Can you use lard in a deep-fat fryer? Today, I will not only show you why you should consider this underrated frying fat, but how you should effectively use it. Lard produces uber-crispy, extra-golden, and hearty, meaty fried foods.
What Is Lard?
Lard is a type of fat that comes from rendering the fat on pork belly. The keyword here is “pork.” If the fat comes from another animal, it is not lard.
The fat is slightly off-white in color and has a semi-solid consistency, like margarine. When cooled, it’s pliable and in solid form. But, as it is heated, it melts into an oily liquid.
Lard is not vegetarian or vegan. But, there are some benefits to using it instead of regular vegetable frying oil. We’ll get to these in a bit!
Lard Versus Tallow – What’s The Difference?
Tallow and lard are often confused with one another. But as I’ve mentioned, lard can ONLY come from pork.
Tallow is a similar off-white semi-solid fatty product that comes from mutton (sheep) or beef.
Structurally these differ quite a lot. But the flavor is the main reason people use one or the other.
Can You Use Lard In A Deep Fat Fryer?
The short answer is yes. Lard is actually one of the most-used fatty (oily) liquids because of the many benefits it offers.
The biggest issue with using lard in a deep fryer is that it solidifies as it cools. This makes it either very dangerous to cool while it’s still hot, or difficult when it’s cold and solid.
Another downside to this ingredient is obviously that it’s not vegan or vegetarian.
And finally, it’s by no means a healthier option than sunflower and other vegetable frying oils or oil blends. And to add onto this, it’s more expensive and more difficult to find.
Pros Of Lard Versus Frying Oil
Now, all that being said, I still highly recommend trying this fat. Plus, there are solutions to most, if not all, of the downsides listed above.
First, lard is tasty! It has a much more savory flavor which is transferred to fried food. It makes it heartier, meatier, and just overall more delicious.
This fat also has a much higher smoking point (around 400 degrees Fahrenheit), meaning it is more versatile in how you can use it.
Plus, it has a longer shelf life because it contains more saturated fats, which don’t go rancid as quickly.
And, if you compare the nutritional breakdown of lard with other animal fats like butter and tallow, it is a lot healthier. It has less saturated fats, more beneficial monounsaturated fats, and is completely free of trans fats.
It’s even considered to be healthier than some vegetable oils. But please don’t take this as me saying “Go crazy.” Still, be smart about how much fat you take in and which types.
Choosing The Best Lard For Deep Frying
First and foremost, always choose lard that comes from pasture-raised pigs and not industrially-raised pigs. This lard tastes A LOT better, guaranteed!
Secondly, always buy fresh lard that hasn’t been processed a lot. This option can be found in the fridge. It is much healthier than shelf-stable lard, which contains hydrogenated fat to help stabilize and preserve it.
How To Use Lard In A Deep Fryer
Whether you use shelf-stable lard or fresh lard, both will likely be in a semi-solid consistency.
Place the lard inside the deep fryer or stainless steel heavy-duty pot. Start heating it over low heat. You want the fat to melt evenly and not overheat in some areas.
Once all the fat has melted, increase the heat to your desired temperature. Use a probe thermometer if your deep-fryer doesn’t have a built-in one.
The lard will heat quite quickly, so keep an eye on it.
You can add your food once the fat is heated and at the correct frying temperature. Lard tends to fry food better and achieve that beautiful golden brown crispy coating much more quickly. Just keep this in mind when deciding on a frying temperature and time.
Cleaning The Deep Fryer
Now, as mentioned, there are two ways you can do this. One is more dangerous but easier, and the other is less dangerous but more difficult.
Decanting While The Oil Is Hot
Nobody has hours and hours to wait for the oil to cool to a workable, but still hot, temperature.
So, what many restaurants end up doing is pouring the hot oil inside an oil bucket. Just make sure the bucket is heatproof! You can also use a metal pot or container (which works better in my opinion).
Once the melted hot lard is poured out into the container you will be keeping it in, you can proceed to clean the deep fryer as you normally would.
Just be VERY CAREFUL when pouring out hot oil. You don’t want it burning you or spilling everywhere.
Removing The Fat After It Has Solidified
The safer option is to leave the fat to cool overnight until it has solidified. However, scraping the semi-solid fat out of a fryer is a bit of a hassle and takes some time.
Use silicone or rubber utensils to help you do this without scratching the metal surface.
Can You Mix Lard And Vegetable Oil?
You can definitely do so when deep frying foods. The main reason people opt for a blend of lard and plant-based oils is to cut back on costs.
As I’ve mentioned, lard is quite expensive and for deep frying, you need a lot. That being said, keep in mind that blending the oils reduces their effectiveness and nutritional benefits.