Recently published reports in the literature for bilayer lift-off processes have described recipes for the patterning of metals that have recommended metal-ion-free developers, which do etch aluminum. We report the first measurement of the dissolution rate of a commercial lift-off resist (LOR) in a sodium-based buffered commercial developer that does not etch aluminum. We describe a reliable lift-off recipe that is safe for multiple process steps in patterning thin () and thick aluminum devices with micron-feature sizes. Our patterning recipe consists of an acid cleaning of the substrate, the bilayer (positive photoresist/LOR) deposition and development, the sputtering of the aluminum film along with a palladium capping layer and finally, the lift-off of the metal film by immersion in the LOR solvent. The insertion into the recipe of postexposure and sequential develop-bake-develop process steps are necessary for an acceptable undercut. Our recipe also eliminates any need for accompanying sonication during lift-off that could lead to delamination of the metal pattern from the substrate. Fine patterns were achieved for both 100-nm-thick granular aluminum/palladium bilayer bolometers and 500-nm-thick aluminum gratings with lines and spaces.