Yes, bacon grease definitely contains calories. Bacon grease is pure fat that is rendered out of bacon when it is cooked. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, bacon grease is very high in calories.
How many calories are in bacon grease?
The number of calories in bacon grease depends on the amount. One tablespoon of bacon grease contains around 120 calories (1).
This is because bacon grease is 100% fat. Fat contains 9 calories per gram (2). One tablespoon of bacon grease weighs around 13 grams. At 9 calories per gram, 13 grams of fat equals 117 calories per tablespoon.
So in summary:
– 1 tbsp bacon grease = ~13 grams
– 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
– Therefore, 1 tbsp bacon grease = 13 grams x 9 calories/gram = 117 calories
The exact calorie count can vary slightly depending on the brand of bacon, but it averages about 120 calories per tablespoon.
Why does bacon grease have so many calories?
The high calorie count in bacon grease is directly related to its fat content.
Here’s a quick overview of why fat is high in calories:
– Fat is made up of fatty acids chains that are packed with chemical bonds containing energy.
– When we digest fat, our bodies break apart these chemical bonds and capture the energy stored within them.
– Each gram of fat, once digested, releases about 9 calories of energy for our bodies to use.
– Therefore, foods high in fat like bacon grease contain a lot of stored energy, which translates into a high number of calories.
In comparison, proteins and carbs contain only 4 calories per gram. So fat is more than twice as energy-dense by weight.
Bacon grease is nearly 100% fat, so almost all the calories come directly from its high fat content. Even though it’s a small amount by volume, the high concentration of fat packs a lot of calories into just one tablespoon.
Is bacon grease healthy or unhealthy?
While bacon grease does contain a high amount of calories, it also contains some nutrients. However, its high saturated fat content makes it an unhealthy type of fat overall.
Here are some pros and cons of bacon grease nutrition:
– High in vitamin D – Bacon is unique because it contains a high amount of vitamin D, a nutrient many people are deficient in (3). Some of this vitamin D is retained in the grease.
– Source of monounsaturated fats – Bacon grease contains about half monounsaturated fat, the same heart-healthy type found in olive oil (4).
– Adds flavor – Small amounts of bacon grease can add meaty, smoky, salty flavor to other dishes and foods.
– High in saturated fat – Over 50% of the fat in bacon and its grease is saturated, which can raise bad LDL cholesterol levels (5).
– Risk of rancidity – Bacon grease can go rancid quickly at room temperature, leading to off-flavors and increased free radical damage.
– High calorie density – With nearly 120 calories in just one tablespoon, excessive bacon grease consumption can easily lead to excess calorie intake.
So in moderation, bacon grease can add some flavor and nutrients. But it should be used sparingly due to its high saturated fat and calorie content.
How does bacon grease compare to other fats?
Bacon grease is higher in calories and saturated fat compared to most other common fats and oils.
Here’s how it stacks up (based on 1 tablespoon):
|Fat/Oil||Total Calories||Saturated Fat (g)|
As you can see, bacon grease is comparable in calories to oils like olive, coconut and vegetable oil. However, it provides more than double the saturated fat.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 5-6% of total daily calories (6). One tablespoon of bacon grease already provides 20-25% of this amount.
Overdoing foods high in saturated fat like bacon grease promotes LDL cholesterol buildup in the arteries, increasing heart disease risk.
For the healthiest fat options, liquid plant oils like olive, canola, avocado and nut oils are better choices than solid fats like bacon grease or butter. They provide mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are linked to better heart health.
What’s the healthiest way to cook with bacon grease?
If you want to use bacon grease in cooking, there are some healthier ways to incorporate it:
– Use small amounts – Add just 1/2 or 1 teaspoon to dishes to impart flavor without overdoing the saturated fat.
– Combine with healthier oils – Mix just a bit of bacon fat into olive oil or avocado oil to retain the benefits of these heart-healthy fats.
– Add to vegetables – Toss roasted veggies or brussels sprouts with a drizzle of bacon grease instead of using it to fry or coat meats.
– Brush on meats or fish – Lightly spread a thin layer on proteins before grilling or roasting instead of cooking them directly in bacon grease.
– Make baked goods – Use just a teaspoon or two in cookies, muffins or cornbread for a hint of bacon flavor.
– Refrigerate leftovers – Store any unused grease in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 1-2 weeks to prevent it from spoiling.
Following a predominantly plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins can help limit intake of saturated fat from sources like bacon grease. Use it sparingly to enhance flavors if you choose, but avoid heating or cooking foods directly in large amounts of bacon fat.
Should you pour bacon grease down the drain?
It’s not recommended to pour bacon grease down the drain. Here’s why it can cause issues:
– Clogs pipes – As the grease cools, it can build up and stick to the insides of pipes, leading to clogged drains over time.
– Harms environment – Bacon fat washed into waterways can negatively impact aquatic life. Grease coats fish gills and feathers of water birds.
– Causes sewer problems – Fats and oils get trapped in sewers along with household waste, sticking to sewer walls and restricting flow, which can lead to sewage backups.
– Difficult to remove – Once cooled and solidified, bacon grease sticks to pipes and is challenging to remove once caked on. Repeated pouring of grease can allow the buildup to get worse over time.
Instead of putting it down the drain, its best to:
– Pour into a heat-safe container – Let the grease cool first, then pour it into an empty can, jar or other container with a lid.
– Throw away in the garbage – Place the sealed grease container in your regular household trash. The grease will end up safely in a landfill instead of clogging pipes.
– Recycle for biodiesel – Some cities have collection centers that will accept used cooking oil and grease for recycling into vehicle biodiesel fuel. Check if there are any locations that accept fats and oils in your area.
