How to Render Beef Tallow

how to render beef tallow

If you ever need an entertaining conversation starter with your non-homesteading friends, try mentioning that you rendered beef tallow last week.

You’ll more than likely receive a variety of reactions ranging from shock, to disgust, to confusion, to blank stares because they have no idea what the heck you are talking about.

Tallow is basically the same thing as lard, only it comes from a cow instead of a pig. It’s an “old-fashioned” fat that is a healthy alternative to vegetable shortenings and canola oil. The best part about tallow is that it’s stable at high temperatures, which means it’s superb for frying stuff!

Here’s a little more info on tallow’s health benefits:

Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grassfed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hard and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard.

Source: Beeftallow.com

The problem with tallow and lard is that they are usually hard to find these days, unless you have access to a old-fashioned butcher shop. (Don’t even think about using the lard you’ll find in most conventional grocery stores… It’s usually hydrogenated and just as bad for you as shortenings…) 

When we butchered our Jersey steer recently, I was thrilled to have some quality beef fat to play around with for the first time ever.

How to Render Beef Tallow

You will need:

  • Quality beef fat (also known as suet)- You can render any sort of beef fat into tallow, but the absolute best is considered to be the “leaf fat” which lies around the kidneys of the animal. It is the cleanest and mildest tasting. And of course, choose grassfed beef fat if at all possible.
  • Large stock pot OR slow cooker
  • Clean glass jars for storage (wide mouth work best)
  • Cheesecloth or improvised cheesecloth alternative
  • Time…

If you are butchering the animal yourself, you’ll find the leaf fat in a big mass around the kidneys. It has a cellophane-ish coating on it and feels kind of waxy. It was fairly easy to pull the whole she-bang out of the carcass and I plopped it into a bucket to refrigerate until the next day.

how to render beef tallow

Rendering tallow is NOT difficult, however, it can take a little bit of time. From the research I’ve done, there seems to be two methods: wet rendering (where you add some water to the pot), and dry rendering (no water.) I chose to go with the dry method, as it just seemed simpler and there is less concern about the fat going rancid.

First things first, you’ll need to trim the beef fat. I highly recommend starting off with cold fat, as it’s MUCH easier to handle. I refrigerated mine overnight and it was about the consistency of cold butter when I started working with it. Perfect.

Chop it into manageable chunks, then trim off bits of meat, blood, gristle, or whatever else you may find.

Since I used the leaf fat from around the kidneys, I had far less trimming to do than if I had chosen fat from elsewhere on the animal. I did have to cut the kidneys out of the middle of the fat mass, but the rest of the trimming was minimal.

The leaf fat has a weird sort of “cellophane” wrapping around it. I pulled off as much as I could, but there was no way I could get every little piece. Just do the best you can, and the rendering process will cook out the rest.

beef fat for tallow

(Your fat most likely will not be this yellow. Dairy cows, like Jerseys and Guernseys, have bright yellow fat.)

Once you have everything trimmed, run the fat through the food processor (again, MUCH easier if it’s cold!) until it is the consistency of ground meat. If you don’t have a processor, you can simply chop the fat into small pieces, but shredding it makes the rendering process go much faster.

Dump the shredded fat into a large stockpot or your slow cooker. Begin melting it at very low heat. It will take a while, but you most definitely do NOT want to burn it.

Now, it’s just a waiting game. It will probably take several hours, depending on how much fat you are rendering. I had my 6-quart crockpot full, and it took 5-6 hours to render. Check the fat occasionally for burning and give it a stir when you think about it.

As the fat renders, it will slowly begin to melt and allow the “impurities” to rise to the top.

“Impurities” starting to get crispy

You’ll know it’s done with there is clear liquid at the bottom and crispy bits floating on top.

Strain the tallow through a piece of cheesecloth or fabric. You want to remove all of the “floaties”, so you will definitely need something more than a colander here (although you may want to place your cheesecloth inside a colander to make the straining easier).

Straining directly into a jar

Pour into your jars OR line baking pans with parchment paper or waxed paper and pour the liquid fat into the pans. Allow it to harden completely.  If you are using fat from a beef-breed animal (Angus or Hereford for example), your tallow should turn a creamy white as it cools. If the fat is from a dairy breed, then it’s likely the hardened tallow will be bright yellow. Neither one is better or worse–just different.

