Wild Bird Seed Cakes

I have two big square wire baskets that are made for holding bird seed cakes – the big bird seed cakes, the ones that weigh about two pounds. A couple of years ago, you could get those seed cakes for $3 or $4. Recently, though, the price has gone up and up, and unless you find them on sale, you’ll pay at least $6, sometimes as much as $8. It’s utterly ridiculous to pay that kind of money, when between the birds and the squirrels, those seed cakes are gone in three days, especially in the winter.

So I Googled around and considered a bunch of recipes (these seed cakes are not actually suet, as they don’t include any kind of animal fat. I do have pig fat in the freezer that I’ll one day render into lard so that I can make my own suet, but that’s another post entirely, and probably won’t be happening any time soon.) and hit upon one that’s simple and quick, and does exactly what I need it to do.

Sometimes I make the seed cakes as I need them, and sometimes I make a bunch at once – they’ll keep nicely in the freezer. They might keep just as well in the fridge, but we have more freezer space than fridge space, so that’s what I do.

Your ingredients:


Flour, light corn syrup, water (not pictured) and a packet of plain gelatin per seed block – that’s not a requirement, but I always use the gelatin to help hold it all together. Also, bird seed. I’m just using your basic wild bird blend here, but I’ve used the waste-free kind in the past (to cut down on the number of sunflower seed shells that pile up under the seed baskets), and you can toss any kind of dried fruits or nuts that you have on hand. If I’d thought of it, I would have added a handful of walnuts to this (Chickadees love walnuts), but I didn’t think of it. Oh, well – there’s always next time!


This is the “form” for molding my seed blocks. I’ve got two of them, they’re Sterilite 1.4 liter containers. I figured out what size I needed by measuring the seed cage and then going to the grocery store and measuring plastic containers until I found a size that works. The seed blocks don’t fit perfectly, but they’re close enough.

I line the containers with plastic wrap because that makes it easier to get the blocks out of the containers. Also, if I’m going to freeze them, I just fold the plastic wrap across the top and stick the block in the freezer. You could also use parchment paper if you want, or nothing at all – I find that the blocks will stick to the plastic container, though, so you might have to firmly tap (slam) the container down on the counter to get the block to come out.

So, it’s simple – whisk your flour, water, and corn syrup together. Add the packet of gelatin (if you’re using it) last, whisk it together, and dump your seeds into the bowl.


Mix it all together like you’re mixing a cake. Once the “glue” is incorporated, all you need to do is scoop the whole shebang into your plastic “form”, and pat the mixture down firmly.


Stick it in the fridge for about an hour to let it firm up. Then lift the seed block out of the container and put it in the seed cage. Voila!



Wild Bird Seed Cakes
Prep time
Total time
Original Source/Author:
: Appetiser?
Serves: innumerable
  • Edible glue:
  • ¾ c. flour (I use all-purpose, I'm sure about any kind works just fine)
  • ½ c. water
  • 3 T corn syrup (I use light)
  • 1 envelope of plain gelatin (optional)
  • 4 c. birdseed and peanuts, fruits, berries, raisins, or anything else you have on hand that the birds would enjoy.
  1. Mix flour, water, and corn syrup (a whisk works well). Add in the envelope of gelatin, if using.
  2. Add 4 cups of seed, nuts, fruits, whatever you're using. Mix well.
  3. Press seed mix into a plastic container of your preferred size (which has been lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper).
  4. Refrigerate for one hour.
  5. Remove seed block from container, and hang it in your seed cage.
Seed blocks freeze well - just wrap in plastic wrap and stack in the freezer until you need one.



Wild Bird Seed Cakes — 66 Comments

  1. What a great idea. Never thought of making my own blocks. Just was buying them all the time. Just to clarify- is it one envelope or box of Knox per recipe?

  2. Thanks for this seed cake recipe! I do feel compelled to add that you don’t have to render fat to make suet if it’s for birds — just melt it and pour it into the mold, gristly bits and all.

    My mom used to make suet for the birds by pouring any fat leftover from cooking into a coffee can in the fridge. When the can was full, she cut off the bottom, pushed a dowel all the way through for perches on either side and hung it using a wire also pushed through the suet – coat hangers worked great.

    Easy, economical and good for bug-eating birds!!

