Rendered Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)

Rendered Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)

 The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
78 Calories
4g Fat
1g Carbs
8g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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 used instead of oil for making stovetop popcorn.

It used to be common to render fat from chicken, duck, and other poultry and use the result to cook with rather than wasting any part of the bird. As part of traditional Jewish cooking, schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) is an essential part of making chopped liver. Alice Waters cooks potatoes in poultry fat with delicious results.

To make schmaltz a.k.a. 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 3 cups of them.

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 (save them to use when you make stock).


  • 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, non-reactive 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 through a fine-meshed strainer, or better yet cheesecloth or a paper or cloth coffee filter into a heatproof glass or Pyrex container. Canning jars work well for this.

    Strained rendered chicken fat in open heatproof container
     The Spruce
  5. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

    Rendered schmaltz in airtight container on table
     The Spruce


  • Use rendered chicken fat to make traditional-style chopped liver.
  • It is also great to use for cooking root vegetables and in 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 pates.
  • 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.