Suet Feeder in a Coffee Mug

Suet Feeder in a Coffee Mug

I love to feed the wild birds in my yard all year long, especially during the cold winter months. So I decided to make a suet feeder that would keep them fat, happy, and healthy through the cold winter. And to keep it extra interesting (and very Sadie-esque), I decided to try my hand at making homemade bird suet that I would pour in a coffee mug.

Because, let’s face it. If there’s one thing that every thrift store has in DROVES, it’s ceramic coffee mugs.

Ceramic coffee mugs or novelty mugs at the thrift store for a suet feeder or DIY bird feeder

And I’m certainly no stranger to making bird feeders or baths before, either. Remember this one that I made from an old, broken lamp?

diy birdbath that was made from a vintage lamp and a glass dish

And this project that held nesting material?

Repurposing the metal bed springs to hold the nesting material for South Carolina birds

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

But back to the project at hand. Which would be a feeder, and specifically one for suet- not seed!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. All blue, bold, and underlined text is a clickable link, either to a product or to a related post. Originally published in February 2016, but updates have been added for clarity.

How to Make Bird Suet for a Suet Feeder with Ceramic Coffee Mugs

After selecting some ceramic coffee mugs from Goodwill, I brought them home and ran them through the dishwasher. 

I always like to start off with clean project materials, even if they’re for the birds!

Ceramic coffee mugs that will be upcycled into a suet feeder with homemade bird suet

Now, to transform a coffee mug into a suet feeder, you can do a couple of things:

  1. Melt down a pre-made store-bought suet cake, or
  2. Render beef fat into homemade bird suet to mix with the bird seed of your choice.

I opted for number 2 as an experiment. Though I wasn’t exactly sure how to make suet for a suet feeder, it seemed pretty straight forward.

I purchased some beef suet from Whole Foods which I rendered (i.e., melted into liquid form) in a pot on my stove. 

While it rendered, I gathered some sticks from the yard to create perches for my DIY bird feeders. I snipped them so that they would touch the bottom of the mug and stick out approximately 4″ beyond the top of the mugs.

Sticks as perches to go in the ceramic coffee mugs for a suet bird feeder or winter feeder

Next, I poured some bird seed into the coffee mugs, filling them approximately halfway with seed.

Then, I placed the “perches” into the seed. To ensure the perches stayed in place later on, I wrapped some heavier-gauge jewelry wire around each one.

How to make a bird feeder with a coffee mug as a suet feeder and how to make suet

Finally, I poured the rendered beef suet (or homemade bird suet) into each suet feeder! 

Admittedly, rendering beef fat to make bird suet stunk up my kitchen – so be prepared for that!

How to make bird suet in the ceramic coffee mugs as a suet feeder in the winter

I placed my suet bird feeder in the fridge to cool down and allow the suet to harden.

It took about an hour to re-solidify and I used my stick-perch to stir it periodically to evenly re-distribute the seed.

Suet Feeder in a Coffee Mug for Winter Bird Feeding

Once it was solid, I used a carabiner to hang the suet feeder in a tree!

If I didn’t already have a carabiner, I would have just used a loop of jute twine to tie it to a branch.

Suet feeder with homemade bird suet as a DIY bird feeder in a coffee mug from the thrift store

And for anyone wondering if the birds actually ate from the suet feeder…

They sure did!

Suet bird feeder with the homemade bird suet in a coffee mug from the thrift shop

Moral of the story? If you’ve ever wondered about how to make bird suet or how to make a bird feeder, this suet feeder is a great place to start! Plus, not only did it involve upcycling a coffee mug, it was a very inexpensive way to make a DIY bird feeder!

And if you enjoyed this upcycling idea for a suet bird feeder, then you’ll love this DIY bird bath that uses a casserole dish lid!

Hanging bird bath by upcycling a glass lid as a bird bath bowl

And these projects, too! All sorts of upcycled projects for the birds in this post here.

feeders and baths for backyard birds

Image credit: Shutterstock via PicMonkey and Sadie Seasongoods.

Craft on!


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How to upcycle a coffee mug into a suet feeder or suet bird feeder for the winter

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Love these. We will try it. I live in Charlotte and I must say, I’ve never seen so many coffee mugs and never displayed so well.

  2. Love this idea Sarah. My local GW always has tons of mugs so going to pick a few to make suet bird feeders. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. That is a really cute idea.

