Make Your Own Suet Recipe

by dustytoes

Use simple ingredients and save money by making your own bulk batches of suet for birds this winter.

Store bought suet cakes can be full of unnecessary ingredients, usually seeds, that are not eaten by the types of birds who eat suet. If you know which types of birds in your area will dine on suet, you can create your own suet cakes that are packed full of what those birds like.

It's easy and fairly cheap to make your own suet and freeze up the cakes until they are needed. It's a nutritional, protein packed winter meal to help our feathered friends through the tough days of ice and snowstorms.

If you like to feed birds year round, I also have advice for feeding suet during the hot summer months.

Why I Like to Make My Own Suet

The birds love it - reason enough!

Making your own suet is a rewarding experience.  I've been making it for years, and the biggest challenge is keeping the feeder filled.  You'll find that the birds - many kinds - absolutely love it.

It will attract a variety of woodpeckers and cute nuthatches for sure, but other birds may surprise you by grabbing their share.

Not many people make their own suet and once the birds in your area get a taste for this unique treat they will expect it to be there, day after day, when they arrive hungry.  It might be a good idea to make a few batches ahead of time, at the beginning of Fall, to be ready for the cold days ahead. 

I also keep some store bought suet handy for the times I may run out of my own.  At least then I will have something similar to offer the birds while they wait for me to make more of the good stuff.

Easy to fill, top loading suet feeder.

This type of feeder is my favorite.
Suet Feeder W/Tail Prop Hunter Green
$16.00  $9.54

My Personal Experience With Suet Feeders

I've been making my own suet for years and have gone through many feeders.
  • Feeders made of the recycled material hold up very well.
  • The cheap, wire cage feeders don't last and they are not easy to fill.
  • Read the feeder reviews on Amazon before you buy.  One cage type, with the suet on the inner area, has reviews that say it killed or injured their birds by trapping them inside!
  • Don't buy combo feeders that have suet holders on the sides.  Contrary to pictures you may see, birds like the woodpecker, like to eat in peace, far from other birds.
  • The tail prop and upside down feeders are best, in my opinion.

Homemade Suet Ingredients

The fat gives them the protein and can be enhanced by adding other items the birds love.

peanuts crackers ingredients

A basic recipe for feeding suet-loving birds starts with fat of some kind. This is a good excuse to eat bacon - if you need one.

Bacon grease and meat drippings can be stored in cans in the refrigerator until you are ready to mix a batch of suet.  Chunks of beef fat can be purchased from the meat market or grocery store. (It's cheap.)

Adding flour, bread or bread crumbs, crushed crackers and other dry ingredients will make the fat go further by making a larger batch.  (Freeze old bread, donuts and muffins for this.)

Adding peanuts and / or raisins is an extra, optional bonus.  The recipe here is a basic one that can be altered according to the ingredients you have on hand.

I never add bird seed of any kind to my suet, it is not necessary.  Save the seed for the seed feeders.

Store Bought Beef Fat or Beef Suet is Cheap

Quick and easy ways to offer birds some protein.

store bought beef fat

If you simply don't have the time or inclination to cook up a suet cake blend, the store bought suet, or fat, can be used alone.  I have found that birds don't like it as well as the cooked / mixed stuff, but at least it's fat for them.

  • Use a sharp knife and cut the fat into finely chopped pieces and mix with peanuts to form a ball or log.
  • Scatter small pieces in a tray feeder.
  • Chop the large chunk into smaller pieces and hang in a mesh bag.
Homemade Suet Recipe

Homemade Suet Recipe

Melt fat on low heat and mix in additional nutrients to make this protein filled, winter bird food that can be frozen in single servings.

Prep time 20 min  -  Total time 20 min
Ingredients for 4 servings
Bacon / meat grease, saved over time in the fridge  • Store bought "suet" or fat from the meat counter  • Peanut butter  • Flour  • Breadcrumbs  • Cornmeal  • (Peanuts, crackers, bread, cereal, etc.)  • Square, foil pan - 8 inch

Cook and Stir

Cook and Stir

Melt the bacon grease and chopped fat (it melts quicker if you chop it into smaller pieces). COOK ON LOW HEAT ONLY in a large pan until it's mostly melted. FAT has a low burning point so be careful!
The suet from the store will not completely melt and will have chunks remaining.

Stir In Whatever You Have Handy

Stir In Whatever You Have Handy

Remove from the heat and stir in 1-2 big tablespoons of peanut-butter.
Stir in about a cup of flour and a cup of cornmeal (approx).
Also ADD ANY OR ALL of these ingredients: breadcrumbs, crackers, old bread (torn into pieces), peanuts, and raisins, to create a slightly soupy dough.

