Rendered Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)

Rendered Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)

 The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
78 Calories
4g Fat
1g Carbs
8g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 78
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 26mg 9%
Sodium 25mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 8g
Calcium 7mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Also called schmaltz, rendered chicken fat adds rich flavor to many recipes and makes use of parts of the bird that would otherwise be wasted. It is a must in traditional chopped liver recipes, but it is also good for cooking potatoes and other root vegetables. It's also delicious when used instead of oil for making stovetop popcorn.

To make schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), begin by saving bits of fat and skin removed from raw chicken. You can stockpile these in a bag or container in the freezer until you have about three cups worth. You can also ask your butcher for chicken fat and skin scraps that are usually trimmed off the bird and discarded. Often, they will be happy not to waste parts that would otherwise end up in the trash and will give them to you for free. At most, you should pay a few cents per pound for them.

If you get your scraps from a butcher, there may be bits of meat attached. Try to remove most of these before beginning—save them to use when you make stock.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups chicken fat and skin
  • Optional: 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into quarters

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Large bowl of chicken fat and skin with small bowl of onion quarters
     The Spruce
  2. Place the fat and skin scraps in a heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot (cast iron, copper, and aluminum can give your schmaltz an off taste). Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the scraps render most of their fat and begin to brown.

    Chicken scraps rendering in pot with wooden spoon
     The Spruce
  3. Add the onion, if using. Raise the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken scraps are golden brown and crispy, but not burnt. Turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

    Chicken scraps, rendered schmaltz, and onion browning in pot
     The Spruce
  4. Strain into a heatproof glass or Pyrex container. Canning jars work well for this. A fine-mesh strainer will work in a pinch, but cheesecloth or a paper or cloth coffee filter are best.

    Strained rendered chicken fat in open heatproof container
     The Spruce
  5. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

    Rendered schmaltz in airtight container on table
     The Spruce

How to Use

  • Use rendered chicken fat to make traditional-style chopped liver.
  • It is also great for cooking root vegetables and in place of oil or butter in almost any recipe where you want to add a rich, savory flavor.
  • It has a medium-high smoke point (e.g., higher than butter but lower than peanut oil), and it can be used to brown meats or caramelize onions.
  • Rendered chicken fat can also be used as an ingredient in pâ​tés.
  • The crunchy cracklings you strained out (also called gribenes) are a tasty snack. They're probably not the healthiest food to eat frequently, but they're a wonderful occasional indulgence.

Can You Buy Schmaltz?

Schmaltz is often sold in small tubs at kosher butchers and at some well-stocked grocery stores. It is also easy to make at home and typically has better flavor.

Is Duck Fat a Schmaltz?

Schmaltz typically refers specifically to rendered chicken fat. Duck fat is a separate item, sometimes sold at fancy grocery stores and butcher shops. It's most frequently used in French cooking to add richness to savory dishes.