How I Make Beef Tallow
It’s easy to make beef tallow. I’ve tried several ways to make it. I have found what I believe is the best way to make beef tallow.
It’s not complicated. Recently, I made another small batch. I took several photos to illustrate how to do it yourself, if you dare. :=)
First, let me say this… Beef tallow is simply rendered fat from beef. By rendering the fat, the result is a stable product that will keep well for some time. I keep mine in the fridge, because it will last even longer that way.
Here’s a little secret… Grocery stores will often put beef rib roasts on sale during some holiday time-frame’s. Last Christmas, and again this past Easter, I snagged a number of these beef rib roasts (they’re actually Prime Rib!) for about half the price of buying prime rib steaks! I sliced about 8 thick rib-eye steaks from each roast. Some were consumed, and others were vacuum-sealed for the freezer. Oh my my… (wink).
Beef fat is a by-product of these roasts. I’ll trim it off the hunks of fat on the perimeter. That can be a good bit of fat. Well, why not render it to beef tallow? Right?
Okay, here’s the process of making beef tallow that works best for me.
Make Beef Tallow Using A Crock-pot Slow-Cooker
Here’s a hunk of fat trimmed from part of one of those rib roasts.
I’m going to use a food processor to chop up the beef fat. But to make it easier on the machine, I’ll first cut it into pieces.
Grind The Beef Fat
Why am I going to grind the fat? Because I’m going to use a slow-cooker crock-pot, and the process will render quicker this way. You could use any ordinary meat grinder for this. However I’m using a food processor. Here’s what the beef fat looks like after pulsing it into bits for a relatively short period of time.
Okay, here’s the next step in the process to make beef tallow. I’m using my small crock-pot / slow-cooker because it’s a small batch.
Add Water and Salt
After dumping in the ground up fat, add water to just about reach the top of the fat. The amount is not critical. I’ll explain in a minute.
Do you see that white stuff in the middle? That’s Kosher salt (salt with larger crystals). I added about a tablespoon for this amount of fat. Why? I’ll explain in a minute…
Do you also see the bits of red meat speckled in there because it was ingrained with the fat? Don’t worry about that. I’ll explain in a minute.
Slow Cook on LOW To Render Beef Tallow
Switch-on your crock-pot / slow-cooker to LOW. And here’s why this is the best method to make beef tallow, in my opinion. It will not burn, which would put a bad flavor in your tallow. I’ve tried slow cooking in a pan over a low burner, but I find it gets too hot, too easily. Ruined a batch or two… Also, this process (crock-pot) will eliminate lots of the beef aroma and leave behind stable, more pure beef tallow. More on that in a minute.
The water and salt are in there for a reason. It’s pretty clever and effective… You’ll see in a sec…
Here’s a photo of everything after having slow cooked on LOW for about 3 hours:
Strain Into Bowl And Refrigerate
Okay, next step. And I totally forgot to take a picture of this. That is, straining the mixture of what we just slow-cooked. I simply use a fine mesh metal strainer. Some people also use cheese cloth, but I don’t bother because it comes out fine for me with just a fine mesh strainer.
Strain into a mixing bowl with a shape similar to the following photo. I’ll explain why that shape pretty soon ;)
Place this in the refrigerator.
Here’s what happens… The tallow will float on top of the water. As it cools down, the beef tallow will harden on top. The reason I suggested this shape bowl? You can gently press on the tallow’s edge to get the entire chunk to come free in one piece (there’s reason for that). Don’t worry if it cracks though. Here’s a picture. And look at the next one…
Scrape Bottom Of Beef Tallow
As you can see in the following photo, I’ve flipped over the beef tallow, which shows the water in the bowl, and, some little bits and pieces underneath the tallow.
