DIY: Peanut Butter “Suet” Cakes for Birds

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!

Edit: I haven’t tried it but this suet making product looks pretty sweet!


  1. Wit & Whistle Post author

    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. : )

  2. 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!

  3. Jo

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      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. :)

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      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?

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      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. ;)

  7. Linda

    I ended up here because I have crumbly suet issues (admitting is the first step to recovery). I change my recipe around yours and my suet is now a but more solid and less like a bag of granola! Just a note, I use a foil cake pan for the forming, after spread in the pan, I score or cut the bars into “suet holder size” and then pop them in the freezer.

  8. Jennifer

    Hello Amanda and others.

    I think I might try using almond flour I bought to use in Christmas cookies that I never got around to. I also have some pistachios (raw and unsalted) that I bought in early 2016 and only opened recently but that seem a bit stale. It still should add some good fat and a fun hint of color.

    Thanks for the recipe and fun comments. I will update you all later as to my success.

    Have a wonderful winter day.

  9. Anne

    This sounds like a fun thing to do for the birds, but has anyone sat down and figured the cost of making suet cakes vs buying them? I bought a case of 8 blocks from Wm for 7.00. Thoughts?
    Suet vs Crisco? Is Crisco okay for the birds?

  10. Ella

    I live in the south, central Alabama, where winters can be ugly (teens and 20s), but our winters can also have temps in the 40’s, 50’s… will this suet hold up for our fluctuating temps? Also, is it going to get runny if I omit the bread? I’d rather not make suet with bread in it.

    Thanks for posting this recipe.

  11. Adrienne

    This is my second winter making this. I made at least three recipes last winter…12 squares. The birds love this. And, I have found a shortcut… I use crunchy peanut butter instead of smashing peanuts. There were days where the birds would eat 2-3 squares. Starting my feeding season with this today. Thanks for the recipe!!

  12. Linda

    Just to mention that PEANUT BUTTER is not a good source of Protein and is very bad for birds answer it contains salt which is dangerous to all birds. The ingredients in our peanut butter has so many bad things in and will potentially kill the birds and definitely their babies….
    There is an S’s bird peanut butter for birds to eat safely called FLUTTER BUTTER you can buy online …. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT use humans peanut butter …,!!!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I don’t know, I only make it in the winter when food sources are more scarce.

  13. Kim

    Love this recipe except I add raisins and sunflower seeds I make a double batch ..cut it in half and put it in a large suet feeder..they love it usually gone within 2 weeks

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