Trim a Tree and Feed the Birds With Suet Ornaments

12 Materials
1 Hour

Feed the birds and decorate a tree with suet ornaments! These cookie cutter ornaments are a creative and fun way to serve up nutritious treats to your backyard birds and help sustain them through the cold, winter months.

Birds need high-energy food due to their accelerated metabolism, especially in winter to stay warm. This suet recipe helps provide nutrients that replenish depleted stores of energy.

Animal fat is easily digested and metabolized by birds and provides them with more than twice the caloric energy as protein or carbohydrates. This easy recipe replaces traditional suet, (that has to be rendered and strained to remove contaminates), with lard as a safe alternative, while packing a nutritional punch with pantry items to supplement your backyard birds’ diet when food is scarce.

To make these suet ornaments you’ll need some cookie cutters and some twine or ribbon to hang your suet ornaments with. Tie some twine or ribbon onto your cookie cutters before filling them with your suet ingredients and place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper for easy clean up.

I have a stash of cookie cutters but I couldn’t resist picking up some extra Christmas ones at Hobby Lobby for this project. All Christmas items are 50% off at Hobby Lobby so a set of three cookie cutters were around 60 cents each. If you can find some at the thrift store for less, even better.

There are lots of recipes and variations for homemade suet online. For best results, use a 1:2 ratio of fat to dry ingredients, so your mixture holds together (like cookie dough) but isn’t too crumbly.

This recipe uses a combination of lard, peanut butter, corn meal and flour for any easy and bird-friendly recipe to whip up! Peanut butter contains fat and protein for winter months and cornmeal contains fat, fiber, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and folate, beneficial to bird health.

Stir in treats like raisins, bird seed and unsalted peanuts once you have your consistency to your liking.

Homemade Suet Ornaments

Makes about 12 (3-inch) cookie cutter ornaments


1 cup lard

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup all purpose flour

3 cups cornmeal

Additional add ins: oats, bird seed, unsalted peanuts

Melt lard and peanut butter together in a pan over low heat. Stir in dry ingredients. Add additional mix-ins, bird seed, etc. until texture holds it shape (like cookie dough).

Depending on your grocery store, you can find lard near the oil and shortening or with the Hispanic ingredients of the store, where it's labeled ‘manteca’. It’s around $2 for a 16 oz. container.

Note: Don’t substitute bacon drippings for lard in your suet recipe. The chemical preservatives in commercial bacon become more concentrated when cooked and can be harmful to birds.

Place suet mixture into cookie cutters pressing down using a spoon (or your fingers). I used my offset spatula to level the suet mixture once the cookie cutter was filled.

Alternatively skip the cookie cutters and spread suet mixture in a pan, refrigerate until firm and cut into squares to fill suet cages.

Refrigerate suet treats overnight or until firm and hang on a tree for your feathered friends. Keep your suet in the fridge or freezer until ready to hang.

Birds can dine from either side of the cookie cutters and you can refill them with a fresh mixture when it’s gone. Use any shape cookie cutter for your winter suet treats!

This is a fun project on a cold winter day that the kids can help with too.

If you enjoy feeding and watching the birds in your backyard, you may want to make a DIY Birdseed Wreath Feeder, using a bundt pan! Directions found, HERE.

Resources for this project:
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Mary @ Home is Where the Boat Is
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 6 questions
  • Em Em on Dec 04, 2018

    How do the birds hang on to feed? All of the suet feeders I see have something for the birds to grab onto like cages or perches.

  • Debbie Marden Debbie Marden on Dec 14, 2018

    Doesn't this freeze in the winter?

  • Jean Oudy Jean Oudy on Dec 20, 2018

    Oh dear. I find that really sad. I wonder why your squirrels don't mind cayenne pepper? Maybe not enough on the seeds? I also toss a handful of mixed nuts on the patio for the squirrels and that seemed to satisfy them to move on for the day.

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  • Diana A Simard Diana A Simard on Dec 09, 2019

    My mother always hung the ham skin and fat in the plastic screen bag it came in. She loved the birds, she always bought a huge bag of seed and had feeders. She also feed the squirrels! I miss my mom bet her animals did too, for awhile.

  • Leslie Leslie on Dec 02, 2020

    Great idea with the bundt pan and thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us. I was thinking that a cage could be made for the bundt pan seed cake so that when it started to fall apart the pieces could be held in so that the birds could still eat. Maybe doubled up chicken wire offset so that the holes are smaller or hardware cloth. Mold the wire to make a bundt pan shape and cut a flat piece for the backing and tie together with string or ribbon so that the cage can be reused. :)