Hardening in pans

Hardening in pans

Once the tallow has hardened, you can chop it into bars (if you use pans).  A lot of folks store their tallow in their pantry at room temp, but I usually refrigerate mine. If you are interested in even longer storage, it can be frozen. It should last quite a long time in the refrigerator and freezer. (Mine has lasted well over a year)

Use your tallow for frying (it makes THE BEST French fries in the world) or for making candles or soap.

how to render beef tallow

How to Render Beef Tallow

Ingredients

  • Quality grass fed beef fat (suet)- any beef fat can be rendered into tallow, but "leaf fat," which lies around the kidneys, is best
  • Large stock pot OR slow cooker
  • Clean glass jars for storage (wide mouth)
  • Cheesecloth or improvised cheesecloth alternative
  • Time...

Instructions

  1. If butchering animal yourself, find leaf fat in a big mass around kidneys-it has a cellophane-ish coating on it and feels kind of waxy
  2. Remove from carcass and put in a bucket to refrigerate until the next day because cold fat is MUCH easier to handle
  3. Dry rendering (no water) Beef Tallow:
  4. Trim beef fat
  5. Chop it into manageable chunks, then trim off bits of meat, blood, gristle, and whatever else you may find including the "cellophane" wrapping around the leaf fat
  6. Once trimmed, run fat through the food processor (MUCH easier when cold!) until it's the consistency of ground meat (If you don't have a processor, just chop fat into small pieces)
  7. Dump shredded fat into a large stockpot or slow cooker for several hours and use very low heat to begin melting
  8. Check fat and stir occasionally to make sure it's not burning
  9. As fat renders, it slowly melts allowing"impurities" to rise to the top
  10. It's done where there's clear liquid at the bottom and crispy bits floating on top
  11. Strain tallow through a piece of cheesecloth or fabric to remove all the "floaties" (you may want to place your cheesecloth inside a colander to make straining easier)
  12. Pour into jars and allow to harden and cool at room temperature
  13. Tallow can stay at room temperature for a week or so, but refrigerate or freeze if storing longer (should last several months to a year in freezer)
  14. Use tallow for frying french fries, in pastries, and other recipes that call for shortening
http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/02/how-to-render-beef-tallow.html

As I mentioned in my home butchering post last week, it felt really good to be able to use so many parts of our animal and let little go to waste. And, I gotta admit, it feels kind of cool to say “Oh yeah, I rendered beef tallow last week…” ;)

Interested in processing your own beef, pork, or venison at home? Then you gotta check out my review of these awesome home butchering DVDs by Askthemeatman.com!

 

 

Comments

  1. I found this ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING!! I have the heart of a homesteader but married a city man so I read blogs like yours and drool! ;-D But this is something I can do! Thanks for sharing. (found you through Women Living Well link-up)

  2. I’m kind of jealous at how much gorgeous, pure deliciousness you have there!

    Also, testing. :)

  3. When you had it in the crockpot, was it on high or low? Love this post by the way! I’m learning so much.

  4. Could this tallow be used in the making of candles or soap?

  5. Could you tell me about how many pounds of fat went into your crockpot and how many jars you filled with it? Does it need to be processed (pressure cooker or water canner) to be shelf stable?

    • Hi Heidi,
      Unfortunately, I didn’t weigh the shredded fat before melting it. However, my 6-quart crockpot was filled to the top with the shredded pieces, and gave me 3 1/2 quarts of finished tallow. (By the time it melted down, it only filled 2/3 of the crock, approximately).

      I didn’t process mine- it should last just fine in the fridge or freezer without doing that. Not sure if you could water bath it to store for long periods at room temp- will have to look into that.

  6. Thank you so very much for the very informative information !

  7. I just rendered 20 pounds of tallow over the weekend. I didn’t chop or grind it, just tossed it in my roaster oven and stirred occasionally. Once done, I pour it through a colander (into a tall pot) to strain out the major chunks. Then, I just let it sit for a few hours — not enough to harden but it cools somewhat and the smaller bits settle out. It’s then easy to ladle out the clear fat into containers. I prefer to put it into large, shallow pans, no more than an inch or so deep, to cool. Then I can break it up like almond bark and put it in bags in the fridge/freezer. When I need to use some, I can take out chunks, breaking them smaller if needed. So much easier than digging into jars with a spoon!

