Caution When Using Chicken Fat for Cooking

by Sarah healthy fatsComments: 110

chicken fat for cooking

A recurring theme on this blog is the critical importance of utilizing Traditional Fats for cooking rather than industrialized factory fats such as margarine, spreads and vegetable oils that are rancid from processing and devoid of nutrients.

The type of fats used for cooking such as chicken fat can make or break your health regardless of other kitchen practices that may be right on target such as sourcing local and organic produce, consumption of antibiotic/steroid free grassfed meat and use of freshly ground flour to prepare traditionally made baked goods.

Factory fats such as hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils and processed liquid oils like soy, corn, safflower and canola are modern fats introduced to the human diet only in the last few decades and can cause cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis.  They must be vigilantly avoided to achieve maximum health and vitality.

Nutrient rich traditional fats best used for cooking include the following:

  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Lard from pigs outside in the sunlight
  • Tallow and suet from beef and lamb
  • Chicken, goose and duck fat
  • Coconut, palm and palm kernel oil

These traditional fats are primarily composed of saturated and monounsaturated fats which maintain their integrity when heated and do not become denatured forming free radicals during the cooking process as long as the heat is kept below the smokepoint (if you’re wondering why olive oil is not on this list, click here for the reasons I choose not to cook with it although it is great for salad dressing).

Not All Traditional Fats Are Created Equal

What many folks do not realize is that all fats are actually a combination of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are the rancid ones full of free radicals that are used in processed foods.  They are also the bad fats that when consumed to excess as is the case in the Western diet, inflammation and degenerative disease is the result.  Vegetable oils also contribute to a tendency to gain weight.

The traditional fats listed above are all very low in polyunsaturated fats with the exception of chicken fat which is about 21% polyunsaturated.

This compares with a polyunsaturated fat content of 4% for butter and ghee, 4% for beef tallow, 8% for mutton tallow, 11% for goose fat, 12% for duck fat, 3% for coconut oil, 9% for palm oil and 2.3% for palm kernel oil.

Here’s where the caution about using chicken fat comes in:

If you are new to Traditional Diet and your pantry is still fairly loaded up with processed foods in the form of chips, crackers, cookies, etc – even if organic – it is best to use another traditional fat for cooking than chicken fat.

This is because eating even a moderate amount of processed foods will likely result in an excessive intake of polyunsaturates.  As a result, cooking with chicken fat will exacerbate the problem as it is the highest in polyunsaturates of all the traditional fats with the exception of sesame oil.  A much better choice would be to cook with one or more of the traditional fats listed above that are very low in polyunsaturates.

On the other hand, if you have eliminated most processed foods from your diet and are eating nearly all whole, home prepared snacks and meals at home, then cooking with chicken fat poses no problem whatsoever as there will not be an excessive amount of polyunsaturated fats in your diet.

I hope this post has not put anyone off chicken fat! That was certainly not the intention. This wonderful traditional fat is fabulous to include in the diet, however, the caveat is the rather high polyunsaturated content that many are not aware of and they really need to be.

I hope this post has instead motivated you to further reduce you family’s use of any remaining processed foods.  This way, the budget friendly convenience of chicken fat that you can simply peel off the top of a jar of chilled homemade chicken stock can be fully implemented in your kitchen without the risk of it harming your health.

Rule of Thumb for Using Chicken Fat

A good rule of thumb then is to open your pantry and take a look.  If you see a lot of boxes from the store in there, you should be doing your cooking with a traditional fat that is really low in polyunsaturates like butter, ghee, coconut oil, tallow and suet.  Palm, goose and duck fat, while a bit higher in polyunsaturates would also be fine for cooking occasionally even if there are some processed foods still to be removed from your family’s diet.

Save the chicken fat, however, for when you are more fully transitioned to Traditional Diet so there is not an inadvertent overconsumption of polyunsaturates which would most definitely keep the brakes on as you continue your journey to optimal health.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information

Cooking with Olive Oil:  Yay or Nay?

Selecting a Healthy Cooking Fat and Reusing it Safely

Why Pumpkin Seed Oil is Not Good for Cooking

How Vegetable Oils Make Us Fat

How Argan Oil Benefits Health

Red Palm Oil Benefits Rival Coconut Oil

Walnut Oil: Healthy Sub for Flax Oil

The Many Shades of Palm Oil

Is Rice Bran Oil a Healthy Fat?

Picture Credit

Comments (110)

  • Estelle Shukert

    I just found your articles and do appreciate the discussions. Could you tell me if and why it would be okay to use rendered turkey instead of chicken fat. Blessings and thanks.

    March 25th, 2015 4:09 pm Reply
  • marijoe724

    How about cold pressed vegetable oils? They are less evil than hydrogenated ones and has high smoke point too, right?