  3. Wow this is so fast and easy! Thanks for posting this recipe………I found that the (polystyrene?) plastic containers my grocer uses to sell pre-cut fruit are perfect! They are pretty and the block pops out so easily….no need for the plastic wrap insert and they can be used over and over again. I just put my homemade blocks out today! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. FINALLY. I can’t wait to try this.. I too have been wondering how 2 lbs of seed (and notice the blocks are now made with junk seed,not 100% sunflower) ina blocks costs $7, while I can buy 40lbs for $18. Have been looking for a gelatin recipe and with the addition of the “glue” this makes sense. Thanks!!

  5. I would use cornmeal in this recipie because some birds cannot digest flour. Which then causes further medical complications. I worked for a bird recovery facility for 4 yrs so i know some information about bird digestion.

    • Thanks for the note on cornmeal. the recipe needs some binder, and I’m not really crazy about the flour either as it can get moldy! I’ll use cornmeal instead!

      • I’ve been trying to make seed bells here in Sydney, Australia, but for some reason 90% of my final products have a white fluff on them. Do you think this is from the flour? I tried wholemeal flour and it had the same look. I did a mix with cornflour as I thought it dried clear, but that looked like someone had covered it in craft glue.

    • The flour is what makes the glue. When the flour gets wet and is stirred it forms gluten which causes it to stick. I am worried about the birds though. I had heard that it isn’t good to use straight peanut butter, but to mix in cornmeal. Would a mixture of wheat flour and cornmeal be better for the birds, or would another grain flour such a rye be better?

  6. hi wonderful recipe. We have Au ring necked Parakeets (28’s) in our garden. I was wondering if the gelatine needs dissolving, if so, how much water. Thanks for the info. Regards Maureen.

    • I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your comment, Maureen. You don’t need to dissolve the gelatin, just add it to the rest of the ingredients and stir in.

    • Yes, I use it all year-round. I’m in Alabama, so it gets pretty hot here – I’d maybe avoid hanging it in direct sunlight, but I’ve never had an issue with it falling apart.

  7. Followed the directions’ used cornmeal instead of flower and after four hours in the frig. It still fell apart . what am I doing wrong ?

    • Mine falls apart. So frustrating. What am I doing wrong?
      I dissolve the gelatin in hot water. Add corn syrup. Mix and add flour. Then seeds. Refrigerate. Take out of molds and it falls apart. HELP.

      • Dissolve the gelatin in a cold cup of water first. Then add it to the hot water. That might fix your problem.

  8. The recipe works well. Tried cornmeal and it fell apart. Flower is better. Thanks I will be making my own seed blocks from now on.

  9. Love these seed cakes. The ones you can buy at the hardware store in our town are$9.oo each! I will save a bundle this winter making my own! Also, I found that when I scrape out the almost empty peanut butter jar I save the remnants for addition to the seed cakes and the birds love it!

  10. I found your seed cakes recipe, and found it super easy, and fun! BUT…. I was wondering if anyone else had the issue of this. When I put the suet cakes in the feeders outside, after a day outside, they turned hard as a rock! I mean, so hard I could not break them. I had wondered why there were no birds messing with the feeders, so I checked them, and they were like a brick. I had made several and froze them, which was great… So, I decided to put a fresh cake in the feeder… but then when I took them out of the freezer, they seemed great, pliable, and ready to go. But they also turned into a solid brick, so hard you couldn’t break it in half. Did I do something wrong? Or maybe it’s too hot outside?

    • Hi Julie, i was wondering if anyone replied to you about your seed cakes getting hard once outside. Happens to mine too. Need to try again,but would like to know why first.

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  13. I was looking for a recipe for the wild birds here in the UK as we are enjoying (?) a siberian winter which doesn’t happen that often all over the country and the birds are struggling. I’m just about to try this.

  14. Hello, I’ve been making my own suet cakes (no suet though) this winter using Coconut oil. However, it will melt as summer approaches and have been looking for a summer recipe. I’ve read that gelatin will melt in the rain. Have you had experience with this? Any other recipes which could be used for the summer? Thank you.

