How to Make Homemade Bird Suet: 6 Recipe Ideas

Homemade bird suet is a nutritious winter treat that provides essential fats and protein to help wild birds survive cold weather and migration. With just a few simple ingredients, you can whip up suet blocks, cakes, and other feeders in your own kitchen. Follow these recipes and tips to create suet that will attract a colorful variety of bird species to your yard.

What Is Bird Suet?

Bird suet is a high-energy food supplement made primarily from animal fats such as beef tallow or lard. Many commercial suet cakes also contain peanut butter, seeds, dried fruits, or insects to add nutritional value and appeal to different birds.

Suet provides:

  • Fats and protein for energy and body heat during cold weather
  • Nutrition for migrating birds in spring and fall
  • Calories to support active birds like woodpeckers and nuthatches

Lard or tallow solidifies at room temperature, allowing suet to be formed into blocks or cakes that birds can cling to and feed on for extended periods. Unlike seed, suet won’t get blown away or buried by snow. Offering suet in winter helps attract insect-eating birds that rely on it for nourishment when bugs are scarce.

Benefits of Homemade Suet

Making your own suet blocks allows you to control the quality of ingredients and customize recipes to attract the bird species you want to support.

Benefits include:

  • No preservatives or artificial ingredients – Make it as natural as possible
  • Cost-effective – Simple ingredients are very affordable
  • Fun activity – Engages kids and adults
  • Tailored to birds – Appeal to preferred species like woodpeckers
  • Use recycled containers – Repurpose items like yogurt cups

The DIY approach also lets you experiment with recipes and tweak them over time to find out what your backyard birds relish. Observe their preferences and make adaptations to increase the likelihood that they’ll frequent your feeders.

Key Ingredients for Suet

When making homemade suet, start with a base of beef fat or rendered pork fat. Opt for grass-fed tallow or organic lard if possible.

Common base fats include:

  • Beef tallow or suet
  • Pork lard
  • Bacon grease

Then build nutrition and bird appeal by mixing in added ingredients like:

  • Peanut butter (no sugar added)
  • Seeds – sunflower, thistle, millet
  • Dried fruits – raisins, cranberries, chopped apples
  • Rolled oats
  • Cornmeal
  • Cracked corn
  • Birdseed
  • Nuts (chopped peanuts, almonds, walnuts)
  • Insect suet (mealworms, crickets)
  • Grains like wheat germ or rice
  • Dried egg shells
  • Coconut

Adding a variety of items provides natural fats, carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients birds need. Try to include a mix of seeds, fruits, and nuts to appeal to the greatest number of species.

6 Recipes for Homemade Bird Suet

The basic process for making any suet recipe is:

  1. Melt down the main fat(s)
  2. Mix in dry ingredients
  3. Pour into molds or containers
  4. Allow to cool and harden

Adjust cooking times and temperatures as needed based on the fats used. Here are 6 homemade suet recipes to try:

1. Basic Beef Suet Cakes


  • 3 cups beef suet or tallow
  • 2 cups birdseed (mix)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (no sugar added)
  • 1 cup cornmeal


  • Melt suet in a pan over low heat until liquid (200°F)
  • Remove from heat and mix in other ingredients
  • Pour into molds or containers – muffin tins, yogurt cups work well
  • Refrigerate until hardened, then remove from molds

This simple recipe includes fat, protein, carbs, and seeds for broad appeal. Offer in wire suet cages to protect from other animals.

2. Berry and Nut Suet Cakes


  • 2 cups lard
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts)


  • Melt lard in a saucepan until liquid
  • Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients
  • Pour into suet cages, muffin tins, or other molds
  • Refrigerate overnight to harden

The berry flavors and nuts in this recipe attract fruit and nut-loving birds like woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches and chickadees.

3. No-Mess Seed Balls


  • 2 cups rendered bacon fat or lard
  • 2 cups birdseed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter


  • Melt fat in a pan over low heat
  • Mix in birdseed and peanut butter
  • Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet
  • Refrigerate until firm

These no-fuss seed balls won’t leave residue on feeders. Set them out in mesh bags or wreaths.