    No matter your preferred method, it’s good stuff!

    • Hmmm…. I really like your chunk idea. It is kind of hard to get it out of the jar when it’s cold!

    • I love your idea of letting it cool in chunks. Brilliant!

    • what was the oven temp- for how long? thanks!

    • Great post. I’m thinking of pouring it into my muffin tins, let it harden, pop it out ,store in zip-lock bags in the freezer. I like simple, also I have freezer space. Thanks for all the info.

    • Or pour into ice cube trays to freeze and dump out to store in large zip locks in the freezer- that way you’ve got 2 Tablespoon increments of tallow to use in recipes or whatever. I do this with all my highest quality homemade cooking fats- homemade butter, chicken and turkey fat, leaf lard, and the organ tallow fat. So convenient! I am super excited the next time we get a deer or elk to render their tallow as well. Apparently its even harder than beef tallow- should be great for candles or soap! (that stuff I don’t mess with the ice cube trays, however)

  8. I hear ya on the “entertaining conversation starter”. The looks on coworker faces when I tell them I rendered lard over the weekend… Priceless. :)

  9. I made “lard” from the fat of a fall killed bear. The bear dressed out at about 300 lbs and I got maybe 30 lbs of fat out of it. I did mine on the stove top in a very large stock pot at the lowest setting on my stove top. It took me 2 days and I made about 8 quarts of beautiful white, clean lard. The taste was wonderful and it worked well in pastry as well as for frying. Now I never waste a bit of fat. I buy bulk meat and cut it up and trim it myself, vac pac the small amounts of fat I trim off and freeze until I have enough to render. I lable the bags so I know if it’s beef or bear etc. I freeze it in a plastic food bag lined in a coffee can or a large food container with straight sides, then remove the frozen bag of lard and remove the plastic. I then vacume pack the frozen lard and lable it . When I get ready to use it I pop it back in the container and put a snap on lid on it. It stays fresh and is easy to store a lot of it that way. I am trying to stay away from glass storage as much as possible as we live in earthquake country..

    • I LOVE this Stephanie- you are are hero! :)
      Way to go on not wasting anything (and good idea on the vaccum packing, too!)

  10. Hi there! :) I just rendered tallow myself for the first time – can you believe it?! Loved your pictures though. Would you mind sharing this post on Wildcrafting Wednesday? I’m sure my readers would love it. :)

    Thanks!
    ~ Kathy

  11. So COOL! Hahaha! Render beef tallow is on my list of things to do too. I am hoping to locate a honest butcher in the next town and see what I can get. To help you understand why I say that… my family and I are missionaries in Honduras. So, it isn’t easy to find the things that are so plenty in the USA. Yes, finding a cow carcass at the butcher shop here is the norm. You can get everything you want, but I don’t know the source or how truly clean the meat is. I just know the cattle mostly eat grass and wander around looking for food. So, it is grass-fed for the most part :o)

    • Marillyn- hope you can find an honest butcher so you can give it a try! :) I’m betting it would be hard to know the source of the meat, but like you said, they probably are mostly grassfed down there.

    • Wondering what part of Honduras you’re in? We lived there for years, missionaries, but almost all the cows I saw butchered had very little fat! I did save the fat from chickens and render it when I had enough. It is wonderful to fry chicken in and to pop popcorn! Hope you find a good butcher! ~

  12. Could you mix two kinds of fat, or more? chicken, pork, beef?

    • You mean mix them for the rendering process? I’m not sure- but I’d probably lean towards render just one kind at a time.

  13. I loved your opening paragraph. I once rendered goat fat for soapmaking, and when I mentioned that to anyone, they were ‘rendered’ speechless! Congrats on the tallow – it’s lovely!

  14. You have inspired this city girl! My local farmers co-op sells 20 lbs of tallow for $10. I might just try it. Thanks Jill!!

  15. I love this post! You made it look so simple and the pictures are great. We are buying our first 2 cows this spring and I am so excited. Thank you for the tutorial.