  4. What a perfectly perfect idea! It is very thrifty and cute!

  5. This is such a great idea! Thanks!

  6. Boy that is some creative thinking and so good for the birds. Poor little critters get so hungry in winter. I’d love to make few of those to hang in our trees out back. Think will cheat tho and buy already made suet to put in cups. I especially love your little mug that looks like a pitcher,what a find. How handy are you and good to birds creating this? Happy weekend

    • Let me know if melting the store-bought suet cakes smells bad. Melting the beef fat was a little much, odor-wise. But I persevered…I had to for my sweet birds!!

      • I read you can use bacon fat as well to make suet. I was gonna try to make some, but wasn’t sure what to make it in. Now I do! Thanks! And, bacon grease won’t bother you, bacon is always good! ?

        • Sadie Seasongoods says

          The sodium content in bacon fat could have horrible effects on the birds. I highly recommend steering clear of bacon fat for bird suet, as tasty as it might be (for us)!

          • Thank you, I just saw this and have bacon grease and was wondering if I could you it. I will stick to beef!

      • If you have an outdoor grill with a side burner, you can use that to melt the fat. We’ve recently downsized (empty nesters…no pun intended!) and have all kinds of dishes, including mugs in my storage shed. I can grab a few out of there and send the rest to GW. Thanks!!

  7. You have the greatest ideas Sadie! I’m on the hunt now for the perfect mugs to do this with. Pinning to share.

  8. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I love this!

  10. Great idea!

  11. I just love your blog. And, as birdwatchers/feeders, my husband and I will take this homemade suet feeder to heart and use it generously. We’ve been buying the suet blocks and may continue to do so as we have two of the block holders and the birds do love suet. It will help protect them and keep them warm and fed for the winter. Keep up the good work!

  12. This is such a cute yet simple way to feed the birds… And forget the thrift store, I have some mismatched mugs I’ve been wanting to get rid of! I’ve seen a ton of little birds this winter, maybe this will get them to finally hang out for some photos!

  13. What a cute idea! I’d love to try this. Pinning.

  14. What a nifty idea! Thanks for sharing….Christine

  15. Great idea! Thanks for sharing this with us on Throwback Thursday!!


  16. What a WONDERFUL idea! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  17. Do you have an idea for making a low feeding station for doves?

    • Hmmm…good question! An interesting challenge for sure, since chipmunks and squirrels would definitely pilfer anything low and easy to access… have you reached out to NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program to see if they have suggestions?

      • I cheated. I use my dirt driveway. Throw out seed all along the drive outside my kitchen window. Cardinals, Doves, Blue birds, and yes the squirrel does come by too. I no longer have a cat so they seem to enjoy eating in my drive and I enjoy the show! When I used birdfeeder my husband has such a time pulling up the seedling from the seeds. Love your cup idea. Going to try that?

        • Sadie Seasongoods says

          I love your driveaway idea, though! That makes things pretty easy with no dirty birdfeeder to clean periodically.

  18. What a great way to feed our feathered friends. I love this, and would be so easy to make. Thank you for sharing! Pinning!

  19. Sarah, this is soooo adorable!! Plus I love that it’s economical and super easy! Great project, especially for the winter! I would love for you to share this at out link party!

  20. The squirrels are always knocking down the feeder and this is a good way to make sure the birds are fed. Fabulous idea and thanks for sharing it at Celebrate Your Story!

  21. Sarah, This is such a cute idea! Thank you for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle Sunday 🙂 Pinning and tweeting to share.

  22. how do you make home made suet?

  23. I’ve seen so many bird feeders, never with coffee mugs! Pinning!

  24. does it have to be beef fat I have a lot of bacon fat? But super cute!

    • I am strongly NOT recommending bacon fat because of the high salt content. The suet cakes bought from the store are typically beef fat, which is why I used that…but there are also vegetarian options (like peanut butter).

  25. This is a great idea! Thank you!

  26. LOVE THIS IDEA! Pinning and sharing!

  27. Very cute idea! I find most people have some mugs in their cabinet they no longer want, and this is a great way to reuse them! I wonder if my squirrels would run off with them – maybe they are heavy enough… using the carabiner would help so much more than a simple hook! (visiting from #BragAboutIt)

  28. So I saw your post a few days ago, I bought my suet and will be making a couple of these for the little birdies.

    Thanks for sharing on Oh my Heartsie Girls WW
    Pinned and Tweeted from #OMHGWW
    Oh My Heartsie Girl

  29. Love this idea of using coffee mugs. Such a good idea! My girls would enjoy making these and then watching the birds come and eat.

