Sauces / Dips / Dressings

How to Make Beef Tallow

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If you’re a fan of traditional cooking techniques and natural, whole ingredients, beef tallow is a must-try ingredient in your kitchen. We’ll guide you through making beef tallow step by step.

Blocks of beef tallow on a wooden plate.Pin
Beef Tallow

Why should you make it?

There are several reasons why you might consider making tallow at home:

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  1. Nutritional benefits: Tallow is a rich source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, supporting hormone production, and promoting skin health, among other benefits.
  2. Flavor and versatility: Tallow has a distinctive beefy flavor that can enhance the taste of various dishes, from roasted vegetables to sautéed meats. It also has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for high-heat cooking methods, such as frying, roasting, and grilling.
  3. Sustainability: Making tallow at home is a great way to use up beef fat that might otherwise go to waste. It’s also a more sustainable and eco-friendly option than using vegetable oils or other cooking fats that require intensive processing and can have a high carbon footprint.
  4. Cost-effectiveness: Tallow can be relatively inexpensive to make at home, especially if you can source the beef fat from a local butcher or farmer. It can also be stored in the fridge or freezer for a long time, making it a cost-effective ingredient to have on hand for various recipes.
  5. Control over ingredients: When you make tallow at home, you have complete control over the quality and purity of the ingredients. You can use grass-fed beef fat, generally considered healthier and more nutritious than fat from conventionally raised cows. You can also avoid additives or preservatives often found in commercial cooking fats.

Making tallow at home can be a rewarding and healthful addition to your culinary journey.

Jar of beef tallow with a small spreading knife.Pin

Fun fact: Did you know that rendered beef fat is referred to as tallow? While render pork fat is referred to as lard? Rendered chicken fat is referred to as schmaltz.

What you need

The only ingredient for making tallow is beef fat or suet. Fat around the kidneys is considered the best for producing high-quality tallow, but any suet will work. We also use up the fat from briskets and other beef that we trim.

You can buy suet from your local butcher and ask for grass-fed beef suet.

Salt may be added if desired. We add salt to dishes when making them instead of adding it to the finished tallow.

Some folks add water to the suet when melting it, but we’ve found this unnecessary and more time-consuming than without it.

Grass fed beef suet on a cutting board.Pin
Grass-Fed Beef Suet

How to make it

Step One

Chop the suet finely.

Chopped suet. Pin
Chop the suet finely.

Step Two

Add the chopped suet to a slow cooker, stockpot, or Dutch oven.

To speed up melting, you can run partially frozen fat through your food processor or meat grinder.

This is a totally optional step, and you end up with more dirty dishes to wash.

Chopped suet in crockpot.Pin
Add it to crockpot, saucepan or stock pot.

Step Three

Heat over very low heat until the suet melts.

Fat rendering in crockpot.Pin
The fat will begin to render.

Step Four

Once melted, the remaining meat will begin to cook.

You can cook it until crisp.

These pieces are called cracklings and are pretty tasty.

Bubbling fat in crockpot.Pin
Once all of the fat has rendered, the remaining meat will begin to cook.

Step Five

Line a fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth.

If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use a coffee filter or sheets of paper towel, but it will take longer to drain.

Lined fine mesh strainer.Pin
Line a fine mesh strainer or sieve with several layers of cheesecloth.

Step Six

Note how the cracklings are frying in the hot fat.

Ladling fat into the strainer.Pin
Ladle hot fat into strainer.

Step Seven

Ladle hot fat into the cheesecloth-lined strainer, placed over a large bowl.

Strainer with cracklings in it.Pin
Strain the fat into a bowl or large measuring cup.

How to package it

Step Eight

You now have what is commonly referred to as liquid gold.

Beautiful yellow fat in measuring cup.Pin
Liquid gold.

Step Nine

Pour the tallow into a wide-mouth canning jar.

Liquid gold in canning jar.Pin
Pour it into a canning jar.

Step Ten

If you would rather have blocks, line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Parchment lined baking dish.Pin
Or make sticks. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.

Step Eleven

Pour the liquid in the pan.

Allow it to harden. Cut it into rectangles, after hardening.

Wrap the rectangles in waxed paper, similar to how butter is wrapped.

Secure the ends with scotch tape.

Liquid gold poured into parchment lined baking dish.Pin
Pour in the liquid gold.

Depending on which suet you can access, it will turn a shade of yellowish-white to pure white.

We prefer them in blocks. They are easier to use. If you use jars, be sure to use wide mouth jars to make the fat easier to remove from the jar.

Jars that are stored in the refrigerator will be challenging to get out of the jar. To make it easier, heat it in the microwave, covered with paper towel for about 30 seconds.

How to store it

Store small quantities of tallow at room temperature for a month or so. Technically, it is shelf stable, if stored in a root cellar or a cool basement. Store it in airtight containers, or vacuum packed.

For larger quantities, store it in the refrigerator for a couple months.

Freeze for longer storage. It’s best if used within six months. Vacuum packing can extend this time if it is frozen.

Pro tip: Wrap your blocks in waxed paper like a present. Secure the ends with scotch tape. Freeze until hard. Vacuum pack the blocks for more extended storage.

Blocks of tallow wrapped in waxed paper.Pin
Wrap blocks it in waxed paper, for easy storage.

How to use beef tallow

You can use it to replace any current oil, butter or shortening that you are using.

