8. Ghee (Clarified Butter): A staple in Indian cooking, used for frying spices and making curries.
  9. Pork Fatback: Used in sausage making and for adding richness to dishes.
  10. Suet (Beef or Mutton Fat): Essential in traditional British puddings and mincemeat.
  11. Bone Marrow: Used as a spread on toast or to enrich soups and stews.
  12. Cream: Basis for sauces, whipped toppings, and in coffee.
  13. Yak Butter: Used in Tibetan cooking, notably for making butter tea.
  14. Rendered Turkey Fat: Ideal for making gravy or roasting vegetables.
  15. Lamb Fat: Adds richness to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.
  16. Camel Fat: Used in Middle Eastern cuisines, especially for sautéing vegetables.
  17. Pork Leaf Lard: Highly prized for baking, especially for pie crusts.
  18. Bear Fat: Traditional in some indigenous cuisines, good for frying and pastries.
  19. Horse Fat: Used in some European cuisines, particularly for frying.
  20. Goat Fat: Adds flavor to stews and curries in various cuisines.
  21. Sheep Tail Fat: Important in Middle Eastern and Central Asian dishes, especially for rice dishes.
  22. Alligator Fat: Used in some regional American cuisines, particularly in Louisiana.
  23. Whale Blubber: Consumed traditionally in some Arctic cultures, often eaten raw or lightly cured.
  24. Seal Fat: Used in indigenous Arctic cuisines, often in stews.
  25. Reindeer Fat: Used in some traditional northern European and Siberian dishes.
  26. Rabbit Fat: Can be used in slow-cooked dishes for added richness.
  27. Kangaroo Fat: Used in Australian cuisine, suitable for sautéing and grilling.
  28. Ostrich Fat: Found in some African cuisines, good for frying due to its healthy fat profile.
  29. Quail Fat: Ideal for delicately flavored dishes, like sautéing vegetables.
  30. Pheasant Fat: Used in game cooking, suitable for making rich, flavorful sauces.
  31. Elk Fat: Adds a unique flavor to stews and roasts in game cooking.
  32. Moose Fat: Used in some North American cuisines, particularly for cooking wild game dishes.
  33. Caribou Fat: Integral in some indigenous Arctic cuisines, used in stews and traditional dishes.
  34. Zebu Fat (from a type of cattle): Used in some African and South Asian cuisines, similar to beef fat in use.
  35. Bison Fat: Prized in North American cuisine for frying and adding flavor to hearty dishes.

Culinary Uses of Various Animal Fats

Various animal fats being used in cooking

As we’ve seen, animal fats are more than just a source of essential nutrients. They also offer a world of culinary possibilities, each bringing a unique flavor and texture to the table, literally!

Some examples of animal fats that can elevate your dishes include:

  • Duck fat: known for its savory richness
  • Lard: adds a subtle crispness
  • Beef tallow: imparts a deep, beefy flavor
  • Chicken schmaltz: adds a rich, savory taste
  • Bacon fat: brings a smoky, salty flavor

With these animal fats, you can take your cooking to the next level and create truly unforgettable dishes.

And it’s not just about swapping your regular cooking oil with animal fat. Every kind of fat, from the delicate beef tallow to the luxurious schmaltz, possesses a unique culinary character that makes it suitable for specific dishes and cooking techniques.

Let’s embark on a culinary journey through the world of animal fats to uncover the unique qualities each one introduces to our kitchens.

Beef Tallow

Beef tallow, or rendered beef fat, is a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire. Its high smoke point and mild flavor make it a great choice for both frying and baking.

Whether you’re frying up a batch of crispy French fries or baking a batch of flaky pie crusts, beef tallow can enhance the taste, texture, and even the nutritional value of your dishes.

But not all beef tallow is created equal. The fatty acid composition can vary based on its source. For instance, leaf fat, or the fat surrounding the kidneys, is considered superior in quality due to its distinct composition compared to subcutaneous fat.

So, the next time you’re cooking with beef tallow, remember – the right source can make all the difference!

Duck Fat

Duck fat is often hailed as a culinary gold standard, and for good reason. Its rich, savory flavor can elevate a simple roast or sauté to a gourmet delight.