4. Insect and Fruit Suet Logs


  • 3 cups beef tallow
  • 1 cup dried mealworms or crickets
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans or walnuts


  • Melt tallow over low heat
  • Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients
  • Pour into cupcake tins, mini loaf pans or plastic molds
  • Refrigerate until hardened and remove from molds

The insect and fruit mixture in these suet logs provides critical nutrition for birds during migration seasons.

5. Cold Weather Suet Buffet


  • 4 cups lard
  • 2 cups hulled sunflowers seeds
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 cup crushed peanuts
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal


  • Melt lard in a saucepan over low heat
  • Mix in all other ingredients
  • Pour into multiple shaped molds – muffin tins, yogurt cups, plastic containers
  • Refrigerate until firm and turn out onto feeders

Offering a variety of suet shapes and textures with high fat content helps birds survive freezing temperatures.

6. Orange Birdie Bits


  • 4 cups used bacon grease
  • Zest from 2 oranges
  • 1 cup dried cranberry or cherries
  • 1 cup sunflower chips
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts


  • Melt bacon grease in a pan until liquid
  • Mix in orange zest and remaining ingredients
  • Pour into mini muffin tins filling about 1/3 full
  • Refrigerate until solid and pop out to set on feeders

The orange aroma and fruits in this suet will attract orioles and tanagers migrating in spring and fall.

Tips for Making and Using Suet

Follow these handy guidelines to craft quality suet and serve it effectively:

  • Melt fats slowly over low heat and avoid burning or browning.
  • Mix in additions once fat has liquefied and remove from heat.
  • Use containers like cupcake pans, yogurts cups, or plastic molds. Avoid cardboard.
  • Refrigerate suet until fully hardened before attempting to remove from molds.
  • Set out in suet cages or mesh bags to prevent access by other wildlife.
  • Replenish often when temperatures drop below freezing.
  • Clean feeders periodically to prevent mold if any suet remains uneaten.
  • Offer suet in combination with seeds, fruits, nectar to meet all bird dietary requirements.

Follow proper handling procedures and never reuse old cooking fats, which can turn rancid. Making suet can get a bit messy, so have some paper towels handy. Get the kids involved in mixing and molding for enjoyable outdoor learning.

Frequently Asked Questions About Homemade Bird Suet

What can I use if I don’t have any beef fat or lard?

Vegetable shortening, coconut oil, or palm oil can be used in place of animal-based fats to make a vegan suet recipe. The texture may be slightly different, but coconut oil solidifies well in cool temperatures.

How long does homemade suet last?

Properly stored in the refrigerator, most suet will keep for 1-2 months. Suet feeders should be emptied and cleaned weekly if suet remains uneaten. Discard any old suet that develops mold or smells rancid.

What are good molds to use for homemade suet?

Any non-porous container can work well, including muffin tins, cupcake liners, plastic containers, yogurt cups, milk cartons, and ice cube trays. Avoid using cardboard as it retains moisture and can grow mold.

Should I add corn syrup or sugar to my suet recipe?

Most birds don’t need additional sweeteners. Opt for unsweetened peanut butter. Fruit, raisins, nectar and jam already provide natural sugar sources. Avoid adding table sugar which can damage feathers.

How do I melt old suet for reuse?

Unused suet can be carefully melted again. Chop it into small pieces and melt over very low heat. Strain out any debris through cheesecloth. Avoid overheating and never re-use suet with mold.

Can I feed suet in summer?

While less necessary in warmer weather, suet can still be offered year-round. Opt for no-melt suet recipes in summer as plain fat suet will liquefy in heat. Look for “no-melt” options at bird supply retailers.

Get Creative with Homemade Bird Suet

Whipping up nutritious suet for backyard birds is incredibly simple, customizable, and rewarding. Get creative with ingredients and molds to discover favorites of your feathered visitors. Offer suet alongside other foods and water sources to create a well-rounded bird habitat. Employ suet to engage kids in cooking for science and nature learning.

Homemade suet provides natural energy that helps wild birds survive and thrive through harsh seasons. With just a bit of time in the kitchen, you can easily supplement their diets while enjoying hours of entertainment watching them feed. Explore new recipes and enter the rewarding world of suet-making this season!