How to Render Lard (Using a Slow Cooker or Stockpot)

When it comes to homesteading skills, learning how to render your own lard is high on the list of things that will have you feeling like you’re channeling Ma Ingalls in your kitchen.

Of course, us modern homesteaders know there’s absolutely no shame in using modern tools to get the job done, like a slow cooker, an electric stove or even an Instant Pot:)

However you slice it, dice it, grind it or render it, learning how to make your own homemade lard is something you should definitely add to your repertoire. Not to mention, the finished product is bound to come in handy whether you’re frying foods, making a melt-in-your-mouth flaky pie crust, seasoning your cast iron skillets or even making your own soaps and candles at home!


What is lard anyway??

Simply put, lard is pig fat that has been processed through rendering (cooking) it down into a liquid form and then allowing it to cool and solidify into a form that’s similar in texture to butter.

There are two types of lard: The first comes from around the kidneys and is commonly referred to as “leaf lard” or “leaf fat.” Leaf lard is prized for its purity and is considered the best type of lard for baking.

The second type of lard comes from the back of the pig and is appropriately called “back fat” or “fatback.” This type of fat is much harder but can also be rendered into lard. In its solid state it is often diced up and added to sausages. Once rendered, the lard from back fat is better suited for frying foods as it does tend to have more of a distinct porky flavour than pure leaf lard, which is odourless and flavourless.

The recipe below calls for leaf fat as this is typically the type that is used for home cooking and baking, but this recipe will also work for fatback if that’s what you’ve got.


Lard vs. Shortening

Lard is a natural source of solid fat that has been used in cooking and baking for millennia. Up until the 1800s, lard was commonly used much like butter is today in most North American and European homes. 

Technically lard is a type of shortening since the definition of shortening is any type of fat that is solid at room temperature and is used for baking things like pastries. Shortening got its name from the fact that it shortens gluten fibres in baked goods, which is what makes them more crumbly and flaky and less doughy.

Then there’s “shortening” as most people know it today, which is vegetable shortening (aka. Crisco).

Crisco vegetable shortening is a highly processed hydrogenated oil (originally made from cottonseed oil) that was invented by Procter & Gamble around the turn of the 20th century. The company launched a very successful –as well as deceptive– marketing campaign that convinced people to switch from traditional and natural sources of fat like butter and lard to the what they called the “altogether new and better fat,” aka. hydrogenated vegetable oil. 

Basically vegetable shortening is to lard what margarine is to butter.

Lard began to fall out of fashion as Crisco rose to popularity, and that’s pretty much how it stayed for the next 100 years. But as people are becoming more conscious about what they eat and more aware of the dangers of highly processed foods like hydrogenated vegetable oils, traditional foods like butter and lard are regaining popularity.

Related: What I Look For When Buying Food From the Grocery Store

Lard is a versatile ingredient that's a must-have in any homestead kitchen. Learn how to render your own lard with this step-by-step tutorial. #howtorenderlard #howtorenderporklard


Where to get pork fat for lard

As with most things, you could technically just buy lard from the grocery store rather than rendering your own, but first of all, that’s not as fun as making your own. And second of all, much of the lard that you’ll find on grocery store shelves contains added preservatives including BHA and BHT, both of which are on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of food additives. Homemade lard, on the other hand, is 100% pure pig fat, plain and simple.

If you raise your own pigs, making your own lard is a no-brainer! Make sure to ask for the leaf lard (and the fatback too if you want it) if you’re hiring someone else to do the butchering.

But if you’re not raising your own pigs, you can still get your hands on some pork fat by asking for it at your local butcher or by making friends with a local pig farmer.

The first time I made lard was from some leaf fat we were gifted in exchange for helping our neighbour butcher and wrap one of his pigs. This is an example of how building community is actually so beneficial for anyone striving to be more self-reliant, rather than trying to go it completely alone.

Lard is a versatile ingredient that's a must-have in any homestead kitchen. Learn how to render your own lard with this step-by-step tutorial. #howtorenderlard #howtorenderporklard


How to render lard at home

So you’ve got your pork fat and you’re ready to render it down into a pure white lard that you can use for cooking, baking, frying, greasing and all manner of other homestead-y things. Now what??

