Pemmican Recipe

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This traditional pemmican recipe combines the two most essential ingredients for human health: animal meat and fat. Pemmican is an important historical food that is still highly relevant today.

It is one of my easy keto recipes that is a long-lasting option for backpacking, hiking, camping and other forms of travel because it won’t spoil, smush or spill. It is also part of my collection of 100% zero carb carnivore diet recipes!

How to make pemmican with recipe

How to Make Pemmican

In the simplest terms, you make pemmican by combining dry, ground meat with liquid fat and leave it to cool. As pemmican sets, it solidifies into a firm mass. Once solid, cut into bars, squares or any other shape you like.

The final combination is long-lasting nonperishable food. Pemmican is extremely satiating and very nutrient-dense.

Traditionally, Native Americans and American fur traders sun-dried the meat and pounded it into a fine powder. Fortunately for us, a blender or food processor can do the job to the same extent but with much less effort on our part.

pemmican recipe 1
tallow, cracklings, and pemmican

Ingredients for Pemmican

It doesn’t take much for a good batch of pemmican, just a few simple ingredients.

Beef meat and beef tallow are the most common choices but elk, venison, bison, lamb, and mutton are other options.

Keto Carnivore Pemmican survival food hiking meal
Homemade Pemmican bar

Instructions for Pemmican

Measure equal parts of meat and fat by weight. In this recipe, we will use 454 g (1 pound) each of meat and tallow.

Begin to melt the tallow in an oven-safe container or double boiler over medium-low heat.

Combine the meat, salt, and optional herbs and spices in a bowl.

Check the tallow is not too hot before pouring over the dry material. Combine well.

There should be just enough tallow to moisten all the meat but not make puddles. If the mixture is too crumbly, add more tallow.

Transfer into an 8×8-inch baking dish to set. Then score into squares and store in an airtight container.

It’s also possible to roll the mixture in your hands like a meatball and form small balls.

Silicon chocolate or soap molds and standard or mini muffin size pans are also useful for forming uniform shaped pieces.

Make Pemmican with Ground Beef

I make a lot of carnivore ground beef recipes and like using it for pemmican too!

You probably have never had to think about how to made dry, ground meat before. It is understandingly perplexing.

The way I approach this is by taking ground beef and drying it in a food dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, dry the meat in an oven. Arrange the meat in an even layer on a cookie sheet and dry at the lowest temperature (155°F / 70°C). Once the top is dry to the touch, flip over to expose the second side.

Tips for drying meat

Ground beef is a suitable choice for pemmican. It is affordable, widely available and easy to find into powder. Any lean cut will work well, loin, sirloin, etc. are all good options.

  • 6 pounds of fresh meat makes 1 pound of dry meat powder.
  • Use raw meat. Nothing is cooked before drying.
  • Powderize with a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle.

If you choose sirloin or something similar, cut in thin slices and dry in a food dehydrator or oven.

In a food dehydrator, the meat dries in about 12 hours, flipping once. Oven-dried meat will take less time, about 2 hours per side. Keep an eye on it and adjust as needed.

Traditional Pemmican recipe step by step2

Is pemmican keto?

Pemmican is approved for the keto diet. It is a low-carb, high-fat food. Each serving is 50% tallow and 50% meat by weight.

Pemmican will last indefinitely if made correctly. Tallow is shelf-stable at room temperature. There is no risk of spoilage because all water content is removed from both the fat and meat. This is an excellent survival food and great for taking on backpacking trips, hiking and camping.

Pemmican macros

This recipe can be divided into 8, 16, or 32 servings, depending on what is most helpful for you.

With 16 servings, each piece is 50 grams. 

There are 388 calories per piece with 28 g of fat and 34 g protein. This is almost a 1:1 ratio of fat to protein.

Carbs are negligible here, coming only from the small amount of added herbs and spices.

If you desire more fat, increase the ratio accordingly. Once the meat reaches its saturation point, the tallow will settle on the top of pemmican and look like frosting.

Carnivore pemmican recipe

The Carnivore Cookbook pin IG story

Make a zero fiber, zero carb pemmican bar with just meat, fat, and salt. I tend to increase the amount of salt used when I omit herbs. This is partly because I enjoy the salty flavor and partly because I eat more salt on a carnivore diet.

Follow the same recipe below, just don’t add any herbs or spice seasonings.

Take a flip through The Carnivore Cookbook to learn all you need to know about the preparation of animal foods with a focus on nutrient density and nose-to-tail variety.

How do you make pemmican taste good?

The value of adding optional herbs and spices is to allow for a variety of flavors and enhance the taste and texture. All types of seasoning blends work well in pemmican. 

I favor Mesquite Seasoning because it is a robust combination of paprika, onion, garlic, cumin, mesquite, chili pepper, and other flavors. Herbs De Provence is another favorite of mine. 

Any seasoning that pairs well with meat will make the pemmican taste good.

