How to Make Beef Tallow: Easy Steps for Homemade Goodness

June 22, 2023

By: Miranda Lamb

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Beef tallow has made a recent appearance on Instagram and TikTok as an essential ingredient in some amazing handmade skin care products. Beef tallow was even featured in Glamour magazine, quite the step up in the world! So what exactly is beef tallow, and why are we just now hearing about it. Beef tallow has actually been around for centuries, and you can easily make it at home! Here are the easy steps on how to make beef tallow!

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What is Beef Tallow

Beef tallow is a versatile kitchen staple made by rendering (or cooking down) beef fat. It’s a form of beef fat that has been used for centuries in various culinary applications, such as cooking and baking. Rich in vitamin A, D, E, and K2, beef tallow has a unique flavor profile that enhances the taste of many dishes.

how to make beef tallow

When you render beef fat, you cook down the beef fat, separating it from the impurities and any bits of beef, leaving behind a smooth, solid white beef tallow. Tallow is stable at high temperatures, making it perfect for frying and sautéing. Many chefs swear by the rich taste it imparts to foods like roast potatoes and fried chicken.

Historically, beef tallow also played an important role in soap and candle-making, and some people still use it for these purposes today as the soap is suppose to have a rich lather to it. While tallow might not be as popular in modern kitchens due to misinformation and the availability of alternative cooking fats, beef tallow remains a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can elevate your home cooking.

Consuming saturated fats in moderation is key, some research suggests that beef tallow may have potential health benefits. For example, it contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is believed to have antioxidant properties and may help reduce inflammation.

how to make beef tallow

Beef tallow is a traditional, rendered animal fat with a rich flavor and numerous culinary uses. And when you buy wholesale beef from Hickory Hollow Farm, you can simply request some beef fat for tallow purposes as part of your quarter, half, or whole! What a fantastic way to use all the ingredients from your beef to make things your family already needs!

Obtaining and Preparing to Make Beef Tallow

Sourcing Beef Fat

To make beef tallow, you’ll first need to get your hands on some high-quality beef fat. Look for local beef fat from a younger cow, as it is often more flavorful and results in a purer whiter tallow. As mentioned above, you can simply request beef fat specifically for tallow when you place your order with the processor for your quarter, half or whole beef. At Hickory Hollow Beef, our premium beef sold as quarter, halves, or wholes are from cows that are around 2 years old, making it the perfect source for your beef fat.

how to make beef tallow

Your butcher will know which fat to give you to make your tallow. Typically beef tallow is made from the hard, white fat found around the kidneys and loins.

If you don’t buy wholesale beef, then ask your local butcher or processor for beef fat for tallow. They are usually happy to sell suet (beef fat), as it’s not in high demand. You may have to ask a couple butchers or processors, just in case they already have an agreement with someone to receive the extra suet.

Using Beef Fat from Brisket

If you’re unable to find suet specifically, you still have options. One possibility is using the fat trimmings from a brisket. When prepping a brisket for cooking, many people trim away excess fat to prevent the meat from becoming too greasy. Typically, I cook my brisket with the fat on, so that the meat remains moist and juicy. Then, you can trim the fat off after cooking as it is easier to separate.

Save these trimmings, as they can also be rendered down to make beef tallow. While the end result may have a slightly different flavor and texture compared to tallow made from suet, it’s still an excellent alternative.

Preparing Beef Fat for Rendering

Once you’ve sourced your beef fat, the next step is preparing it for rendering or cooking it down. While researching about beef tallow, I read one post from Oh, The Things We’ll Make, that suggested soaking the beef fat in ice water first. That was a crucial step.

After cutting the beef fat into small chunks, I soaked them in ice water for about an hour. This pulled out the blood, and made it easier to identify the bits of beef and connective tissue that you don’t want in your tallow. Ensure that you’ve removed any bits of meat or connective tissue from the fat is an important step, as meat and tissue can lead to impurities in your finished tallow and potentially spoil its shelf life.