  • Perfect for searing meats before cooking, especially beef. Remember, it has a high smoke point so you quickly get a beautiful sear.
  • Makes delicious fried potatoes, French fries and hash browns.
  • Use it for deep frying too. It makes delicious fried chicken. (Pro tip: You can reuse tallow that has been used for deep frying, just strain out any impurities with cheesecloth. And store as you would otherwise.)
  • Use it for pie crust to make savory pies, like; quiche and pot pies.
  • Substitute butter in baked goods, like biscuits and savory muffins. They come out extra fluffy.
  • Use it for roasting meats and vegetables. Just coat them with tallow and pop them in the oven. It will give the food a lovely caramelization.
  • It’s terrific for sautéing onions to make beautifully caramelized onions.
  • Spread it on toast or an English muffin. Be sparing. A little goes a long way.
  • Traditionally it was used for making soaps and candles.

Is tallow healthier than other oils or butter?

Tallow and oil have different nutritional profiles and health benefits. Therefore, it’s difficult to say which is healthier overall. However, tallow does have some potential health benefits compared to certain oils.

Tallow is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to improved cholesterol levels, heart health, and hormonal balance. It is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are important for immune function, bone health, and skin health.

In addition, beef tallow has a high smoke point, which means it can be used for high-heat cooking without producing harmful free radicals or toxic fumes.

Jar of tallow with a spreading knife.Pin

On the other hand, some oils, such as olive oil, are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These have been shown to improve heart health and reduce inflammation. They are also rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which can help protect the body from oxidative stress and cellular damage.

However, some oils have a lower smoke point. This means they may produce harmful compounds when heated at high temperatures.

Not all tallow or oils are created equal. The quality and source of the fat can affect its nutritional value and health benefits.

Grass-fed beef tallow, for example, is generally considered to be healthier than tallow from conventionally raised cows. It contains more beneficial nutrients and fewer harmful toxins.

Similarly, cold-pressed or unrefined oils are generally considered to be healthier than refined or heavily processed oils.

Butter is made from dairy but also contains water and milk solids. Both tallow and butter are high in saturated fat, contributing to high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.

Some believe tallow may be healthier since it contains more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In addition, tallow is a better choice for people with lactose intolerance or who are allergic to dairy products.

In conclusion, whether tallow, butter, or oil is healthier depends on the type of fat, the source, and how it’s used in cooking. As with any ingredient, moderation and variety are essential to a healthy diet.

Tools you need

More pantry staples

Spreading knife in a jar of tallow.Pin
Beef Tallow

Making beef tallow is an easy process that only takes 5 minutes of hands-on time. So give it a try to save money, and use an often overlooked ingredient.

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Jar of tallow with a small spreading knife.Pin

Beef Tallow

If you're a fan of traditional cooking techniques and natural, whole ingredients, beef tallow is a must-try ingredient for your kitchen. We'll guide you through making beef tallow step by step.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: pantry item
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 24 tablespoons
Calories: 126kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $3

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beef suet

Instructions

  • Chop the suet into small pieces. To speed up melting, you can run partially frozen suet through your food processor or a meat grinder.
  • Add it to a slow cooker or Dutch oven, if you'd like to do it on the stovetop.
  • Set the slow cooker to low, or set the flame on the stove to the lowest temperature possible
  • Once it is melted, the "cracklings" will begin to fry. Let the cracklings get very crispy if you want to use them.
  • Line your fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth. You can substitute paper towel or a coffee filter.
  • Ladle the hot fat through the strainer over a large bowl.
  • Pour the tallow into wide-mouth canning jars, or make them into blocks. See the article above for the method.
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Notes

How to store it
Store small quantities of tallow at room temperature for a month or so. Technically, it is shelf stable if stored in a root cellar or a cool basement. Store it in airtight containers or vacuum-packed.
For larger quantities, store it in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
Freeze for longer storage. It’s best if used within one year. Vacuum packing can extend this time if it is frozen.
How to use beef tallow
You can use it to replace any current oil, butter, or shortening that you are using.
  • Perfect for searing meats before cooking, especially beef. Remember, it has a high smoke point, so you quickly get a beautiful sear.
  • Makes delicious fried potatoes, French fries, and hash browns.
  • Use it for deep frying too. It makes delicious fried chicken. (Pro tip: You can reuse the tallow that has been used for deep frying, strain out any impurities with cheesecloth. Then store it as suggested above.)
  • Use it for pie crust to make savory pies, like; quiche and pot pies.
  • Substitute butter in baked goods, like biscuits and savory muffins. They come out extra fluffy.
  • Use it for roasting meats and vegetables. Just coat them with tallow and pop them in the oven. It will give the food a lovely caramelization.
  • It’s terrific for sautéing onions to make beautifully caramelized onions.
  • Spread it on toast or an English muffin. Be sparing. A little goes a long way.
  • Traditionally, it was used for making soaps and candles.
We prefer them in blocks. They are easier to use. If you use jars, be sure to use wide-mouth jars to make the fat easier to remove from the jar.
Jars that are stored in the refrigerator will be challenging to get out of the jar.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 2mg | Calcium: 0.3mg | Iron: 0.02mg
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Originally published February 27, 2023.

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is super informative. I have never heard of tallow or suet before and was fascinated as I read this. I had no idea a butcher even sold this. I like the idea of making this and using it to replace less healthy fats.

  2. 5 stars
    Great information in this post. Really appreciate your step by step pictures with directions. This beef tallow will definitely add a depth of flavor to so many dishes.

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you for the informational post. This is something I have been wanting to try for a while. Living on a farm, we raise our animals for meat and eggs. I am always looking for ways to use everything we possibly can from the farm.

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