The process of rendering lard is actually very simple. If you’ve got a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, I would suggest using one or the other. But if all you have is a stockpot and your stovetop, that will work just fine too.

To make the process as easy as possible, start by freezing the pig fat. Freezing pig fat makes it easier to trim and cut up before you render it down.

Once it’s frozen (or very cold), remove any skin and trim any bits of meat off the fat. 

Cut the fat into small pieces. You can use a food processor or even a meat grinder to do this, but it can create a bit of a mess to clean up. Personally I just use a sharp knife and cut the fat into small, roughly ½-inch cubes.

The smaller you dice or grind up the fat, the quicker it will cook down. But don’t worry if you dice the cubes a little larger. They’ll still cook down and render just fine, it just might take a little bit longer.

Next, add ¼ cup of water to your slow cooker, Instant Pot or to your stockpot if that’s what you’re using. Then add the pig fat.

If using a slow cooker or stockpot, leave the lid off and cook on low for several hours, allowing the fat to melt and render. (Leaving the lid off will allow the water to evaporate. The water is necessary to prevent the fat from burning).

* While I have never rendered lard in my Instant Pot on the pressure cook setting, I did find this article that tells you how to do it in just a couple hours.

Lard is a versatile ingredient that's a must-have in any homestead kitchen. Learn how to render your own lard with this step-by-step tutorial. #howtorenderlard #howtorenderporklard


Keep an eye on your lard, checking it every hour or so. Once the leftover bits of meat and fatty bits rise to the top, strain the lard  through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid fat.

Store the liquid fat in a glass jar (or multiple glass jars, depending on how much liquid you’ve got). The liquid lard will be yellow in colour at first, but as it cools it will turn solid white.

If using leaf fat, your lard should be odourless and neutral in flavour by the time it cools.

If you’ve got a lot of little fatty bits, you can return them to the slow cooker and continue to render them down. Any liquid fat that accumulates will be slightly “porkier” in flavour than the first rendering, so it’s better for frying savoury foods rather than for, say, pie-baking.

Any leftover fatty bits can be fried in a frying pan until crispy and then enjoyed (pork cracklings). Try sprinkling with a little salt and topping your soups and salads with them!

Lard is a versatile ingredient that's a must-have in any homestead kitchen. Learn how to render your own lard with this step-by-step tutorial. #howtorenderlard #howtorenderporklard


Store your lard in the fridge or freezer. Lard keeps very well, and should last in the fridge for several months and even longer in the freezer.

However if it ever smells off-putting it may be past its prime. In this case toss it and start a fresh batch.

Lard is a versatile ingredient that's a must-have in any homestead kitchen. Learn how to render your own lard with this step-by-step tutorial. #howtorenderlard #howtorenderporklard


How to use your lard

Once you’ve rendered your lard, it’s time to put it to use! Use your lard in any recipe that calls for shortening. It’s especially good in homemade biscuits and pie crust!

Use your lard to fry foods, to grease or season your cast iron cookware, to make your own homemade candles… You can even use it as a moisturizer for your skin, lips, hair and nails!

What’s your favourite way to use lard? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. Are you striving to become more self-sufficient and looking for a little help, encouragement and inspiration to help guide you along on the journey? Subscribe to Modern Homesteading Magazine and get exclusive, seasonally-inspired modern homesteading information, recipes, expert interviews, advice and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get your first issue free!

Lard is a versatile ingredient that's a must-have in any homestead kitchen. Learn how to render your own lard with this step-by-step tutorial. #howtorenderlard #howtorenderporklard

How to Render Lard (Using a Slow Cooker or Stockpot)

Yield: Depends on how much fat you start with.


