Does Bacon Grease Go Bad?

If you are a bacon lover and cook bacon often, you probably know that there are always tons of fat left in the pan after cooking it. And many people store this fat to use it later in cooking or baking.

If you’re just starting out with storing bacon fat, you probably have a ton of questions like: “how to store it?”, “how long does it last?”, or “does bacon grease go bad?”. Rest assured, as in this article we go through all of those.

There’s also commercially packaged bacon grease that you can buy. So if storing remaining fat is too much of a hassle, but you still would love to make your scrambled eggs on bacon grease instead of butter, that’s an option for you.

In this article, when it comes to store-bought bacon grease, I use the information from Bacon Up’s website.

Tablespoon of bacon grease
Image used under Creative Commons from kaktuslampan

How To Store Bacon Grease

Let’s start with store-bought bacon, as storing it is simple and straightforward. Like Crisco, you don’t need to refrigerate bacon grease. Storing it in the pantry or the kitchen is perfectly fine.

Make sure the container is closed tightly when not in use and doesn’t seat near any sources of heat, e.g., the stove. At above 80°F (or 26°C) bacon grease starts to liquefy. And liquefying and solidifying repeatedly isn’t good for the quality of the fat.

Cooking eggs in bacon grease
(credit: Martin Cathrae)

When it comes to storing homemade bacon fat, there are a few things I want to cover.

To save the rendered bacon fat, you need some sort of a container. An airtight container or a big mason jar are both excellent choices. Generally, any container that you can easily seal and scoop the fat from will do. There are even special grease containers with filters you can find on Amazon.

Now that you have a container, you need to add the grease to it after cooking the bacon. Don’t jump the gun and pour the fat right after you finished cooking. Instead, let it cool down for at least a few minutes. Don’t let it solidify though.

Once it’s fairly cool, pour it into the container through a strainer. If you won’t strain it, there will be some small chunks of bacon in it, and those may cause the fat to go rancid early.

Now it’s time to put the fat in storage. Since bacon grease is fat from a pig’s stomach, it is a type of lard, and storage is similar to lard or ghee. That means you can keep it in the pantry, but it will retain quality for longer if stored in the fridge. Plus keeping the homemade fat in the fridge brings many people peace of mind, so that’s the preferred place to store it.

When storing bacon grease, many people just add and scoop from the same jar over and over. As you can probably imagine, the fat won’t last forever in super good quality. Because of that, I suggest switching to a new container every 3 to 6 months. That means you add any new bacon grease to a new jar and use up the fat from the old one. This way you never have bacon grease that’s stored for like five or more years.

Last but not least, once you’ve used the stored bacon grease for cooking, don’t try to save it and reuse it. It will take some of the flavors of what you are cooking and lose some of its own. Plus there will be some microbes that might cause the fat to go rancid. Just discard it after use.

Frying bacon in its own fat
Frying bacon in its own fat

How Long Does Bacon Fat Last

When it comes to store-bought bacon grease, it comes with a best-by date on the label. You can assume that since it’s only a rough estimate, the grease should easily last a few months past that date. If there’s only the production date, it should retain freshness for at least two years.

When it comes to bacon grease that you render at home, it’s difficult to say how long will it last. Many people just continuously add and take from the same jar for years. Or even tell you that it lasts roughly forever. Because of that, I can only give you some rough estimates.

If you store the fat at room temperature or below, it should retain its quality for about 6 months. If it sits in the fridge, it should easily last a year. Of course, the fat will probably stay perfectly fine for much longer, as these are super-safe estimates.

Store-bought bacon grease2 years or Best-by + 3- 6 months 
Homemade bacon grease6 months1+ years

Please note that the periods above are rough estimates and for the best quality.

Frying bacon
Frying bacon

How To Tell If Bacon Grease Is Bad

First, look for typical signs of going bad, like the presence of mold, any discolorations on the surface, or an off smell. If you’ve followed all the guidelines from the storage section above, that should almost never happen.

Rancidification is next in line. Like all fats, such as oils or lard, bacon grease is susceptible to going rancid. It can go rancid because of improper storage conditions, or simply from being stored too long in a container that wasn’t sealed tightly.

If the fat smells rancid or not quite as it used to, it’s probably rancid. While in most cases rancid fat is harmless, it doesn’t taste good. And that means the food you make with it will taste bad too. Because of that, it’s best to discard it.

If everything seems to be just fine with the grease, you can give a small amount a taste before using, just to make sure it’s okay.