Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (2024)

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (1)

European explorers learned all kinds of things from Native Americans. Fish as fertilizer, the three sisters gardening method, and the process of making pemmican. The word comes from the Algonquin language known as Cree and the direct translation is rendered fat.

Because of the translation, you should understand that the basic ingredients of any pemmican recipe are meat and fat. Things like honey, fruits, nuts, and seasonings are added as well, for the most part, you are making a dried meatball that is preserved in its own fat. Some people also use bacon drippings for flavor.

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In this how-to article, we are going to create our own pemmican and I will walk you through the steps. I will also provide you with some variant recipes that are delicious.

Recipe for Pemmican


  • 2 lbs Quality Grass Fed Beef or Game Meat
  • ½ Cup Lard
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • ¼ Cup of Walnuts
  • About 8 dried apricots


  • Deep pan to dry beef
  • Smaller pan to dry fruits
  • Food processor or Mortar and Pestle
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon



It’s very important to take a sharp knife and slice that meat as thin as you can. The thinner your meat, the better to start with. This will all pay off when the time comes to break that meat down.

If you are making pemmican with a very sparse kitchen, limited skills, and merely for survival, I would recommend using a nice fatty ground beef. Otherwise, you can use very thin slices of beef and dry them in the same way.

I am using local grass-fed ground beef that is 80/20 fat to meat. Of course, I want to use the rendered fat for our pemmican, but you will need to add lard.


Spread the meat out thinly on a baking sheet or a perforated cooking sheet. I use one with high sides, so I can capture all that great fat coming off the meat. I like to salt the meat when I dry it in the oven as well. Just a light sprinkle across the meat. This also adds the preserving qualities of salt. It’s not necessary, but I do it.

Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (2)


Dry this meat in the oven on the lowest setting for 8 hours or however long it takes. If you are using ground beef, you will have to drain the fat at some point. Don’t throw that fat away. You need to save it for a later part of the process. Most people use thinly sliced meat and that is the classic method, but I find that ground beef gets you to the pulverized state faster.


Grind the meat down as fine as possible. I recommend using a food processor. This is a very important part of the process. By doing this, you will be able to get maximum coating from the rendered fat. You want the rendered fat to cover the meat and the meat to fill out all of the added fat. There should not be a layer of melted fat floating above your meat.


Now pour the rendered fat onto the dried meat and mix it up. The pemmican mix should look like a ragu or a thick sauce. If you add too much fat you are going to have to strain some of it out. This is very important. Too much fat will make your mix inedible.

Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (3)


The fat that you poured off your ground beef can now be mixed back into the dried meat. Add the lard as well and stir everything.

At this point, stir in any dried fruit or nuts. For this recipe, stir in the chopped walnuts and the apricots. Stir everything very thoroughly.

Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (4)


Let the mix cool to room temperature. From here you can store it in many ways. We are going to use an ice cube tray to portion them out and then roll them into balls. You can also create loaves in a pan or small bricks in a ziplock bag.

Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (5)

Variant Recipe Additions

  1. Add chopped dried apricots and cherries.
  2. Add lots of black pepper and raisins.
  3. Add soy sauce to the meat while drying, then crushed peanuts and ginger.


The store shelves are riddled with all types of granola and energy bars that are very popular. These bars often find a place in the backpacks of the modern adventurer. You see, pemmican is old news. While it is making a resurgence in survival circles, this fatty meat mix was probably given up when people started having concerns about things like cholesterol and heart attacks. We ran from fatty red meat for years and it was all due to bad science.

The great news is that fat is back! We know that it’s an essential ingredient in running a healthy human machine. For men, fat is incredibly important in terms of testosterone production. Because of this, we can enjoy those red meats and healthy fats again.

The irony in all of this is that pemmican was abandoned for sugary granola bars on the trail. Now we know that sugar was an under-the-radar killer being sold to the American public as a delicious treat. Turns out we should have been eating more meat and fat the whole time!

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Simple and Delicious Pemmican Recipe (2024)


What spices are good in pemmican? ›

Although we definitely like the fat, the fat is best added after the lean meat is dried and pulverized. This will make the pemmican with the best shelf life. 1–Place raw ground meat in a mixing bowl. Mix in your favorite spices like: black pepper, anise, rosemary, lavender.

