Beef Tallow – An Excellent Cooking Fat

Beef Tallow – An Excellent Cooking Fat

My mother thinks I am crazy because I started cooking with beef tallow. She accepts what she has read in newspapers and magazines over the past few decades and thinks we should eliminate as much fat as possible from our diets. Beef tallow is rendered beef fat, so my cooking with it seems crazy to her. However, I adopted a diet that includes eating fat from healthy sources about 18 months ago and my health has been improving steadily. I am not afraid of fat, so when I learned from Dallas and Melissa Hartwig that beef tallow is a “best choice” for cooking, I decided to try it.

Our great grandparents cooked with rendered beef fat because it was available, cheap, and tasty. Scientists in our grandparent’s generation decided that everything about fat was bad and most people shifted to cooking with vegetable oils. However, a few people who follow traditional ways still cook with fat and they may be better off for it. Stephan Guyenet, Ph. D. explains, “Tallow is an extremely stable fat, due to its high degree of saturation (56%) and low level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (3%). This makes it ideal for deep frying. Until it was pressured to abandon suet (beef fat) in favor of hydrogenated vegetable oil around 1990, in part by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, McDonald’s used tallow in its deep fryers. Now, tallow is mostly fed to birds and feedlot cows… Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of vitamin D, similar to lard. Combined with its low omega-6 content and its balanced n-6/n-3 ratio, that puts it near the top of my list of cooking fats.” Paul Jaminet, Ph.D. and Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet, Ph.D. write, “I think I mentioned once that we’ve been cooking with beef fat a lot. This is a little healthier than plant oils, since it has more phospholipids, cholesterol, and usable nutrients, lacks plant toxins, and is low in polyunsaturated fat… Rendered beef fat stands up to high cooking temperatures, is more nutritious than plant oils, and tastes great.”

You can purchase Beef Tallow over the internet from U.S. Wellness Meats, but I decided to make my own. All you need is beef fat. My butcher gave me 5 pounds from his scrap barrel free when I explained that I wanted to render the fat into beef tallow. Two pounds of fat cooks down into enough beef tallow to last me 4 to 6 weeks, but fat keeps in the freezer just fine, so I am already prepared to make my next batch. The process is simple, but takes time.

Prep and Cook Time: 3 hours

Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut about 2 pounds of beef fat into small pieces with kitchen shears or a knife. Add fat pieces to a big Dutch oven and let cook covered for one hour. At the one hour mark, drain the liquid that has cooked out of the fat pieces into a glass container and then put the fat back in the oven to cook another hour. At the two hour mark, drain the liquid that has cooked out of the fat pieces into the glass container and then put the fat back to cook for another hour. At the three hour mark, drain the liquid that has cooked out of the fat pieces into a glass container. Load the fat that is left into a fine mesh strainer and use a big spoon to press as much of the remaining liquid out as you can. The liquid should be light yellow in color and the fat should have gradually turned from white to brown as it cooked. Store the liquid in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. After chilling overnight, the beef tallow should be firm and more white than yellow in color.

Notes: I keep my beef tallow in the refrigerator and use a fork to cut out a teaspoon or a tablespoon at a time to use in cooking.

Beef tallow splatters a little more than coconut oil when stir-frying vegetables, but not enough to cause a problem.

Tallow adds a hint of beef taste to food.

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15 Responses to “Beef Tallow – An Excellent Cooking Fat”

  1. Brittany says:

    Thanks for the post about cooking with/rendering tallow! I recently won some grass-fed tallow (lucky, I know) and wasn’t really sure what to do with it for my Whole30 this month. I’ll definitely be checking out your other recipes!

  2. Kathy Lauretano says:

    Yesterday rendered my first 10lbs of beef suet into tallow using my crockpot. Excellent results, garnering about 5 quarts. Cooled slightly and filled plastic freezer containers, then put them into refrig for night. In freezer now except for the one I will start using immediately. Plan to render 10lbs pork lard alter this week.

    Suggest using crockpot on table outdoors on deck where dogs can’t reach it. Run extension cord to outdoor electrical socket. This will keep most of the smell outside of the house.

    Don’t forget to cut the suet into small chunks and grind it in a food processor or meat grinder before you put it into the pot. Thanks for ideas on uses. Can hardly wait for the french fries my husband is going to make with it.

  3. Nicole Pollich says:

    Thanks Tom, I’ve been cooking with it and it tastes delicious! Have you found that it leaves a coating in the mouth? Do you have any tips on how to reduce this?

    • Tom Denham says:

      I have not noticed a coating from tallow. Hmm.

    • Lily Joeliani says:

      I was wondering about the same thing, Nicole. Any solution would be great!

    • I’ve found something similar. I feel like tallow leaves a waxy film on things. For this reason I much prefer lard for any kind of frying or deep frying. I wonder if tallow would work well incorporated into baked goods. (I know that wouldn’t fit with the diet described here, but I don’t follow any special diet other than trying to eat from the kind of farming I believe in.)

  4. Great article. I have been using sheep and beef fat for making my soap for decades, just love it and the soap I get using these fats and olive oil.

    We raise cattle and pigs on pasture and I render the lard for cooking, it is so easy and fries beautifully. I’m going to try deep frying with beef fat now. I figure if I don’t care for the flavor I can always put it in the soap pot!

    I remember McDonald’s fries from the good old days before they started using nasty vegetable oils. They were tasty. But fast food has no place in my diet today.

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