Why Choose Beef Tallow?

Beef Tallow

by Kathy | Disclosure

Before entering into the world of real food you most likely never heard the words beef tallow before. Lard yes, beef tallow no. That is unless you’re:

  • Really interested in history.
  • Went to cooking school.
  • Getting on in years ;-).

So I thought we’d talk a little about beef tallow, what it is and how to use it.

What is Beef Tallow?

Beef tallow is to beef what lard is to pork. In other words it’s a rendered saturated fat from beef. For centuries people have been making their own lard and beef tallow at home so the process of rendering is very simple unlike solid fats commonly found in the grocery store. These shortenings are highly refined and denatured fats that have been through a process called hydrogenation. Virtually all of the fats, particularly solid fats available in the supermarket are hydrogenated. They have a shelf life of many many years, some say decades. These fats are very, very bad for you and are to be strictly avoided (More detail on this in the links below). Beef tallow is an easy replacement for these fats in your cooking.

What do I use Beef Tallow For?

Lots of things, it’s a real staple in our home! So far I haven’t had much luck acquiring non-hydrogenated lard so this is my main cooking fat. The story of lard will have to wait for another day :-). I use it at the stove for most situations where a little oil is needed. I use it for deep frying like in my beef tallow french fry recipe or for frying chicken. You could use it in place of shortening for biscuits and pastries though I generally use butter.

Where to Get Beef Tallow

There are three primary ways to get your hands on some beef tallow:

  • Buy it from a local rancher/farmer.
  • Buy the fat from a butcher/processor and render it yourself.
  • Order it online.

I’ve opted for the last choice since my farmer doesn’t sell rendered fats. I did however receive the fat from the beef I bought this spring and plan to give a go at rendering my own using the crockpot method mentioned below. I ordered mine from US Wellness Meats. They can send it in small tubs or a big 5 gallon bucket.

Links to more on Beef Tallow

Links to more on Hydrogenated Fats

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Elizabeth May 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

Thanks for a good look at a healthy old time staple. Rending your own beef fat isn’t hard, but can be smelly. We do our in the turkey fryer outside. I love having beef tallow handy. We also use it as the fat in our soap. Blessings~Elizabeth

Laurel May 10, 2012 at 9:32 am

Hey Kathy – I just rendered some lard. I got about 1.75 quarts from, I think, 5 lbs of pork fat. I’m hoping to use it for deep frying. Any idea how many times I can use it to fry with?

A old friend of mine used to keep a coffee can on her stove and all drippings went into it. Then when she wanted to fry something, or make popcorn, she’d dip some out. I never asked her how long it would keep without going rancid but I wish I had!

I had some grass-fed tallow in my fridge, in a glass jar, and it went rancid. I never thought it would, though it was a couple years old. How long have you kept tallow for?


Kathy May 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

I’ve kept tallow as long as a year and not refrigerated either :-O . Most everyone says to keep it cold, but I’ve not had the space in either freezer or fridge for the amount I have. I bought a 5 gallon bucket from US Wellness Meats. Now you know why I haven’t reused tallow much πŸ˜‰ I’ve only found a few folks who store at room temperature as I do. Most are freezing or refrigerating.

The tallow in the bucket does oxidize on the surface when kept at room temperature, so we simply scrape that off. I know that people used to use tallow and lard for preserving meat at room temperature, so I think Grandma generally kept hers on a shelf, and not just the coffee can on the stove, but her whole supply. I have a large sealed jar in the pantry, and it never oxidizes. We’ll use it up in a couple of months.

JMH October 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

You’d be surprised how much help a nice piece of waxed paper can do.
But no, I wouldn’t put it in the fridge. Fridges are … weird. They’re too wet, but at the same time too drying. Just somewhere darkish and coolish is fine. And probably not much more than you can use in a year. After all, you’ll get more next slaughter season, right?

Alice May 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Now I’m dieing to see your fried chicken recipe! Is it posted on your site? :)

Kathy May 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Coming up soon, so stay tuned πŸ˜‰ I’ll be posting Mrs Dulls version …

Tamara May 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm


How far out of Austin do you live cause im in North Austin and I can get fresh rendered lard from the farmer’s market.

Anyways, i love me some beef tallow too but rendering it tends to get stinky lol.

Kathy May 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Hi Tamara :-) I live in Elgin, so not that far away. Who do you buy from? I’d love to find someone local who makes lard. I tend to buy in large quantities so warn them to lookout πŸ˜‰ Not that I need a bunch right now but I will pretty soon.

Tamara May 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm

So far, I know of Peach Creek Farm (http://www.peachcreekfarm.us/) that comes to the downtown Austin market on Saturdays. Dai Due (http://daidueaustin.net/) also sells pastured rendered lard in canning jars at that market too. Also, if you need it in bulk, i found this place on localharvest.org: http://www.localharvest.org/open-kettle-rendured-leaf-lard-C8350


Kathy May 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Thank you Tamara! I appreciate the links … With my bucket of tallow I hadn’t looked all that hard recently. Now its getting kinda close to used up I think I’ll be branching put to using lard more :-)

Jen May 11, 2012 at 7:01 am

Been wanting to render tallow for some time now because I have wanted to make real french fries. Your post has inspired me to get to it. I have had tallow in my freezer for almost a year now. Gotta get er done. :)

A Critic May 11, 2012 at 10:48 am

Looking at the US Wellness 5 gallon nutriution information I noticed that there are 760 calories per serving, of which 770 come from fat. I gotta get me some of that!

Kathy May 11, 2012 at 11:30 am

How funny! I went to take a peek and they’ve defined a serving as about 6 tablespoons! That’s more than I would use in a dish for the whole family, except for deep frying.

