April 2, 2015

Pressure-Rendered Chicken Fat

A recipe for fat may strike some as strange, but fat is one of the key flavor elements in food. French cuisine would be unrecognizable without cream and butter. Indian cuisine relies heavily on ghee (clarified butter). Chefs in Mediterranean countries turn habitually to olive oil, while those in Tibet always have yak butter on hand. The recipe here is for rendered chicken fat, which is widely used in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. (The Yiddish word for it—schmaltz—has taken on a whole other connotation in American English.)

As much as we love cream, butter, and olive oil, rendered fat is sometimes a better choice for use in a sauce or as a complement to meats because it does not distract from the flavor of the other ingredients. We use our Modernist schmaltz to enrich chicken sauce, salad dressing, and garlic, but it has innumerable applications—you can even use it to fry eggs!

Buy chicken skin from your butcher, or collect scraps of fat and skin from other chicken recipes in the freezer until you have enough to render. Note that the same technique can be used for any animal fat, including turkey, duck, or goose skin, and fatty trimmings from cuts of pork, veal, or beef.

– Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home

Recipe Tags

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MCAH Pressure-rendered chicken fat

Step 1 divide and seal

In step 1, combine, and divide equally into two 500 mL / 16 oz canning jars.

Step 3 pressure cook

Tighten the lids fully, and then unscrew them one-quarter turn so that they do not explode.

Tips & Substitutions

  • We use canning jars inside the pressure cooker because it simplifies cleanup, and we aren’t usually rendering more fat than will fit in a couple jars. But you can render a large batch by putting 2.5 cm / 1 in of water in the pressure cooker, and then adding the ground skin. The pressure cooker should be no more than two-thirds full.
  • Removing a pressure cooker’s lid while its contents are hot can splatter boiling water or food all over the kitchen—or you. Before opening the cooker, let it cool, or run tepid water over the rim, to depressurize it. The pressure valve will sink down fully when the cooker is safe to open.
  • For Passover, you can substitute schmaltz for oil in matzo ball recipes, use it to make matzo brei, and add it to your chicken soup to enhance flavor.


  • To wet render, drop the skin or fat into boiling water, and reduce it until all that is left are pieces of meat and tissue floating in bubbling fat. Strain. Discard the solids. Allow the liquid to separate, and then pour the warm fat off the top.
  • To dry render, sauté the skin or fat over low heat until the fat melts. The cooking causes Maillard reactions that enhance the flavor of the rendered fat. Dry-rendered fat keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator. This method works particularly well with fatty bacon.


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  1. Abigail C. Murdock March 25, 2016 Reply

    This post reminded me of the fried rice served with chicken of my place. We use the chicken to cook rice, then fry the rice which has cooked with chicken fat. It tastes great, and I love it. Thanks for your posting!

  2. Healthoop March 25, 2016 Reply

    A new information to learn from this post. To be honest I’m not a fan of chicken fat, I don’t like to eat the chicken skin too, fried chicken is an exception. But this rendered chicken fat sounds good anyway. Thanks for sharing this recipe and updating new knowledge around the world.

  3. Yaron February 8, 2017 Reply

    Wow, that’s a real eye opener! producing pure chicken fat and using it instead of the traditional oils/butter is a great idea, thanks.

  4. Akhil m July 13, 2017 Reply

    Generally it has been seen that fats are long chain hydrocarbon with single single carbon bond between them which we can call alkane, so is their any process by which we can convert them into alkeens so that even at room temperature they did not solidify and remains as liquid. Can we so dehydrogenation in this case by using some oxidizing agents, if any then please explain,

  5. peter charak September 24, 2017 Reply

    “The Yiddish word for it—schmaltz”
    “schmalz” (no “t”) is a German word, which means lard, fat, grease, and the like.
    The word is used in other cultures besides German – among German Jews, for example. Not exclusively Yiddish.

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