Some blends to try are

You can find all these and more at my favorite place for organic herbs, teas, and essential oils, Mountain Rose Herbs. Read my Mountain Rose Herbs review of their product, quality control, and sustainable business practices to learn why I recommend them so highly.

mountain rose herb banner

Dried fruit and honey are sometimes used to sweeten pemmican, however, it will no longer be suitable for a keto or carnivore diets.

pemmican recipe - kids

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How to make pemmican with recipe

Pemmican Recipe

Jessica Haggard
A good Pemmican Recipe makes the ultimate keto and carnivore “protein bar”. It is nonperishable and very nutrient-dense. Perfect for survival, travel, backpacking, hiking and camping.
4.2 from 25 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine Traditional
Servings 16 pieces
Calories 388 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Instructions
 

  • Melt the tallow in an oven-safe container or double boiler over medium-low heat. At 350° F/175° C, it takes about 10 minutes in the oven
    tallow for pemmican recipe
  • Combine the meat, salt, and optional herbs and spices in a bowl.
  • Once the tallow is melted, but not too hot, pour over the dry material and combine well. There should be just enough tallow to moisten all the meat but not make puddles. If the fat does not completely incorporate the dry meat, add a little more. Mix well.
    pemmican recipe 2
  • Transfer into an 8×8-inch baking dish to set. Then score into squares and store in an airtight container.

Video

Pemmican by primaledgehealth on Jumprope.

Notes

See notes in text above the best way to dry meat.
In place of cutting into squares, it is also possible to roll the mixture in your hands like a meatball and form small balls.
Silicon molds and standard or mini muffin size pans are also useful for forming uniform shaped pieces. Chocolate or soap molds can both be used for this purpose if they have a shape you like.

Nutrition & Macros

Serving: 50gCalories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 34gFat: 28gSugar: 1gIron: 3mg

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, please calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients and amounts used, using your preferred nutrition calculator. Under no circumstances shall the this website and the author be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the given nutritional information.

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As featured in 12 Pemmican Recipes: Legendary Keto Survival Food

Meet Jessica Haggard

Jessica Haggard is the creator of Primal Edge Health, where she shares simple, nourishing low-carb, keto and carnivore diet recipes.

She has photographed and authored two best selling ketogenic cookbooks, The Ketogenic Edge Cookbook and The Carnivore CookbookLearn more about Jessica…

54 thoughts on “Pemmican Recipe”

  1. Hi Jessica,

    Apologies if you’ve already addressed this question. I am doing a six day trek in the Sahara next year and really struggle to find very low carb or ketogenic foods that are portable. I will have to carry all my food for the duration of the trek/race and obviously intense heat is the issue…….If I vacuum pack the pemmican do you think it will survive?

    Many thanks, Liz

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, I’m not familiar with the texture of the carnivore bar. Pemmican is firm, but easy to bite into. Reduce the amount of tallow to just enough to bind the meat together. That will make it more crunchy.

      Reply
  2. I am thinking I’d try some as my dad used to talk about it from his days up north with the Hudson Bay Company.

    It is the grinding of the meet that is going to be the hard part I guess, but you gloss over that. I know I grind spices in a pestle and mortar, but grinding dried meat in that will be very hard going I’d imagine

    Even a blade in a food blender would be tough work…chop it maybe … or cheese grater attachment?

    How do you do it ?

    Wondering…, a mincer might work…. like you use to make minced meat for sausages/ burgers ….

    What do you use !

    Reply
  3. Hello Jessica,
    Thank you for this post! I am definitely going to give it a try. I am curious whether you think it would be possible to use a beef protein powder in lieu of the powdered meat?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • That’s a fascinating idea Sayre. I’d say, yes it’s totally ok, assuming you tolerate the protein powder well without cooking it. Most protein powders are just mixed with water, so if that’s how you are already using it, I’d think it would be fine. Make a small batch to test with first. Then let me know how it comes out!

      Reply
  4. Hi! Great info! Love seeing your videos, too! : )
    I have enjoyed making Pemmican, but need advice on storing it—
    1) how to store it long-term? I do not have a basement and live in the south (most people seem to suggest using a Foodsaver- vacuum sealer in bags), and
    2) how to bring it with you on hikes/trips, etc? Maybe in ziploc bags/plastic containers, etc? Seems they’d melt, right?
    Please advise- thanks!

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words Suzanne! To store it, I keep it in an airtight container in the pantry. I’ve never had a batch go bad on me. After reading more on the history of pemmican, I understand that early American trappers favored it so much because it could even get wet and then still be good (think of a river expedition, a bag goes over but is later saved and consumed). I live in an arid environment, if you are swampy or somewhere with a lot of humidity, you may want to vacuum seal it. It might take some experimenting to find out what works best for you. Depending on what the activity is, I either put it in ziploc bags or in a container. Usually, I used a bag for short trips and a container for long-term travel and air travel. Tallow is a very firm fat, it’s never melted from the heat for me. Nor have I heard of this being a problem for anyone else.

      Reply
  5. How dry does the beef need to be? I’m using ground beef and it’s been in the oven the whole day so far….