Whether you’re roasting potatoes or sautéing mushrooms, duck fat and goose fat can add a luxurious depth of flavor that’s hard to match.

And it’s not just about flavor. Duck fat also packs a nutritional punch, with lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of unsaturated fats compared to other animal fats.

So, if you’re looking to add a touch of gourmet luxury to your dishes without compromising on health, duck fat is the way to go.


Lard, or rendered pork fat, is a staple in many culinary traditions. Its high smoke point and neutral flavor make it ideal for both baking and frying, where it provides a light, flaky texture that’s hard to achieve with other fats.

In fact, lard from pasture-raised pigs is even rich in vitamin D, offering a substantial nutritional boost along with its culinary benefits.

From flaky pastries to succulent roasts, lard can be used in a variety of dishes.

And let’s not forget about its role in traditional recipes, where it not only enriches the flavor but also connects us to our culinary heritage.


Schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, may not be as well-known as some other animal fats, but it’s a culinary gem in its own right.

It’s a dairy-free and pork-free alternative that holds a special place in Jewish cuisine and other dietary practices. Whether you’re enriching matzo balls or frying latkes, schmaltz can add a rich, savory depth to your dishes.

But schmaltz is not just for traditional Jewish recipes. Its rich, savory flavor can enhance a variety of dishes, from roasted vegetables to sautéed mushrooms.

So, if you’re looking for a way to add a touch of tradition and a whole lot of flavor to your dishes, give schmaltz a try!

Bacon Fat

Sizzling bacon fat in a skillet

Who can resist the smoky, savory allure of bacon fat? This culinary darling is renowned for its ability to infuse dishes with a unique flavor that’s hard to resist.

Here are some ways you can use bacon fat to transform your dishes:

  • Frying eggs
  • Sautéing vegetables
  • Roasting potatoes
  • Making salad dressings
  • Adding flavor to soups and stews

Bacon fat can truly transform a simple dish into a flavorful treat.

And it’s not just about the taste. Cooking with bacon fat also offers a nutritional upgrade, adding essential fatty acids and vitamin D to your meals.

So, the next time you’re frying up some bacon, save the fat. You’ll be amazed at the flavor it can bring to your dishes!

Bison Tallow

Last, but certainly not least, is bison tallow. Similar to beef tallow yet offering a slightly gamier taste, bison tallow is a flavorful alternative for those looking to experiment with traditional recipes like pemmican.

Its distinct taste is attributed to the natural flavor of bison meat and the bison’s diet, which includes various grasses and vegetation.

But don’t let its unique flavor profile fool you. Bison tallow is quite the powerhouse when it comes to nutritional value. This low-fat, low-calorie option is a nutritious choice for cooking, offering a healthy alternative without compromising on taste.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not give bison tallow a try?

Rendering and Storing Animal Fats

Rendering animal fats in a kitchen

Before embarking on your cooking journey with animal fats, there’s an essential process to acknowledge – rendering.

This process involves gently heating the fat to separate it from any impurities, then straining and cooling it for use. Whether you’re working with lard, poultry fat, or tallow, the rendering process is crucial to ensure the quality of your fat.

But rendering is only half the story. Once you’ve obtained your pure, golden fat, it’s important to store it properly to maintain its freshness and avoid spoilage.

From the fridge to the freezer, there are several ways to ensure your fat stays fresh and ready to use at a moment’s notice.

So, whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious foodie, understanding the process of rendering and storing animal fats can open up a whole new world of culinary possibilities.

However, do remember it’s not solely about the process – selecting fats that have been sourced sustainably and ethically is equally essential.

Rendering Process

Rendering animal fat might sound like a complex process, but it’s actually quite straightforward.

Essentially, it involves gently heating the fat to separate it from any impurities, then straining it to obtain pure, clean rendered fat. This process is similar for all types of rendered animal fats, from lard and poultry fat to butter and tallow.

The key to successful rendering is temperature. A low heat of about 220 degrees Fahrenheit allows the fat to separate from the impurities without burning, resulting in a pure, golden fat that’s perfect for cooking.