  16. Love this! I actually spent the week before Christmas rendering tallow (finishing just hours before we left for Grandma’s!)
    I just posted my small batch tallow and lard soap recipes (in case you’re wondering what to do with all that lard other than making french fries) ;)
    http://thecheerfulagrarian.blogspot.com/2012/02/small-batch-soap-making.html

  17. Thank you for this post!! You inspired me to call a local butcher (which processes mostly homegrown pork/beef grown by homesteaders like us) and he is going to give me 15-20 lbs of lard for FREE! Get this, he says they just throw it away! I can’t imagine wasting that. But I can’t wait to get some to render. =)

  18. What a great post. I love it. That may be one of my goals this year as well if I can get a hold of grass-fed beef and fat.

  19. A few years ago I would have thought you were nuts because I believed that fat was bad for you. Canola oil of course was okay.

    Fast forward a few years and I am trying to figure out how to do this. I eat butter by the spoonful. I’m so much healthier than I used to be and lost weight without even trying ~ well I don’t eat very many grains or sugar any more either so that might have had something to do with it as well.

    Thanks for sharing this…now to find a butcher who has some suet for me.

    • Oh Johnlyn, I used to be the same way!
      I remember feeling all smug and ‘healthy’ because I was buying canola oil at the grocery store…. ACK!!! :)
      Good luck finding a butcher!

    • The reason you don’t eat or crave many carbs (rice, bread etc) when you eat animal fat (tallow, lard, butter etc) is that you are craving medium chain fatty acids. Your body REQUIRES these fats to exist. Your body has a backup plan, when you don’t eat animal fats you can manufacture them from carbs. This is inefficient and causes inflammation. The only vegetable source of MCFA is coconut oil (unrefined). A variety of animal fats and coconut oil mean that you will get all the fat soluble vitamins and a nice dose of b12. These are unable to overdose coming from fats, you can easily overdose on A, E, K, etc by taking suppliments. And, it’s cheaper to get it from natural sources. Several major medical jornals have had articles about medium chain fatty acids and the obesity epidemic. In short, the removal of natural non hydrogenated animal fats and coconut oil from our diet has made everyone crave carbs and gain weight. In short if your great grandma would not know what it is your eating, you should not be eating it. PS the lack of these also affects your vision, skin, hair, nails etc. The inflamation caused by processing to many omega 6 & 9 acids (plant oils) can cause alot of aches and pains and downright rheumatism. Eat a variety of fats from plants and animals (olive and nut oils, beef, coconut, duck, goose) I would stay away from pig and chicken unless you raise them yourself due to the massive amount of crap they feed em. Also, get with a hunter if you can for the duck, goose, bear, moose fat. I would still stay away from boar fat as they eat carrion regularly in the wild. Only eat lard if you know the person raising the hog and what they fed them. (Just me I guess, I’m a little picky about what the animal ate that I am eating)

  20. Hmm. My sis and BIL usually buy half a cow from a local farmer (they go in with another family.) Wonder if I can get some of the tallow!

    I’ve just started keeping bacon fat and I’m very happy with the results.
    ~ Dana

  21. This post came at an opportune time for me! I received 16 lbs of beef suet from a friend that works at a church. Their food pantry gets flash frozen meat donations from a local supermarket and this was not something they could give out to their clients (mostly homeless/shelter folks). They were going to toss it in the dumpster! She knew I made soap, so asked if I could use it.

    I did my slow melting on the stove since my one crockpot a) wouldn’t have been big enough and b) was occupied by a beef roast when I decided to start. :) I did it in 3 batches last night and today have a pot full of pure tallow!

    I’ll scoop out some into a container to use for cooking, then freeze the rest for soapmaking at a future date. Thank you so much!

    • Yup, stove melting totally works too! And what a great find, especially since you saved it from the dumpster. Happy soapmaking! :)

  22. I’m going to ask for this fat with the next cow we buy. I’ve asked for the fat before, but I never really get very much. Now I know exactly what to ask for. Thanks. Great article!

  23. Just purchased some suet from the local butcher shop ($1.00 a pound, not bad I guess). I didn’t really know how much to get or what it would render down to,so I just got 4 pounds. I’m going to make soap. So far I’ve only done vegetable soap, trying my hand at tallow now. Thanks for the great information.

