I make homemade suet the same reason I make hummingbird nectar; it’s easy and much healthier. In this article, you will find basic suet, no-melt suet, and peanut butter suet. All will attract many birds to your yard!
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3 Easy Homemade Suet Recipes to Attract More Birds
Why make suet, isn’t it easier to buy?
It’s easier to buy almost anything. But when you make your own homemade suet, there’s no additives, dyes, or preservatives.
It’s also great to be able to customize ingredients. The birds LOVE these recipes!
1. Basic suet
I love this recipe because you can add whatever extra you want to cater to different birds. You can also use any mold you want. Following these recipes will be mold suggestions.
Basic homemade suet recipe for birds
- 1 cup suet or lard
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 cup quick oats
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup sunflower seeds*
- Melt the suet or lard in a pot on low heat, stirring often.
- Add the peanut butter and stir until completely melted.
- Slowly add each dry ingredient and stir.
- Consistency should be like that of oatmeal. If too thin, add more dry ingredients.
- Allow mixture to cool enough to transfer to molds.
- Place in freezer for a minimum of an hour – more if your blocks are thicker than one inch.
Store extra homemade suet in the mold (wrapped or in plastic bags) or layered with wax paper until ready to use.
* This is where you can be creative with your ingredients. Feel free to add unsalted nuts (please do not use salt!), dried fruit, or different seeds.
Seeds to use for backyard birds
Different birds like different seeds. And while some birds will eat a variety of them, I’ve noticed that some seem to have favorites. Here is a list of birdseed to use for common backyard birds.
- Black oil or gray-striped Sunflower seeds – Most feeder birds!
- Peanuts – Woodpeckers, blue jays, nuthatches, cardinals, titmice, chickadees
- Cracked corn* – Cardinals, blue jays, doves, grosbeaks, native sparrows
- Safflower – Finches, grosbeaks, doves, cardinals, chickadees
- Thistle (Nyjer) – Many finches, pine siskins, chickadees
- White millet* – Buntings, cardinals, doves, juncos, native sparrows
This isn’t an exclusive list, as most of these birds will eat most of these seeds listed. It’s just to give you an idea in case you’re trying to attract certain ones.
* Please use caution with cracked corn and white millet if you want to deter the house sparrows from your feeders. House sparrows love those two seeds! They are great for our beautiful native sparrows, though! Those we want to attract!
2. No-melt suet
This no-melt homemade suet recipe is good for up to 115°. After that, it’ll slowly start melting.
Since most of us don’t get to those temperatures, we’re good! But even our 90° days can make regular suet get soft and sticky. So I like to use this recipe in the summer. The birds love it!
No-melt homemade suet recipe
- 1 cup suet or lard
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 2 cups quick-cook oatmeal
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour or wheat flour
- Melt suet or lard slowly in a pot, stirring often.
- Add peanut butter until completely melted.
- Slowly add dry ingredients. Consistency should be like cookie dough. If too thin, add more flour.
- Spoon into molds or pans and press to remove air.
- Freeze for at least an hour before use.
- Store extra homemade suet in the mold (wrapped or in plastic bags) or layered with wax paper until ready to use.
You can also add some unsalted ground nuts to this mixture as well for an added bonus for your birds!
3. Peanut butter suet
This one does not use suet or lard, so I consider this a winter or colder month recipe. Birds absolutely love it, though! And like all suets, it gives them the energy they need, especially in the winter, where they burn off more energy to stay warm.
Peanut butter homemade suet recipe
- 1 ½ cups birdseed (see above for suggestions)
- ½ cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup raw, unsalted, shelled peanuts – optional
- ¼ cup dried fruit w/no additives (raisins, cranberries, etc.) – optional
- In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients.
- The peanut butter will be your “cement,” but it shouldn’t be oily.
- If ingredients aren’t sticking good, slowly add a little peanut butter. Your suet shouldn’t be in big chunks.
- Spoon suet into molds or pans.
- Freeze for about three hours or until solid.
- You may have to twist the molds a little to get the suet out or let sit for a few minutes once frozen.
- Break into the size you want if using a large pan and put outside!
Store this suet the way you would any other suet. Make sure to clean the suet cage or feeder before refilling.
I’ve seen some homemade suet recipes also add lard or suet to this one. Feel free to do so; this is for those who wish to have a non-suet/lard recipe. 🙂
4. Best homemade suet making tips
Why no salt or additives?
As with any facts or opinions, there is always the flip side. I understand that, but I still firmly believe that birds should not be fed our leftover salted peanuts.
If you had stale peanuts and only do it occasionally, then it is probably okay. Make sure to put them in a paper bag, shake vigorously to remove excess salt, and place them out.
But regularly? Not good for them at all, just as it isn’t for us.
I’ve been questioned why I’m so worried about the ingredients I feed my birds, such as no preservatives or salt. My answer is simple. We can make a choice if we want to eat a lot of unhealthy food.
Birds can not.
Their instinct is survival, and if they see food, especially with added birdseed or peanut butter, they will eat it. Birds don’t have the choice of leaving your feeder and purchasing additive-free options.
Also, avoid these ingredients:
- Candy or chocolate
*I know some homemade suet recipes have sugar in them, and maybe in the dead of winter it’s okay, but as a general practice, I would say no. Too much sugar for birds that don’t normally consume sugar (as in nectar eaters) would be just as unhealthy for them as it is for us.
Where do I find suet or lard? And what’s the difference?
Suet is usually beef fat that is trimmed off of meat. It is made from the kidney and other organs of the animal.
You can find suet at almost any meat department at nearly any store. I get mine at the local Kroger, which is a chain store around here. No need for a specialty store.
Lard is pig fat. You can find it at most meat departments at any store, often prepackaged. If they don’t have it, you can often find it near the cooking oils in a grocery store or in the ethnic food aisle, where it’s sometimes called ‘Manteca.’
I’ve heard some people claim that their birds like actual suet over lard, so experiment.
What do I use for molds?
I’ve used many things. If I remember, I save the plastic containers from the store-bought suet and reuse those.
I’ve also used Pyrex baking dishes or any other dish that can freeze, or I’ve used these handy little suet molds. There are also silicone varieties that would be great for the peanut butter suet so you can twist it right out after freezing.
Some people have also used ice cube trays or even paper towel rolls. Be creative: there isn’t any wrong way. As long as it’s clean and you can easily remove your suet!
If you have any suet blocks you purchased that your birds don’t seem to love, you can melt those down and add some peanut butter or birdseed to them. Chances are, your birds will gobble up these new and improved “homemade suet” blocks.
I really feel that once you start making homemade suet, you’ll be thrilled at the amounts of birds you get enjoying them compared to the store-bought stuff.
I often will make double or triple batches, so they last longer (especially in the winter). I love to experiment with different seeds and dried fruits!
This could also be a fun project to do with your children or grandchildren. It’s a great way to instill a love of nature and birds in their young minds. This builds great character, compassion, and great memories!
It really is healthier for the birds to make your own suet, and it’s easy and even kind of fun. It can also save you money. Win-win!
What homemade suet recipe will you try first? Have you made it before? Comment below your thoughts! 🙂