Cool, Cut and Freeze

Cool, Cut and Freeze

Pour the mixture into a foil pan and let it cool. (Foil makes the clean up easy - just throw the used pan away.)
Put it into the fridge to cool completely.
Dump it onto a cutting board and cut into pieces (probably 4) that will fit into your suet feeder.
Wrap each cake in foil or saran wrap and store in a gallon size freezer bag in the freezer to use as needed.

Recipe  0.0/5 Stars (0 Votes)

Store Bought Suet Can Be Used Between Times

When it's not convenient to mix up your own suet, use good quality suet cakes that come from the store.

Homemade suet vanishes fast.  Birds truly love it.  If you find it difficult to keep the feeder stocked, substitute good, store bought brands in between.

I look for suet that is not full of useless seeds.  Peanut varieties attract birds well as many wild birds love nuts.

Know Your Backyard Birds And How They Like to Eat

If you decide to feed crumbled or ground suet you'll need a tray type feeder.

Tray type feeders will work when feeding crumbled or ground suet to birds who won't feed from the traditional, upright suet feeders.

Tray feeders can be used to hold more than just suet and a mesh feeder allows water to drain out and keep the food fresh longer.

Tray feeders will attract birds that like to feed on the ground or out in the open.  The open tray allows you to add breads, pieces of fruit, and peanuts in the shell as alternatives.

A warning about feeding suet from this type of feeder:  it will disappear quickly if the wrong birds show up.  Bluejays, for instance, can gobble up every bit of chopped suet in a matter of minutes if they find it.


Getting Birds to Come to Your Yard

Lots of birds love suet but won't perch on the suet feeder, so an open, tray type feeder works better.
Woodlink 3 in 1 Platform Bird Feeder

Tray Feeders Can Be Used Any Time of Year and May Bring a New Type of Bird to the Yard

These Grosbeaks are not eating suet, but they love to eat from this type of feeder.
Grosbeaks at My Hanging Tray Feeder
Grosbeaks at My Hanging Tray Feeder

Use "Delight" Suet Cakes in Summer

These are "no melt" feeding options to keep the birds happy all summer.
C&S Peanut Delight No-Melt Suet Dough
$1.99  $0.85

For Feeding Birds Year Round

If you continue feeding suet into summer, look for the "Delight" type.

If you want to keep the suet-eating birds around in summer, there is a certain type of suet you can purchase to feed them.  It's called "no melt" and has the word "delight" in the title. 

In summer months the hot days can turn the regular suet rancid and will make birds sick if they eat it.  I stop feeding birds altogether in Spring because it brings bears into the yard, so I never put out my homemade stuff once the winter is about over.


Updated: 01/24/2016, dustytoes
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

How do you take care of your backyard birds?

candy47 on 06/24/2015

I buy birdseed in 20 lb. bags, it's a mixture of a variety of seeds. They like it and so do the rabbits and squirrels! I might try making suet. Thanks for the idea and recipe.

Guest on 10/31/2014

Dustytoes, This article reminds me that homemade suet is one of the options for making good use of leftover bread. I love the photo of the grosbeaks at your tray feeder; they look so comfortable. I especially enjoy unexpected avian visitors congregating in friendly groupings at feeders.

ologsinquito on 09/14/2013

It looks as if there are some very well-fed birds dining at your house.

kimbesa on 06/03/2013

I did that a very tong time ago, and I forgot how much better it is to make your own concoction. And you can shape it to better fit your feeder.

katiem2 on 04/11/2013

Good knew this how to create your own suet was around here somewhere my youngest wants to make some for the birds. We are seeing the most magnificent birds now a great sign of warm weather. :)K

dustytoes on 11/15/2012

I have cats too Brenda, but I hang it very high and my cats seldom ever catch a bird. I take my feeders in once the weather gets warm or else I will get bears. In fact, I get them anyway!

BrendaReeves on 11/15/2012

I would love to make this for the birds in my backyard, but I have cats, so it would become a cat feeder. I once spent the weekend in the mountains with a friend. She put out some suet for the birds, but instead of attracting birds, she attracted a bear.

dustytoes on 09/13/2012

Katie, what a nice idea to share with the nursing homes! Believe me, the birds LOVE this suet. It's so much better than the store bought. Thank you for the promotion.

katiem2 on 09/13/2012

How cool it totally makes sense to make your own bird food suet. I save all my crackers, bread and whole grain chips we don't eat and feed them to the birds. I keep them in a plastic container and break them up as they get stale. The birds love them more so than the food I buy. I often take it to nursing homes and fill the feeders, that are so often empty, outside the residents windows. I will be putting your suet recipe to good use. I love this gonna tweet, plus, face and pin this. Thanks :)K

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