How to make pemmican

Pemmican is a traditional Native American food that was used as a nutritious and long-lasting food source. It’s made from lean meat, fat, and dried fruits. Pemmican can last for five years or more without having to be refrigerated and is calorie and nutrient dense. It’s an excellent food for a long hike or in any sort of survival situation. Here’s pemmican recipe that we like:


  • 2 pounds of lean meat (beef, bison, venison)
  • 1 pound of fat (suet is best, but lard can also be used)
  • Optional: 1 cup of dried fruits (like cherries, cranberries, or blueberries)
  • Optional: Salt and spices to taste


  • Dry the Meat:
    • Slice the meat as thinly as possible, then dehydrate it in a dehydrator or oven at its lowest setting until it’s completely dry and brittle.
    • Alternatively, sun-dry the meat by placing the slices on clean racks and allowing them to dry in the sun. This may take several days, and you’ll need to protect it from insects and animals.
  • Grind the Dried Meat:
    • Once dried, grind the meat into a powder using a food processor or mortar and pestle.
  • Prepare the Fat:
    • Cut the fat into small pieces and render it over low heat in a pot. Once melted, strain out any solids, so you’re left with clear liquid fat.
  • Optional: Prepare the Dried Fruits:
    • If using dried fruits, grind them into a powder as you did with the meat.
  • Combine the Ingredients:
    • Mix the ground meat and optional fruit powder in a large bowl.
    • Slowly add the rendered fat, mixing until everything is moistened and sticks together. You may not need all the fat, so add it gradually until you reach the desired consistency.
    • If using salt and spices, add them to taste.
  • Form into Bars or Balls:
    • Shape the mixture into bars or balls, pressing firmly to compact the ingredients.
  • Cool and Store:
    • Allow the pemmican to cool, which will further solidify the fat and hold everything together.
    • Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Pemmican can last for years if properly prepared and stored.

Enjoy your pemmican! Pemmican tends to taste a bit like beef jerky and is fine to eat on its own or in a soup. Feel free to tweak this recipe and make it to your liking. Adding the right spices or some berries can really bring out the flavor.

Have you tried making pemmican? Comment below what tricks you have done or how you flavored it to make it more delicious.

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