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What is Fat Washing?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Fat washing is a process that makes it possible to infuse various liquids with the flavor of melted fat. When performed properly, fat washing leaves behind the taste of the fat, but does not cause the liquid to retain a greasy taste or texture. The process is often used to create various types of infused beverages by marrying a fat with some type of alcohol.

One example of creating a drink with fat washing is combining filtered bacon grease with bourbon or rum. In order to begin the infusion process, the bacon grease is completely melted. The melted grease is then added to the rum or bourbon, which is at room temperature. This combined mixture is placed in the refrigerator, where it is allowed to cool long enough for the fat to rise and solidify at the top of the liquid. The solid fat is skimmed off the top of the liquid. What is left behind is alcohol that has the slight taste of bacon, but still has the smoothness of the rum or bourbon.

The same approach can also be employed with vegetable fats. For example, fat washing to create a buttered rum drink requires nothing more than melting a stick of margarine or butter. The melted butter is mixed into rum that is at room temperature. As with the bacon grease and bourbon, the rum and melted butter is placed into a refrigerator. Once the mass of the butter rises and solidifies, it is skimmed from the surface. The rum retains a slightly buttery taste without feeling greasy to the touch.

One key factor in producing a tasty drink with the use of fat washing is to always make sure the fat is filtered. This means that if bacon drippings are used, the grease must be strained to remove any small particles from the liquid grease. Filtered fat helps to maintain the smoothness of the finished product and eliminate the possibility of leaving behind a residue in the liquid that could result in a greasy texture.

Fat washing can be used with just about any type of animal or vegetable fat, and combined with any type of alcohol. Many fine restaurants offer specialty drinks that are built around the use of fat washing to create unique and desirable flavors. Because the infusion process is so easy to perform, it can also be used at home to create tasty drinks for parties or for a quiet evening at home.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By indemnifyme — On Mar 16, 2012

I've heard of using this process before with bacon grease, but as the article said, you could probably use it with any kind of fat. For example, you could use olive oil to make olive-flavored vodka. I have a few friends that love dirty martini's, and olive-flavored vodka would probably be the icing on the cake for them!

I'm not a big fan of olive, but I do like coconut. I suppose I could use coconut oil to fat wash some kind of alcohol if I wanted.

I feel like if you flavored the alcohol yourself, it would probably taste even better than the flavored vodkas you can buy at the store.

By strawCake — On Mar 15, 2012

@KaBoom - A friend of mine made bacon-flavored vodka at home and he assured me the process wasn't too hard. I've never personally tried it, but I did really enjoy drinking the vodka!

The only problem is there aren't too many mixers that go well with meat-flavored alcohol. I couldn't think of anything (except maybe water) to mix with the flavored vodka. I'm not a huge fan of doing shots, so I only had two drinks of the bacon-vodka.

I can't think of anything that would mix well with buttered rum either! Maybe cola, but I'm not even sure about that.

By KaBoom — On Mar 14, 2012

@nony - I think that almost defeats the purpose of a veggie burger. A lot of people eat veggie burgers because they don't want to eat animal products. Flavoring the veggie burger using an animal product probably wouldn't be acceptable to most vegetarians.

Anyway, I've never heard of fat washing before. I've heard of bacon-flavored vodka, and I was really curious how they managed to do that. I'm excited that this sounds like a pretty simple process I could easily do at home. I'm not exactly an alcohol connoisseur, but I might make an exception to make something flavored with bacon!

By SkyWhisperer — On Mar 14, 2012

@nony - That sounds like a good idea. My guess is that they use “natural flavorings” on things like veggie burgers, but my guess is that most of these flavorings are made from preservatives.

I prefer the true, natural quality of the fat washing myself. Of course I’d go further and suggest that even leaving some actual fat in the food wouldn’t be all that bad either.

I’m not into the fat calorie count thing personally, but as a matter of principle I don’t believe natural fat is what’s bad for you. I think it’s carbohydrates.

By nony — On Mar 13, 2012
Well I’m not much of an alcohol drinker so I can’t say that I’ve had much experience with fat washing. However I don’t see why this process couldn’t be extended to other foods.

For example, consider vegetable burgers. I think you could use fat washing in the same manner to transfer the taste of real animal fat to the veggie burgers, in the end making them taste like real hamburgers.

If you’re a fat and calorie counter then you might enjoy eating veggie burgers scented with fat instead of eating real meat in my opinion. Of course maybe they do something similar already with veggie burgers, but I’ve never been satisfied with the taste of the burgers that I’ve eaten.

By turquoise — On Mar 12, 2012

@ysmina-- As far as I know, fat washing doesn't add any calories. Like the article said and you also mentioned, all of the fat solidifies and is filtered out. So there is no reason that it should be higher in calories after fat washing.

I've had various kinds of fat washed drinks, some were amazing and some were okay. I think both butter rum and bacon bourbon are great. But the quality of the butter and bacon is very important, and of course the quality of the rum and bourbon too.

I'm from the South and bacon and bourbon is not anything new to Southerns at all. It's a pretty popular combination. So, to me, it seems natural to fat wash bourbon with bacon fat. But there is bacon, and then there is bacon. If the bacon is really good, aromatic and smoky, the resulting drink is excellent. I think same goes for all fat washed drinks. Whatever kind of fat is being used, it needs to be flavorful, natural and good quality.

By serenesurface — On Mar 12, 2012

@anon122467-- I use a mesh sieve to filter the fat out. I just pour the rum or bourbon into a new glass bottle with the sieve on top of the bottle. Depending on how fine the sieve is, it's possible for very small chunks of fat to manage to get into the bottle. If you see these smaller bits on the bottom, you might need to use something even finer to filter it.

One option is to use a cloth sieve. You could even do this with a thin, 100% cotton pillow case if you need to. Another option is to use a coffee filter. This also works really well. Sometimes, I tape a paper coffee filter to the bottle and pour the rest of the rum or bourbon through.

By ysmina — On Mar 11, 2012

This is so interesting. I've had bourbon bacon beer before, it's really very good. I really like the slight bacon flavor in it. I thought that they put artificial flavors in it. I had no idea that it is actually made by using bacon fat! That's really cool.

I remember also thinking to myself that this has to be a really unhealthy beer high in calories because it tastes very rich.

I know the fat is removed from the beer later, but does it add any calories to the drink? Or does it just add the flavor without really changing the nutrition content?

By anon122467 — On Oct 28, 2010

What is the best method for filtering the fat?

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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