Pemmican Recipe: How To Make It Like The Pioneers Did | The Survival Journal (2024)

Updated by Stephanie Thomas

Pemmican Recipe: How To Make It Like The Pioneers Did | The Survival Journal (1)

Are you interested in seeing how to make pemmican?

Are you looking for a recipe that serves as the ultimate survival food and is easy to make with readily available ingredients? Perhaps you want something tasty that also stores well?

Welcome to the ultimate guide to the infamous pemmican recipe. You’ll see the step by step instructions, the ingredients, and everything else you need on how to make it below.

Another survival recipe from The Survival Blackbook, In this guide, you’re going to learn how the Native Americans made Pemmican, also known as the Ultimate Survival Food.

Then look no further, for pemmican is the perfect solution for you. But what exactly is pemmican? Read on to find out more about it and how to make it.

Pemmican Recipe: How To Make It Like The Pioneers Did | The Survival Journal (2)

Table of Contents


It’s only natural to give you a brief history of the food since it has so much of it. But first, let’s clarify the question those unfamiliar with this food have on their minds.

What is Pemmican?

Also commonly described as “The Ultimate Survival Food“, Pemmican is a Native American food that was later adapted by Arctic explorers. The word pemmican is derived from the Cree word for fat. It is a paste of dried lean meat, mixed along with some berries and melted fat.

Pemmican has been used as an emergency MRE for survival in times of crisis dating back more years than I can count.

The pioneers and Native American Indians made pemmican. It’s reputation proceeds it. It has become one of the most widely known and effective survival food recipes.

It was traditionally stored in leather bags and was kept for months, if not years.

Since it is a nutrient-dense food, voyagers and traders on expeditions used to rely on pemmican as a major food source. And it was through these people that pemmican was popularized in European nations.


Traditional pemmican recipes call for lean meat of a large game like deer, moose, elk, caribou or bison. And the commonly used berries were chokecherries, Saskatoon berries or even currants. Melted suet was used as the binding.

For a recipe more suited for the modern kitchens, the following ingredients are needed:

  • Dried lean meat like buffalo, game or beef.
  • Dried berries like cranberries/blueberries/chokeberries/juneberries. Take the same amount as the dried meat.
  • Molten lard- 1/8th cup for 1 pound of dried meat.
  • Sugar to taste.


For equipment that’s needed for this survival recipe, the Native Americans used stones to grind the meat. If you’re feeling extra primitive and want a challenge, grab a couple of stones. If not, we will skip that and opt for age-appropriate appliances if that’s okay with you.

1. A good quality food processor.
2. A mixing bowl.
3. A mixing spoon.
4. Paper bags for storage.
5. An oven, if you have to dry your meat or berries.

8 Steps On How To Cook Pemmican

The steps on this recipe don’t take long and you’ll find it to be easy. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Cut Into Strips

If the meat needs to be dried then cut it into thin strips and lay it on a baking rack in an oven preheated to 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It should take about 4 hours and will be rock hard dry when ready.

Step 2. Berry Dry Time

Similarly, for the berries, you can dry them in the oven. Put them on a baking paper-lined sheet pan in an oven heated to 225 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 to 3.5 hours.

Step 3. Grind

Use a meat grinder to grind the meat into shreds. This is optional, you don’t have to grind it. Small chunks of the dry meat work just as good, it’s preference.

Step 4. Add Berries

Then add an equal amount of dried berries and grind again.

Step 5. Perfect Meat Texture

Take the mixture out into a mixing bowl. The meat should have the consistency of course powder and the berries should be chunky.

Step 6. Pour Molten Lard

Now pour in the molten lard and mix with a spoon. The fat will hold the mixture together. Add sugar to taste.

Step 7. Nik-Nak Patty Whack

You can form the mixture into small patties with your hand and store them paper bags. It can be refrigerated for longer storage.

Step 8. Survive and Thrive

Enjoy your pemmican as is, boiled or in stews.


So there you have it. A recipe that has been passed down through generations and is considered to be one of the best survival foods around.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it calls for simple ingredients that can be customized according to one’s taste. Do give this recipe for pemmican a try.

I hope this article on how to make pemmican like the pioneers did helped you understand the recipe better. You might also like our recipe post on how to make mud apples and also how to make Mormon johnnycake.

Do you know any other ways other than the traditional Native American way of cooking pemmican?

