Lets Talk Fat: 10 Reasons to Cook with Lard (2023)

In recent generations, lard has seemed to completely disappear from home kitchens. Until the early 1900’s, lard was a staple cooking fat across the globe. It was the secret to perfectly flaky pie pastry, crispy fried chicken, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and luscious gravy.

Now, when people hear the term lard, they immediately conjure up a vision of clogged arteries. It’s time to set the record straight – lard is a healthy cooking fat and deserves to make a comeback in kitchens everywhere.

  1. Lard is heat stable

When it comes to determining the stability of a fat, it’s all about chemistry. Saturated fats have single bonds between all the carbon molecules of the fatty acid chain and are therefore the most heat-stable. That’s because single bonds, when it comes to the fatty acid carbon chain, are relatively difficult to break. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond replacing a single bond in the carbon chain. Double bonds in fatty acids are unstable and can break with heat. Polyunsaturated fats are the most unstable, because they have numerous double bonds in the carbon chain.When the double bonds in mono- or polyunsaturated fats break, the fatty acid undergoes a process calledoxidation.

Why are oxidized fats bad? In a nutshell,oxidized fats = free radicals. Free radicals = cell damage.While we inevitably have some free radicals in our body, we should minimize these damaging molecules as much as possible to protect health and reduce inflammation. That means

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According to Mary Enig, author ofKnow Your Fats, lard is typically 40% saturated fat, 50% monounsaturated fat and 10% polyunsaturated fat. (Pastured hogs consuming a diet supplemented with grain or coconut will have a lower percentage of polyunsaturated fat – a good thing!).The percentage of saturated fat in lard protects the more vulnerable mono/polyunsaturated fats from oxidizing with heat, making lard an excellent choice for cooking and baking. Cooking oils such as olive, sunflower, grapeseed, etc do NOT offer protection from oxidation.

  1. Lard is heart-healthy

“Lard is an animal fat, and it is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Doesn’t that mean it raises my risk for heart disease?” The pervasive myth that animal fats increase the risk of heart disease is just that – a myth. Our great-great-grandparents consumed lard and butter and experienced extremely low rates of heart disease. Lard is part of a healthy diet and will not give you heart attack:

  • An analysis of more than 300,000 people published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows thatthere is no evidence that saturated fat consumption raises the risk of heart disease(1)
  • A low fat diet has been shown to increase triglycerides, which is a risk factor for heart disease (2)
  • The Women’s Health Initiative studied nearly 50,000 post-menopausal women – one group of women were told to follow a low fat diet, and the other group continued to eat “normally.” After 8 years, there wasno difference in the rate of heart diseaseor cancer between the groups. (3)
  • Numerous other large studies have found no benefit to a low fat diet (4)
  • The director of the largeFramingham Heart Study concluded, “We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.”
  • Saturated fat intake raises HDL cholesterol, which isassociated with a reduced risk of heart disease(5)
  • The “diseases of modern civilization” including heart disease and diabetes skyrocketed as animal fats were replaced with factory fats including vegetable oils and margarine. Take a look atthe graph here.
  • The cholesterol content of lard is health-protective, not dangerous (see reason #9 below)
  1. Lard is neutral flavored

Like me, many of you choose to cook with coconut oil because it is a heat-stable cooking fat. Coconut oil does impart a mild-to-moderate coconut flavor to dishes, however. And while I enjoy the flavor, sometimes I want a neutral-flavored option. That’s when I choose lard.

For sautéing and deep-frying, nothing beats the cooking properties of lard.It creates a divinely brown crust to vegetables and meats without a distinct flavor. Due to the neutral flavor, it also works exceptionally well in baked goods (see #7).

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  1. Lard is economical

You can often purchase quart-sized tubs of lard from your local farmer for $7.50 a quart. You will likely be able to find pastured lard at a similar price in grocery and specialty stores.

