Recipes · Side Dishes

Stovetop Beef Tallow French Fries

Do you love french fries? To not love french fries is almost downright un-american. But I bet you feel pretty guilty about an occasional indulgence. With this recipe you can put that to rest. The only thing unhealthy about fries is the oil that they are almost universally cooked in. That is a hydrogenated vegetable oil. So we switch the oil and voilà, we have a healthy dish!

Beef tallow is the fat McDonald’s used to use for their french fries. They changed over to a vegetable fat in 1983 under pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (read The oiling of America for more info ). For those of us old enough to remember the beef tallow McDonald’s fries this recipe will allow you to continue your love affair with them, since McDonald’s no longer wants to cooperate 😉 And you can do so guilt free knowing that it’s a healthy treat!

Be aware that frying in this much oil on the stove requires some safety precautions that would have been common knowledge in Mrs. Dull’s time. Everyone should read up on what to do in case you have an oil fire before you begin. I can’t stress this enough! An grease fire handled improperly can have disastrous results! Keep that lid and a big bag of baking soda handy! Don’t let the precautions frighten you too much though. Women having been frying in their kitchens since time immemorial.


Mrs Dull’s recipe is on page 116 of “Southern Cooking”. It is a simple and straightforward version, with some directions added if you need to reheat the fries prior to serving.


  • This recipe is pretty much like Mrs. Dull’s. For fat she simply specifies ‘grease’. My version requires beef tallow though I think would probably yield a good result too. If anyone has tried it please chime in in the comments below 🙂

*  Note on featured photo: I used a stock pic for the feature photo since my photography skills weren’t what they needed to be at the time I wrote this post.  Working on getting a new pic in my own vintage kitchen for this recipe 🙂 .

Recipe for French Fries cooked in Beef Tallow on the Stovetop


  • A few cups of beef tallow – this will vary according to the size of your pan. You’ll want it to be about 2 inches deep when melted.
  • A few potatoes – a used red potatoes just because it’s what I had handy. I’ve heard that russets yield the best results.
cut french fries
Ready to dip in water


  • A slicer of some kind or a french fry cutter. Or just a good sharp knife.
  • A deep, heavy saucepan. It MUST be more than twice as deep as your fat. Since we are shooting for 2 inches of fat, it should be at least 5 inches for safety. This is because there is some danger of the fat boiling over the rim and catching fire on the heating element. It also helps protect you from splatters.
  • A fryer skimmer for lifting the fries in and out of the hot fat.
  • A mixing bowl
  • Some paper towels
  • An instant read thermometer (optional)



    • Wash your potatoes and peel if desired. Cut your fries into long strips. I used my bosch universal slicer shredder attachment which limits the length to the size of the shoot. If you want longer fries it’s handy to have a french fry cutter. Or for the kitchen minimalists, just a good sharp knife.
frying french fries stovetop
[/easyazon_link] Cooking on the stove
  • Fill the mixing bowl with cold water put the fries in until you’re ready to fry.
  • Fill your pan with tallow. Place your pan on a back-burner for safety. Set the burner to high.
  • Dry the potatoes in preparation for the pan. Remember oil and water don’t mix!
  • Wait until the oil is about 350-360 degrees. If you have an instant read thermometer you can use that to tell. If not, this article suggest a wooden spoon method of guesstimating the oils readiness.
  • Put the cut potatoes in the grease carefully with the . Let them cook ’till they are golden brown.
  • Remove with the  and place on a plate with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.

Chow down quickly! These fries are best immediately after cooking so you’ll want to enjoy them then. I think I took mine out a little too soon due to pressure from the boys who were very eager for their share. So the fries turned out a bit soft. Next time I’ll have to push everyone out of the kitchen 😉


Links to Other Beef Tallow French Fry Recipes and Kitchen Safety Tips

14 thoughts on “Stovetop Beef Tallow French Fries

  1. I have been planning some of these for a big lunch on Wednesday! By the way, I linked to this from my bog’s FB.


  2. I made some several months ago using bacon grease. I did, however, bake them simply to cut down on the mess. But they tasted so good. So much better than when cooked in vegetable oil.


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

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂


  4. Pingback: Why Choose Beef Tallow? — Mrs Dulls Nourished Kitchen
  5. How many times can I reuse lard for deep frying? It’s hard to come by decent lard in my neck of the woods so I want to maximize my use of it…. and then maybe give it to my chickens after I can’t use it anymore….


