The crucial ingredient for suet is fat. So save the fat from your holiday turkey, duck, or ham to make calorie-rich suet to sustain your backyard birds during winter. Your nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, woodpeckers, and wrens will love you for it.

You can use just about any fat for the suet. It just needs to be melted:

  • Render fat trimmings in a heavy saucepan over low heat on the stove.
  • Pour melted poultry fat straight from the roasting pan.
  • Scoop fat from the top of beef or chicken soup.
  • Melt lard or vegetable shortening.

Strain the melted fat through cheesecloth, then mix with food that birds like, such as:

  • Birdseed (especially sunflower seeds)
  • Bits of dried fruit like raisins and currants (a nice way to use up that fruit cake)
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Cornmeal

Mix ingredients — there’s no special formula — and scoop into any tin, like a tuna fish can or cake pan.

I scoop my suet into a muffin tin, so I make several cakes at once and don’t have to cut it into shape.

Then freeze.

When hard, I pop out a suet cake, place it in a leftover mesh bag, and hang it outside my kitchen window. We all have a lovely holiday meal.

Bird eating suet

Do your birds have a favorite suet recipe?