We really, really like bacon. Because we spring for the humane, small farm kind, we save all our precious bacon fat. It adds smoky, meaty flavor to all sorts of foods, from sautéed greens to ginger cookies (no kidding). But despite our efforts to eliminate waste, we still had a surplus. Enter Dog Treats.
Nicole and Stella, our chow-collie mix, both adore the flavor of peanut butter as much as bacon. Nicole has a fondness for peanut butter, honey and bacon sandwiches, and for years we stocked store-bought peanut butter dog treats for Stella…so those flavors seemed like a good place to start. We looked around at what recipes we could find, combined the best of what we saw and started tinkering.
Yes, that does mean we sampled the treats ourselves. But remember that we’re essentially making crackers, with darn good ingredients, and we’re getting better at it all the time. Though our goal is to use up whatever flours and grains we have on hand, the dog biscuits turn out well despite every adaptation. Using yeast lightens the texture enormously, and the technique of cutting in the fat gives them a superior flaky texture.
A few years ago, Lisa, who had been stockpiling other types of rendered fat because they just seemed too good to throw away, hit upon the notion of a Christmas dog treat baking bonanza. Since the dry and wet ingredients were added in different stages from the fat, the recipe was amenable to creating multiple flavors from a single big batch. She has since found that about any rendered fat will work, although the firmer the better—lamb, beef, chicken, turkey all work well. Duck fat, although almost too precious to use on dog treats, is particularly lovely. We think we may actually tinker with the duck version a bit and roll it flatter to make a cracker for people.
As you will see, this recipe is very receptive to what’s on hand, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’ve never made anything home-made for your pet before, start small and watch for any allergies to emerge. Our dog is quite hearty, and tolerates wheat, rice, and oat flours well.
The recipe below is large, but you can halve or quarter it. We tend to make big batches since they freeze really well, plus we share with other, less fortunate dogs. Stella supervises quality control; she does not leave the kitchen or nap while they are being made. She does whine as they are packaged up to be given away—she knows! Let us know what your pets think and if you come up with a new variation.
Click on this slide show presentation to see all the images showcasing the various steps to making these doggy treats.
See Related Recipe: Stella’s Double Whammy Dog Treats Recipe
Lisa Bell spent the first fifteen years of her working life as a pastry chef, recipe developer, test kitchen director, food stylist and print editor. She has also taught cooking classes, run a small cooking school, and worked as a food scientist. She transitioned to a new career in video production five years ago and now works freelance as a producer, writer and editor. Her passions include cooking, of course, animation, video editing, food writing, sustainable agriculture and organic gardening—and cheese.
Nicole Rees is a food writer and cookbook author specializing in baking science. Her most recent book is Baking Unplugged, just now in bookstores, is filled with simple, scratch recipes that require no electric gadgets beyond an oven. Nicole currently works as a baking scientist. She balances her love of sweets with an interest in health and well-being, encouraging everyone she meets to cook with whole foods and eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Her section of the garden is filled with parsley, cabbage and a variety of greens. She doesn’t believe any food is actually bad for you, but she believes in making every bite count.