Remove the fat from the ice water and finish by cutting the fat into small, uniform pieces – about one-inch cubes work well. You can use a food grinder if you have one. Others suggested using a food processor, to pulse the fat into even smaller bits, which will help the rendering process. I did not have a food grinder. And I was a little wary of using a food processor as the beef fat would make cleaning up a food processor a bit of a chore.

However, after soaking my beef fat in ice water, I found it pretty easy to cut my fat into chunks. I would suggest the smaller the chunks the better as it takes a long time to render the fat down. Smaller chunks of beef fat will make rendering go faster.

how to make beef tallow crock pot

With your beef fat prepared, you’re ready to start rendering it into tallow. Say goodbye to store-bought vegetable oil – your homemade beef tallow is going to be a game-changer in your kitchen!

Rendering Methods to Make Beef Tallow

When making beef tallow, there are several rendering methods to choose from. In this section, we will cover three common methods: Slow Cooker, Oven Method, and Stovetop Method to make beef tallow. Each technique has its benefits, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

Whichever method you choose to render your tallow make sure to keep an eye on your tallow. It takes a long time to melt down the fat. But you want to ensure that the fat doesn’t go bad by overcooking and burning. You are aiming for a simmer or slow boil and not a rolling boil.

For my beef tallow, I chose to use the slow cooker method, as it was less hands on and there were less chances of me burning all my good beef fat.

Slow Cooker Method to Make Beef Tallow

For a more hands-off approach, you can use your slow cooker to render beef tallow: This is the method that I chose to use!

  • Chop or grind the beef fat into small pieces.
  • how to make beef tallow render

    • Place chunks in ice water to soak for one hour. Drain water and remove any other beef bits attached to fat. Chop fat down further into one inch chunks.
    how to make beef tallow

  • Place the fat in your slow cooker, and set the temperature to low.
  • how to render tallow

  • Cook the fat for about 8-12 hours, stirring occasionally to break up any larger pieces and promote even rendering. This process took all day. And I still needed to keep an eye on the fat as my slow cooker can get very hot after it has been on for a long time. For one part of the cooking process, I kept my cooker on low, but removed the lid.
  • how to make beef tallow

  • Once the fat has melted and the liquid has separated from the solids, strain the tallow through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining solids.

  • I used the fine mesh strainer and it worked perfectly! And as you can see, even though I had quality beef fat to start with, I still had a lot of beef impurities to strain out of my tallow.
    how to make beef tallow
    • Tallow was a golden color when hot, but then it cooled into a pure white solid
    how to make beef tallow render

    The slow cooker method is convenient because it requires less attention and provides a constant, low heat source.

    Oven Method

    The oven method is an easy and consistent way to render beef tallow. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Preheat your oven to 225°F (107°C).
    2. Chop or grind the beef fat into small pieces to ensure even rendering.
    3. Place the fat in a large, oven-safe pot or a Dutch oven.
    4. Cover the pot with a lid and place it in the preheated oven.
    5. Allow the fat to render for a few hours, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
    6. After the fat has rendered, strain it through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to separate the liquid tallow from any remaining solid bits.

    The oven method offers a low, even temperature, making it easy to monitor and control the process.

    Stovetop Method

    If you prefer using your stovetop, follow these steps:

    1. Cut or grind the beef fat into small pieces.
    2. Place the fat in a large stockpot, and heat it on low heat.
    3. Stir the fat occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
    4. Continue cooking until the fat has melted and the liquid has separated from the solids.
    5. Strain the liquid tallow through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining solids.

    The stovetop method allows you to keep a close eye on the process, but it may require more attention to prevent scorching.

    Straining and Storing

    Straining Process

    When it’s time to strain your rendered beef tallow, make sure to have a a few tools on hand, like a cheesecloth, a fine mesh strainer, and a funnel. Some times you can get by without tools when cooking or doing a homestead project, but I found that you absolutely need either cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer for the strainer out the last bits for tallow.

