Rustic Lamb Crackling Cornbread Recipe

Tender cornbread studded with rich, savory lamb or goat cracklings is a rich take on a classic recipe made with pork skins. This lamb fat crackling cornbread recipe is a favorite of mine that I adapted from a childhood book: The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s a delicious variation on cornbread with a taste of days gone by.

Lamb crackling cornbread wrapped in wild leaves sliced on a cutting board.
Lamb crackling cornbread baked in a crust of leaves.

In the companion cookbook to the book series, cracklin cornbread is one of the recipes I had to make first, but, instead of pork cracklings, I used lamb, leftover from rendering jars of tallow from Shepherd Song. (We sell it, and you can buy it here).

Lamb cracklings leftover from rendering tallow in a cast iron pan with wooden spatula.
Cooking lamb fat cracklings.

If you’re not familiar, cracklings, contrary to what most people assume, aren’t pork rinds, which are fried pieces of skin (and delicious in their own right) rather, cracklings are the crisp pieces of fat and meat leftover from rendering tallow. Cracklings are very rich, so you won’t be eating a bowl of them-they’re best used as an accent to something. Folding them into cornbread is a delicious, and also traditional use for them that anyone skeptical of eating crisp pieces of fat will try, as well as tell you how good it was afterward.

Lamb cracklings leftover from rendering tallow draining on a paper towel.
Draining lamb fat cracklings on a paper towel.

How to Make Crackling Cornbread

To make the cracklings, you’re going to need some fat. The type of fat, its location on the animal as well as the proportion of meat to fat will all make a slightly different crackling suited for different purposes. Fat from the kidneys and other internal fat is good, rendered breast and rib fat will have more meat in it, helping it to stay extra crisp. For adding to cornbread, the type of fat here doesn’t really matter though, so feel free to use whatever type of lamb or goat fat you can get your hands on. Kidney suet, caul fat, rib meat and other trim will all work just fine here. I add a wheat dough to this cornbread recipe, but you can simply add cooked cracklings to your favorite cornbread recipe if you like. The images below describe the process.

For an extra flourish, I wrap the cornbread here in wild leaves I harvest. If you have some chard, kale, or grape leaves, you can use some of those, but it is completely fine all by itself cooked in a cast iron pan if you don’t want to use the leaves, or don’t have access to any. Think of it as an option for when you’d like to be creative.

Rendering tallow

If you’ve never rendered your own tallow before, you can refer to my post on rendering lamb or goat tallow at home here. You’ll need a slow cooker for the best result.

Lamb crackling cornbread wrapped in wild leaves cooling on a wire rack.

Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef



This recipe is by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alan Bergo, a chef from Minnesota and author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora. Learn more about Chef Alan at 

Lamb crackling cornbread wrapped in wild leaves

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Lamb crackling cornbread wrapped in wild leaves
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5 from 1 vote

Rustic Lamb Crackling Cornbread Recipe

Cornbread studded with lamb or goat cracklings leftover from rendering tallow is a rich, savory variation on a classic. Yield: One 10 inch cast iron skillet (shorter/more portions) or one 8 inch cast iron skillet (tall wedges) or one serves 6-8
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: Cracklings, Lamb Fat
Servings: 8 People
Calories: 338kcal


  • 1 8 inch cast iron pan


  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour or equivalent
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped lamb cracklings leftover from rendering tallow. You will need to render about 3 lbs of tallow to get the needed amount of cracklings.
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ounces 1/2 cup rendered lamb fat
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6-8 wild leaves such as amaranth, cabbage, chard, etc optional


  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Blanch the leaves if using in lightly salted water until just wilted (about 5 seconds) and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, warm the chopped cracklings in the lard and set aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  • Add the eggs, warm cracklings, lard, buttermilk and cornmeal, mix well, then fold in the flour until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the batter into a greased 10 inch cast iron skillet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Serve hot from the pan with soft butter and maple syrup, if desired.


Wrapping the cornbread in leaves is optional, but adds a festive, creative touch. 


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 632mg | Potassium: 139mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 83IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 2mg