What is the difference between "rendered pork fat", lard, and bacon fat?

I've seen lots of references to rendered pork fat in the Momofuku cookbook, references to lard in one of my Schezuan cookbooks, and well everyone knows bacon fat... so what is the difference ? Can you substitute them ?

2 Answers 2


Not a lot, bacon is basically brined and smoked pork (the process/recipe depends on where you live)

Fat does not actually change in flavour as much as the flesh does when smoked

"Rendered fat" is just the fat that has run off when heating meat. It should be pure fat, with all the impurity left behind, or skimmed off

Depending on where you live, lard is either just pork fat, or a common word for animal fat

In Asian cooking if it specifies pork fat I would use that. Most Schezuan recipes are not smokey flavour based, so it may be noticeable, and appear unusual

  • 1
    Bacon pork cured by salting not smoke. It may or may not be smoked as well as salted. The salting will change the taste of the fat as moisture will be drawn out. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:14
  • @Rincewind42 Salting and smoking meat effects the flesh (protein) of the meat, not the fat. Salt does not significantly change fat any more that adding some salt to the final dish would. Rendered fat should not have any moisture in it
    – TFD
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 5:34
  • Incorrect. Salting, as done for bacon or ham, requires leaving the meat in the salt for several days or even weeks. The salt causes an osmosis effect that draws water out of the cells, drying the meat. This has simlar effect on all cells, wither fat cells or meat cells. Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 13:36
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    Dumb question - if lard and rendered pork fat are the same, how come the lard I bought is bone white and the rendered pork fat I saved (from cooking pork belly) is brownish? Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 15:55
  • 4
    I know I'm a bit late here, but that's an interesting definition of lard you're using. In the real world that the rest of us live in, "lard" is defined as rendered pork fat. Rendered beef or mutton fat is called tallow, not lard.
    – Marti
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 1:38

Bacon fat, rendered fat, lard or pork fat differ in purity but not basic chemical structure. Mutton and beef tallow is called suet. Back fats.

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