    February 28th, 2015 9:34 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I don’t use them because they are high in omega 6 fats which the Western diet is already too high in … excess of these fats is a problem (they are essential yes, but too many in the diet is inflammation producing).

      February 28th, 2015 2:11 pm Reply
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  • Raymur Rachels

    Hi Sarah,
    When making traditional chicken broth, can you please clarify on when and why to skim or not skim? Thanks!

    March 14th, 2013 9:39 am Reply
  • Tara

    Hmm… now I’m confused! I don’t skim the fat from my broth. I just leave it in there and eat it in the broth (soups, etc), because I thought the animal fats are good for us, help the adrenals, etc. And now that I’m giving my baby chicken stock, I’m wondering if it’s okay that I leave the fat in the broth I give him as well. I certainly don’t want to start him off with a tendency toward ill health and inflammation – which is why I’m giving him broth instead of rice cereal in the first place! Am I doing something wrong by leaving the fat in the stock?

    March 6th, 2013 2:50 am Reply
  • Jennifer

    I get your point…but it almost seems silly to worry about chicken fat, even if you have SAD food in the pantry. When I cook the free range chickens I buy and then make stock from, even if I throw the skin in, I only get a couple of tablespoons of fat for future cooking (or to incorporate into soups). I can hardly cook two sides of veggies with that. Is it normal to have much more?

    Should I look for a new source for my chickens?

    February 20th, 2013 11:28 pm Reply
  • Sally

    I’m so glad to get your recipe for mayonaise, Sarah, and I’m integrating two different posts of yours. The mayonaise with egg calls for all olive oil or half olive oil and half safflower oil. But the post here about being cautious with chicken fat says that safflower oil is a processed oil that can cause cancer. Maybe I’m missing something…is safflower oil OK not heated, but becomes harmful when heated? Thanks so much for clarifying.

    February 13th, 2013 5:04 pm Reply
  • Desiree Herrera

    Hi, I am surprised by your advocacy of palm oil. What I have been reading about palm oil is all negative.

    January 30th, 2013 6:51 pm Reply
  • Kay

    When you skim the chicken fat off of the stock, do you store it in the refrigerator?

    January 30th, 2013 3:47 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    I don’t use a slow cooker myself so not much help in that department.

    January 30th, 2013 12:40 pm Reply
  • Samantha

    I am a real newbie. I see you talk about chicken fat and tallow but not plain old beef fat. Is that a traditional oil that can be used for cooking? I cannot eat lard for religious reasons and was wondering if beef fat can be substituted?

    January 30th, 2013 12:13 pm Reply
    • Jen

      Samantha, beef fat IS tallow. Grass fed beef tallow is a wonderful, traditional cooking fat. I have a 5 gallon bucket of it!

      January 30th, 2013 12:20 pm Reply
      • samantha

        I watched one of Sarah’s videos and she mentioned tallow is the fat between the kidneys. She said that it was a superior fat. I thought she was distinguishing that fat from other beef fat which is not tallow. Did I not understand something?

        January 30th, 2013 3:52 pm Reply
        • Janet

          The beef fat between the kidneys (or the pig fat) is referred to as leaf tallow or leaf lard (in the case of pig fat). It is preferred in many cases (particularly when used in baking) because it has a very neutral flavor. Fat from other parts of the cow or pig will have more of the flavor associated with that animal.

          January 1st, 2015 2:38 pm Reply
    • Cindi

      Just FYI if you haven’t found this already: tallow is beef fat. :-) Lard is pork fat. Chicken fat and duck fat are just that, to my limited knowledge. It’s funny how some things have different names and others don’t. I hope you are still working toward more traditional eating!

      June 18th, 2016 8:30 am Reply
  • Mich Magno via Facebook

    I’d also like to know about a safe crock pot/slow cooker. Thanks.

    January 30th, 2013 3:27 am Reply
  • Robin AKA GoatMom

    My Mother’s family gave me insight to Traditional vs Modern diet and the sad effects. My maternal Grandfather was one of 12 children , one died before age 2 , 11 lived to age 65 or older. Half of those 11 lived beyond age 85. My Grandfather was the only one who died of cancer, survived his first round and lived 11 more years. They all were poor farmers living in rural areas, growing their own vegetables, fruit, animals, not using commercial fertilizers because they couldn’t afford to. AS their income improved they started buying white sugar and store bread, my Granny even threw out their quilts for better store bought blankets. I fortunately took the quilts home with me, at 13 I knew they were more special than store bought! My Mom was 1 of 5 children, she and 2 siblings died of heart disease or cancer before age 50. I’ve been following a more Taditonal diet and food preparation for 7 years now and see many dramatic health improvements. I use chicken fat, smaltz as my Jewish neighbors called it, for some of the special recipes I have from them.

