In this post, I’ll tell you exactly what beef tallow is, some history about it and how to render beef fat into tallow yourself!

beef fat chunks ready to render into beef tallow

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What exactly is tallow?

Beef tallow is rendered fat from a cow. Tallow can also be made from the fat of deer, elk, moose, caribou, bear, sheep, goats, and other ruminants. Fat that is rendered from pork is called lard. Fats that are rendered from chickens, turkeys, and other fowl are referred to as schmaltz.

What is the rendering process like?

Rendering is the process of gently heating fat that has been removed from the meat. This gradually separates it from any remaining connective tissue and muscle while also evaporating all moisture. The pure fat that remains is a precious product. It is rich in unsaturated fats, has a high smoke point, and is remarkably shelf stable. If it is kept in airtight containers, tallow can be kept at room temperature for up to and over one year! This property has made tallow one of the essential building blocks of civilization for thousands of years. The advent of the refrigerator has really changed the structure of human life in many ways. Rendered fat has fallen out of favor in modern cultures. I see no need for that, though–put it in the fridge and it will last even longer!

Tallow can be made with any fat from the animal, but the very best fat to use is called suet. Suet is a dense fat that surrounds the loins and kidneys of cows and sheep, and is rich in calories and nutritive value. This fat is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin D, and filled with usable energy. It is so energy packed, in fact, that sled-dog travelers have traditionally consumed it on their long journeys in frigid climates that require them to maintain intakes of 5,000-6,000 calories per day! Long story short, tallow is packed with goodness, and there are many ways for us to make the most of it.

First, a fat piece of history:

Why is healthy fat so important? Well, it is absolutely essential to our health. Without the proper intake of the right kinds of fat, our bodies are unable to form correctly in the earliest stages. Children with mothers and fathers whose diets are rich in healthy fats develop vigorously in utero and beyond, and are vastly more resistant to disease and other physiological challenges than those whose parents have a fat-poor diet.

Dr. Weston A. Price, a Cleveland dentist whose contemporaries call “the Isaac Newton of nutrition” made these and many other observations over many years of research. Dr. Price closely studied the diets of many indigenous peoples around the planet and the ways that certain factors contributed to near flawless health. He saw, also, that the counterparts of many of these “primitive” peoples who became modernized. Adopting the lifestyle habits and dietary practices of colonizers caused rapid deterioration of their physiological well being in very predictable patterns.

What was it that made the native people so healthy?

Sally Fallon (author of landmark health-food “cookbook” Nourishing Traditions) and Dr. Mary G. Enig, co-founders of the Weston A. Price foundation, said it quite well in a January 2000 article for

“Modern food writers who assure us we can enjoy the superb health of the American Indian by eating low fat foods and canned fruits have done the public a great disservice. The basis of the Indian diet was guts and grease, not waffles and skimmed milk. When the Indians abandoned these traditional foods and began consuming processed store-bought foods, their health deteriorated rapidly.

“Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans.” Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. January 1, 2000,

It is definitely not a bad idea for us to look to these cultural examples of great health and nutrition and figure out ways that we can adapt old ways into our modern lives. Fat was of utmost important to these strong and vibrant people. These days, most people prefer young animals for consumption. Their muscle meat is more tender than older animals. Muscle meat is just about the only part of the animal that most modern people care to eat. However, many ancient peoples preferred to hunt the oldest animals because they had the most plentiful and developed stores of fat! The northern Native Americans who ate caribou could harvest 60-80 pounds of fat for rendering from a single adult animal! For some of these tribes, fat accounted for 80% of their caloric intake. These people definitely knew how to render beef fat into tallow, and did it well.

Here is a brief summary of the benefits of consuming grass fed beef tallow:

  1. Rendered beef fat is rich in essential fatty acids: Grass fed beef tallow is a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining good health. It’s kind of like liquid gold to your body. We need those polyunsaturated fats!
  2. High in Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 is crucial for maintaining heart health, and grass fed beef tallow is an excellent source of this nutrient.
  3. Contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Studies have shown CLA is a type of fatty acid that has anti-cancer properties, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss.
  4. Promotes gut health: The high level of short and medium chain fatty acids in grass-fed beef tallow makes it easy for the body to digest and helps promote optimal gut health. We all know that gut health is the root of almost every ail in our bodies. The more we can optimize our gut health the better off we will be in every aspect of health.
  5. Supports healthy brain function: The essential fatty acids in grass fed beef tallow support healthy brain function and may help reduce the risk or neurodegenerative diseases.

Overall, consuming grass-fed beef tallow as a part of a balanced diet can provide numerous health benefits and improve overall health. Unfortunately this rendered tallow is hard to find in the grocery store these days. Animal fats in general have pretty much gone out of style in recent years. But luckily there is an easy way to prepare it at home by following this recipe. Just adding a small amount into your daily diet will help you reap you all of these wonderful health benefits.

How To Render Beef Fat Into Tallow?

