Grease Up Your Waffle Iron With Bacon Fat For Savory-Sweet Results

Besides being stars of the breakfast table, bacon and waffles are unique in that they thrive in both sweet and savory applications. Bacon imparts a salty-smoky taste to everything from egg and cheese sandwiches to the classic BLT, but it's also delicious when added to donuts or mixed into ice cream. Waffles are similar. For brunch, they're normally served with sliced strawberries and puffs of whipped cream, yet they also fit right in alongside a crispy fried chicken breast drizzled with hot honey.

Given the versatility of these two titans of the breakfast table, it's no surprise that bacon and waffles should find themselves crossing paths on the same plate. When paired together, bacon's porky flavor is a splendid counterpoint to the subtle caramel notes of a crisp, freshly cooked waffle. It's totally fine to serve the two side-by-side, but greasing up your waffle iron with a slathering of bacon fat is a much more elegant approach to infusing your waffle with the taste and aroma of bacon.

Creating the ultimate bacon-flavored waffle

Cooking up a bacon-flavored waffle isn't so different from making your typical Belgian waffle. That being said, it does require a very special ingredient: bacon grease. Bacon grease isn't hard to come by, especially if you have a fresh package of uncooked bacon on hand. Since bacon is typically made from pork belly — an especially fatty cut of the pig, all you need to do is slowly extract, or render, the fat. This is easier than it sounds. Simply cook your bacon over low heat for around 10 minutes in a non-stick skillet and pour the leftover grease into a lidded glass jar. Fitting a coffee filter or fine-mesh sieve over the mouth of the jar is a smart way to remove any excess bacon bits that may cause future spoilage.

Now that you've rendered your bacon fat, you can either use it as-is or store the bacon grease in the fridge for later. If you opt for the latter, just remember to bring the bacon fat up to room temperature so that it becomes spreadable. With your liquid or softened grease, spread it over a pre-heated waffle iron with a pastry brush, making sure to coat every crevice. Next, pour in your batter and cook the waffle until the color is golden brown. Once removed, the waffle should have a subtle bacon aroma and flavor, all without being overwhelmingly porky. Add a poached egg and you've just made the ultimate brunch dish.

Other culinary uses for bacon grease

Ending up with a mason jar full of bacon grease is a good problem to have because there's so much you can do with the stuff. When properly stored, this type of fat can last for up to three months in the refrigerator (and for years in the freezer) and is a clever way to quickly add an intense punch of flavor to your home cooking. In many instances, if the dish calls for butter or a neutral oil, you can swap in bacon grease.

For example, when making roasted vegetables, instead of tossing them in olive oil, drizzle a little bit of bacon grease over those broccoli florets, onion slices, and sweet potato chunks prior to popping them in the oven. Whipping up a grilled cheese? Fry it in bacon fat instead of butter. The same goes for hash browns, eggs, quesadillas, and fried rice. 

Bacon grease can also be used in condiments to imbue them with a more complex flavor. Add some into mayonnaise, ranch, or salad dressing. And when it comes to dessert, you can mix the soft, solidified bacon fat into your ice cream base for a treat that straddles the line between salty and sweet. Plop a scoop of that ice cream atop your pork-infused waffle to really bring home the bacon.