    January 29th, 2013 9:33 pm Reply
  • In The Kitchen, Keepin’ It Real via Facebook

    always helpful sarah. any thoughts on how/where to buy a safe slow cooker? or do away with that idea completely?

    January 29th, 2013 9:29 pm Reply
  • Juliette

    Hi Sarah, the convo above brought up a question when you talked abt the excalibur dehydrator and heat.
    I was using a plastic restaurant pitcher to strain my bone broth (still hot but not boiling) into before pouring into glass jars. Well I looked it up and guess what…BPA, do you think there is a worry of it leeching into my broth or am I being paranoid?
    love your blog, you really stir it up and give us some good info, I read it almost everyday! thanks!

    January 29th, 2013 8:21 pm Reply
    • Jen

      Juliette, I strain my hot broth into a large glass mixing bowl to cool in the frige before putting it into jars. I wouldn’t put hot broth into plastic with BPA.

      January 30th, 2013 12:13 pm Reply
      • Juliette

        From one Juliette to another 😉 I wouldn’t put hot broth into plastic either.

        January 30th, 2013 10:43 pm Reply
  • Luda

    I heard that Palm oil is bad for you, am i wrong?

    January 29th, 2013 7:48 pm Reply
    • Janet

      No, palm oil is not bad for you. Like coconut oil, it’s a saturated fat and so has the same benefits for cooking (more stable, doesn’t oxidize like polyunsaturated oils) and health (protects against cancer, reduces inflammation,etc.). The bad part is that it is often grown in areas that used to house tropical forests where endangered species of animals (like orangutangs and tapirs) live. So many of the palm oils on the market are contributing to the destruction of rain forests and wiping out the habitats of the native animal that live there. However, there are some varieties of palm oil that are grown on small scale farms in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way such as Tropical Traditions. I’d suggest contacting the company who makes the palm oil to find out if clear cutting tropical forests was done in order to grow the palm trees used to produce the palm oil.

      January 1st, 2015 3:02 pm Reply
  • Samantha

    I try to avoid the chicken fat as you say because of the PUFA. And I fear I use too much almond flour and nuts in general so I fell I’m pretty PUFA heavy there. I have been making my own mayo and have used the light olive oil. But I’ve been fearing that really the olive oil is at least partially canola. Do you think it would be better to use sunflower??? I know its PUFA too but better than canola! I did not have success with coconut oil since it hardens in the fridge. What do you use for mayo?

    January 29th, 2013 5:34 pm Reply
    • Alexis

      I use coconut oil, cold pressed, unfiltered, organic olive oil and sesame oil. Touch of honey, salt, mustard and raw apple cider vinegar. You can use equal parts or a little more olive oil and just cut the taste with the rest of the oils. Ive been doing it this way since I first started and my mayo doesnt solidify in the fridge.

      January 30th, 2013 11:12 am Reply
    • Jen

      Samantha, I’ve found that a mix of sesame oil (1 cup), expeller pressed coconut oil (1/2 cup), and olive oil (1/2 cup) is a good mix of oils for homemade mayo. I buy olive oil from Chaffin Family Orchards… it’s pure olive oil.

      January 30th, 2013 12:05 pm Reply
  • Alexis

    This is a perfectly timed article!! I was just saying to my husband last night…we’re completely grain free and only bake with coconut flour and almond or other nut/seed flours. Now, the majority of nuts and seeds are high in Omega 6 and PUFAS (polyunsaturated fats) soooooo, wouldnt baking with them be a bad idea too? Would it then turn rancid and cause free radicals and all that mess in our body? Theres no way Im the first person to think of this and the suggesting of cooking with nuts and seeds had been going on for forever so is it only the oils that are the problems or what? Any help or comments would be great!

    January 29th, 2013 5:19 pm Reply
  • micheline

    since avocadoes are so good for your health and avocado oil has the highest smoke point, am i wrong in assuming that AVOCADO OIL should be used as much or even more than extra virgin olive oil??? are there any down sides to avocado oil???

    this oil is seldom even mentioned – why is that?

    January 29th, 2013 5:03 pm Reply
  • Michelle Goldstein via Facebook

    Thanks for a very informative, well researched article!

    January 29th, 2013 4:07 pm Reply
  • Maggie

    oops , means ( those )

    January 29th, 2013 3:56 pm Reply
  • Maggie

    Thanks Sarah for this post about the chicken fat, my pantry is out of thosr supermarket or organic boxes, so I can keep using my grass feed chicken fat ( once a while though )thanks

    January 29th, 2013 3:56 pm Reply
  • Chris Bramich via Facebook

    Thanks. I guess this is why your WP video shows you removing the chicken fat from the bone broth instead of consuming both together.

