How to De-fat the Drippings from Smoked Meat

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I always save the dripping when I cook a pork butt or brisket and this is how I remove the fat and add it back into the finished product as needed.

Juices in the pan

Pour the juices into a container such as a jar.

Juices poured into a jar

Put a cover on it and place it into the fridge.Once it gets cold the fat will turn solid at the top and leave the tasty juices at the bottom.

Fat solidified at top

Remove and discard the solid fat with a spoon.

Dip out the fat with a spoon
Fat is nice and solid at the top

You are left with a jelly like substance that is very tasty and can be added back into the meat once it is pulled to juice it up.

The tasty jelly like substance that's left

Alternative Method

Another great option that someone posted a while back is to put the juices in the jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Then, turn the jar upside down and place it in the fridge.

The hard fat will solidify at the top of the jar (this is actually the bottom since it's upside down).

When you're ready to use it, turn the jar right side up and the jelly will be right there on the top ready to use, and the solidified stuff will be on the bottom.


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  1. Jeff I have always used a Mason jar and I turn it up side down when placing it in the refrigerator that way wen you open it the juice is on the top and lard on the bottom makes getting the juice out much easier

  2. I don’t usually use a pan for the butt, just a water pan. This sounds like a great idea once the meat hits 160 degrees. I wonder if not covering it will render as much drippings. Have you tried this?

    1. Covering it serves the purpose of speeding up the process, especially that stall period that tends to last for hours. It also helps to further tenderize the meat since it’s essentially being braised in it’s own steam.

      I often cook pork butts down in a pan uncovered for the entire time and you catch every drop of the drippings that way. The smoke has no trouble getting down in the pan so it’s a win-win.

      A good compromise is what you mentioned, leave it directly on the grate until it reaches about 160°F then simply set it down in a pan uncovered for the rest of the cook. Most of the fat rendering happens beyond this point so it’s a perfect setup.

      I am not sure about the difference in the amount of dripping between covered and uncovered.. I wouldn’t think it makes a big difference but that’s just a guess.

  3. After collecting the kdrippings I place them in a jar secure thelid tightly turn upside down and place in refergator until fat sets upthen overa pan removelidsolwly

  4. The fat shouldn’t be discarded – use it instead of butter when frying eggs – brisket fat especially gives the eggs a great smoky flavor.

    1. First smart comment of the thread when I read that that was the first thing I thought of who wastes the drippings such a waste if it can be reused to make something better I’ll never get rid of it good call Eric

  5. I freeze the leftover juices (after removing the fat) in ice cube trays & them add them to other dishes I make inside to add smoked flavor.

  6. Jeff, better yet. Go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and get a Chicago Metallic 4- cup pancake batter dispenser. Put the drippings in the device, let it separate and pull the trigger!!! The reserved juices come out and you stop the trigger at the fat line. Saw this at a class I took and was wowed!! Man has it saved us time and I save all of my juices now and freeze for later use!!

  7. I make chicken stock from scratch often, it saves $$$ and is far better for you. The last two times I made it rather than letting my huge pot of a gallon and a half of stock sit in the fridge overnight so the fat could raise to the top I let it cool and added a few cups of ice to chill it quickly which seemed to work well. I’m not sure if it’s the right way, but it made most of the fat solidify so it was easy to remove and added some more liquid resulting in an extra cup or so of stock and it saved me time and fridge space. Just an idea.

  8. Do you collect the drippings in a water pan if you use one, or do you have a water pan and also a seperate pan to collect the drippings? Thanks.