Letting bacon grease go down the drain may seem convenient, but it can lead to expensive plumbing repairs and environmental issues over time. Disposing of it properly keeps pipes clear and the water system running smoothly.
Can you use bacon grease when cooking for a vegan?
Bacon grease is not suitable for cooking for vegans, since it comes from an animal source. Here are some tips for cooking vegan dishes:
– Use plant-based oils – Olive, avocado, coconut and vegetable oils provide plant-based fats for cooking instead of animal fats like bacon grease.
– Saute aromatics – Cook onions, garlic, herbs and spices in water or broth as a flavor base instead of grease.
– Roast vegetables – Toss chopped veggies in a small amount of vegan-friendly oil before roasting for caramelized flavor.
– Braise greens – Slow cook kale, collards or chard in vegetable broth with herbs and seasoning.
– Pan fry tofu – Cook extra firm tofu cutlets lightly coated in cornstarch in a nonstick pan instead of bacon grease.
– Make vegan dressings – Whisk tahini, lemon juice, mustard and maple syrup for rich drizzles on grains and salads.
– Puree beans – Blend white beans or chickpeas with olive oil and seasonings for a creamy plant-based dipping sauce for veggies.
With so many ingredients like aromatic vegetables, herbs, spices, vinegars, citrus, beans, broths and healthy oils, plant-based dishes can be flavorful without using any animal products like bacon grease.
Can you substitute bacon grease for lard or shortening?
In most recipes, bacon grease can be substituted 1:1 for lard or shortening. However, there are a few slight differences:
– Fat content – All three are 100% fat products. Lard is rendered pork fat, while shortening is vegetable-derived. But both are almost entirely fat.
– Use in baking – Bacon grease, lard and shortening can all be used for making pie doughs, biscuits, cookies and other baked goods.
– Frying – Due to their high smoke points, these saturated fats are often used for frying and cooking at higher heats.
– Flavor – Bacon grease has a smoky, meaty flavor, while lard is mild and shortening has no discernible taste.
– Salt content – Bacon grease contains small amounts of salt from the cured bacon. Lard and shortening have no salt.
– Fatty acid profile – Lard contains more monounsaturated fat compared to bacon grease’s high saturated fat content (7). Shortening varies but may contain trans fats.
In most baking recipes, bacon grease can be directly swapped for shortening or lard without issue. The flavor differences may be noticeable depending on the dish. For those avoiding pork, vegetable shortening is the best substitute. But for general cooking and frying, bacon grease can work in place of solid shortening or lard.
Should you refrigerate bacon grease after opening?
Yes, it’s highly recommended to refrigerate bacon grease after opening to extend its shelf life and prevent it from spoiling.
Here’s why it needs to be refrigerated:
– Prone to rancidity – The saturated fat in bacon grease oxidizes and goes rancid more quickly at room temperature. Refrigeration helps slow this process.
– Food safety – Leaving it out can allow bacterial growth leading to foodborne illness. Refrigeration keeps it out of the “danger zone” above 40°F (8).
– Retains quality – Properly stored, bacon fat will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge vs. just a few days if left out (9).
To store, let the grease cool first. Then transfer into an airtight container with a lid. Glass jars or metal cans work well. Store in the fridge and use within 1 month for best quality.
Make sure to use clean utensils when removing portions to prevent introducing bacteria. And keep the container covered in the fridge to retain freshness.
Refrigerating bacon grease isn’t just for looks – it preserves the shelf life and prevents spoilage or food safety issues. Following proper storage methods allows you to keep leftover grease on hand for up to a month.
Can bacon grease go bad?
Yes, bacon grease can definitely go bad if it is not stored properly. Signs that bacon grease has gone rancid include:
– Change in color – The fat turns from white or pale yellow to dark yellow, orange or brown.
– Off or sour smell – Rancid bacon fat gives off a sickening, unpleasant sour odor.
– Change in texture – It can shift from smooth and creamy to grainy or separated.
– Unpleasant taste – Flavor changes to bitter, metallic, sour or even rancid.
– Mold growth – If contaminated, you may see fuzzy mold growing on the surface of old grease.
These changes occur due to oxidation and microbial growth over time, accelerated by warm temperatures. Storing the grease for prolonged periods at room temp allows the fats to break down faster.
To maximize shelf life:
– Store in fridge or freezer – Keep unused grease refrigerated up to 1 month or frozen for up to 6 months (10).
– Use airtight container – Keep in a sealed jar or can to prevent air exposure.
– Avoid cross-contamination – Use clean utensils each time to prevent bacteria introduction.
– Check before use – Give it a quick visual, smell or taste test to ensure it hasn’t gone rancid before cooking with it.
With proper storage methods, bacon grease can stay fresh for long periods. But like any animal fat, it will eventually go rancid and needs to be discarded if you see any signs it has spoiled.
In summary, bacon grease is a very high calorie food since it is nearly pure fat. Just one tablespoon provides around 120 calories and half the saturated fat you should consume in a whole day.
While it can add nice flavor to recipes in moderation, bacon grease is highly caloric and high in saturated fat so it’s best used sparingly. Store leftovers in the fridge and opt for healthier oils like olive or avocado oil when possible to limit your intake of saturated animal fats.
With proper storage methods, you can keep bacon grease on hand for up to 1 month refrigerated or up to 6 months frozen. But always inspect for signs of spoilage before using, and dispose of it if you see any discoloration, off-smells or texture changes which indicate it has gone rancid.
Following a balanced diet using bacon grease in small amounts occasionally can allow you to enjoy its savory flavors while still limiting your saturated fat intake for better heart health.