DIY: Peanut Butter “Suet” Cakes for Birds

March 4th, 2010

Spring has yet to arrive, and the birds have been draining our feeders every week. So, I thought I would make them a special treat. Technically this is not a suet cake. Making a traditional suet cake involves melting a big chunk of animal fat into liquid form, and the thought of that smell filling my kitchen makes me cringe. So, I used shortening instead of suet. These would make great gifts for bird lovers!

homemade wild bird suet cake

The verdict is in. The birds love it! I took this photo only a few minutes after I put the cake out, and there has been a steady stream of feathery visitors ever since.

homemade bird suet cake

1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup peanut pieces
(You have wiggle room on the ingredients and amounts. Birds aren’t picky!)

1. Line an 8×8 pan or baking dish with wax paper and set aside. (If you crinkle up the wax paper up first it will conform to the shape of your dish more easily.)
2. Melt shortening in a saucepan over low heat. In the meantime crush or chop your peanuts.
3. Once the shortening has completely melted, stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Then mix in the flour and cornmeal and remove from heat.
4. Stir in the rolled oats, breadcrumbs and peanuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared 8×8 pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Place in the refrigerator to set.
5. When the cake has solidified pull it out of the dish and flip it over on a plate wax paper side up. Peel off the paper, cut the cake into quarters and wrap each piece in wax paper. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to pop them in your suet feeder!


  1. *needs oats and peanuts* I so want to try this.

  2. John

    Looks like very yummy fudge. Did you taste it? Be honest!

  3. Oh my god, now I’m curious LOL

  4. Wit & Whistle

    I didn’t taste it! I thought about it, but I decided since there was no sugar it wouldn’t be very good. The dog loved it though. I let them lick the spoon. : )

  5. Simon

    My grandma actually taught me how to make these when i was little…she still does them, but with oatmeal.

    PS: this is a fantastic site!

  6. “Did you taste it? Be honest!”
    When I read that I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is the PERFECT Christmas gift for my Mom. Thanks for the amazing idea!

  8. Jo

    I’m dense but when you say shortening are you talking butter, margarine or crisco? i’m definitely going to make this! Thanks.

  9. Jo

    Thanks. I’m going to get a few supplies today and by tonight my birds will be happy little campers! Love your blog BTW

  10. mary e.

    Animal fat comes in the form of lard which you can buy in the grocery store. It has no smell and is winter white in color.

  11. Pam Swift-Brooks

    My suet cake did not come out looking “wet” like yours in the photo. It was more like a dry cake. I am worried that I made a mistake somewhere? I followed the recipe to the letter! Any thoughts?!? O_0

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      My suet was only wet when I first poured it into the dish. After it sets it will dry. It is supposed to end up being a dry cake. :)

  12. Pam Swift-Brooks

    Thanks! I still think that I did something wrong as it crumbled when I removed it from the pan. :(

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      Aww man, I’m not sure why it would have done that! I wonder if it depends on the peanut butter brand since some are wetter than others?

  13. Suzanne

    When I put the 4 dry ingredients in (cornmeal, flour, rolled oats & bread crumbs) the whole thing dried up into a granular-like paste, nothing like your photos. I spread the paste into two pans as there was so much volume, and put them in the refrigerator, but I don’t think it’s going to stay together. Is it really supposed to be 3 cups of cornmeal, plus all the other dry ingredients? That’s a lot of dry for only 2 cups of liquid.

    • Suzanne

      Update: For the second batch I cut back on the cornmeal/whole what flour by a total of one cup and that did the trick. The mixture was moist and poured into the pan. Also, I saved the unsuccessful crumbly batch by melting more vegetable shortening and peanut butter and stirring the crumbly pieces into the pot until the mixture was moist and pourable. I also added a half-cup of bird seed to my later batches. Thank you for a great idea. I made a dozen of these to give, along with suet cages, as Christmas gifts.

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      Oh good Suzanne, I’m glad you were able to work it out! I’m not sure why it was so dry! I’ve made my recipe above several times and have never had a problem. There’s definitely plenty of wiggle room on the amounts to achieve the right consistency since the birds aren’t too picky about taste. ;)

I love your comments more than I love chocolate (almost).


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