Heather May 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

Preserving meats at room temp using tallow? More info please! :)

Kathy May 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I’ve not tried it myself but I’ll see if I can post a few links :-)

Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen May 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

I love using both tallow and lard! Right before I started the GAPS diet, I made homemade French fries in the tallow. So delicious! Now I also love mixing in tallow with cooked carrots. It gives them such a nice flavor.

If you ever render your own, I’d definitely recommend the crockpot method. I did that for both my tallow and lard and found it to be quite easy.

Shanger May 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Hi, look very forward to the beef tallow fried chicken recipe. Any idea when it will be up?


Kathy May 22, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I’ll try to get to the top of the queue soon :-).

jpatti May 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

I don’t care for tallow much, but do love lard and have a local source.

I do the “save drippings” thing with bacon fat. Basically, when one jar is about 3/4 full, I start a second jar for pouring into, and just use up the older jar. So it rotates.

I think both because it is largely saturated AND because it’s salty, it doesn’t go bad very fast. It’s handy cause it adds bacon flavor to pretty much everything, like frying eggs or cooking greens or beans, without having to thaw a pound of bacon for just a few strips.

We ate more bacon when we had chickens and I saved drippings other than what I was actively using in the fridge. I gave lots to the chickens in winter just to add calories, especially when the coop got snowed in and they couldn’t free range.

Once, I cleaned it (like rendering with water, then letting it settle into layers) and made soap from it, but that was a lot of work. A fun experiment, but not “worth it” given how cheap soap is. πŸ˜‰

ThreeWestCreative December 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I keep my 5 gallon bucket of Beef Tallow from US Wellness meats next to my deep freezer full of grass fed beef. :) When I make my bean-less chili in a giant crockpot, it doesn’t taste the same unless I add about a cup of beef tallow to it. I keep trying to figure out more ways to use this stuff. I also make my own Pemmican with it too.

Mary Fox February 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I am wondering…a soap recipe I am looking at calls for tallow. Can I use lard for this part? Mary

Kathy February 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm

That should work ok, I think.

Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen April 8, 2013 at 8:36 am

I’ve never cooked with it, but I use it for my hands in the winter because they can get insanely dry and chapped. It’s the only thing that really works well!

Kathy April 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

I haven’t tried it for that but I’ve heard it works great!

Anne Kimball April 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I had heard of beef tallow before, but never knew what it was. Thanks for the education!

And thanks for linking this up with the TALU!

suzyhomemaker April 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

Great post. I keep meaning to add tallow to my pantry, just have not gotten around to it yet.

Shared this post on G+.

Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures April 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

Check back tomorrow when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

Symux August 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

I get a liter of tallow when I make beef broth. I boil the soup bones for a good 8-12 hours with all the other herbs and veggies. This is strained, and put into the fridge overnight to cool. The tallow floats to the top and hardens. The next day, I use a spatula to remove the tallow.

This gets a nice beef broth without a lot of fat, and the tallow is pure. I remelt that tallow, and I place it in a narrow container. The bottom portion has a bit of soup mix, and it is easier to remove once it is cooled. Into the fridge again, remove the broth residue, remelt the tallow, and put it into the actual container you wish to store it in.

Karla August 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thak you for the explanation!
I’m trying to learn everything about real food and know exactly what I’m giving to my family.
I’m from Mexico and here it’s easy to find lard with any butcher, but most of people (including me until today!) think lard is not good, and we try to avoid foods cooked with lard!! , Not anymore for me.
About Tallow, I’ve never heard about it, I don’t even know the name in spanish, but I will start my search from today.

Thank you again πŸ˜‰

martha November 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Questions about beef tallow. Can you use it to make a pie crust? are the proportions different?

I can’t use lard because my husband is allergic to all pork products. I would like to get away from the Crisco!


Martha in Minnesota

Kathy November 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Hi Martha … I would think you could but it might have a stronger flavor than lard. I’d buy a small tub and try it out.

Kimberly B April 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Martha, you CAN use tallow to make pie crust and I promise you that you will be amazed at how good it is!! It makes a wonderfully flaky crust that will have everybody asking for your secret!!

Back to Basics November 22, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I too thought buying tallow online (or even at a supermarket) would be a good idea… however… look at the nutritional label. Each 85 gram serving has 7 grams of TRANS FAT. Yes, tallow bought from US Wellness has partially hydrogenated oil in it as well. Evidently from what I have read that is the only way to keep tallow from going rancid too quickly. I believe the only safe way to get tallow is to render your own. :-(

Kathy November 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

The trans fats in beef tallow don’t come from industrialized hydrogenated vegetable oil. They are naturally occurring and are not toxic. I’m on my phone right now and will write some more on the subject later. In the meantime read this post from Chris Kessler on the matter. http://chriskresser.com/can-some-trans-fats-be-healthy

Kathey December 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

We render our own tallow and lard and LOVE it. My question is when should I use tallow and when should I use lard? Is one better to use with certain things than the other – or is it a matter or personal preference?

Kathy January 1, 2014 at 11:37 am

Hi Kathey … lard is blander making it a good choice for many many things. Beef tallow has a mild ‘beefy’ flavor to it, is the only way I can think to describe it. So it’s good for dishes where that would be wanted … that said it’s really very mild.

Joni February 16, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Do you have any information or links on the nutritional differences between tallow and lard?

Kathy February 18, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Hi Joni … I wish I had something handy to point you to! I’d imagine the main difference is in the mixture of fat types. Tallow is slightly more saturated and lard has a bit more monounsaturated fat, if memory serves :-)

Dan April 5, 2014 at 2:51 am

Thank you Kathy for the info… Please keep up the good work.

Kathy April 13, 2014 at 5:32 am

Thanks Dan … I’m taking a break for a bit but will be back with more before too long :-)

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