How to De-Fat the Drippings From Smoked Meat

Posted on: January 18, 2023

Fat drippings from your food smoker can be an uncomfortable sight, especially if you don’t know exactly what it implies. However, for experienced pitmasters, there is always a way to handle the mess. Some people will instantly think of turning it into a smoky gravy, earning themselves a meal. This is one way of converting drippings into something useful.

Understanding Meat Drippings

During the meat smoking process, you are likely to be left with drippings from your meat. This is more common in brisket. But when allowed to cool, a layer of fat should solidify on the top of the drippings, with a golden brown base. This layer of fat can be helpful, especially if well-harvested. Some of the common uses for fat include being used in soup or sauce making in place of butter.

However, the challenge remains to successfully de-fat the drippings from the smoked meat. This has been a challenging task for most, as there has never been a straightforward guide on how to do it.

How to Harvest Drippings

Harvesting drippings while smoking has to be one of the easiest tasks for anyone. It’s preparing a surface or container for the drippings to collect and then transferring it to storage containers. After smoking, you will likely end up with more liquid if you wrap the beef in foil at any time throughout the smoke than if you leave it unwrapped. Because the foil functions as a barrier, the moisture is trapped inside the wrapper. Unwrap the meat over a deep dish to catch the drippings.

Once the fluids have cooled, a layer of fat should settle on top, regardless of how much liquid you have. You can skim the fat off and discard it, or you can use it to replace lard or bacon grease. This will add a nice smoky flavor to your dishes. Here are simple ways you can collect drippings.

Using a drip pan can be one of the greatest ways to de-fat the drippings. You can easily do this with an ordinary pan without necessarily investing in a designated drip pan.

Placing disposable foil under the food smoker’s grates is also another way to harvest the fat. The key is to strategically place the foil so that all the wood used is placed around it. You then just have to proceed with the smoking process normally. The drippings will drop from the meat onto the foil as the meat cooks.

How to De-Fat the Drippings From Smoked Meat

With your harvested drippings, the next major step that follows is to separate the fat from the rest of the liquid. This is an easy process with a few steps to follow that you can easily grasp.

  1. Place your juices in a clean jar or any other sealable container. Get as many drippings as you wish, as the contents will be limited by the size of the container or the amount you desire.
  2. Gently seal the container with a detachable seal. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an airtight container as a basic cover is also perfect.
  3. Place your sealed container into the fridge and allow it to settle. There is no precise timeline, but the objective is to get the contents cold.
  4. Once it’s cold, a solid layer of fat will form on top of the other liquid. The flavorful juices will be at the bottom.
  5. Using a spoon, scoop the top solid layer of fat off to leave the other liquids.
  6. The remains are a jelly-like consistency, most useful to be reused when preparing meat.

How to Store the Fat

Fat harvested from drippings can be stored in an airtight sealed container then placed into a refrigerator. It can stay fresh and edible in the fridge for about seven weeks, after which it can go bad. But if you want to keep it longer, the freezer is the best option. This can be done by placing the fat from the drippings into muffin tins or ice cube trays.


If you keep leftovers in liquid, defrost and reheat them within three months; if you keep the drippings separately, thaw and reheat them within two months. Beef drippings are always a good thing to have on hand. They’re much more desirable when made from smoked brisket, which has its own distinct flavor. Even inexperienced cooks will discover a variety of uses for the drippings, improving the brisket’s overall value. Check out the Bradley Smokers blog for more tips and tricks on what to do with drippings.

Check out a few articles about fatty meats:
Top 5 Healthy Fatty Meats You Can Smoke
Expert Advice: Should I Smoke Meat Fat-Side Up or Fat-Side Down?

To help you further on the process of becoming a pitmaster we created a free e-book:

Learn the tips & tricks of barbecue, from choosing the best grill and smoker to the best cuts of meat to start with. Also, read the pit master’s techniques and secrets to reach the perfect flavor.

+ 20 Free Recipes & Smoking Wood Pairing Chart!

And Bonus Internal Temperature Guide!

<< Download Free E-book >>