Homemade Suet For Birds

Last Updated on January 1, 2023 by Ellen Christian

Making homemade suet for birds is one way that you can encourage birds to visit your yard. We love watching the birds outside so we make sure to offer them food, water, and shelter.  

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Homemade Suet For Birds - An Easy Garden DIY

Homemade Suet For Birds

In the hotter months, we offer birdseed for food.  During the winter and early spring, it’s very cold in Vermont.  Birds need a little something extra to give them more energy.   You can purchase suet cakes at the store, but it is really very easy to make your own.

What’s a good substitute for suet?

Finding real suet can be a challenge at my store.  It also tends to smoke and leave a funky smell behind when I use it. For this reason, I use shortening as a base instead of suet.  A mixture of lard and peanut butter works very well to hold the flour, seeds, nuts, raisins, etc. together.

Easy How To: Wild Bird Treats for Winter Energy

Can I make my own suet?

If you want to make your own homemade suet for birds, you will need to render animal fat. You can find animal fat at your local grocery store in the meat department. If it’s not there, try asking your butcher to set some aside for you. Then, check out my post on how to render suet.

Does suet go bad?

Yes, suet can go rancid at high temperatures which is why I generally only set it out in the colder months. During the winter months, birds need suet for extra energy to stay warm. In the summer, it is enough to set them out bird food and the occasional treat or dried fruits and nuts. Suet can also damage the natural waterproofing on birds’ feathers. So, when should I put suet out? Put it out when your temperatures are closest to freezing or below.

Brown squirrel climbing a tree

Will squirrels eat suet?

Squirrels won’t necessarily be attracted to the homemade suet for birds. However, if you add things like seeds, nuts, or dried fruit, the squirrels will eat the suet to get the treats in it. If you have a squirrel problem, you can set out plain suet without any additions of nuts, seeds or fruit.

Homemade Suet For Birds - An Easy Garden DIY

Materials to make homemade suet for birds

  • 1 cup of shortening or lard
  • 1 cup of peanut butter.  I like chunky style.
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3 cups of yellow cornmeal
  • sunflower seeds, raisins, oats, dried fruit, small nuts, breadcrumbs, etc.
  • non-stick spray
  • 8″ square baking pan or dish

How to Homemade Suet For Birds - An Easy Garden DIY #birdfeeding #birdwatching #gardendiy

Winter bird suet recipe

If you want to try making homemade suet for birds, try this simple recipe below. You can easily have the kids help you with this since you don’t need to use the stove to make it. It’s a fun way to teach the kids more about the different types of birds that visit your feeders.

Homemade suet for birds

  • Over very low heat, melt the shortening and the peanut butter. This forms the base of your homemade suet for birds and will hold all the nuts and seeds together.

mixing the ingredients in a metal bowl with a red spatula

  • Stir in the flour and the cornmeal.
  • Add seeds, raisins, oats, dried fruit, small nuts, breadcrumbs, etc. Your homemade suet for birds will have the consistency of putty.
  • Spray an 8″ square baking pan or dish with non-stick spray. I use 100% extra virgin olive oil spray to avoid artificial ingredients.

Homemade suet for birds

  • Spread the homemade suet for birds into the 8″ square baking pan or dish.
  • Refrigerate until the mixture is solid.

Homemade suet for birds

  • Cut the homemade suet for birds into squares so that it fits into a suet cage. You can find these at most garden stores or hardware stores.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers.

Now that you know how to make homemade suet for birds, will you be trying it? This would make a great Earth Day activity. Do you enjoy watching birds outside in your garden?

More bird-related reading

My husband and I love to watch and feed the birds. So, if that’s a topic you enjoy as well, you might want to read a few of these articles.

27 thoughts on “Homemade Suet For Birds”

  1. four types of woodpeckers and other birds, they eat it too fast. I need to make harder suet, rock hard! SUGGESTIONS?
  2. This is a great post! My grandparents were avid birdwatchers when I was growing up in NH and they always put suet out for them. I never realized I could make it this way and I have all of the ingredients (except lard)!
  3. thank you SO much for posting this! i was just in the bird store today shopping around and prices on everything went up. =/ I just want to feed my birds. also, at least i know that it doesn't contain any chemical additives. 
  4. I had heard of making suet, but did not know about the cooking it first. I used to have one of these cages. Looks like a fun project for the kids to help with. We (including the cats) love watching the birds outside!
  5. I have a backyard but no time to care about it as it is shared by a few more tenants. But, it is a good idea to share with my friends. 
  6. Wow, thanks Ellen - I am so tired of paying so much for this and the birds that visit here are PIGS!! I need to replace it almost every 2 days!! Pinned & Tweeted!!

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