When it comes to healthy cooking fats, lard is definitely the most affordable. For example, my other favorite cooking fats – ghee and grassfed butter – cost exponentially more.

  1. Lard is high in vitamin D

Lard is the second highest food source of vitamin D, after cod liver oil.One tablespoon of lard contains 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D. Also important, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so it requires fatty acids – including saturated fatty acids – to be absorbed and utilized in the body. Lard provides the perfect package of vitamin D along with the required fatty acid cofactors. Other food sources of vitamin D, including pastured egg yolks and liver, pale in comparison to the amount of vitamin D in lard.

There is a catch, however: only lard from pastured hogs contains vitamin D, since the pigs must have access to sunlight to synthesize the D and store it in their fatty tissues. Grocery store tubs or sticks of lard are from confined, antibiotic-laden pigs and should be avoided. Purchase your lard from a butcher or farmer who can tell you how the pigs are raised.

(Video) The Real Reason Why People Stopped Buying Lard

  1. Lard is sustainable

Pigs are easily adaptable animals that can thrive nearly everywhere.Raising pastured hogs is a practice that produces a sustainable source of meat while improving the health of the environment. By rooting and foraging, hogs help to turn over topsoil and naturally fertilize the ground.

You know what’s not sustainable? A million acres of genetically modified, pesticide-drowned, synthetic-fertilizer-laden corn used to produce corn oil. Just saying…

  1. Lard is local

Purchasing a pastured pork and lard from your local farmer has a very low carbon footprint. Ghee, on the other hand, comes from the India which is many, many more miles away. Just saying…

  1. Lard is great for baking

You may not think that lard pairs well with sweet foods, but traditionally lard was used for deep frying donuts and making flaky pie crusts. If you haven’t made a pie crust with lard, you are in for a beautiful surprise! In baked goods, lard lends tenderness and moisture without a discernible flavor.


Substitute lard for coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, shortening or butter in your baking recipes.

  1. Lard is a healthy source of cholesterol

Lard ranks #18 infoods richest in cholesterol. As a healing agent in the body, levels of cholesterol rise during periods of stress or when inflammation is present. Studies show that cholesterol consumption does not carry a cause-and-effect relationship with blood cholesterol levels. This is because the body produces the cholesterol it needs.Providing cholesterol through good quality fats, however, reduces the burden on the body to produce cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol from whole foods like lard supports inflammation management and hormone production.

As a matter of fact, numerous studies associate low blood cholesterol levels with:

  • A higher risk of mortality(6,7.8)
  • A higher risk of depression(9,10)
  • A higher risk of committing violent crime and suicide(11,12)
  • A higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease(13,14)
  1. Lard is traditional

When I’m asked for simple advice for avoiding unhealthy foods, I give two simple rules of thumb:

(Video) CONSIDER LARD/GET IT WHILE YOU CAN! #prepping #lard #stockup

  • “Avoid any food with a TV commercial.”
  • “Avoid any food that your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t have recognized.”

What are some examples of fats that don’t fit these guidelines? Olive oil, Canola oil, corn oil, fake butter, cooking spray and reduced-fat dairy products.Lard, however, was enjoyed by your ancestors thousands of years ago.You won’t see it advertised on TV, either, because large corporations won’t make money promoting the products of your local farmer.

Source: Empowered Sustenance


Why you should cook with lard? ›

Lard is an extremely versatile fat: It doesn't smoke at high temperatures, so it's perfect for high heat cooking or frying. This also means it doesn't break down and oxidize, creating harmful free radicals (the reason you don't cook extra virgin olive oil at high temperatures). It has less saturated fat than butter.

Why is lard no longer used? ›

In the 1950s, scientists piled on, saying that saturated fats in lard caused heart disease. Restaurants and food manufacturers started to shun lard. It's only been in the last 20 years that nutritionists have softened their view on saturated fats like butter and lard.

