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Posted on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Garden Faerie: Make your own suet cakes for birds

By Monica Milla


It's quick and easy to make suet cakes for our feathered friends.

Monica Milla | Contributor

I really enjoy watching and feeding the birds. In this cold weather, I like to give them suet cakes in addition to bird seed. It was getting kind of expensive buying suet cakes, so I decided to make my own. It's quick and easy, even if you're not handy in the kitchen (which I'm not, ask anyone).

I've tweaked this recipe over several years, both for flavor and texture. (No, I have not tried it myself, but it is approved by woodpeckers, nuthatches, cardinals, sparrows and squirrels.)

It's most cost effective to wait for sales or to buy non-brand names in the largest possible amounts of each ingredient. (Some stores even have two store brands to choose from: the normal store brand and an even cheaper "value" brand.)

Monica's Suet Cake recipe:

1. Put 2 cups of vegetable shortening and 2 cups of crunchy peanut butter into a rectangular glass pan (13" x 9" x 2" or larger).

2. Microwave until shortening and peanut butter have melted. (You can also bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes until melted, but check often.)

3. Take out of microwave or oven and stir until well mixed.

4. Add the following ingredients, bit by bit, stirring well as you go:
  • 2 cups raw quick oats
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup "snack treat" (such as cracked corn, sunflower seeds, nuts, raisins, etc.)

5. Set aside until the mixture hardens (you can put it in the refrigerator or freezer to quicken the process).

6. Cut into pieces sized to fit your suet holder.

You may need to run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cakes.

Suet made with vegetable shortening won't ever get as hard as that made from lard, so I keep mine in the fridge.

Monica Milla, the Garden Faerie, is a master gardener volunteer, garden speaker, garden coach and author of "Fun with Winter Seed Sowing."


Monica Milla

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Ramon (not MBT?), frugal R us! Linda, the suet feeders are way cheap--you can usually get one with a ckae in it for $2. taxikiwi, only HALF a cake? Consider yourself lucky--a squirrel ran away with the whole cake the other day. The square feeder I have has a lid, but I hang mine witht he lid open. Closing the lid would help! Geoff, That's a good idea. I bet you could use rinsed out veggie and fruit tin cans, too, right?

Geoff Krone

Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Wow! I've made suet cylinders using actual suet but using vegetable shortening would be SO MUCH EASIER! What a great idea -- I'll have to try this one. For anyone who wants to make cylinders rather than cakes -- You can buy a piece of white 4" PVC pipe, cut it into sections, stand them on a cookie sheet, pour the melted suet in and let it harden in a cold place. You can fill the cylinder with seeds before you pour the suet in if you want. Much cheaper alternative to the store-bought cylinders. But I don't know if it will work with vegetable shortening -- Will have to give it a try! Thanks!


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

This sounds like a nice thing to do, but I can't keep the squirrels from wrecking my suet holders... any suggestions? They actually hauled half of it off and I never found it!


Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Great idea Monica! I should get a suet feeder. I'm sure the birds would really appreciate it, especially when it's THIS cold.


Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 12:34 a.m.

Cool idea. Last week I saw two birds in my neighborhood that I hadn't seen in a long time. I've been wondering how I can attract more of them to my area and maybe making some of these would do the trick. Thanks for the frugal tips.