  • Cold leaf fat (kidney fat from pigs)
  • ¼ cup water


    1. Remove any skin and trim any meat from the fat. Cut the fat into small pieces. (You can use a food processor if you have one. Otherwise just use a knife to cut into small cubes). *Pig fat is easier to cut when frozen or very cold. Consider freezing it first.
    2. Place ¼ cup of water into a slow cooker (or use a stockpot over low heat on your stove). Add the pig fat. Leave the lid off and cook on low for several hours, allowing the fat to melt and render. (Leaving the lid off will allow the water to evaporate. The water is necessary to prevent the fat from burning).
    3. Keep an eye on your lard, checking it every hour or so. Once the leftover bits of meat and fatty bits rise to the top, strain the lard  through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid fat. Store the liquid fat in a glass jar (or multiple glass jars, depending on how much liquid you’ve got). The liquid lard will be yellow in colour at first, but as it cools it will turn solid white. 
    4. If you’ve got a lot of little fatty bits, you can return them to the slow cooker and continue to render them down. Any liquid fat that accumulates will be “porkier” in flavour than the first rendering, so it’s better for frying savoury foods rather than for pie-baking. Any leftover fatty bits can be fried in a frying pan until crispy and then enjoyed.
    5. Store lard in the fridge or freezer. Lard keeps well and should last in the fridge for several months and even longer in the freezer.



  1. Amanda

    Hi! We recently had four hogs butchered and kept all the back fat and leaf lard. It wouldn’t all fit in our freezer and we had to order a new one. We kept the extra fat in a cooler on ice. I thought my husband added ice yesterday and he thought I did 🤦🏼‍♀️ Needless to say neither of us added ice yesterday to the cooler so it warmed up some. Is it bad now? Or can it still be rendered down? Thanks!!

    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Amanda,
      Sorry I’m a bit late to reply. I take it you’ve probably already figured this out, but you can still use it. So long as it hasn’t gone rancid if it just warmed up a bit for a short period of time that’s fine. Go ahead and trim any meat off and render it down as-is or toss it in the freezer first.

  2. Jackie

    My nan used to use the fat from cooking joints of meat (in the 60’s) and kept the remaining liquid, this solidified into a jelly at the bottom of the bowl and what we called dripping (in the UK) was the fat content on the top, it was lovely to have on a slice of bread!

    • Tish Painter

      That sounds wonderful, Jackie. 🙂
      The “old ways” are making a comeback!
      Have you ever tried to do the same for yourself??

      • Carmella

        Grocery store fat is commercial pig kept in a barn and never gets to see the sun. Buy your fat from a local farmer that raises heritage pastured raised pigs. The fat is full of vitamin d and better for you.


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Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

Rather than subscribing, you can now purchase an all-access pass for a one-time fee of just $20, which gives you access to our entire digital library of issues.

Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

When you preorder the print issue, you’ll also get a digital copy of the special edition issue (this issue only), and will receive a print copy in the mail later this year (hopefully by Christmas so long as there are no shipping delays!)

Click the link in my profile or visit to check out the latest issue, purchase an all-access pass to the digital library and/or preorder the print issue today!

Thanks to everyone who has read the magazine over the past 4 years. I’m humbled and grateful for your support, and can’t wait to share whatever comes next:)

#modernhomesteading #homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram

19 3

It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

But if you work on learning one new skill at a time and gain confidence in it before moving onto the next, one day you’ll be looking back and marvelling at how far you’ve come.

That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

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Link in profile to enroll before midnight tonight, or go to

#homesteading #selfreliance #selfsufficiency #homesteadingskills #preparedness

195 5

There are so many reasons to grow your own food at home:

💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
🔑 increases your overall food security
🫙 Gives you an abundance to preserve and share

But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

Plus, having to wait all year for fresh tomatoes or strawberries or zucchinis to be in season makes that short period when they’re available just that much more exciting!

With the world spinning out of control and food prices continuing to rise, it’s no wonder more people are taking an interest in learning to grow their own food at home. But that also means changing our relationship with food and learning to appreciate the work that goes into producing it and the natural seasonality of organically grown fruits and vegetables.

(It also means learning to preserve it so you can make the most of it and enjoy homegrown food all year long).

In my online membership program, The Society of Self-Reliance, you’ll learn how to grow your own food, from seed to harvest, as well as how to preserve it so you can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor all year long!

You’ll also learn how to grow and craft your own herbal medicine, detox your home, become your own handyman, and so much more (because self-reliance is about more than just the food that we eat… But that’s a pretty good place to start!)

The doors to the Society are now open for a limited time only. Click the link in my profile or go to to learn more.