So, if you’ve been thinking about rendering your own animal fats, why not give it a try? It’s easier than you might think!

Storage Tips

Storing animal fats in a refrigerator

Once you’ve rendered your animal fats, proper storage is crucial to maintaining their freshness and quality. Keeping your fats in a cool, dark environment – like a refrigerator or a cool pantry – can significantly prolong their shelf life and prevent spoilage.

And if you’re planning to store your fats for an extended period, freezing them can be an effective way to keep them fresh.

But bear in mind, even the best storage methods won’t help if your fats have already spoiled. A ‘soapy’ aroma or a smell reminiscent of non-food items like paint or detergent can indicate that your fat has gone bad.

So, always ensure that your fats are fresh before storing them, and use them within their recommended shelf life for the best taste and nutritional benefits.

Sustainable and Ethical Considerations

We’ve already learned about the health benefits and culinary uses of animal fats. But another important aspect to consider is sustainability. Choosing animal fats from sources that support environmentally friendly practices and humane treatment of animals can have a significant impact on our planet.

Choosing sustainable and ethically sourced animal fats can contribute to a healthier planet and a more balanced diet. Here are some reasons why:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reducing biodiversity loss
  • Supporting local farmers
  • Minimizing waste

So, during your next purchase of animal fats, keep their origin in mind. This includes 100% grass-fed and regenerative farming practices.

Endorsing ethical and sustainable practices can positively impact our health, our food, and our planet.

Cooking with Animal Fat: Recipe Ideas

Now that you’ve gotten acquainted with the benefits and uses of animal fats, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice! From rich, savory roasts to flaky pastries, cooking with animal fats offers a world of delicious possibilities.

Imagine a succulent roast made with beef tallow, or a flaky pie crust made with lard. Or how about a batch of crispy French fries fried in duck fat? The possibilities are endless.

Whether you’re an amateur home cook or a professional chef, experimenting with animal fats can take your dishes to new culinary heights.

So, why not give it a try? Start with a simple recipe, like frying eggs in bacon fat or sautéing vegetables in duck fat. As you get more comfortable, you can start experimenting with more complex recipes and techniques.

Happy cooking!


So there you have it – everything you need to know about animal fat.

Were there any surprises or at least inspiration? I do hope so.

The topic of animal fat is one of many in our modern that are in need of question. As it’s now becoming known, animal fat is not the demon it’s been branded by. It’s actually has many health benefits and tastes great.

Animal fats come in many forms, each offering different culinary enhancements. From lards crusty pie crusts to tallow’s crispy yet fluffy fries.

By the way, if you want the perfect tallow snack, try Rosie’s Chips. Cooked in grass-fed tallow – no seed oil in sight.

If you’re interested in finding out more about animal fats, I’ve a whole load of posts… take your pick:

That’s it! Have a nutritious Day!

FAQs: Animal Fat

What are animal fats called?

Animal fats are typically referred to as tallow (beef fat), lard (pork fat), or poultry fat (duck, chicken, or goose). Other common animal fats include butter or ghee, blubber (from whales), and cod liver oil.

What are 5 examples of animal fats?

Examples of animal fats include beef tallow, pork lard, chicken fat, whale blubber, cod liver oil, ghee, schmaltz, dripping, milk fat, and butterfat. These are commonly consumed in the semi-solid form or used as fillers in factory produced meat, pet food, and fast-food products.

Which animal fat is the healthiest?

Fatty fish like salmon, trout, anchovies, mackerel, sardines and herring are considered the healthiest animal fat sources due to their high content of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, quality proteins, and vitamins and minerals. Butter from grass-fed sources is also a healthy choice due to its numerous fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.

What is high in animal fat?

High in animal fat are fatty meats like beef, lamb, and pork, full-fat dairy products, eggs, tropical oils like coconut and palm, and processed meats like bacon, sausage, and bologna. These foods are also high in calories and have limited nutritional value, and should be limited in a healthy diet.

Are animal fats bad for your cholesterol?

Animal fats are not necessarily bad for your cholesterol, as dietary cholesterol found in animal fats is different from the cholesterol that appears on blood tests. Therefore, it is recommended to obtain cholesterol from high-quality sources.

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