    January 29th, 2013 3:31 pm Reply
  • Chris Bramich via Facebook

    Thanks. I guess this is why your WP video shows you removing the chicken fat from the bone broth instead of consuming both together.

    January 29th, 2013 3:31 pm Reply
  • sarah

    Question – you list safflower oil as a factory fat, but I feel like I remember it being included in a few of your recipes? Or am I making that up? We have been using it a few things, including mayo because it is such a nice flavor for it.

    January 29th, 2013 2:18 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I haven’t used safflower oil in any of my recipes.

      January 29th, 2013 3:22 pm Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    There’s a link in the post to my thoughts on olive oil. Good traditional oil but I don’t use for cooking for specific reasons.

    January 29th, 2013 3:06 pm Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    Lard is listed … under 10% poly so good.

    January 29th, 2013 3:05 pm Reply
  • Chris Bramich via Facebook

    I didn’t see anything in there about bacon/pork fat. Is that high in polyunsaturated fats too?

    January 29th, 2013 2:50 pm Reply
  • Sally

    Thanks, Sarah, for that very important point
    about grapeseed oil I had no idea it was so
    high in polyunsaturates. I guess I’ll go back
    to drizzling olive oil on my salads, and maybe
    make my own mayonaise…

    January 29th, 2013 2:36 pm Reply
  • Elisabeth Tull via Facebook

    Where do olives fit into the scheme? They’re mostly monounsaturated.

    January 29th, 2013 2:27 pm Reply
  • James

    I am new to traditional cooking. I have been reading your blog with great interest. I am just wondering though if traditional cultures used healthy fats and processed their grains and didn’t get cancer and diabetes etc., what did they die of? In theory shouldn’t they have lives really long. I am NOT a troll. I just have questions.

    January 29th, 2013 2:00 pm Reply
    • Mandie

      James, I’m glad you asked that question. I would also like to hear Sarah’s take on this as it seems to be one of the main counter points that critics of a traditional foods diet make: they point out that we have longer live-spans now. The first thought that comes to my mind for causes of death in traditional cultures is sickness/viruses (even a very strong immune system is not impenitrable. When isolated cultures came in contact with a new popution, the native americans and the europeans for example, the native american’s immune systems simply hadn’t had the opportunity to arm themselves against european illnesses), infections, accident, starvation/famine. I would love to know if there is any data that lists the major causes of death 100 years ago vs today (I’m not sure how much data would be available going back further) and the likelyhood of dying from those causes. I’d also submit that while we are staying alive longer today are we really living? Two of my grandparents spent many years in a nursing home before they passed, and I wouldn’t call what they did “living”. When my time comes I’d rather kick it at, say, 80 still active and taking care of myself than live to be 85 but spend those last 5 years in a nursing home dying slowing :)

      January 29th, 2013 2:43 pm Reply
    • CCM

      Good question, Jason. A lot of paleo bloggers have looked into anthropological studies on traditional cultures to see what those people died of. They did not die of disease but from old age, encounters with wild animals, or accidents. Look into Ryan Koch’s blog “Health matters to me” or Melissa McEwan’s blog “Hunt gather love”.

      January 29th, 2013 2:45 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Traditional cultures died of … of course accidents and other uncontrollable acts of God or ….. (drumroll please) OLD AGE! What a concept. Dying in your sleep or just dropping dead one day because it is your time to go.

      January 29th, 2013 3:23 pm Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        No wearing a diaper and being in a wheelchair for 10 years gradually slipping away in pain and agony over a long period of time because your body is ravaged by nutritional deficiencies but your’re kept alive by drugs, surgery and other magic of modern medicine like what happens to people today.

        January 29th, 2013 3:24 pm Reply
    • Lindsay

      The other fact that is often left out of the “people only lived to be 35 in traditional cultures” argument is that life expectancy statistics include infant mortality. In most cultures, if you survived the first 5 years (infections, accidents, famine) you’d live to a ripe old age.

      January 29th, 2013 5:50 pm Reply
      • JP


        I was going to bring up this point, too. The only reason why it appears that we live longer now, is that we do not die as infants in nearly the same numbers as we once did. We need to be reminded of how averages work!

        January 29th, 2013 8:14 pm Reply
  • Eniko Pongracz via Facebook

    And what about the duck and goose fat? We eat regularly foe gras in goose fat:))

    January 29th, 2013 1:34 pm Reply
  • Joyce

    My family transitioned to a paleo/primal approach about 11 months ago. We love cooking with virgin organic coconut oil, ghee, and tallow which I ‘harvest’ from batches of beef bone broth. I prefer not to use chicken fat because of the fatty acid makeup even though we have banished packaged goods! Use lard occasionally…source locally from pastured animals.
    There is data showing a better omega fat ratio for pastured animal products.