  24. I just rendered beef tallow today for the first time. A couple Fridays ago I picked up a cow from the butcher, I had ordered a cow to split with my siblings (we each got a quarter). That was a first for me, but I read online to request the suet, so you can make tallow. I thought that would be pretty neat to learn to do, so I requested it and was given it for free, a huge thing of it. Anyway, today was the day. I did not use a food processor to chop it up. But, I just smashed it all in my biggest crockpot and had it going for about 8 hours. I got rid of all the big chunks, and strained the rest, and put them in cans. They are now cooling on the stove. It was pretty simple but it made my house smell REAL BAD all day long. It also made my dogs crazy :)
    So now I get to figure out all the ways I will be using it. It made maybe a gallon total. I am pretty pleased with myself. :)

    • Way to go Rebecca! Yes- it doesn’t smell the greatest… I was rendering mine while I had morning sickness… Yuck! You’ll love using it- I highly recommend french fries fried in tallow!

      • I could not imagine having morning sickness and smelling that… you must be so strong!!! (or have a super strong stomach!) But once all the extras were thrown out (to the dismay of my dogs) the actual tallow itself was not bad smelling. Weird how that works. I used an old coffee container (hard plastic) to pour it in once it started to cool down (easy to scrape out) and then I used 2 quart wide mouth canning jars. It was actually pretty easy to do, thank you for the recipe.

        • Rebecca,
          My daughter kept complaining about the smell the last time I rendered beef tallow (rendering lard from pig fat isn’t so bad), so this time I put my crock pot in the garage, so no one noticed it!

  25. Thanks for this how-to on rendering suet. We like to use the tallow for making bird suet cakes. I agree, french fries fried in beef tallow are awesome!

  26. I rendered some tallow today but didn’t know about trimming some of the things that might have been in the fat. Do you know if the Tallow will still last very long or go bad faster? I wasn’t sure what to trim and what to leave on it. Thanks for the great info!! :)

    • Hi Annette,
      I think as long as you let it render all the impurities out, it will still keep as long as other tallow would.

  27. I would like to know how I can get beef fat to render tallow. I want to do it myself versus buying tallow online at a premium price. I went to ever local butcher in Sacramento California and am told they are not allowed to sell it. Any ideas or help would be appreciated.
    Bob Bobnrebecca@gmail.com

    • Hi Bob,
      How disappointing that your local butchers won’t sell you the beef fat. We got ours from our home butchered steer. Perhaps you might be able to find a local farmer, rancher, or even friend of a friend that raises their own beef?

      • Amanda Jensen says:

        I’ve got a question, the answer to which might help Sir Bob, here. Technically, I render tallow every time I fry up a pound of ground beef. After clogging my drain with the “waste” fat, and seeing the lovely lump of tallow that the repairman pulled out of my drain, I started pouring off and refrigerating the “waste” fat from my ground beef. Now I’m wondering – Can I put this in a pan and finish rendering it? Should I just take the stuff that’s already white and solid, and toss the grainy stuff that separates out? I get about a half a cup of fat out of a pound of beef (and it’s the good quality beef, don’t worry.) and it seems a shame to just toss it.

    • Is there any law against giving it away? No loss to them if they are just going to throw it away otherwise. I’ve seen other posts here where the butcher just gave someone the fat.

  28. I’m getting ready to butcher this week, very excited as I’m being taught how for the first time. One of the thing I’m excited about is having the fat to render, I’m a soap maker and would much rather use our organic grassfed oil than something that has to be transferred miles to get to us!!!

    • Good for you for learning how to butcher! I think it is such a valuable skill to have. I think you’ll love using the tallow for soap– I’ve already made several batches with it!

  29. Any tips for making french fries with this? Temp of fat?

    • I believe that the temp of the oil should be around 350 degrees- but I don’t have a frying thermometer, so I usually just throw a “test fry” in and wait until it starts sizzling.
      Fry the sliced potatoes in small batches– it usually takes around 10 minutes per batch- depending on how crispy you want them. Sprinkle with sea salt after you pull them out. They are SO good– enjoy! :)

  30. Love this post!! Can’t wait to make my own now that I know how. This is probably a silly question, but can you make tallow from cooked fat, or does it have to be raw? I have a bunch of fat left from a brisket and hate to throw it away. Thanks!