Remember when I said to add some Kosher salt? Well, it helps to ‘push down’ remaining bits and pieces to the bottom into the water. Though some also sticks to the bottom of the ‘pie’. Place the beef tallow ‘pie’ upside-down on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, gently scrape this stuff off. You’re left with a nice tallow pie. But wait! There’s more…
Render It Again For Even Better Beef Tallow
Here’s the thing… Now render it again. After you’ve scraped off the bottom, I cut it up into little pieces and put them in the crock-pot / slow-cooker again. Add some water, sprinkle some salt, and process on LOW for a few hours.
Strain into the bowl. Put in refrigerator. Later, pop out the beef tallow pie and have a look at the bottom. This time, it looks much more pure. The water has collected some more stuff, and at this point I consider it done. Here’s what it looks like:
Now at this point, some people may choose to heat it back up in a double-boiler (essential whenever you’re warming up temperature-sensitive ingredients that require gentle, indirect heat). Basically, it’s nesting. To do it, simply bring an inch or two of water to a simmer—a boil is not necessary here because you’re going for gentle heat—and then place the bowl with your ingredients inside over top. Why? if you want to pour the beef tallow into a canning jar. Use a Pyrex and slowly pour, while observing if there is any remaining water at the bottom. Stop before you pour any water into the jar.
Like I said, I don’t bother. Instead, I chunk it up and keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator (pictured at the top of article, for example).
You might be wondering, what do you do with beef tallow? Well, some people use it for all sorts of things other than in the kitchen… making soap, candles, and other interesting things.
Me? Well, here’s one thing… Using beef tallow to help fry up some bear sausage. And/or add a wedge of beef tallow to a bowl of leftover bear sausage sprinkled with salt-and-pepper and some chopped garlic. Microwave leftovers to heat and melt. Stir, and eat!
What do some of you do with beef tallow?
[ Read: Canned Meats For Survival Preparedness ]
I do the third cooking in the crockpot, without water, because there is water left in the tallow that will settle out. If the tallow is completely clean it’s even more shelf stable and can keep for years.
I have never used salt. I use the same process for lard.
So far I’ve only used my lard and tallow for cooking. I did discover that cows and pigs don’t like each other even as fat, as I did a batch of lardo and it separated.
I am new to tallow have done 2 bunches that were around 3 1/2 pounds. Used this same render which I found on you tube. I ordered some organic grass fed kidney fat from Indiana farm because I want to mainly use for candles. The candles burn great. Burn faster than soy or palm wax though. I wanted to know how to do the process. Still have another batch to do. I use my Kitchen Aid with the meat grinder and the machine needs a bit of water because the fat is super dense! I have 4 quarts of clean rendered fat. Used a oxygen absorber, desiccant and sealed the jars. Laid the absorber on top of the harden fat. Sealed very well.
The grass fed has more omega 3 and other vitamins like A. I used some for flavoring too.
we have never done tallow but we do lard every year. DW has a cousin that is a butcher at our PW and he hooks us up on hog fat. .25cts a lb. unlike many places the Pig and one other in our area still have butchers in house, not just stockers like Wally’s place.
it’s a 2 day process when we do it. it’s the best for biscuits, cornbread and pie dough.
beef tallow for cooking? it may be good for deer or possibly rabbit but i’ll let someone else try it out first.
Rendered like above and it is smooth. No beef odor comes off the candles either.
Well that’s a shame… Could be a good market for candles that make your house smell like my beloved Ribeyes. Haven’t seen those in a Yankee Candle :-)
Homemade French Fries!
I read everyone’s comment with great interest. I grew up on a ranch and have been a prepper for years and now here is the catch. I am not at all familiar with tallow. Now it is time for everyone to laugh but here is my question. Would someone make a simple list of what tallow is used for (benefits of tallow) and I will search for how to make some of those things. Thanks everyone
I’ll lead off with boot dressing/waterproofing.
Neets foot oil
and maybe something else?
Recipe was in a beekeeping magazine from the early 1980’s. still have some left. 40 years and running.
SS “Does not require refrigeration…. you can Pile it High and Deep.” Umm that depends on where you live, I would think, being in TX. in the summer with 100-110 degree temps you may want to put it in a cold place.