Is it healthier to cook with lard? ›

According to Travers, the fats found in lard are “good fats” known as monounsaturated fats, which have been proven to help lower levels of bad cholesterol.

Is lard healthier than olive oil? ›

Olive oil is the healthiest choice out of common cooking fats, but there are some foods where the texture of lard is needed and olive oil is not a good replacement—specifically in Latin foods like tamales and empanadas, or in a pie crust.

Do you have to refrigerate lard? ›


Lard was used and stored for centuries before refrigeration was invented. It will keep at room temperature for a long time (traditionally many kept it for up to a year). Nevertheless, today most recommend storing it in the fridge.

What is healthier to cook with lard or oil? ›

Besides, lard is lower in saturated fat than other animal fats like butter and tallow, and higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—the type that gives olive oil its health halo. Lard is made up of 50% monounsaturated fat—compare that to only 32% in butter and 6% in coconut oil.

Is lard inflammatory? ›

The high fat diet (HFD) rich in lard induces obesity, inflammation and oxidative stress, and the deregulation of hypothalamic nuclei plays an important role in this mechanism.

Which is healthier lard or Crisco? ›

Lard actually has less trans fat than shortening and less saturated fat than butter. While it will never have a health food halo, it certainly doesn't live up to its bad reputation.

Is Crisco the same as lard? ›

Lard is actually rendered and clarified pork fat. You can read more here. Crisco®, which is a brand name and part of the Smucker's family of brands, is a vegetable shortening. That's the simplest explanation.

Does lard clog arteries? ›

The idea that saturated fats clog up arteries and therefore causes heart disease is “plain wrong”, experts have claimed. Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), three cardiologists said that saturated fats - found in butter, lard, sausages, bacon, cheese and cream - do not clog the arteries.

Can you fry eggs in lard? ›

However, butter may also be used, although the egg should be cooked at a lower heat so that the butter does not burn. You might also like to try another type of oil, lard or bacon fat, which actually works extremely well.

Is lard really unhealthy? ›

Lard Is Back In The Larder, But Hold The Health Claims : The Salt Although some tout lard as a "healthy" animal fat, it's still high in saturated fat, like butter. So eating a lot of it is not really good for you.

Does lard make food taste better? ›

In baking, use butter when you want to make your baked goods taste rich and pasty, and lard when you want to make them savory and flaky. In frying, butter adds creaminess, whereas lard adds meatiness to your final dish.

Why is lard better than butter? ›

With an unusual chemical composition, pure lard contains no trans fats. And in terms of its fatty acids, it's better than butter: Lard is 60 per cent monounsaturated fat, which is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. Butter is 45 per cent monounsaturated fat.

What does lard do in recipes? ›

Lard serves several functions in baking such as: Flavor: provides a mild pork-like flavor to baked goods. Flakiness: gives a crumbly flaky texture to pie crust due to lard's unique large and stable fat crystals. Tenderizer: mainly via coating proteins from gluten and eggs or starch granules.

What is best cooked in lard? ›

Fried Chicken - Lard is ideal for frying chicken because of its high smoke point. Tamales - Tamales are traditionally made with whipped lard for the best texture. Pie crust - Many bakers attest that lard produces the flakiest pie crust. Biscuits - Use lard for flaky, defined layers in your biscuits.


1. All About Lard ~ Rendering and Storing Animal Fat ~ Day in the Life with 7 children
(Three Rivers Homestead)
2. 11 Pounds of Pork Fat, Make Lard and Crisp, it is so Good with Rice | Uncle Rural Gourmet
3. Question/ Answer, 10 Things Not to do When Cooking & Lard, Butter, Margarine
(Helga's Pennsylvania Cooking)
4. Two Fat Ladies Cook Lard
5. Is Butter And Lard Healthy? (ANIMAL FATS VS. VEGETABLE OILS) | LiveLeanTV
(Live Lean TV)
6. 12 Reasons Why You Should Eat SATURATED Animal Fat
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
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