    • Hi Jess- I don’t see why you couldn’t make it from cooked fat. After all, you end up cooking to death during the rendering process anyway. ;)

  31. Thanks for the instructions. I just knocked out a batch last night. For my first attempt I did about 2# of beef fat and got a return of just over a couple cups. I elected to do this outside and glad I did. My concern now is will that smell be noticable whenever it’s used? It still had that smell a bit even after turning a nice white color. Just a bit concerned about that odor. Definitely glad I did it outside!

    • Way to go Gary! You know, I never seem to notice the smell when I use mine– and I’ve fried quite a few french fries in it so far. ;) Thankfully the smell seems to be reserved for the rendering process itself.

  32. Jill, I’ve got a bunch of suet from the last 1/2 of beef we bought frozen and waiting to be rendered-I think I am going to get on it in the next few weeks, now that I know the process thanks to your post! My question is this: Do you see any issue with pouring the rendered fat into ice cube trays to freeze then pop out later and store in plastic bags in the freezer? I do this when I make butter, since the ice cubes are each 2 Tblspoons- nice for using in recipes or for sauteing or frying. I am thinking it might be an easy way to store the fat as well???? Also, have you rendered chicken or turkey fat? If so, is the process the same or different?

    • I think the ice cube tray idea is brilliant! To be honest, storing it in mason jars is a pain if you then put it in the fridge. It gets so hard it’s near impossible to scoop it out. I’ve never done poultry fat– sorry. :(

  33. Rendered suet, assuming you’ve successfully driven all the water out of it, should last at room temperature basically indefinitely. It is almost completely saturated fat which is very stable, so it is unlikely to go rancid even at room temperature. As evidence of this, Native Americans used rendered suet as one of the main components (together with dehydrated lean meat) of their winter food, pemmican, which is said to store safely for 20 years or more.

  34. Can your get beef tallow from rendering any kind of suet? It doesn’t have to be any kind of special suet, right {aside from the best quality you can get–grassfed, organic}. Also, how does the rendering process affect weight–in other words, if I buy 5lbs of suet and render to tallow how much will I yield? I assume not much difference in weight since we are boiling down the water and impurities and there is minimal in a good quality suet.
    Also, I do know that what Vivki says above is true. My grandfather was a chef and used tallow and lard and it is shelf stable forever if it has been rendered properly.

    • Yes, I believe that any kind of suet will work. However, certains types might yield less “beefy” flavor than others. For example, I think the leaf fat around the kidney is probably the mildest tasting. Unfortunately, I didn’t weigh out my suet as compared to my finished tallow, so I’m not sure what your final yield will be– kicking myself for forgetting that step!

  35. Do you have any recommendations about cleaning the cheesecloth after you are done? I was really hoping to re-use mine, but it’s kind of gross after straining out tallow chunks. Thanks!

    • Yes- tallow can be tricky to wash out… I would start by giving it a good rinse in hot soapy water while the tallow is still hot and liquid. You can then run it through your dishwasher or washing machine– just make sure that you get the bulk of the tallow out of the cloth first.

  36. Hi — this post confirmed what I have concluded after almost 40 years of cooking — beef fat is useful and should be recycled. I bought a beef brisket at a cheap price. Beef brisket is cheap at certain times of the year in Texas. I slow roasted the brisket in the oven for about eight hours and saved all the drippings. I froze the drippings in a metal bowl until I was ready to work with the drippings which were about 6 cups of liquid and 3 cups of tallow. The liquid without the fat can be used in soups and casseroles instead of water. The liquid can be cooked down into a thick soup or paste and frozen for later use. When I popped the tallow out of the bowl as some other posters have suggested, there was still liquid attached to the bottom. I suppose the long cook time is to evaporate all that water. I reheated the tallow over very low heat on the stove top just until melted then refrigerated it. I will next try to pop off the tallow to separate it from the liquid. If that does not work I will simply pour off as much fat as possible and discard the rest. It is true that dogs love the smell of the fat. I have them about a teaspoon or less so they would calm down. They were quite content and went to sleep. I was unsure what to do with the tallow until I read your post. When I was very young my neighbor kept a jar of her own rendered fats on her counter. She was exceedingly obese which made me fearful of using fat, yet I feel better when I have a little bit of natural fat in my diet. I gain weight without any fat. Low carb diets make me grouchy and sickly no matter that people say that eventually my body will adapt — it doesn’t. I will selectively add some of the tallow to my diet and try the soap and candle making. Thank you for the tips and hints.