  15. Hello, I made 6 cakes last night really easy and a fun project for nature. For this first time I just made the seed type to try them out. Well I placed one in the holder and at 6:15 Florida time the show started, I always get many birds of all types with the store bought cakes but this morning I noticed a lot more birds interested in the big cake. I found the Cardinals really liked the cake and one was doing all it could do to try to eat some of the cake while many other birds were continually approaching the cake. 9:30 and the show is going strong with all types of visitors.
    Thank you for posting this page

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  17. There is no sense in adding dry gelatin powder to your mix as it won’t do anything because you didn’t go through the blooming process necessary to trigger the action of gluing. you must sprinkle it evenly on a small amount of water and let it sit without mixing it until a spaghetti like gel is formed. Then add hot liquid to it to melt it and then add it to your seed. Just he plain edible glue in your recipe is doing all the work as it should. it isn’t easy to bloom a single packet of powder unless you whisk it in fast and then let it sit til it blooms. Edible glue works fine by its self and that’s all I use unless I’m doing sunflower seed with the hulls still on and then for sure you’ll need to bloom it.

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  19. Mine falls apart. So frustrating. What am I doing wrong?
    I dissolve the gelatin in hot water. Add corn syrup. Mix and add flour. Then seeds. Refrigerate. Take out of molds and it falls apart. HELP.

  20. Did not work for me / followed recipe perfectly but after the hour in refrigerator they fell apart – packed back together and tried another hour – nope ??

  21. I tried this out about a week ago, and it was a complete success. Birds love it and it saves so much money. I just made 2 more and added about a cup of raisins to the mix. They are in the refrigerator now, but I will transfer them to freezer after they sit a while. I had no problem with them falling apart at all. In fact, this time I pressed them down firmly, but I think the first time I overdid it and made them really hard by pressing too much, so went a little easier this time on pressing them down.Thanks for such a good recipe for the birds. By the way, I searched for this recipe not because I am cheap, but because I have to order them from a store and it takes numerous days for me to get them. So glad I am able to make them myself.

  22. I have read some of the “failure” posts and tried to tell them this: DO NOT DISSOLVE THE GELATIN in hot or cold water, just add the dry gelatin powder to the flour/water/syrup that is mixed up. You do not need to “bloom” the gelatin; if you disoolve it, it adds too much water! Just follow the directions. It says to put the gelatin into the flour mix, it does not say to bloom or dissolve it.

    • But the guy who worked in the nature center helping sick birds said that flour HURTS BIRDS Digestive systems & avised using CORNMEAL INSTEAD. Does this Knox gelatin recipe work when using cornmeal instead of the harmful flour? Bird lovers do NOT want to harm birds with flour since they cannot digest it & can die from it. Thank you for your advice

  23. But the guy who worked in the nature center helping sick birds said that flour HURTS BIRDS Digestive systems & avised using CORNMEAL INSTEAD. Does this Knox gelatin recipe work when using cornmeal instead of the harmful flour? Bird lovers do NOT want to harm birds with flour since they cannot digest it & can die from it. Thank you for your advice

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  25. Thanks for this recipe! I have been feeding squirrels & the occasional bird outside of my lanai. My indoor cats love the show but it was getting pricey. Now I make a double batch once a week & everyone is happy so far.
    Thanks again!

  26. Thanks for the great recipe for my birds. I had to add an extra envelope of gelatin to get it to hold. Maybe because my packages are only 1oz or maybe because I use dried mealworms as part of the 4C of fill. I just mold them into parchment lined bread pans. They are not quite the same size but they fit and the birds don’t seem to care. 🙂

  27. I made these and let them set over night , and next day went to put in feedersquare and fell apart trying to get out of container, , any suggestions, , in mean time I thought I’d put in freezer and one over heat vent?? Made several and don’t want to throw out?thank you

  28. I made this bird seed cake over the weekend…My birds went crazy over it….unfortunately it was gone within 4 hours! I have two bird block feeders ..Is there another recipe that will make it not quite so soft ? Read another one that uses lard not certain if it would help. I live in Florida.

  29. In regards to “flour” being bad for birds I cannot find any online sources to verify any truth to this statement. Perhaps what was meant was that “bread” is not good for birds…..text exerpt from article and link to article below.

    Bread? I hear you protest.

    But doesn’t everyone feed bread to birds?!

    Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but commercial bread is not good for birds at all.

    In fact, that goes for most bakery products such as bagels, buns biscuits, and loaves.

    So why the conflicting information?

    The truth is that feeding birds’ bread won’t harm them.

    Yet, bread offers no nutritional value to birds at all. It’s empty calories.

    The risk is that birds can easily fill up on bread and then not go on to eat food with the nutrients they need.

    Offering too much bread in your feeders leads to unhealthy birds with vitamin deficiencies.


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