  30. How do you make the suet?

  31. rattlebridge farm says

    Love this idea! I’ve seen teacups, but I hadn’t thought about turning a mug into a delightful suet feeder, perch included. My birds will love this.

  32. Amanda Kolb says

    Love these! I need a few for my yard as I just can’t seem to keep the feeders full. Thank you for sharing at Merry Monday!

  33. meeshiesworld says

    Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  34. I love your idea! How much beef fat did you buy and did it take long to melt it down? Have a great day and thank you for sharing your idea. Hugs,

    • I don’t recall how much was in the package, unfortunately. And I just cubed it up, so it took a long time to render…but one reader recommended grinding it in a meat grinder, which would have been so much better!

  35. oh, I love this idea – very clever! Blessings!

  36. I’m a bird lover, and I love mugs too–so of course I think this is absolutely perfect!

    ps pinning!

  37. Sadie… you continue to amaze me with the creative ideas that you come up with. Thanks again for sharing at the Celebrate Your Story Link Up Party!

  38. This is SO clever and practical! I love this idea and plan to make one. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  39. This is such a beautiful idea. My kids saw this pic and told me they want to make it! Love it!

  40. any other alternative for suet? Live in a small town and cant get it here. Love your idea.

  41. Such a clever idea! I didn’t even know you could purchase beef fat! I was wondering if the squirrels are staying away from this vs. just the bird seed? Thank you so much for coming by and sharing at Celebrate Your Story! I hope we see you again this week!

  42. This is such a neat idea! How cool!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  43. Another fantastic project Sarah! How cool and what a great use for something we all have hanging around the house. Thank you so much for linking this up to the Bewitchin’ Projects Block Party last week. You are one of my featured picks over at Recreated Designs again tomorrow and on Facebook on Wednesday. Hugs, Lisa

  44. Crystal @whattreasuresawait says

    What a great idea snd so easy! I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing at Welcome Home Wednesdays!

  45. Would melting Crisco or lard work, in place of the beef fat? (to avoid the stinky smell in the kitchen) ;o)

    • That’s a good question, Judith- I’d recommend seeing if Audubon or National Wildlife Federation could answer that for you. Bacon fat would have too much salt, but I don’t know if Crisco is safe for wildlife or not…

      • I use lard all the time, the birds love it!

      • Audubon states specifically…. Palm oil free products should be used (They don’t give a reason, though).

        Crisco has Palm oil in it.

        • Sadie Seasongoods says

          I suspect they make that recommendation based on the environmental devastation and habitat loss as a result of the palm oil industry- if there was an avian health issue with palm oil, I think they would make that abundantly clear. But I could be wrong!

  46. Es muy buena la idea gracias!!

  47. Lovely idea cant wait to have a go

  48. This is so great! I love that you thrifted something to help the little birds out. Thanks for sharing it at the This is How We Roll Link Party. This post is a host favorite and is featured on 4 blogs and more! See you this week.

  49. I love this idea. Very unique.

  50. Sarah, I’m a big fan or repurposing projects and I’m so excited about this bird feeder. It would make wonderful gifts, too. Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party. Pinning now.

  51. I just love your blog! You have the cutest and best ideas for recycling, upcycling, and making great creations. Keep up the good work!

  52. Quick question… Does the twig perch fall out at some point as the suet is eaten? I wonder if it would work to super glue the twig to the inside of the cup before you did the suet? Love this neat project, I can see putting a few of these in my yard! Thanks for sharing!

    • It does fall out eventually, but by then, the smaller birds (like my chickadees) can just sit in the cup and snack away. I wouldn’t want the suet to touch the super glue (even if it’s dry), but you could always replace with a shorter stick that wouldn’t fall out until the very end! 🙂

  53. This may be a dumb question but do you know the meting temp point for the homemade suet? Wondering how cold it needs to be outside

  54. Oh what a neat idea! 🙂

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  55. A fun idea for the winter months! I’d love to make this with my kindergarten kids! Thanks for sharing at Sweet Inspiration!!!

  56. Kathey-Jo Duxbury says

    Can you use Crisco? Or bacon fat?

  57. Very nice! Carabiner seems like a good investment because jute would probably break over time and cause your mug to fall to the ground.