  37. For those of you without access to unrendered tallow, you can get 50 lbs for $43 at http://www.soaperschoice.com. I use the wet method to render mine.

  38. jennifer ponder says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts & learn so much. I was wondering if this would also work with fat from a deer. My family has not really bought any meat in 5 years. We really only eat venison. Thank you so much

    • Yes– I believe it would. I can’t vouch for the flavor, but it should be ok. :)

      • Our neighbor, who is a butcher, just processed a buck last week in their garage so I couldn’t wait to ask him for the tallow. He said there wasn’t any of the tallow fat wrapped around the kidneys. This was from a large buck that was selected because of its antlers. I’m wondering if it would be different if it were a doe? Or if it varies year to year based on abundance of food sources for them? He’s going to pay more attention for a while so we can figure it out.

        Two days later he brought me beef tallow – carved the kidneys out on my kitchen countertop. I asked about uses for the kidneys themselves and he sliced a bit at one and held it up to my nose…….no way! Smells like piss and very strong. My dog loved the kidney meat though. He’ll get his last big hunk tomorrow. And I’m throwing the cracklins bits I scooped off the rendered tallow into some sort of dog bisquit recipe – if I can find one online tonight.

  39. Reinette says:

    Jill, do you know if one can make tallow from lamb fat? I bought half a lamb recently and all the trimmed-off fat is living in a little bag in my freezer as I just had a feeling that I would find a use for it – and this may be it!

  40. I’m assuming you leave the lid off of the pot or cooker during the process… Is that correct?

  41. I rendered lard a month ago and saved the ‘cracklings’ – I was told they are delicious. Tonight I just got done rendering 9 pounds of leaf fat, and I have 4 quart jars of beautiful tallow. I’m wondering if I should also save the ‘cracklings’ (if they are called that) from this beef tallow. I haven’t seen any posts about using them.

  42. cecilia says:

    I too was wondering about saving the leftover pieces from the rendered suet. This is my first time rendering, I got my suet for free from my meat co-op, but I feel bad about getting rid of the leftover pieces. Just wondering here. Thanks for the easy recipe

  43. Kerstin says:

    Dogs also really like the “leftover bits” – my dog thinks they are the best thing he’s ever eaten!

    And I have also rendered the fat from deer – absolutely lovely!

  44. I may be stepping out here, but aren’t the cracklins what pork rinds are made out of??

  45. A couple things that might be interesting to know… :)
    1. Mixing two types of fat not really a good idea depending on what you are using them for. For instance, if you want to make soap, different fats have different saponification values. Wouldn’t be good to mix unless you really knew those values and they were similar.
    2. Don’t confuse Tallow and Lard. I heard people using it interchangeably and they aren’t. Tallow is from BEEF. Lard is from PORK. ( I won’t get into which is which on the rarer/wild fats).
    3. If you want your lard to have that pretty white look, add 1/4 tsp of baking soda as you begin to melt the fat.
    4. Add about a 1/4 cup of water (give or take depending on how much you’re rendering at a time) before you put in the fat. Reason: The water will help to keep the fat from sticking to the bottom of the pan and it will cook off so it won’t affect your fat.
    5. It will most likely have a little bit of a grainy texture when done, just whip it up or stir it well while it cools and you’ll have a nice creamy textured end product.
    6. Storage: Once you put it in mason jars, you can pressure can it. This way you can keep it at room temps with the rest of your canned items. You do need to pressure can, not water bath can it, at 100-120 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. (check your canner manual for high altitude instructions, tho). This makes it a great way to do the prepper thing and know you have good lard/tallow on hand.
    7. Note: Make sure all the water is cooked out of your fat tho because it can cause it to go rancid over time.
    8. Lastly, the “floaties” on top are called “cracklins”. You know them from just about every southern show on TV. lol. Anyway, if you save those and mix them with peanut butter and some oats/raisins/whatever berries you want, squish them into whatever shape suits your mood and freeze them, they make the BEST treat you can give your feathered friends during the winter when they need a bit of extra fat to keep warm.

