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.

      • Maria

        From other things I’ve read about rendering lard I was under the impression that lard and Tallow are shelf stable without refrigeration. It is even an old method of preserving meat in a jar without canning it. As long as it is completely submerged under the lard. Is this recipe for cooking down the lard different from those or is it just an extra safety precaution you take?

        • Anna Sakawsky

          Hi Maria,
          This recipe is no different than other shelf stable recipes, however it will last longer in the fridge without going rancid.

  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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Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition in our house, so naturally I wanted to learn how to make them at home.⁣

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Me shopping for Easter candy for my kids, and walking out empty handed because it’s all full of absolute garbage!

I don’t mind my kids having sugar now and again, but I draw the line at food dies, seed oils and artificial ingredients. (Or at least, I try!)

Hey, we’re not perfect, and yes, our kids will get Easter candy on Sunday morning. Ryan has already bought some and I’m sure he didn’t check all the ingredients like I do! I’m fine with the 80/20 rule most of the time. But the meta question here, is why are these types of ingredients allowed in foods to begin with? Especially food marketed toward kids!

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We said goodbye to a family pet yesterday. My mom has had Zoe since I was a teenager, and Evelyn has grown to love her during her visits with nanny.

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Having a healthy relationship to death is important. It is, after all, the only certainty in life.

Today Ryan is heading down to clean out his dad’s place after he passed last week. They had a strained relationship, so our kids never knew him as their grandpa. But still, it’s never easy.

It does, however, teach us to be grateful for every day we’re alive, and to appreciate the ones we love while we’re still together, because you never know how much time you have left.

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When I first started homesteading, gardening, and trying to be more self-sufficient, I had no idea what I was doing. Everything was new to me, and I had no one in my life to teach me the ropes.

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It’s been a minute since I popped into IG to say hi. (Hi! 👋) But before I share what’s been going on behind the scenes, I thought it would be a good time to (re)introduce myself, because I’ve never actually done that before!

My name’s Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader living in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I live with my family (human, furry and feathered) on 1/4 acre property where we grow and preserve hundreds of pounds of our own food every year, and strive to live a more self-reliant lifestyle in all that we do.

I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

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(I’m not perfect though. Not by a long shot. I still rely on the grocery store, on modern medicine, and on many modern conveniences to get by, but I balance it as much as I can:)

(Continued in comments…)

121 42

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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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24 5

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.

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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:)

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26 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!

If you’re also feeling the urgency to take the first (or next) steps toward a more self-reliant life, this is your final reminder that today is the last day to join The Society of Self-Reliance and start levelling up your homesteading and self-sufficiency skills so that you’ve got what it takes to:

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