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!
Originally published on May 15, 2015; additional tips and images have since been added to this 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.
Ingredients for Pemmican
It doesn’t take much for a good batch of pemmican, just a few simple ingredients.
- Meat, dried and ground
- Optional herbs and spices
- Tallow (render beef tallow at home or buy online)
Beef meat and beef tallow are the most common choices but elk, venison, bison, lamb, and mutton are other options.
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.
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Make Pemmican with Ground Beef
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.
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.
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
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.
Any seasoning that pairs well with meat will make the pemmican taste good.
Some blends to try are
- Mesquite Seasoning
- Herbs de Provence
- Garlic or Lemon Pepper
- Cajun Seasoning
- Italian Seasoning
- Grilling Herbs
- Mexican Seasoning
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.
Dried fruit and honey are sometimes used to sweeten pemmican, however, it will no longer be suitable for a keto or carnivore diets.
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- 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
- 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.
- Transfer into an 8×8-inch baking dish to set. Then score into squares and store in an airtight container.
Pemmican by primaledgehealth on Jumprope.
Nutrition & Macros
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Meet Jessica Haggard
Jessica Haggard is the creator of Primal Edge Health, where she shares simple, nourishing low-carb, keto and carnivore diet recipes. With a focus on from scratch, homemade cooking, animal-based nutrition, and easy DIY beauty and personal care recipes, there’s always something new going on in her kitchen! Jessica will teach you exactly how to thrive with all the best ingredients and enjoy the journey along the way.