Making homemade beef tallow is actually super easy. In order to make grass fed beef tallow, you need to get yourself some grass fed beef FAT! Check with your local farmer or rancher. Ask around at a natural health foods store for resources in your specific area. If they have a butcher selection, ask them if they have any beef fat trimmings, beef suet (the very best stuff to use!), or leaf fat available, or find a local butcher shop! If all of these options fail, you can order some online and have it delivered. It is much better to support your local agricultural economy if you can, but if there is no local fat available, don’t let it slow you down (this may also be a good time to start scheming up a way to raise your own livestock!).

Make sure that all of the fat you use is GRASS FED and/or PASTURE RAISED! This is so important because fat stores toxins! Not all types of fat are created equal. If you are getting your fat from cows who have been fed antibiotics or GMO grain, you will be absorbing those toxins into your body as well. One more good thing about this traditional fat is that the finished product stores for a long time. It’s shelf stable so you can keep it on your counter as your go-to cooking oil.

Once you have your grass fed/ pasture raised beef fat you’re ready to start making some tallow.

red handled knife on wooden cutting board cutting beef fat

Tools And Materials:

-A cast-iron dutch oven, or an electric crock pot (I prefer to use the dutch oven, but a crock pot will work just fine as well.)

-Grass-fed beef fat (as much as you want to render! The capacity of your dutch oven or crock pot limits your batch size, but you can do as many batches as you want.)

-A cooking spoon to stir the rendering tallow

-A cast iron skillet to fry up the cracklins!

-A mesh strainer or funnel and coffee filter

Mason jars for storage. Pint jars are a convenient size, but that’s up to you.

How to render beef fat into tallow:

Step 1:

To begin the rendering process, you’ll want to start at a very low heat. Preheat your oven to no higher than 220* degrees Fahrenheit. This is a “low and slow” kind of project. Make sure you start on a day when you know you’ll be around the house. Some people prefer to use a slow cooker, but I tend to shy away from appliances that rely on electric power as much as I can.

Step 2:

Cut up your grass fed beef fat into small pieces, about 1 inch chunks. Cut out any bits of meat from the fat. Whatever pieces of meat you cut off, fry them up with salt in a cast iron skillet for a tasty snack while the fat renders. Add the fat chunks in the bottom of the pot in a large cast iron dutch oven. You don’t want to fill it super full–make sure there is extra space at the top. Place your dutch oven into the preheated oven.

Beef fat chunks cut up ready to be rendered into beef tallow
Step 3:

Open the lid and check on your beef fat chunks periodically. Give the dutch oven a stir with a spoon to break up the small chunks and release more liquid fat as the chunks melt. You don’t want to do this too frequently, but it is good to check back every now and again.

Step 4:

Once your fat chunks shrink way down in size, sort of the size and shape of popcorn, remove the dutch oven from the oven. Depending on the size of the batch you have rendered, this can take a few hours. Once you have more liquid fat than solid fat pieces, ladle the liquid tallow into glass jars, like a mason jar, through a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter and funnel. It should be a bright golden yellow color–if it is brown, you’ve over cooked it. As the tallow cools, the color will turn white or off-white and it will become very hard fat.

The solid pieces are another delicacy in the making. Brown them in a skillet, then remove them and allow them to cool. Add salt and spices to taste, and you have a delicious batch of beef cracklins! You can optionally spread them on a cookie sheet and put them back into the oven at 400 degrees to give them an extra crispy crunch.

Step 5:

Your fresh beef tallow is ready! Let it cool and solidify in the jars. Use beef tallow like butter in cooking for a super blast of nutrients! Beef tallow pie crusts are a huge hit! Finished beef tallow is reliably shelf stable at room temperature for up to a year, but will last even longer if you store it in a dark place or in the refrigerator or freezer. Follow jar guidelines for leaving headspace to prevent expansion and cracking if you choose to put your tallow in the freezer.

Use finished tallow for so many things, from your kitchen to your auto shop! We LOVE using it for deep frying in the kitchen. Just add it to the bottom of the pan and toss in some veggies! Now that you know how to make your own Beef Tallow, you can start making your own Beef Tallow Facial Moisturizer, Beef Tallow Soap, and Beef Tallow Lotion!

But don’t stop there! Use Beef tallow to make candles, lubricate the gears of your bicycle, and condition your leather. There’s nothing that your best pair of boots love more than a healthy dose of animal fat. Add a little bit of tallow to your kindling to help you start a fire. Convert your diesel car or truck to run on biodiesel, and beef tallow could fuel your next road trip! In fact, the United States Air Force has successfully flown several different aircraft on a 50-50 mix of traditional jet fuel and biofuel made out of–you guessed it–rendered beef fat! This stuff is truly amazing, and we will all benefit greatly by using it more and more.


We hope you love your final product. Now that you know how to render beef fat into tallow, share this skill with your friends. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will try my best to clarify!

Once you know how to render beef fat into tallow, check out these other posts with Beef Tallow:

-Tallow Face Cream

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