    January 29th, 2013 1:33 pm Reply
  • Garney Barnes via Facebook

    Chicken skin is wonderful to cook with, in the folicles of the chicken has immune booster properties… Stewed/croc pot whole chicken is the best for ailments..Remember to chill the broth to remove the solidfied fat that rose to the top..

    January 29th, 2013 1:31 pm Reply
  • Elisabeth

    Would you mind elaborating a bit on how to use chicken fat. Once you remove it from your stock… how long can it be stored? What is the best way to store it? Thank you for all the great info!!

    January 29th, 2013 1:26 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      It lasts for quite some time in the fridge. I’ve always used it up long before I ever had to possibly consider throwing it out.

      January 29th, 2013 3:26 pm Reply
  • Deb Whitson via Facebook

    Could someone tell me how long chicken fat and bacon grease can be kept in the refridgerator before it goes rancid?

    January 29th, 2013 1:10 pm Reply
  • Julie Zohovetz Morris via Facebook

    Chicken fat is alright but I sure do love pastured pork lard! I think I will stick with that….I just eat the chicken fat when I roast a whole chicken. Plus there are no boxes in my cupboard. :)

    January 29th, 2013 1:02 pm Reply
  • Miranda Cj Harding via Facebook

    Great article! So glad someone led me to you. Your posts are always very insightful and packed full of good information.

    January 29th, 2013 1:01 pm Reply
  • Sally

    Hi, Sarah,

    I’m curious about your thoughts on grapeseed oil.
    I had heard that it has a high smoke point; so it
    doesn’t become a trans fatty or hydrogenated oil
    at high heat. (I’ve been popping pop corn in it,
    but don’t fry food at this point.)

    Also, I read somewhere that mayonaise made with
    grapeseed oil (Veganaise) is healthy, or at least
    healthier than mayonaise made with canola oil.

    Please offer us your insights. Thanks so much!

    January 29th, 2013 1:00 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Grapeseed oil is extremely high in polyunsaturates (70%) and really should be avoided by everyone.

      January 29th, 2013 1:03 pm Reply
      • TanyaC

        I have been using grapeseed oil for high temps due to smoke point argurment. But I won’t be buying that anymore! I made my first bone broth last week with pastured beef & chicken bones. I have been using the fat to cook. The broth fat (and of course fermented salsa) are great compliments to my pastured eggs! I am new to this life style and enjoy learning from you! I’d be curious what a week at your dinner table would look like?!

        January 29th, 2013 1:34 pm Reply
  • Abi Aars

    What about cooking with bacon grease that is left over from cooking sliced pork belly? Do you know the breakdown for it?

    January 29th, 2013 12:59 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Similar to lard … fine as it is generally less than 10% polyunsaturated.

      January 29th, 2013 1:04 pm Reply
  • Elizabeth Dalton

    I was disappointed to see palm oil listed. :/
    It is one of the items our family won’t consider using b/c of the impact on the environment. I wish blogs would stop pushing and touting it as a healthy oil- the harvest of palm oil is devastating to the environment and if the demand stops the harvest stops too.
    Maybe a better alternative is coconut oil and coconut butter- made in the blender..

    January 29th, 2013 12:53 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      There is such a thing as sustainable palm oil. Know your sources and seek an environmentally friendly choice.

      January 29th, 2013 1:05 pm Reply
  • Sean Flanagan Health & Nutrition Coaching via Facebook

    Very important stufft! The real food versus non real food concept is a great broad brushstroke approach for guiding choices – but is insufficient. Looking at polyunsaturated fat load is crucial.

    January 29th, 2013 12:50 pm Reply
  • Rafael Robles via Facebook

    Awesome, thanks for the explanation. I regularly cook brown rice and oven baked potatoes with chicken fat. I hardly keep processed foods in my pantry, so it looks like I’m good to go!

    January 29th, 2013 12:47 pm Reply
  • Cathleen

    Great saying from a few other websites I read. “Don’t feed the trolls. It just goes to their thighs.” Ignore them and they will go away.
    Thanks for another informative post, Sarah!

    January 29th, 2013 12:30 pm Reply
    • Bob

      Yes Miss Cathleen, Mr David has chosen to be, rather than to just have.

      His career of being wrong seems to be going swimingly for him, as I do not have a pot belly. But then, that particular career doesn’t hold truthfulness or manners as a mainstay.

      Still as you say, so it should be.

