Of all the questions I get asked regularly, “How do I make beef tallow” probably comes out on top. Beef tallow has a high smoking point (420°F) which means that like avocado oil, it can stand up to all the heat. I use it all the time, especially when I cook lamb or beef. Fat is flavor, so essentially, by using beef tallow, you’re adding more flavor to whatever meat you’re cooking. I’ve even made whiskey-tallow before, where it doubled up as a binder and as a cooking fat to sauté mushrooms! If you’re ready to get hands-on and make your own, then make sure you check out my recipe below.
The History of Tallow
Long ago, animal fats were a common occurrence in most kitchens. Beef tallow, together with lard (rendered pork fat) were quite popular. That is, until the start of the 20th century when a certain vegetable shortening made its appearance. Pretty soon, folks were scared out of their wits of all things cholesterol, and so animal fats fell out of favor. Fortunately, the last few years saw tallow and lard returning to the kitchen, mostly thanks to the popularity of paleo and keto-based diets.
Why Make Tallow at Home?
That’s an easy one! Because you can use the trimmings from all of the beef you cook to make liquid gold! In the video you see here, I use the fat from Wagyu brisket that would have otherwise been thrown away. Of course if you don’t have any fat laying around or just don’t feel like putting in the work, you can always buy it by the can!
Is Beef Tallow the Same as Beef Fat?
Yes and no. Beef tallow is the name for rendered beef fat. It’s a liquid when heated, but as soon as it cools, it solidifies and remains solid at room temperature. But as you’ll read below, the bad stuff is taken out and the good stuff remains. So while beef tallow is made from beef fat, it’s definitely not the same either experience or health-wise.
Is Tallow Healthy?
Beef tallow is pure saturated fat, with no carbohydrates or protein. It contains small amounts of selenium and is also considered a source of vitamin D and E. Because of its fat content, it helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
How do you use Tallow?
Beef tallow is both heat-stable and resistant to oxidation. All that basically means is that, unlike plant oils, it doesn’t produce harmful compounds and toxic by-products when exposed to high heat. With it’s high smoke point (about 420°F), which is, of course, perfect for a binder when you’re going to do a high-heat sear.
Besides its heat stability, there are a few reasons to choose beef tallow above other fats. Tallow adds flavor. It’s affordable. And, it’s considered a sustainable fat. Fat is a byproduct of cattle farming, and therefore requires no extra resources.
If you’d like to see some examples of how I use beef tallow in recipes, check out my Reverse Seared Tomahawk or Whiskey Dry-Aged Steak recipes (or just type “tallow” into the search box at the top of this site!).
How to Store Beef Tallow
Beef tallow is very stable and does not even need refrigeration. I couldn’t tell you how long it lasts, because I usually finish using each batch before I even get to worry about it the expiration date. That said, if you keep it in the fridge, it should keep for a few months.
Make Beef Tallow at Home
- Dutch Oven (Or other oven-safe cooking pot)
- Mason Jar or other sealable glass container for sStorage
- 3-6 lbs Beef Fat from trimmings (Even better if you have Wagyu fat)
- 1.5 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 200°F
- Cut the fat into cubes, about 1/2 – 1" in size
- Place the fat cubes in the dutch oven or pot, and add the kosher salt and water.
- Place the dutch oven in the center of the oven and cook for about an hour at 200°F. Don’t increase the oven temperature, you only want the fat to render.
- After an hour, check that the fat still looks good (no browning), and continue cooking for another 12 hours (or overnight).
- It’s now time to strain the fat. Place a small piece of cheesecloth underneath the lid of the fat separator. Use a ladle to scoop the fat out of the pot onto the strainer lid.
- When you’ve removed as much fat as you can using the ladle, carefully tip the pot to transfer all the remaining contents into the fat separator. Remove the solid fat pieces on top of the strainer and discard.
- Allow to cool and separate at room temperature for about 15 minutes. As it cools, the now liquid tallow will rise to the top, and any remaining water and impurities will fall to the bottom. To separate the tallow (on top) from all the impurities, working over a small bowl release the liquid on the bottom of the fat separator until you start to see the clear liquid tallow.
- Once all the impurities are removed, drain the remaining liquid tallow into the mason jar or storage container. Close the jar and store it in the refrigerator.
- Cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Once it appears white and solid, it's ready to use!