What is the ratio of fat to meat in pemmican? ›

The pânsâwân was then spread across a tanned animal hide pinned to the ground, where it was beaten with flails or ground between two large stones till it turned into very small pieces, almost powder-like in its consistency. The pounded meat was mixed with melted fat in an approximate 1:1 ratio by weight.

How to make modern day pemmican? ›

Heat rendered fat on stove at medium until liquid. Add liquid fat to dried meat and dried fruit, and mix in nuts and honey. Mix everything by hand. Let cool and store.

What is the modern version of pemmican? ›

Made properly, pemmican would last indefinitely and could sustain an individual for months. Our modern-day version consists of a blend of bison, beef, berries, and other natural ingredients.

Should you add salt to pemmican? ›

Add salt at a rate of 1.5-1.9% of the total weight of your powders used. For the original recipe, your mix will only be meat/salt. For a dried fruit mix, start with 30% dried fruit and 70% meat powder. Increase sweetness to taste by increasing the fruit powder or by adding honey.

What is the best meat to use for pemmican? ›

One of the two primary ingredients for making pemmican is dried meat, as in dried beef or venison jerky. You can use store-bought jerky, but if it's very pliable it means there is residual moisture and moisture can make foods spoil.

How much pemmican do you need to survive? ›

40 day winter: 12800 pemmican. 50 day winter: 16000 pemmican. These are near-minimums, though, and you should shoot for higher. (I say near because a colonist can survive for five days without food.)

What temperature do you dehydrate meat for pemmican? ›

My starting temp will be around 200F for about an hour. I'll then reduce the heat to 165F for about 12 hours or until the meat is cracker dry.

How healthy is pemmican? ›

Is pemmican good for you? When made with grass-fed meat, tallow, and other fresh ingredients, yes! Because pemmican has high concentrations of lean meat and fat, it is considered a high-calorie, high-protein, and high-fat snack. When it isn't combined with fruit, pemmican is essentially no-carb.

Can you use nuts in pemmican? ›

Pemmican ingredients varied widely, but they always included lean venison or buffalo meat mixed with fat. Some pemmican recipes also incorporated dried berries and nuts for added flavor and nutrition.

Can bacon grease be used in pemmican? ›

That's entirely up to you. I used the fact from 3 pieces of center cut bacon, used some stored bacon fat and then added coconut oil until I had about a half a cup of fat. If you have some bacon grease stored away, this is the perfect time to put it to use. The cooked pieces of bacon were used in the recipe.

What food is similar to pemmican? ›

Jerky, pemmican, hardtack, and parched corn are ways to put game, livestock, wild berries, and garden produce by in times of plenty. Easily made, transported, and stored, they became frontier staples for travelers, hunters, and warriors. They are still excellent trail foods and emergency rations.

How did Native Americans store pemmican? ›

Those employed in the fur trade were quick to utilize pemmican. The meat ingredient could be any available game, but typically was buffalo. A single buffalo provided the meat, fat, and hide bag used to compress and store approximately 100 pounds pemmican.

Can pemmican taste good? ›

Pemmican, while nutritious, has a more uniform taste profile - predominantly meaty with the added richness of fat and a slight sweetness if berries are included. You won't find too much variation in different batches or styles.

What is the lifespan of pemmican? ›

A: In the freezer, years. At room temp, a year easily. No surprise that over time they'll dry out, harden up and lose some flavor, but years after the best-by date they've saved me from hunger meltdown.

Can you put spices in pemmican? ›

Pemmican consists of two fundamental ingredients — dried meat and tallow — and is used as a highly nutritious, on-the-go food staple. Spices can be and usually are added, while dried berries are sometimes a feature.

Can you add sugar to pemmican? ›

Take 1 pound of finely ground jerky Add 4 tablespoons of finely ground or powdered dried fruit, berries or herbs (such as sage, cherries or blueberries) Add sugar to taste if sweet pemmican is desired Mix in just enough lard (such as Crisco) to hold the dried ingredients together.

Can you use Crisco to make pemmican? ›

Do not substitute a soft fat such as lard, bear fat, duck, or goose fat, Crisco or butter. The denser and more saturated the fat, the better. Combine powdered meat and berries, pouring melted tallow until coated. The ratio is flexible, but I use roughly four parts meat, three parts berries, and two parts fat.

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