      January 29th, 2013 12:46 pm Reply
  • Diane

    Hi, Sarah. In the paragraph above where you list the polyunsaturated fat content of various fats, you don’t mention lard. Do you know the polyunsaturated fat content of lard?
    Thanks, Diane

    January 29th, 2013 12:22 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Whoops! Meant to put lard and didn’t. Lard is 6-10% polyunsaturated.

      January 29th, 2013 1:00 pm Reply
  • jenny

    Great info as usual! Where does turkey fall? We raise pastured turkeys and I freeze the fat from roasting for cooking.

    January 29th, 2013 12:13 pm Reply
  • Bob

    Thank you for this article Miss Sarah. Might wanna zip up “David”. your ignorance is showing. Folk might mistake it for “something else”…..

    January 29th, 2013 11:52 am Reply
    • Helen T

      People live David are plants – just read an article about people employed to wreck havoc on the net. Easy to spot: only insults and brings nothing to the discussion.

      January 29th, 2013 1:29 pm Reply
  • watchmom3

    Hey Sarah, I feel sure that you have touched on this before, but, how about cooking with coconut oil? I really like it and do my eggs in it almost every morning. Thanks! (David, please stop being rude.)

    January 29th, 2013 11:32 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Coconut oil is fine … cooking with virgin coconut oil is not that great in my experience though due to the coconut aroma and taste. I would suggest expeller coconut oil for cooking only.

      January 29th, 2013 12:54 pm Reply
  • Jenny

    The most important thing to keep in mind is the fat percentages can change dramatically, depending on what the animal is fed. The saturated fat in the butter of a grass fed cow is going to be higher that in the butter from a soy/flax fed cow. A grain/by products fed pig is going to have a higher percentage of polyunsaturated fat in the lard than a milk fed pig. Chicken fat is the same.

    It’s why I mix coconut oil with any other fat I use…just in case. Saturated fat is so protective.

    January 29th, 2013 11:04 am Reply
    • Leila

      I was thinking exactly the same thing! It is very difficult to get a plump, meaty chicken that hasn’t been fed its fair share of soy and corn. Sad, but unfortunate fact. I raised foraging chickens on very little grain, but they weren’t the sort of bird I would pay $4/lb+ for! Not enough meat on them bones. True, they were layers, but still…

      One point where you didn’t quite connect the dots in this post…doesn’t the high(er) PUFA content in the chicken fat mean that it shouldn’t be subjected to high heat?

      One last question: A friend made me very sad by saying that the fat rendered from a baked/broiled duck shouldn’t be used to cook with, since it had been subjected to such high heat. I searched your blog at the time and I think you mentioned rendering a whole duck at low heat. But if you’re going to broil it and enjoy it, then surely you don’t throw all that wonderful fat away!!??

      January 29th, 2013 12:07 pm Reply
      • IC

        I don’t even save the fat from “organic” chickens unless they are mostly free ranged. You can see with an organic corn and soy chicken that the fat is a different color and there is a lot more of it. I find culling my older hens and roosters (many people give them away) is worth it, not for the meat itself but for the meat broth and bone broth you get from the bird. We have not been sick at all this winter and I attribute it to the 2x week soup from properly fed hens. Also, if your hormones are out of balance, you should avoid even the chicken fat until you have restored a balance.

        January 29th, 2013 2:00 pm Reply
        • Suzie

          What is the connection between chicken fat and hormonal imbalances. I have PCOS and do have hormonal imbalances. I do not know how to just “get them restored.” Does this mean I should never eat chicken fat? Can you please elaborate?

          January 30th, 2013 1:10 am Reply
          • IC

            If you are working to restore hormonal balance naturally, you’d probably want to limit chicken fat because it’s high (as far as animal fats go) in PUFAs, which supress the thyroid and are endocrine disruptors and choose other fats instead. Do you have a ND near you who helps patients using bio-identical hormones?

            January 30th, 2013 3:52 am
      • Irene

        I agree with you. There is a huge difference in the fat from organically raised chickens on corn/soy and free range. I don’t save the former fat anymore on the rare occasion I cook it. I cull my older hens and free roosters that people give away. You are right, they are lean, but they make fantastic meat and bone broth. (I don’t save the meat, it all goes into broth.) And the livers are so richly colored. I have no doubt from observation the fat profile of corn/soy fed chickens is high in PUFAs. Also, if you have hormonal imbalances, you should stay away from chicken fat entirely.

        January 29th, 2013 3:51 pm Reply
        • Leila

          Good point, Irene. Sarah has simplified the question by saying to look in the pantry. But really, your current health status as well as past health history should be considered, not just what you’re putting into it.

          I too culled my hens and roosters, and never let any go to waste. But the ones I buy are much plumper/meatier. There is no way that they were raised the same as mine.