    Place the strainer over a large bowl. Or you can place a smaller fine mesh strainer over a funnel with a mason jar underneath (which is what I did). Pour the liquid tallow through the cheesecloth-lined strainer to catch any impurities and solid particles. If needed, repeat the straining process a couple of times until you obtain a pure, golden liquid.

    how to make beef tallow

    I had a lot of impurities and beef leftovers that were caught in the strainer, even after cooking all day. But then what I was left with was a golden color of tallow.

    If your tallow cools and you discover too many impurities in the bottom of your tallow, you can melt and strain again. In my research, I also read that sometimes you can get gelatin type layer on top of your tallow which you can skim off. I did not have any gelatin on my tallow.

    Storing Beef Tallow

    Once you’ve strained your beef tallow, you’ll need to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh and maintains its shelf-stable properties. Wide mouth mason jars make excellent storage containers for tallow. They are easy to fill, thanks to the funnel, and simple to clean. Carefully pour your liquid tallow into the jars, leaving some headspace at the top to accommodate any expansion as it cools.

    Once the tallow solidifies, it will take on a lighter, creamy color. My tallow turned a soft white once it was cool and solidified.

    how to make beef tallow

    At this point, your tallow is ready to be stored in a cool, dark place. While beef tallow is typically shelf-stable, it’s a good practice to store your jars in the refrigerator to help extend their shelf life even further. Properly stored tallow in a glass jar can last for months or even years in your refrigerator.

    Remember to label your jars with the date you made the tallow and any other relevant information, so you can easily track its freshness. Enjoy using your homemade beef tallow to enhance the flavor and texture of your favorite dishes.

    Uses and Benefits

    Cooking with Beef Tallow

    When it comes to cooking, beef tallow is a versatile and delicious option. It has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for frying and sautéing. Plus, it adds a rich flavor to your dishes, setting it apart from other cooking oils. You can use tallow as a substitute for butter, lard, or other oils, making it perfect for baking as well.

    Here are a few ways you can incorporate tallow into your cooking routine:

    • Frying: Use tallow to make crispy, golden homemade fries or other deep-fried dishes.
    • Sautéing: Prepare vegetables and meats in tallow for a rich and robust flavor.

    They also say that you can bake with tallow such as in pie crusts. But I feel like the flavor might taste a little off to some, so you can experiment with what you think! And I’m betting each batch of tallow is going to have a slightly different flavor.

    Health Benefits of Beef Tallow

    Beef tallow carries several health benefits, particularly for those following a keto diet. It is a good source of vitamins A, D, and E and fatty acids. It may also help in fat burning and increase your body’s stability when using it as a cooking fat. Additionally, studies suggest that the saturated fat in tallow can be good for you while providing essential nutrients and minimal calories.

    Non-Culinary Uses of Tallow

    Aside from being a versatile cooking ingredient, beef tallow has multiple non-culinary uses. You can use it to create candles, soaps, and even skincare products. This natural alternative to store-bought items is both cost-effective and a smart use of the cow’s by products. Here are some ways you can experiment with using beef tallow outside the kitchen:

    • Candles: Make homemade candles using tallow, providing a sustainable and natural light source.
    • Soap: Create your own tallow-based soaps that are gentle on your skin and tallow is suppose to have a nice lather!
    • Skin products: Incorporate tallow into lotions, balms, and other skin products for its nourishing and moisturizing properties.
    • Lubricant: Use tallow as a natural lubricant for various household or industrial applications.

    By time you finish rendering your tallow the smell is very mild. But when making any non-culinary items, you would want to add essential oils to make your soaps, candles and skin products smell good!

    But I am looking forward to experimenting with my tallow. And it feels good knowing how to make such a nutrient-rich ingredient that can be used for cooking and so many other household items!

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