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11 BEST Schmaltz Substitutes [+ 2 to Avoid]

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different schmaltz substitutes to find the best one.

Whatever your reason for avoiding schmaltz is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitute for schmaltz is to make your own (it’s pretty easy!). A kosher alternative you can try is vegetable shortening. For something to replicate the flavor, you can go with duck fat, bacon fat, clarified butter, or ghee, and lard. Refined coconut oil is a decent plant-based alternative and lard is cheap and accessible.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I made matzo ball soup to try out loads of different Schmaltz substitutes.

Schmaltz, a popular ingredient in Jewish cooking, is rendered chicken fat. It tastes rich like butter and savory like chicken.

I was looking for a fat that brought a similar depth to my dishes.

Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Homemade SchmaltzReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Duck FatReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Vegetable ShorteningReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Bacon FatReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Clarified Butter/GheeReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Refined Coconut OilReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
LardReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10

Common uses for schmaltz and the best substitutes

Here are some common use cases for schmaltz and the best substitutes for those situations:

  • For chopped liver – try homemade schmaltz, bacon fat, or refined coconut oil.
  • As a spread – try homemade schmaltz, duck fat, or ghee.
  • For roasting, sauteing, and frying – try homemade schmaltz, duck fat, clarified butter, or lard.
  • For baking – try homemade schmaltz, lard, or vegetable shortening.

Homemade schmaltz

Making schmaltz is easier than it sounds, and the results are worth it.

The Spruce Eats offers a simple recipe to guide you through the process. 

To get started, you’ll need a generous amount of chicken skin and fat.

You can collect it over time from the raw chicken pieces you buy, but I highly recommend saving yourself the hassle and requesting skin scraps from your local butcher.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to get cooking. All you have to do is cook the scraps on low heat until fat has melted out and the bits of skin turn crispy.

Pro tip: hold onto the deliciously crispy skin – it makes a fantastic snack.

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with homemade schmaltz.

Duck fat

Duck fat is a fantastic alternative to schmaltz. 

Its flavor is more delicate than schmaltz, but it’s just as decadent! 

It’s like an indulgent secret ingredient that your dinner guests won’t be able to pinpoint but will be glad it’s there.

And with its similar smoking point, you can confidently swap out schmaltz for duck fat in most recipes.

I especially love using duck fat for roasting chicken (or other poultry) to achieve that delicious crispy skin. 

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with duck fat.

Vegetable shortening

Vegetable shortening is great if you’re looking for a super versatile alternative to schmaltz. 

It doesn’t have any flavor, so I mixed in some chicken bouillon to bring it closer to schmaltz for my matzo ball soup.

But you can also keep it plain and let the other flavors of your dish shine.

There are loads of brands to choose from, but Crisco is one of the most popular — and it’s vegan! 

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with vegetable shortening.

Bacon fat

Want a more flavorful alternative to schmaltz? Look no further than rendered bacon fat! 

It has a strong and deliciously smoky flavor. 

And it’s really easy to make at home.

Cook some bacon strips low and slow for about 10-15 minutes, then collect all the fat that melts out.

Don’t be tempted to increase the heat. If you burn the bacon, the fat will take on a bitter flavor.

Pro tip: I also used the bacon bits in my soup to give it an even tastier punch. 

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with bacon fat (mix with a more neutral fat if you want a more subtle flavor).

Clarified butter/ghee

Clarified butter or ghee is an excellent option if you need an alternative for schmaltz that can handle high heat. The smoke point of ghee is 465F!

Both these substitutes have a nice rich flavor that will enhance your dish, but if you have a choice, go for ghee.

It’s got an added nuttiness that’s really tasty.

Psst… it’s super easy to transform regular butter into clarified butter at home (here’s the recipe I use).

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with clarified butter or ghee.

Refined coconut oil

Refined coconut oil is another excellent plant-based alternative for schmaltz. 

Its neutral flavor makes it easy to adapt to your favorite recipes, and you can heat it up to 450 F. 

And don’t get too hung up on losing schmaltz’s flavor – like with the shortening, you can add a dash of chicken or veggie bouillon and you’re good to go!  

Refined coconut oil is not only a reliable substitute, but it also offers additional health benefits, such as containing medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that promote energy and metabolism

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with refined coconut oil.


Lard is also missing schmaltz’s flavor, but it’s an affordable and easily accessible alternative you can find in your local grocery store.

Lard is the name for rendered pork, so it does have a rich and meaty quality that added depth to my matzo ball soup.

Pro tip: tallow is another animal fat that’s very similar to lard (but from beef).

How to substitute: Replace schmaltz in a 1:1 ratio with lard.

Other substitutes to consider

The substitutes above are my top picks for schmaltz substitutes, but here are other options you can use if you already have them on hand: 

  • Canola oil – this is another affordable, easily accessible option. It also has a neutral flavor and can be heated up to 400F without breaking down. 
  • Olive oil – this is one of the healthier cooking oil options. But opt for a mild-tasting variety because olive oil has a natural fruity flavor that can be quite overwhelming.
  • Margarine – this is another vegan option you can use in place of schmaltz. It has a buttery flavor, although it can taste artificial if you use too much.

Substitutes to avoid

I came across these options during my research, so I included them in the test and did some more research on them.

But they didn’t work out, so I don’t recommend using them as an alternative to schmaltz.

  • Yogurt – this is a popular fat substitute for baking, but it didn’t work as an alternative for schmaltz. It has a prominent tangy flavor, and it’s not meant to replace fat in cooking. Yogurt also comes with added moisture, which can mess up the consistency of your dishes. 
  • Avocado – this can replace schmaltz as a spread for your toast or for baking,  but it can’t be a substitute for cooking. You can add it to some dishes to make them richer, but it’s not applicable to all recipes. 

Homemade Schmaltz + 7 Other Substitutes

I tested loads of schmaltz substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Keyword: schmaltz substitutes, substitutes for schmaltz
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 servings


  • 3 to 4 cups chicken fat and skin
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarter, optional


  • Place the chicken fat and skin in a deep, heavy-bottomed pat. Cook everything over low heat while stirring occasionally until the scraps begin to brown and the fat starts to render.
  • Add the onion and raise the heat to medium. Keep cooking everything, until the chicken scraps are crispy and golden brown. Turn off the heat and leave to cool
  • Strain the liquid fat into a heat-proof glass with a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. Save the crispy bits of chicken skin.
  • Cover tightly. You can store this in the refrigerator for up to six months.


Other options:
duck fat, vegetable shortening, bacon fat, clarified butter/ghee, refined coconut oil, lard

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