Crispy and Crunchy Lard Cookies

Just hear me out on this!

It won't taste 'fatty' or 'porky' or anything like that. Oddly, these cookies will be healthier than you think because you're using lard instead of butter...and it'll be just enough of a flavor difference that you'll go "ooh, what's that?" Even best, if you like a CRISP and CRUNCHY cookie...this is the cookie recipe for you. 

A quick note: I am a Jewish lady but I don't keep kosher. This recipe is using pork fat, aka lard. I'm sure you can use beef tallow(that's rendered beef fat) but what you should know about tallow vs lard is that tallow will be much harder when cold and is, therefore, better suited, in my opinion, to crafty things like making candles. Lard and schmaltz are my favorite animal products to use in cooking and baking, so here we go. 

This is a play on a chocolate chip cookie, and I must say that the result is quite fascinating. 

First, lard has a much higher melting point than butter does, but will remain soft for quite a bit. I do recommend a standing mixer or an electric mixer for making these cookies as your wrist will get quite tired. Let's make it!

  • 6 oz rendered lard, room temperature
  • 7 oz (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract
  • 7.5 oz (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips
  • A really fat pinch of salt, plus a little more for the top
  • Chocolate chunks, as needed, about a cup and a half for me
Using the paddle attachment of the standing mixer on medium-high, you will beat the lard until it's nearly white in color, which will take at least two minutes. Lard has a high smoke point, which means it's stiffer than the average bear. Add the sugar, then mix slowly, then less slowly...the points you're going to gradually increase the speed until it's at high, and then you'll let it mix for a solid 60 seconds on the highest setting until it's all incorporated. Then, turn the speed down to low to add your egg. While that's stirring in, combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl.

When the egg is fully incorporated and nothing appears to have separated or curdled away, add your vanilla extract. Mix for about ten turns and then turn off the mixer. Stir in the flour by hand, and then stir in the chocolate chunks by hand as well. Pop the dough in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. Ideally, though, you'll want to freeze the dough in pre-scooped balls overnight. I find this gives a much gooier cookie!

No matter what chilling method you use, you're going to want to bake this at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. While they're baking and cooling, let's chat for a minute about lard, the rendering of it, and why you should do so. 

First and foremost, saving what you have access to for a rainy day is good, especially when that's an item that will stay good for a long time. Second, it's shockingly healthy. I do understand that some folks have feelings about using animal fats, and that's a-okay by me! I will tell you, though, that lard is oddly high in vitamin D! It also has a fair bit of oleic acid, which has been linked to decreasing your risk of depression.  It's high in good fats, which is good for your cardiovascular system.

Oh, and don't stress too much about fatty stuff. Humans evolved to crave and consume fatty and sugary things, so it's actually not as bad as you think. Like everything, moderation is the key. 

As I'm sure you might know, you can buy lard in most grocery stores located in neighborhoods with a large Latinx population. If you aren't so blessed, you'll have to render it yourself. Fortunately, this is much easier than you might think! I do it often enough, and I've yet to burn the house down, so that should tell you something...especially since I've got a toddler, now. 

I buy pork shoulder (or pork butt) at a local butcher and I always get the ones with the largest fat cap I can. When I bring it home, I use a small, sharp knife to trim off the snow-white fat and pop it in a casserole dish. Since I cook my pork shoulder low and slow anyhow, usually at 200 degrees for several hours, I do the same thing with the fat in the casserole. After about four hours, the fat is a gorgeous liquid that you can strain into jars. You can keep them in a cool place like the back of a cabinet but I keep mine in the fridge. You can also render the fat on the stovetop for a much quicker endeavor, but I prefer to be lazy about it since I can't babysit rendering fat as easily as I used to. 

I love this recipe because it allows you to use what you might have on hand without needing to go to the store for a special run. I first made these because I wanted chocolate chip cookies but I didn't have any butter to speak of in the house, and I really didn't want to use shortening. Lard was the perfect thing for me to use!

I hope this has inspired you to give lard a chance. If you're into more cookie recipes, try these

Happy cooking and happy eating!


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