          January 29th, 2013 3:58 pm Reply
          • Clara

            Leila, with regards to the plumper/meatier birds, it is in the breed. I’m thinking even your dual purpose bird won’t give you the meat you’re accustom to from the grocery store. The Cornish Cross breed is what is commonly raised commercially. You can look for small farmers raising this same breed on pasture (and heritage meat breeds) and ask what feed they use to supplement the foraging. Or get a few chicks to raise for your own…just make sure they’re on a fryer ration and not your layer ration if you use milled feed. My husband and I just last summer started raising these birds for our local market. Like you, Irene, I noticed a difference in the amount of fat between the pasture raised birds on our pasture (supplemented with non-medicated commercial feed) and the “organic” birds purchased at the store. I barely needed to skim the fat off the broth of the pasture raised birds! I’m not sure that I would have been able to render enough to even think about cooking with it. We’re taking it the next step this year and hoping to put the pastured birds on nonGMO feed for our customers. We’re still new on this journey back to “real food” and a traditional diet, but learning so much along the way.

            January 29th, 2013 7:47 pm
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Jenny, do you have any references for how much the variation in the meat fat depending on what the animal is fed. thanks.

      January 29th, 2013 12:57 pm Reply
      • Judith

        I don’t have any references on this but I’ve always felt that a chicken who lived on healthy pasture and ate a minimum of supplemental grain would have a healthier fat ratio. I will try to find some references from a woman who almost lost her life until she realized she could not eat conventionally-raised meat. When she switched to pastured meats and a Paleo diet, she recovered. Obviously, the nutritional content was very different between conventional, grain- and GMO-fed meat vs. pasture-raised meat. But I don’t have details, beyond the idea that there would be more Omega 3 fats in the latter.

        January 29th, 2013 2:03 pm Reply
      • Jenny

        I thought it was common knowledge.
        Lots of addition research on how various foods or oils change the composition of the milk.
        An example or cows:

        Of course they are going on the assumption that saturated fat is bad, so are trying to reduce it.

        Any pig farmer can tell of the warnings not too feed too much soy in the ration because it makes it too soft.

        January 30th, 2013 12:52 am Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

          Yes, I’ve seen references to this before but no actual hard data (except for grassfed beef) that shows exactly how much the type of fat varies depending on what the animal is eating.

          For example, there are no studies out there at all about tallow that I can find.

          January 30th, 2013 11:59 am Reply
          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

            I’ve looked at the article .. yes, I’ve seen the flaxseed thing before. What I’m really interested in is the polyunsaturated content of chicken fat and other animal fats and how much it varies depending on what the animal is eating. I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere. If anyone knows of this type of data, please post or email me. thanks.

            January 30th, 2013 12:02 pm
  • Teresa

    Remember, people that eat butter are happy! We know who is not eating butter in comments above. Maybe he should! I am not trying to be ugly – just saying!

    January 29th, 2013 9:34 am Reply
  • jason and lisa

    just because you cant do everything, doesnt mean you shouldnt do something…

    -jason and lisa-

    January 29th, 2013 4:09 am Reply
    • Helen T

      Wiser words were never spoken!

      January 29th, 2013 1:25 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Caution When Using Chicken Fat for Cooking | CookingPlanet

  • Phil Bowyer

    Hi Sara,

    Question for you. I’ve been seeing conflicting opinions on olive oil. What’s your take? Good, or bad?

    January 29th, 2013 12:03 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Olive oil is of course fine and is a very traditional fat. However, it is delicate and the beneficial phenols are compromised when this oil is heated so I choose not to cook with it. I use it for salad dressing. A good quality olive oil is not cheap so be aware that most of the olive oil in the store is not 100% olive oil and is cut with cheap polyunsaturates so be sure of where you are buying. My resources pages lists olive oils that are guaranteed pure olive oil.

      January 29th, 2013 11:21 am Reply
      • Phil Bowyer

        Thanks Sara, that clears up the confusion.

        January 29th, 2013 1:30 pm Reply
  • David Roth

    Lol, Sarah. And does the Traditional Diet go hand-in-hand with the practice of Traditional Hypocrisy? For you’ve written several blog posts against the use of BPA plastic, but a few months ago you ran a “FREE give away” gimmick in which to increase the traffic on your blog you offered the prize of an Excalibur dehydrator, of which the entire box construction is made of BPA plastic.

    Nice one! I hope the winner doesn’t have any kids in the house…

    January 29th, 2013 12:47 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Wow looks like I have a new fan! Those posts were about BPA linings in cans which are exposed to high heat during the canning process which most certainly allows the BPA into the canned food. I use some plastic in my home and have never said all plastic is a problem and have provided guidelines for using it safely. The Excalibur functions on low heat that isn’t burning and if one is concerned about the plastic, then parchment paper can be used to line the trays if desired.