    1. I’ve reused it about 2 or three times kept in the fridge in between. I’ve read posts where people have gone up to 5. Grandma at least mine probably Reused it more though with taste being her guide. I’d love to carve out a little time to see if Mary Enig has addressed this at all … Does anyone know if she has?


  6. French fries have frustrated me.

    For a long time, I used a cast-iron saucepan with a basket that fit. Problem being, whether it’s tallow, lard or coconut oil, you really need to filter the grease to save and reuse if you don’t want to eat $10 french fries every time.

    Hubby kept bugging me to get an electric deep fryer and I finally did. We only used it a handful of times. You still need to filter the grease and there were just more bits to clean afterwards than with the pot and basket (though granted we could do bigger batches in the fryer). He was hesitant for me to freecycle it, and I offered to keep it if he did the cleanup every time we made fries and it turned out he didn’t want it either. 😉

    I also want to point out that coconut oil and tallow and lard are pretty annoying to filter. You can’t do it when they’re hot, and can’t wait too long or they solidify up and you have to reheat them. And not only the stuff you cook in, but your stove, the dishwater, and therefore everything else in your kitchen, ends up a greasy mess. I just found the cleanup too much and therefore postponed making fries cause it was such a huge mess.

    I finally decided a cast-iron skillet was the way to go. What I do is cut up two large potatoes, heat a skillet with only a couple tablespoons of coconut oil or lard, toss the potatoes on the stovetop in the hot grease until well-coated and just starting to brown, then stick them in a 425 oven and toss every 5 minutes until they’re done (takes about 20 minutes).

    It’s actually more work to *make* fries this way, but there’s so much less cleanup involved, and no annoying grease filtering as there’s so little fat waste… yet they taste FRIED not baked and it’s overall much less work to not have to trash my kitchen to make fries.

    I can make fries as a side dish this way, like hash browns or a baked potato – it’s reasonable to do. I can actually make fries as a side to burgers!

    The other ways, there was so much cleanup then when I made fries, it was all I made (well, I’d top with gravy and cheese curds and make poutin). And then I’d be so annoyed at the cleanup, I wouldn’t do it again for months.


  7. Just thought I’d mention that beef tallow is one of the healthiest fats as well. The Lipid hypothesis is just wrong and saturated/animal fats are actually not so bad for us. See “My Big Fat Fiasco”/”Fat Head” and look up the studies referenced there… ie: vegetable oils are in fact what helps heart disease along(butter is far better than margarine etc).


  8. Great article! I’ve been looking for the reason for the change in taste of McDonald’s French Fries for years (I’m 53)! Now, because of your article, I’m solving the mystery (the links were helpful!). I had no idea they were using beef fat! Before finding your article, I did remember–almost to the day–when McDonald’s changed their recipe, only back then (the early ’80s), without the internet, it was somewhat of a mystery. Until now. Actually, when they made the change in 1983 (along with, eventually, everybody else) I pretty much stopped eating fries; and even to this day avoid them at most restaurants (to me, Denny’s comes closest to that old flavor). The majority of fries these days taste like cardboard. It doesn’t matter if they are thick cut or shoestring, with sea salt or ‘seasoned,’ without that special fat they used to be fried in they just taste lousy. I ‘m wondering if there are any restaurants (non-chain) that still serve the old style? I’d sure like to find one (I’m not much of a cook!). Anyway, thanks again; and if you do know of any places that still serve the ‘originals,’ send me an e-mail!


  9. You can save yourself from the possibility of limp fries if you blanch them first. You want to heat the oil to around 280 and fry them in small batches for 6 to 8 minutes, remove and let drain and cool for at least 15 minutes. After they cool, up the temp to 350 and cook for around 3 minutes.

    Besides having the awesome flavor you get from the tallow, this method will allow you to have fries that will never be limp and soggy.

    I know this is an old article, but I had to chime in. Toast is the most important bread for the start of the day and must be done right, and non soggy fries are the most important part of meals after that when they include fries.


    1. So glad you posted this and reminded me to comment on soggy fries. I really need update the picture for this post. Since this was taken I’ve gotten a newer much hotter gas stove and find it makes a lot of difference when frying. Thanks for the tip!


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