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Rendered Chicken Fat

Jewish kosher cooking traditionally uses chicken fat (schmaltz) instead of butter when cooking meat, since mixing dairy and meat products is a definite no-no. Many markets sell tubs of rendered chicken fat. If so, buy a tub or two and, although it’s not essential, I always melt it down with minced yellow onions, to make it incredibly savory in both aroma and flavor.

If your market doesn’t sell chicken fat, each time you roast a chicken, pull any wads of fat out of the cavity and snip them into smallish pieces, using kitchen scissors, and store them in a doubled freezer bag. (Do this with any extra flaps of skin, as well, and add this to the bag.) When you’ve accumulated a stash of at least 2 cups, then render the fat down by cooking in a skillet with some minced yellow onion (over low heat) until all the fat has melted and becomes liquefied, the onions become golden and the pieces of skin become nice and crisp (called Gribenes).

Gribenes(cracklings) are bits of chicken skin that are fried crisp during the rendering process. These small, crunchy treats add intense flavor to breads and also make a delicious garnish for chopped chicken liver. (To add them to yeast breads, knead some crisp gribenes into the dough after the first full rise.)

Another way to obtain a flavorful version of rendered chicken fat is to make stock! After straining, and chilling the strained liquid, instead of throwing the congealed fat (that will have risen to the top of the liquid) away, spoon it into a tub and freeze it. Use as you would chicken fat rendered down with onions.

Comments (5)


  1. I had a lot of chicken fat, and my husband & I rendered it out I have about 9 cups.can I use this to fry potatoes and in some baking recipes. When I finished rendering the fat I used the crisp pieces and put them in a food chopper,and my dog loves it.
    Thank you Eleanor
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    Comment by eleanor rudolph — September 3, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  2. […] extra-virgin olive oil (not my first choice), clarified butter (a fine choice, but my third choice) rendered chicken-fat (a finer choice, which is my second choice), duck fat after making duck confit (MY FIRST […]

    Pingback by A Potato Galette (AKA an Uncle Buck Latke!) « Lauren Groveman: Strengthening Lives through Cooking and Life Coaching — December 26, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

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  4. After calling several places in San Diego, including Whole Foods and some specialty butcher shops, I discovered that selling chicken fat in California is illegal. Huh? That seems a bit strange, but a call to D.Z. Akins, a fine local deli, seems to confirm. Guess I’ll have to buy online or render my own.

    Comment by Linda — May 28, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

  5. Linda

    I buy rendered chicken fat at my local Gelson’s store in Long Beach.

    Comment by Joan — June 19, 2014 @ 7:33 pm

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