      January 29th, 2013 7:54 am Reply
  • Claudia B.

    Thank you for taking the time to clarify this issue! Being only 1 year into a “Nourishing Traditions” lifestyle I was a bit confused by Sally Fallon Morell’s December statement on the topic of chicken fat. Your article, however, is very helpful and I’m happy to know I can continue to incorporate this wonderful traditional fat into my family’s diet! :)

    January 29th, 2013 12:40 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I asked Sally about the basis of this post before I wrote it … to provide further clarification and she agreed that chicken fat is traditional and even though it is high in polyunsaturates is fine to eat if the processed foods are a no show in your pantry :)

      January 29th, 2013 7:50 am Reply
  • David Roth

    Wait, Sarah, what’s the point of the Traditional Diet again? To develop Traditional Cancer?

    In a long ago post, you were so busy railing against raw cruciferous vegetables as harmful to the thyroid (of which a link has never been found in healthy humans), and gushing about how you cook all your vegetables in butter, that you seem to have totally missed the research that found a significant positive association between the consumption of butter and the risk of thyroid cancer. Oopsie!


    Francesci S, et al. (1991) “Diet and thyroid cancer: a pooled analysis of four European case-control studies.” Int J Cancer. 48(3):395-8. PMID-2040535.

    January 29th, 2013 12:13 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Traditional cultures that consumed butter did not have thyroid problems let alone cancer. Perhaps your study was funded by your vegetable oil company friends. Likely. Pretty old study too. Given that butter especially when from cows on green grass is high in thyroid enhancing iodine, I seriously doubt the credibility of the study on which you seem to hang your entire decision whether or not to eat butter. Given how many studies are flawed and funded behind the scenes with the specific purpose to manipulate consumer behavior, it would be best to look to see if the science validates what traditional cultures have long known and observed … butter is good for you and that includes your glands.

      January 29th, 2013 7:48 am Reply
      • Judith

        It would be interesting to know what *kind* of butter was used in that study, also. Was it from healthy cows on clean, well-managed pasture? Was it raw or pasteurized? Were the cows given any supplemental grain or other feed? Not all butter is the same.

        January 29th, 2013 1:56 pm Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

          One study does not the truth make .. ESPECIALLY if it goes against and run counter to historical evidence like the fact that traditional cultures consuming butter did not suffer thyroid issues or thyroid cancer.

          January 29th, 2013 4:34 pm Reply
    • Susan

      Please go away David and troll some other site. Surely there must be other ways for you to “get off” than to come onto a blog and attack all of our views here. Isn’t there a margarine lovers blog or something that would be more appropriate for you?

      January 29th, 2013 11:25 am Reply
      • Elizabeth

        Wait, Sarah,

        You absolutely forgot to explain to David that there is no “traditional cancer”.

        My husband is from a third world country according to our standards. And he is certainly not into “health food”. He often comments when I wax rhapsodic about grass fed beef or organic veggies “Its so easy to philosophize when your belly is full”. Yet, when it comes down to the meals we actually eat, he is quick to tell me “Cook what you want–I just don’t want to get any of those modern diseases” By modern diseases he means heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and… Cancer.

        Traditional Cancer is an oxymoron. There is no traditional cancer–only modern cancer.

        January 29th, 2013 1:36 pm Reply
    • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama


      Here’s a much more recent study showing cruciferous vegetables are related to thyroid cancer and disorders!

      Truong, T., et al. (2010). “Role of dietary iodine and cruciferous vegetables in thyroid cancer: a countrywide case-control study in New Caledonia.” Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Aug;21(8):1183-92.

      Here’s another: (2011, also quite a bit more recent than yours)

      (1995) Study showing PUFAs negatively impact the thyroid, but SFAs don’t:

      (2010) Traditional ghee is protective against high cholesterol and other health conditions:

      I guess you look pretty silly now. Don’t cite 20+ year old science and think you have a point, nor that those promoting a traditional diet don’t know what science is. Common mistake, but rather stupid.

      January 29th, 2013 11:39 am Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        Thanks Kate. Excellent information.

        January 29th, 2013 4:33 pm Reply
    • Paleo Huntress

      Surely you are not hanging your hat on the conclusion without knowing the methodology?

      I don’t have a paid subscription so I can’t see it, but I’m sure you do, as it would be silly to make any claims without first knowing the following– What can you tell us about how the individual studies were conducted? How was the data gathered? What did the remainder of the diet look like in the individual studies, etc?

      I’m eager to read your response.


      April 22nd, 2013 12:20 pm Reply

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