Pemmican Recipe: How To Make It Like The Pioneers Did | The Survival Journal (3)
Pemmican Recipe: How To Make It Like The Pioneers Did | The Survival Journal (2024)


How do you make pemmican survival food? ›

  1. Make meat and fruit powders through dehydration and smoking process. ...
  2. Use a food processor to blend powders to a flour consistency.
  3. Render beef or bear fat (suet is preferred) – slowly heat trimmed fat until it turns to a clear liquid, strain off liquid. ...
  4. Mix your dry powders and salt.
Aug 28, 2022

What is the modern version of pemmican? ›

Made properly, pemmican would last indefinitely and could sustain an individual for months. Our modern-day version consists of a blend of bison, beef, berries, and other natural ingredients.

What is the ratio of meat to fat in pemmican? ›

The pânsâwân was then spread across a tanned animal hide pinned to the ground, where it was beaten with flails or ground between two large stones till it turned into very small pieces, almost powder-like in its consistency. The pounded meat was mixed with melted fat in an approximate 1:1 ratio by weight.

Can you survive off of pemmican? ›

Centuries ago, Indigenous peoples and foreign fur traders across North America used pemmican to tide themselves over through long winters. Today, this meat-based, long-lasting food can still satiate preppers, survivalists, and campers of all types for months or even years.

How do you make pemmican step by step? ›

To make your own, choose high-quality ingredients, such as dried fish or meat, dried berries, and fat. Grind the protein and berries until they're powdery and then mix them with warm rendered fat to make a thick paste. You can spread the pemmican flat and cut it into strips or shape it into a log for easy slicing.

How can I make my food last 25 years? ›

  1. Mylar Bags – This may be the simplest way to package your preserved foods. All you need to get started are the bags and an impulse sealer. ...
  2. Some foods that can last for 25 years or more when stored properly include honey, dried beans, and rice. ...
  3. Store foods with less than 10% moisture and low oil for up to 30 years.
Jan 7, 2024

How did pioneers make pemmican? ›

During the fur trade, pemmican was most often made by killing the buffalo, jerking the meat, making hair-out bags from its hide, and rendering tallow from the animal's marrow, suet, or fat. The dried meat was then broken up by pounding.

Why doesn t pemmican go rancid? ›

I have made pemmican several times. I currently have some in the fridge that is roughly seven years old and is still good due to it being extremely difficult for bacteria to get into and being sealed in an airtight container in a fridge.

What food is similar to pemmican? ›

Both pemmican and jerky are high in protein, making them excellent choices for a nutritious snack. Pemmican, with its combination of dried meat and fat, provides a calorie-dense option.

Can you use pork lard in pemmican? ›

Don't use lard. It's too soft and gives the pemmican an unsatisfying texture. You need a hard fat that has a high melting point and solidifies quickly at room temperature.

Can you add seasoning to pemmican? ›

Optionally, you can add ingredients like honey or spices. I love adding dried Stinging Nettle powder for extra vitamins and minerals. Form the mixture into snack bars, let them cool until the fat solidifies, and wrap them up for safekeeping.

Can lard be used to make pemmican? ›

The consistency should be dry and loose with fruit broken up. Add melted lard slowly while mixing. Two tablespoons of fat are used for each 4-5 ounces of meat plus 1/3 cup of fruit. Fat changes the consistency and makes it appear semi-moist instead of dry and improves the flavor and texture.

What is the ultimate survival food? ›

Some of the best options include: Grains like rice and pasta, which are rich in carbohydrates and provide you with the energy you need in survival situations. Legumes, which are a great source of protein and fiber. They are easy to store and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Can you get food poisoning from pemmican? ›

NOTE: Before attempting to make any type of sausage, jerky or pemmican which requires the meat to be subject to: 1) High humidity, 2) Low temperature and 3) Presence of oxygen, there is the danger of food poisoning unless you know and fully understand that some type of food preservative; e.g., Insta Cure # 1 or Morton ...

Can you use coconut oil in pemmican? ›

You can use different oils like lard (rendered fat), coconut oil, and even butter for short trips or cold weather trips.

How do you make pemmican in the wilderness? ›

How to Make Your Own Pemmican
  1. Dry the meat like jerky, slicing thin pieces against the muscle grain. ...
  2. Build a drying rack over a fire. ...
  3. Powder the dried meat finely using stones, a mortar and pestle, or a food processor.
  4. Dehydrate the berries. ...
  5. Melt tallow from beef, venison, elk or bison.
Nov 15, 2023

What is the best meat to use for pemmican? ›

Traditional Native American pemmican was only fat and beef (buffalo, elk, etc.). Other stuff like berries was added for settlers and fur traders for more flavor. The traditional recipe has no flavor appeal, it's for no frills survival.

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