    Reading this, I wondered about melting, and I found this from the Baltimore Bird Club:

    “Suet is solid at room temperature, and so long as outside temperatures remain below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, all you have to do is put out raw beef fat. Trim excess fat off beef cuts before cooking, or buy suet from your butcher or grocer. If the temperature is warmer, beef fat can melt or turn rancid, and it’s safer to use cakes of hard rendered suet. You can buy commercial suet cakes, or you can make your own using rendered suet.”

  58. Love the design but… I was wondering is it natural for birds to eat beef fat? Or any fat for that matter? Beef products come at such a high cost to the environment, I was wondering if this would work with a responsibly sourced saturated plant fat. I might try that but I’m going to do a little research to make sure we aren’t feeding our feathered friends something that isn’t good for them.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Hi, Stephanie- great questions! I actually did a lot of background research on this topic before I launched this project. Yes, birds eat beef fat all the time- in fact, the very definition of “suet” is beef (or other mammal) fat, and store bought suet cakes are rendered beef fat. It’s usually the cheapest type of animal fat- all I ever recommend is that one never uses bacon fat because of the sodium. And you CAN use vegetable shortening for a vegetarian option- I had vegetarians contact me about this because they wanted to make these for their yards, but didn’t want to purchase or handle animal fat. Audubon has a great article on making vegetarian “suet”, which you could use in your mug!

  59. What a great and caring idea for our bird friends.

  60. I love your idea and just made three of these yesterday. I was looking for things to hang from my shepherd’s hook hanging plant stand in the winter. I even made homemade suet! I used 1 tub of lard, same amount of natural chunky peanut butter, then added in 2 cups cornmeal, 2 cups oatmeal, 1 cup flour, 2 cups bird seed. Put the suet in the cups and froze overnight. My husband cut me 7″ dowel pieces for the sticks. Didn’t stink up the house too much. I have leftover suet that I spread in a pan and froze.
    Thank you for the adorable idea. Wish I could past a photo of them.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I love your mixture idea with the PB and other grains!!! I know your birds will just love these.

      • Shelley Olivier says

        I use left over chop sticks stuck inside teapots (with spouts sealed) instead of dowel sticks for my birdseed. Will add lard when our weathercools down. I’m in Durban, South Africa where we average 30 °C during summer.

  61. Victoria Clarke says

    I absolutely love this idea as a matter of fact I have some old Suet with no suet holder and I plan on melting that down and putting it into some coffee mugs great suggestion thank you so much we live in Northwest Ohio. Slick ?

  62. What a cute idea! I love feeling my feathered friends, and of course the pesty squirrels as well. Great way of supplementing their diet in the cold months.

  63. Did the birds eat all the way to the bottom of the mug? I know they won’t get it totally clean I’m just curious if they only pecked at the front but didn’t get all the way to the bottom.

  64. Chris Clarke says

    Can lard be used in the place of suet?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      As long as its straight lard and not bacon fat (with all the salt and preservatives), I don’t see why not!

  65. jesseiss12 says

    As a vegan, I can’t imagine having the smell of beef fat in the kitchen, but really thought this was a great idea for the birds, and too cute too. I do like the idea of using an outdoor burner, or the peanut butter all together. Thanks for your post, even though I’m a few yrs late!

  66. I use lard, freshly ground peanut butter, corn meal, unbleached flour (to make it stiff) and add bird seed to the mix. Birds of all kinds love it. Sadly, so do the pigeons…so now I use an empty water (gallon) container with smaller cut-outs to keep the pigeons out and hang it in the backyard. I would love to also feed the doves, but feeding them feeding the pigeons.

  67. Did the stick (perch) eventually fall out when the birds ate a lot of the food that packed around the stick? How would you prevent that from happening?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      It does, but by that time, there is hardly any suet left. And the littlest birds (wrens, chickadees, etc.) just hang out in the mug and eat what’s left!

  68. I am almost ready to make these and thought I would melt the dripping in the actual mug in the microwve to save some washing up.

  69. Hi… I don’t understand what the wire was used for.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear enough, Cherryl. It helped keep the perch (stick) straight once I poured in the melted fat. The ends of the wire rested on the brims of the cups which stabilized it while the suet re-hardened. Does that make sense?


  1. […] forget, you can make this easy coffee cup suet feeder project, too- always perfect for the cold winter months while your birds and busy making […]

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