What is the Best Substitute for Schmaltz?

by Charlie

Schmaltz – also called rendered chicken fats – is an ingredient that can add a significant amount of flavor to just about any recipe. It is also a great way to use parts of a chicken that you would have otherwise wasted.

While schmaltz has become an integral part of traditional chopped liver recipes, many also use it for cooking things like root vegetables and potatoes. For making stovetop popcorn, schmaltz also serves as an excellent alternative for oil.

So, with all of this, are there any alternatives for schmaltz? The ideal alternative for schmaltz is actually Crisco. The latter became an exciting substitute for schmaltz in the 20th century, and it has continued that tradition since then. Crisco works for pretty much everything you want to use schmaltz for, and while they differ slightly in taste, it is genuinely a great substitute.

An Overview of Schmaltz

Primarily, schmaltz is rendered fat. It usually takes the form of chicken fat, although some people use goose and duck fat to make it as well. The ingredient is beloved by many people, ad as its name suggests, it originates from the Eastern European Jewish people.

Schmaltz is famous for its rich taste and lovely flavor. It is also pretty easy to make, and can be used in different dishes. Notably, schmaltz is an essential fixture in cooking chicken or meat.

Traditionally, you make schmaltz by cooking a chicken’s skin with some onions and fat over low heat. You do this until the emergence of the golden fat. Strain the fat and pour it off to use it in cooking, then enjoy the skin and onions as well. Think of it like pork rinds, but with a dash of Jewish culture.

It’s worth noting that you can make schmaltz with any amount of skin and fat. Some farmers often save the skin and fat of their chickens if you want those. Also, if you’re making some chicken soup, you could just keep the chicken’s fat and skin before you put it in the pot.  

If you’re one to regularly roast chicken, then you could take out some loose fat from it and trim the part of the skin you’re not using. Save it all in a freezer until you have enough to make schmaltz.

Why Replace Schmaltz?

  • You don’t like the taste: While schmaltz does taste lovely, it doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like schmaltz so much, there are alternatives for you.
  • No time to make it: You could also see making schmaltz as a bit of a chore. In that case, get something else that’s easy to make and enjoy.
  • Stressful preparation: The process of making schmaltz can be labor-intensive, and you will only end up making a small quantity. If you’re looking to avoid all that work, a substitute could be your saving grace.

Options for Schmaltz’ Substitutes

Top Recommended Substitute for Schmaltz: Crisco

Crisco’s relationship with schmaltz is quite interesting. In the 1900s, many Jewish mothers who had moved to the United States found it challenging to make schmaltz. There was also the belief that chicken fats were not so good for health.

Soon after, they found that Crisco could serve as a viable substitute. Since then, Crisco has become an essential part of Jewish cooking. Crisco is a vegetable product that is easy to eat, maintain, and work with. It is also pretty cheap, so you don’t have to spend so much money finding it.

At the same time, Crisco eliminates the laborious process of making schmaltz.

Crisco pretty much does everything that schmaltz can. It works in cooking different recipes and is also great with frying too. Since it makes cooking much more comfortable, you don’t have to do much work with Crisco.  It doesn’t quite have the same taste and flavor as schmaltz, but Crisco is undoubtedly the most accessible alternative. The fact that it does pretty much the same thing as schmaltz makes it even better.

Best Substitute for Schmaltz in Matzo Balls: Butter

Some say that butter and schmaltz are practically brothers. Since they both consist significantly of fats, it’s understandable why these people might think so.

Like Crisco, butter also works for almost everything that schmaltz can do. So, if you replace the rendered chicken fat with some butter, you’re not exactly losing anything. However, butter especially shines when substituting schmaltz in matzo balls. For Jewish people, matzo balls don’t need any introduction. You can have butter to perfectly stand in for schmaltz and use it in the same way you would use the former.

At the same time, you could also combine schmaltz and butter if you’re looking to make some beautiful spread. Known to many as chicken butter, this combination is truly a beauty.

To make chicken butter, just combine 1/3 of a cup of schmaltz with about two butter sticks. Throw in four teaspoons of molasses and one teaspoon of sale. Combine what you’ve got and stir the moisture well. When you’re through, spread the mixture all over your food, and you’re ready to eat.

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