    Reply
  6. Just a question on the ratios you start with. Are you supposed to have 1 pound of raw ground beef or 6 pounds, to get down to the 1 pound of dried meat ? Also does the ground beef need to be very lean? I usually buy 85/15 from a local farm but wasn’t sure if this was to much fat to dry in oven. Look forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for your hard work and making this website available

    Reply
    • Hi Griffin! To be clear, you begin with 6 pounds of RAW meat which will dry down to 1 pound dry meat. I think 85% ground beef would be fine. I’ve never had problems with using that option before. If you a leaner ground is cheaper, you can go for that since you will be adding fat to the recipe.

      Reply
  7. Thank you for posting this recipe. I have been contemplating doing a four or five day hike in Peru to the famous ruins. I hesitated because I would be joining a group led hike. They cook for you, all three meals a day, but it is very carb heavy. I was trying to figure out a way to do this and still be carnivore. I was concerned about stomach upset if I had to eat what they cooked. Tummy upset on a trail with limited bathroom options is a bad idea! This looks like it would really work! Thank again for the posting.

    Reply
    • Taking that hike with an upset stomach would not be fun! We know many people who use pemmican for long-hikes and hunting trips with only good benefits. I hope it helps you! Think of us in Ecuador! We are just a few hours north of the Peruvian border 🙂

      Reply
  8. 5 stars
    I love the idea of making this. It seems fairly easy and a great way to make something to take backpacking that we know exactly what it is in it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Our friends bring it on sheep hunts and they say it is better than any other option. Very lightweight and calorically dense.

      Reply
  9. So are there 16 total servings at 50g each? It says ‘8 servings’ at the top of the recipe, then 50g per serving in the nutritional info.

    Reply
      • Cool, thanks that makes more sense. One other thing though – if there’s 28g fat and 34g protein wouldn’t the serving be 62g? I’m making a bunch of this stuff right now so I’m just trying to make sure I got the numbers right.

        Reply
    • It would be great for canoeing especially because the boat could tip and the pemmican will survive 😉 It’s virtually water proof. Have a good trip!

      Reply
  10. How about a fruit based pemmican for all us fruitarians huh, are you fruit(r)acist not adding that?! Jokes aside having had fruitarianism kill my teeth, now mostly carnivorous, looking to my local nature not that much animal fat is available calorie wise in the wild(i prefer wild foods), however berries moreso, so im thinking like 50/50 berries to meat with maybe a…. 10-20 of that 50 meat being fat, mirroring what i could actually forage and hunt here in midsweden over a year… any references to books or resources on these subjects? Looking for all and any information regarding pemmican making and actual native diets of different climates, preferably wild ones. I google on, peace be with you all!

    Reply
    • I’ve never added fruit to the pemmican. It would just take a bit of experimentation to discover the ratios you enjoy. I have added honey (which is amazing). I always use 50/50 fat/dry meat by weight and add in enough honey to taste while also keeping an eye on the texture. Don’t want it to get too sticky. I find with this recipe, it’s really a process rather than an exact science.

      Reply
    • Andreas

      Have a read of Arctic explorer and anthropologist Vilhjamur Stefansson’s great book, The Fat of the Land, which has several chapters on the history of pemmican and why it has to have at least 50% animal fat to be the nutritional powerhouse it is. The book is free to read and download on several sites including zerocarbzen.com

      Reply
  11. I want to clarify something that may be confusing to people. At top of recipe it says to use 400gm tallow and 400gm dried meat for 8 servings, which comes to 100gm per serving. However in the nutrition box at the bottom of recipe it states serving size at 50gm. Each serving contains 50% tallow and 50% meat so a single serving contains 25gm of each which is approx 489 kcal (225 kcal tallow + 264 kcal 90/10 ground beef). Therefore 1 lb of pemmican provides approx 4,430 kcal (1 lb = 453gm). I can’t think of anything that comes close to the nutrition and caloric density of pemmican, especially as a long term survival food. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I use a 6:1 ratio of raw meat to dried meat for calculation.

    Reply
    • Thanks for this clarification Robert! It can get a little confusing with all the metrics of measurment involved. You are correct to use a 6:1 ratio.

      Reply
    • Blender for sure. I’ve also learned to dry ground meat rather than strips of meat. I think it is even easier to powderize.

      Reply
  12. My son is leaving to walk the AT next week. Saw this and plan to make some to send with his other packages going out. You say is good for at least two weeks. If we ship in air tight packaging, week it be good for a little longer?

    Reply
    • So cool! Yes – in an airtight container = longer storage. I’ve stored pemmican for a long time… two months I think was the longest. It usually gets eaten up pretty quick. You should be good! My favorite is eating it with avocado and sauerkraut. Hard cheeses and canned sardines are also great foods for long backpack trips. I hope he has a great time!

      Reply
  13. Sounds great! Working on my first batch.. Wondering what temp I should set the dehydrated at for drying raw ground beef and organ meat?

    Reply
  14. This recipe looks great for my husband who travels a lot. My question is, do I cook the meat then dry it? Or dry it raw?

    Thanks, love your recipes!

    Reply

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