Check out survivalsullivan [dot] com. Article is ’51 ways to use tallow’. (Some are questionable. Use you own discretion.) The list makes it sound like tallow is better than WD-40. LOL
Mac an’ cheese… Yeah right.
Give me a good hearty soup or stew for a real comfort food.
Caribou chili tonight, and for the next few days made in part with leftovers.
I have bear lard, that was made, in a similar fashion. that is older than I care to think.
Don’t forget you can use it for soap too! I love to make homemade soap.
I made whipped lotion with mine. It consists of tallow, olive oil, and essential oil to kill the smell. The dogs love me. lol (JK)
Ken, That was some of the purtiest snow white fat I’ve seen for a long time. Fat from grass fed animals tends to take on a yellowish hue to it when compared side-by-side (possibly due to the high omega-3 fats that are present). White fat, from what I’ve seen, comes from animals finished off or raised on grain for the last stage prior to their processing. This I learned from the meat graders working at Harris Ranch out by Kettleman City, CA. I used high grade fat for making sausages from venison, elk and feral pigs shot from the central portion of California.
Fat is also a commodity and a lot of it gets used in the late Summer and Fall due to many folks processing out animals. Old, tough animals yield tough meat that is best used for making sausage from ground meat. I have seen some years where area butcher shops ran out of lard due to a bunch of successful hunters returned from out-of-state hunts and everybody had venison and elk that they wanted turned into sausage. I went from farm to farm asking to purchase cows and pigs in order to process the lard paying top dollar for the lard that year.
You worked at Harris Ranch? Oh my… the times I would drive down to LA and back, and smell that place from miles away… oh my, my, how could you deal with that smell working there? Clothespins on the nose? Don’t get me wrong, I love beef, but that’s got to be the stinkiest place I’ve ever experienced – and that’s just driving by on the 5…
Ken, Folks I know around Twin Falls, ID, where there are dairy and cattle operations, just breathe it in deep and say “Smells like money.”
– Anony Mee,
The way I heard it was, “smells like other people’s money!”
– Papa S.
I have tried using tallow to act a sno-seal on leather boots but I found several things not-so good about using tallow: If you are staying in an isolated yet mouse infested cabin, the mice and rats will nibble on your boot leather when you are staying there out of the cold, wet weather. My dog will also lick or begin chewing on your leather boots for much the same reason. Fat tastes good.
I’m trying to train my dog to chew on her toys/not on my expensive boots. I will use another, less appetizing method to waterproof my boots. I’ve also had a strange reaction from my dog or others dogs when I used mink oil on my leather boots as well.
[ Edit: Sno Seal Beeswax Instructions For Waterproofing Boots ]
Reply to Ken: I was not a full time employee. I was contracted to thin out the ground squirrels that were in a few acres that were infested. Most of the cow-calf operations along the Central Coast sold their cows to Harris Ranch for finishing once the calves reached about 600 lbs. I shot for many smaller cow-calf operations in that area.
As far as odor goes, I always thought the lard plant in Manteca, CA and the manure associated with a working dairy operation was worse than Harris Ranch feed lots. My truck had fencing tools and wire in addition to the varmint rifle back in those days. the odor? Well, you get used to it after a while. I used to enjoy going into a tourist-type “fern bar” after working out in those locations to try and order a soda after work spreading chicken manure over 200 acres. I smelled so bad I rarely got served and was politely asked to leave.
A dab of Vicks Vaporub beneath the nostrils with a mask covering the mouth and nose helps out a lot too.
I render both beef and pork fats. I don’t add water, being off grid I don’t use a crock pot though some of my friends have and it looks easy peasy. I strain with a metal spoon as I go. Haven’t scorched a batch (yet) on top of the stove. I pout directly into clean canning jars and seal. Keeps for years in the bag of the pantry.
When you compare the cost per pound of store bought, I’m always amazed that people buy it already rendered.