How to De-fat the Drippings from Smoked Meat

I've been wanting to do a writeup on this for a while. 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

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13 Comments

  1. John Adomitis March 6, 2020 at 9:03 am - Reply

    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. Steve Barnhart February 1, 2020 at 10:31 am - Reply

    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?

    • Jeff Phillips February 1, 2020 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      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. Ron February 6, 2017 at 10:47 am - Reply

    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. Eric February 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm - Reply

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

  5. Tumbleweed April 23, 2016 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    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. Rick March 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    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. Meredith February 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    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. Eric Johnson February 12, 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Jeff Phillips February 15, 2016 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      I usually try to place a separate pan under the meat to collect the drippings… in addition to the water pan.

  9. Jeremy February 6, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    When do you collect the drippings?

    • Jeff Phillips February 6, 2016 at 9:49 am - Reply

      You are correct.. if you have this tool, then you could skip the hardening stage in the fridge.

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