#foodsecurity #homegrownfood #homesteading #selfreliance #selfsufficiency #homegrownfoodjusttastesbetter

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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

When I first launched this online membership program last year, my goal was to create a one-stop resource where members could go to learn and practice every aspect of self-reliance, as well as a space to connect with other like-minded people pursuing the same goal. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you join!

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🌱 Food Security and Self-Sufficiency: Learn the art of growing and preserving your own food, ensuring you and your loved ones have access to nutritious meals year-round.

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📚 Monthly Video Lessons: Gain access to our ever-growing library of video lessons, with fresh content added each month.

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29 0

Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

One of the lines in Anthony’s song is “Livin’ in the new world, with an old soul,” and that’s something I think so many of us in the homesteading community can relate to.

Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

The world has changed drastically in the last few years especially, and it’s set to change in immense ways over the next few years. Today I’m feeling thankful for people like @oliver_anthony_music_ who give a voice to what so many are feeling right now.

Know that if you’re feeling it too, you’re far from alone. And while the future may feel uncertain and even a little scary, remember that if we stand united, we the people are a force to be reckoned with.

(Continued in comments…)

112 18

Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

It took me a few years to really get the hang of garlic, but it’s one crop I’m now very confident with (knock on wood, because it’s always when we make statements like this that next year’s crop fails! Lol.)

A while back I compiled a comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and using garlic both as an edible and medicinal crop. This is usually only available as part of a paid bundle (or in the fall 2022 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine if you’re a subscriber;), but for a limited time I’m offering it for free, no strings attached!

Plus you’ll also get access to my step-by-step video lesson on planting garlic so you can set yourself up for success with your garlic crop this year.

Comment “Garlic” below or head to to get your free copy!
#garlic #garlicharvest #homesteading #selfsufficient #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #selfreliance #homegrown #groworganic #growfoodnotlawns #gardenersofinstagram #homesteadersofinstagram

74 23

Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
#homesteading #modernhomesteading #raisinglittles

46 7

If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
Head over using the link in my bio!

22 3

A brand new issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue:

🌱 How to forage and use five common edible and medicinal weeds

🏠 A sustainable, affordable alternative to traditional homes, greenhouses and more

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Tips for managing a homestead while raising a family (big or small!)

🫙 What to focus on when preserving food for true food security

🌹 How to grow and arrange your own cut flowers at home

🍓 The many ways to preserve summer berries (including 5 delicious recipes!)

💇How to make your own all-natural herbal hair care products at home

🧑‍🌾 Why “community sufficiency” is the new self-sufficiency

And more!

Visit (or click the link in my bio) to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue.

Plus, be sure to check out all of our past issues as well! There’s a wealth of information in our library on everything from farming and gardening to cooking and canning to herbal medicine, natural living and so much more!

*** This will be the last quarterly issue! ***

This little magazine has grown so much over the past 4 years and 32 issues, and now it’s time for another exciting evolution.

I’m excited to announce that we will be moving to an even more robust annual publication with the intention of offering the first ever print edition this fall if there is enough demand.

I’m also excited to announce the brand new Modern Homesteading Magazine blog, which is currently under construction and will be launching soon. While we will still be maintaining digital subscriptions, the blog will be accessible to all, free of charge, so that more people might benefit from the empowering and increasingly important information that we cover in each issue.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this issue happen! @homesteadingfamily @oatsandhoneyhomestead @omnivore.culture @thetaylor.leigh @doeraydesign (and more who don’t have IG pages;)

And a HUGE thank you to everyone who has subscribed over the years. Modern Homesteading Magazine would never have become what it is today without each and every one of you.

#homesteading #modernhomesteading #selfsufficiency

25 1

If you’ve ever grown your own garlic, you might have noticed the spiral-shaped shoots that suddenly pop up in the centre of the stem, usually about a month or so before the garlic bulbs themselves are ready to be harvested.
These are garlic scapes, and believe it or not- they make delicious pesto! Get the recipe through the link in my bio-

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This honey and chive blossom vinaigrette is a frugal, easy and healthy homemade salad dressing that pairs beautifully with fresh garden salads all season long.
Get the recipe through the link in my bio.

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