If you don’t like things going to waste then you’re in luck.
Left over chicken fat can and should be stored for later use. Chicken scraps can be turned into rendered chicken fat or chicken stock.
Even the drippings you see in the bottom of the tin after roasting a chicken can be saved for another day.
So how do you store chicken fat? To store chicken fat, first strain it through a cheesecloth (or something similar) to remove any stray bits of chicken that could contaminate the fat. Then pour the fat into an airtight storage container made of glass and put it in the fridge. The drippings will last 6 months.
Types of chicken fat
There are two types of chicken fat that people look to store: rendered chicken fat and chicken drippings.
Rendered chicken fat (Schmaltz)
Rendered chicken fat is also known as Schmaltz and is very popular in Jewish cooking. It’s something that you have to prepare, so you’ll know in advance that you’re going to need to store it.
The basic method is to cook down scraps of chicken fat until most of the fat has turned to liquid at the bottom of the pan. This liquid fat is rendered chicken fat.
Chicken drippings are a by-product of roasting chicken.
The juices that collect in the bottom of the roasting tin are chicken drippings. Most people throw them away, but if you do, you’re missing out massively!
Related: How To Store Bacon Grease
How to store Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
To store Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat):
- Strain it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter while it’s still hot. This will remove any small bits of chicken that could contaminate your fat and make it go bad.
- Once strained, place it into an airtight glass container and store it in the fridge. Do not keep the fat at room temperature.
- The Schmaltz fat should last up to 6 months in the fridge
As you can see, storing rendered chicken is pretty simple. The secret to making sure your chicken fat lasts as long as possible is to strain it well.
Any stray bits of solid chicken that make it into the storage container can cause mold and mean you’ll have to throw the fat away.
I prefer to use mason style jars to store my rendered fat.
They’re easy to seal and glass is less permeable to oxygen than plastic. Simply put, this means the fat will last longer as oxygen causes fat to go rancid. Also, since they’re glass you don’t have to worry about pouring hot fat into them.
Heat and light are two other factors that can speed up the rate at which fat goes rancid. This is why I recommend keeping the fat in the fridge rather than in the pantry. The fridge is cool and dark.
How to freeze Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
If you want to freeze Schmaltz because you’re not going to use it that often (and make sure it doesn’t spoil), you can use this freezing method for longer preservation.
To freeze schmaltz follow theses steps:
- While the fat is still hot, strain it through a cheesecloth to remove any bits
- Transfer the rendered fat into freezer-safe Ziploc bags and store them in the freezer
- The fat will last for up to a year in the freezer
- There’s no need to defrost the fat before using it (it’ll still be soft enough to scoop with a spoon when frozen)
If you’ve been storing the fat in the fridge for a bit and want to transfer it from the fridge to the freezer that’s also fine. Just make sure the storage container is suitable for freezing.
I recommend using Ziploc bags for freezer storage because they’re easy to stack on top of each other. This is a game-changer if you have limited space in your freezer.
Does Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) go bad?
Well, simply put, no.
Because there’s no water in the chicken fat, bacteria can’t grow, and the fat should never go moldy. The only time it will go moldy is if the fat wasn’t strained properly, and there are bits of solid chicken in the fat. These bits of chicken will introduce moisture into the fat and allow bacteria to grow.
Not going bad and not going rancid are two different things. Schmaltz acts in the same way as other fats and will oxidize over time and become rancid. Rancid fat isn’t harmful, but it won’t taste or smell very nice.
Heat, light, and exposure to oxygen all speed up the oxidation process.
To make sure the rendered fat lasts as long as possible before going rancid, you should store it in a way that minimizes these three factors. A glass jar in the fridge or freezer is ideal.
How to use leftover Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
You can use rendered chicken fat in a variety of delicious dishes.
You can use it in all the ways you’d typically use fats and oils, such as frying or sauteing. Here
- Use it to fry up some burgers for an extras savory touch
- Use it to grease vegetables with before roasting them
- Use it to fry up a grilled cheese sandwich (YUM!!!!)
- Spread it on your pizza crust before baking it
- Use it as a base for some of the most delicious gravy you’ll ever taste
- Mix it into some mashed potatoes or into mayonnaise to make a dipping sauce
It’s also often called for as an ingredient in cooking, usually in dishes that have a Jewish heritage. Chopped liver is a classic example.
For a really indulgent treat, you can spread the fat directly on toast. Though I wouldn’t suggest doing this too often, for obvious reasons.
How to store chicken drippings
People often throw chicken drippings away, but if you store them properly, you can use them later to enhance the flavor of other dishes.
To store chicken drippings:
- strain them through a cheesecloth while they’re still hot and easy to pour. This gets rid of any stray bits of chicken that could contaminate the drippings.
- Pour the drippings into a storage container. A glass jar with an airtight lid is best.
- Then put them in the fridge. Properly prepared, the drippings will last up to 6 weeks.
If your drippings have been sat on the side for a while, they’ll have cooled down and solidified. This not only makes them impossible to strain but also means bacteria might have started to grow.
To ensure the drippings are safe to eat, put them back in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill any bacteria that have started to grow. Then strain as usual.
I suggest using a glass jar for storage for three reasons.
Firstly, glass is less permeable to oxygen so protects the fat from oxidation which can make it go rancid.
Secondly, you can pour hot liquids into glass without worrying about chemicals leaching out into the mixture.
