Don't Dump Your Bacon Grease—Here Are 7 Delicious Ways to Use It

No. 2 will give your sheet pan dinners a serious upgrade.

Nestled in the corner of my refrigerator's cheese compartment is a mid-size, rectangular container filled with formerly liquefied bacon fat, now solid and striped in layers of varying shades of light brown. Sure, it's odd-looking, but I promise: This little container is one of the most delicious, game-changing items in my fridge. I'm here to tell you why.

Bacon fat, created by pan-frying or baking bacon in the oven, is a not-so-secret substitute for butter or oil in nearly any recipe. In fact, salvaging bacon fat (instead of dumping it down the drain, which puts pipes and local sewer lines at risk), is compulsory—no matter what you plan to do with it.

RELATED: I Tried Cooking Bacon 3 Weird Ways—This One Was the Best

As long as you allow your liquid bacon run-off to coagulate and keep it in an easy-to-access container, you can use this ingredient as you see fit. Ready to start? Here are a few ideas on how to use your bacon fat to add flavor (for free!).

01 of 07

Scramble or fry eggs in bacon fat.

Bacon-free morning? Not possible—at least when you have bacon fat ready and waiting. Melt a small amount in a skillet (instead of butter) before cooking your eggs, and it tastes like a multi-dish breakfast. This also works for pancakes and French toast.

02 of 07

Add layers of flavor to a sheet-pan meal.

Sheet-pan meals are excellent for their efficiency and the ease with which we can create a well-balanced, intriguing meal with minimal effort and dishes. But if there's one setback to the ubiquitous sheet-pan dinner, it's that the end result can be one-note. Add smokiness, saltiness, and meatiness by greasing your sheet pan with a bit of bacon grease before baking your next sheet-pan meal.

03 of 07

Grease grill grates with bacon fat.

Most grilling recipes start with the essential step of greasing the grates to keep food from sticking. If a non-stick spray is your go-to, try using a pastry brush to paint on melted bacon grease. (To melt, microwave for 20 seconds at a time). This quick fix adds more flavor to anything you cook on the grill.

04 of 07

Cook croutons or fries in bacon fat.

Duck-fat fries may be the go-to for chefs to reuse precious rendered duck fat, but you can use the same trick at home with leftover bacon grease. Melt the grease so it's liquid, lightly coat cut potatoes or roughly torn stale bread in it, and then bake until crisp. You can also deep-fry or pan-fry croutons or potatoes in bacon fat, if that's more your speed.

05 of 07

Make a bacon-y sandwich.

To add more bacon flavor to grilled cheese or a homemade panini, lightly spread bacon grease on the outer-facing sandwich layers and then cook for a nice crunch.

06 of 07

Make warm bacon vinaigrette.

Drizzle warm bacon vinaigrette on cooked veggies or leafy salads. Start by heating two tablespoons of bacon grease in a skillet and add chopped alliums (like shallots or garlic). Sauté lightly before stirring in equal parts vinegar (apple cider works well), olive oil, and mustard (dijon or whole grain). Add salt and pepper and, as soon as the mixture sticks to your spoon, it's ready to serve.

07 of 07

Amp up a boring boneless, skinless chicken breast.

A sautéed chicken breast is versatile, yes, but so dull. Upgrade it by sautéing in melted bacon grease to add flavor and keep the chicken moist. About five minutes per side should be sufficient (internal temp must reach 165 degrees F). For a nice crisp crust, avoid flipping the chicken more than once. Try this tip with tofu and firm veggies, too.

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