The secret to the best tasting French fries, hashbrowns, roasted potatoes, homemade soap and more. Beef fat (also known as beef suet) is an underused, healthy fat for cooking that's easy to make at home.
I've been making homemade tallow for over 20 years. Today I'll show you how to render fat from beef at home in an oven or a slow cooker. It'll give you perfect results, every time.
- Beef fat is highly perishable. The best thing to do is order it from a butcher, or purchase it frozen. Keep the fat frozen until the day you'll render the tallow.
- Smell your beef fat. It should smell clean and fresh, with a mellow beefy flavor. If you see white spots on it that is mold and the fat should be discarded as it won't taste good.
- A slow cooker is the best way to render tallow. Alternately, bake the fat and water in an oven-safe pot. Do not render tallow on the stove as it can burn easily.
- Store finished, rendered tallow in the freezer or fridge until you need it. Bring it to room temperature to make it easier to handle.
- Don't overcook the tallow. There's no need to cook the fat until it turns brown. Overcooked tallow tastes burnt and isn't good for cooking.
- Peferctly rendered tallow should be light yellow with a pleasant beefy smell. It should never orange or a darker color, which means it's burnt.
Tallow vs Lard
People often ask me what the difference is between tallow and lard. They're very similar in that they have a high smoke point comparable to vegetable oil, but there's a few important differences to understand.
Tallow is the cooked, rendered fat of ruminants like beef, bison, goat, lamb or venison. Lard is rendered pork fat. All of the fats from ruminants have a very similar melting point and solidify quickly as the cool. Food made with tallow must be served hot to not have a sticky texture people compare to Chapstick.
Lard is always made from pork, it has a much lower melting point that ruminant fat like beef or goat. Even when refrigerated, it's spreadable and soft like butter. It's good for all purpose cooking and won't leave a sticky feeling in your mouth if it cools down.
How to Make Tallow from Beef Fat
It's easy to render beef tallow at home. First, you'll need some beef fat from a butcher or a local farm. You'll want at least 4-5 lbs of fat to make a small batch. The images below describe the process.
First the fat is cut into small pieces. The smaller the fat is cut, the faster it will render, and the better it will be.
While I do grind half-frozen beef fat when I render 100 lbs or more at a time, it's best to cut it by hand at home since using a meat grinder requires some experience.
Also, beef fat sticks to things and is a pain to clean. A great chef tip is to use a bench scraper to clean beef fat from your cutting board.
To speed up the process, you can pulse the warm fat with an immersion blender. This speeds up the process dramatically and increases the amount of tallow you'll make.
After a few hours the liquid will become clear and you'll see small bubbles appear on the surface.
Strain the tallow in a container and portion into room temperature glass jars and freeze or refrigerate until needed. Feed the cooked pieces of beef fat to your friends chickens or discard it.
Making Beef Tallow in the Oven
You can also make beef tallow in the oven. To do that you'll need a heavy bottomed pot or a Dutch oven. Follow the directions for cutting up the beef fat above, then bake it in a slow oven (325F) for 3-4 hours or until the fat is clear.
How to Use Beef Tallow
Beef tallow is a great animal fat for cooking. As long as it isn't overcooked, it has a high smoke point that's great for deep frying and sautéing meat or vegetables over high heat. Here's a few of my favorite things to make with it.
Pan Roasted Potatoes
The best roasted potatoes you'll ever have are made with tallow.
Hashbrowns are also the perfect place to use any animal fat.
French fries cooked in beef fat are a luxury. I used to make them every day at my first restaurant, the Salt Cellar.
More Interesting Beef Posts
How to Make Beef Tallow at Home in a Slow Cooker
- 1 immersion blender or hand blender optional but recommended
- 1 Slow cooker
- 5 lbs beef fat (beef suet)
- 1 cup water
- 1 fine mesh strainer
- Allow the fat to thaw for 30 minutes if it's frozen. Cut the beef fat into 1 inch pieces using a chefs knife.
- Combine the beef fat and water in a slow cooker, put on the lid and cook on high heat.
- After 20-30 minutes the fat should be warm enough to puree. Pulse or puree it with a handblender. This step is optional, but will increase the amount of tallow the fat makes, as well as decrease the cooking time.
- Stir the fat while it cooks occasionally, making sure it isn't sticking in the edges of the pot.
- Once the fat turns clear and small bubbles appear on the surface it's done. Strain the fat through a fine mesh strainer. Some people use a coffee filter but it takes forever and I don't recommend that. Cheesecloth works well in a pinch.
- Store the fat in mason jars in the fridge or freezer. It will last months in the fridge, and years in the freezer.
- Bring it to room temperature before cooking with it to make handling easier.