Thirdly, chicken drippings are a mixture of fat and juices. As the mixture cools, it separates. The fat congeals at the top, leaving the juices underneath.
In a tall, narrow container like a glass jar, the fat will form a thick layer at the top, creating an airtight seal that protects the juices below.
If you used a flat but wide container, the fat might not form a complete layer and won’t fully protect the juices.
How to freeze chicken drippings
You can also freeze chicken drippings so they last longer.
To freeze chicken drippings follow these steps:
- Before you freeze the dripping, you should strain them through a cheesecloth to remove any chicken bits.
- Let the dripping cool so the fat congeals at the top. I recommend removing the layer of congealed fat before you put the drippings into the freezer.
- Once you’ve removed the fat, pour the drippings into freezer-safe bags or Tupperware and place them in the freezer.
- In the freezer, the drippings will last for up to a year.
For most recipes that use chicken drippings, you don’t also want the fat.
Also, the fat can give the drippings a weird consistency when you freeze them. Not ideal in most cases.
If you don’t have time to let the fat separate from the drippings naturally, you can always use a fat separator. When you pour the drippings into a fat separator, they’re instantly separated. The fat layer can be treated the same way as rendered chicken fat.
To thaw, take the drippings out the night before you want to use them and defrost them in the fridge.
Some people dilute their drippings with water before freezing. This is useful if you’re going to dilute them anyway, but if you don’t have space it’s not required.
How long do chicken drippings last?
Properly prepared chicken drippings won’t have any bits of leftover chicken in and will have an airtight seal in the form of congealed fat. In the fridge, they’ll last up to 6 weeks. In the freezer, drippings will last for up to a year.
If you didn’t strain the drippings (or re-heated them), they’ll only last around a week in the fridge.
Do chicken drippings go bad?
Chicken drippings contain moisture and can go bad (just like chicken) if they aren’t stored properly. This is why it’s important to heat the drippings before storage to kill any bacteria that might have settled on the drippings. If you skip this step, the bacteria can multiply, and the drippings will go bad.
Straining is also important because floating bits of chicken increase the likelihood that the drippings will go bad.
If you see any signs of mold in the drippings or you notice a weird smell, it’s best not to use them. If you’re unsure, I’d always play it safe and throw the drippings away because food poisoning is not fun.
How to use chicken drippings
There are lots of different options for using chicken drippings:
- You can use them in sauces, or to saute vegetables.
- You can use them as a replacement for butter to add some extra flavor to noodles or mash.
- If you’re into salads, you can use the drippings to make extra tasty croutons or even just use them straight from the pan as a warm salad dressing.
My personal favorite is to use the drippings to make savory popcorn. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Related: How To Season Popcorn Without Butter
How to store homemade chicken stock
After roasting a chicken to make chicken drippings or frying off the fat to make schmaltz, you’ll be left with some scraps and bones that don’t look like much use.
But that couldn’t be further than the truth. These scraps are perfect for making your own homemade chicken stock. Storing chicken stock is very similar to storing rendered chicken fat or chicken drippings.
To store homemade chicken stock:
- Strain the liquid while it’s still hot using a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Make sure that only liquid gets through the strainer and that any bits of food are left behind. Stock with bits in it will go off quicker.
- Store the stock in an airtight Tupperware box or a glass jar.
- Keep it in the fridge, and it should stay good for a week.
How to freeze chicken stock
Homemade chicken stock is a great candidate for freezing.
To freeze chicken stock:
- Pour the stock into muffin trays or an ice cube tray to make stock cubes. One muffin tray of homemade stock is equal to around ¼ of a cup of stock. Freezing the stock this way makes it easy to defrost just the right amount and ensure none goes to waste.
- Once the stock has frozen, you can remove it from the muffin tray and place the cubes into a Tupperware box or a freezer-safe bag.
- Homemade chicken stock will last for up to 6 months in the freezer.
If you have a lot of stock, you may need to freeze it in batches.
Keep the excess stock in the fridge while you wait to freeze it. If you leave it at room temperature for too long (more than two hours), the stock could start to harbor harmful bacteria.
If you decide not to use the muffin tray method and opt to pour the stock straight into a freezer-safe bag, make sure the bag doesn’t have any tears in before you defrost the stock.
Otherwise, you could end up with a pretty big puddle! The best way to avoid this is not to overfill the bag and keep it away from any sharp edges in the freezer.
Does chicken stock go bad?
Unfortunately, yes. Homemade stock doesn’t contain any preservatives so there’s nothing to stop it going bad.
If you’re not sure if you can use all the stock within a few days, it’s better to freeze it to make sure it doesn’t go off.
How to use chicken stock
You can use homemade chicken stock in all the same ways you can use store-bought stock. Soups, broths, stews, gravies are all things that call for stock.
How To Store Chicken Fat (Schmaltz) And Drippings
- 1 portion chicken fat or drippings
Storing chicken fat
- Once strained, place it into an airtight glass container and store it in the fridge. Do not keep the fat at room temperature.
- The chicken fat should last up to 6 months in the fridge.
Freezing chicken fat
- While the fat or drippings are still hot, strain them through a cheesecloth to remove any bits.
- Transfer the fat into freezer-safe Ziploc bags or an airtight container and store it in the freezer.
- The fat will last for up to a year in the freezer. There's no need to defrost the fat before using it (it'll still be soft enough to scoop with a spoon when frozen). Chicken drippings will need to be defrosted.