    Enjoy!
    Jeanie

  46. You are my hero(ine)!!!!

  47. i kind of burnt the tallow….is there any way i can use it?….i don’t want to throw it out :/

    • Does it smell pretty burnt? Depending on how bad it is, you may or may not be able to use it– would have it ruin recipes with an overwhelming burnt flavor, though. ;)

  48. Ok..I have a question..I went through the responses and comments and didn’t see…Im new to all this. I bought a couple whole NY Strips..I cut off all the fat because we use it for things like fajitas etc. Can I make tallow out of the fat I cut from the NYS?

  49. hixinthestix says:

    My Mom grew up in a big German family and learned to butcher, make sausage, and render lard. She never threw out the cracklins but used them in a bread dish she called baruch (sp?). It consists of finely shredded raw potato, onion, and the crackins all rolled into risen bread dough, pinched shut, and baked as a loaf. It would work equally as well as a filling for buns. We fought over this meal and tried to get the last piece if possible.

  50. I have read tallow stinks(grass fed) .but if its hung for 3wks then it dont.do u believe this is true?

  51. Akewataru says:

    I’m so happy to see that this post is still active with comments. That picture of the ground up fat is so beautiful…So yellow…

    I just acquired a 5-6 qt dutch oven. How do you render the beef suet using this instead of the crock pot?

    FYI: If you can’t get beef fat anywhere else, U.S. Wellness Meats sells 5 pounds of beef suet coarsely ground for $20.95.

    • Yes– you can totally use your dutch oven– it’ll work just fine. Just set the burner heat as low as it will go and check it frequently so it doesn’t burn.

  52. About how much suet comes from one cow? You can talk in 5 gallon buckets if that suits :)

    • Last time we butchered, we just saved the leaf fat (the fat around the kidneys). It comes out in a big mass, and before I cut it all up, the globs filled up 2 three-gallon buckets.

      • MIne was a beef raised for butcher – no hormones or antibiotics but was most likely finished out with corn before slaughter. We live in beef country.

        I filled up two cast iron skillets (the taller ones – more like a pot but the shape and size of a skillet – some people call them chicken fryers I think) plus my big pressure cooker pan. But, I had trouble getting anything to heat on my electric stove using the low settings – so I smashed the whole mess into my large crockpot. I don’t know the exact specification for the crockpot – but its the oval shaped one that seems to be about the size of two regular round shaped crockpots. Everything barely fit. As it cooked down, I used a metal measuring cup to dip hot oil out – I think it might have overflowed if I left it as it was. As it ended up, I’d say I have one absolutely full crockpot of oil/tallow and about 1/2 the pressure cooking pot full of cracklins. I took some photos – I’ll try to get them posted on my blog soon.

  53. Hi, I am fairly new to the idea of rendering fat. We buy 1/2 a grass fed, hormone/antibiotic free cow annually but I have never asked for the bones or fat…this year that will change on our next order!
    Can I use tallow in baking and cooking then to replace my vegetable shortenings, coconut oil and olive oils? Would there not be a noticeable flavour of beef?
    Thank you for the easy step by step tutorials, I love following your blog!

  54. I just want to say a big thank you for these instructions! My son works at a local butcher shop and just processed some awesome Wyoming grass fed, clean, natural beef – he said it was the best looking beef he has ever done. I remembered your post and scored all the leaf fat from them. Rendered the tallow last night – kinda messy fun – and it is beautiful! Soooo excited! Thanks again! I’m a farm girl at heart being raised on a farm in Oklahoma and this took me back…. :)

  55. I had slow cooked my fat for several hours, checking it about every half hour. The last time I lifted the lid to check it, it smoked a little and after straining it the color leaned a little more to the light brown side. Have I ruined it?’ Is it safe to use it if it reached a temperature high enough to make it smoke? If we can’t use it for cooking, is there any other way to use it? Thanks!

    • It should be ok– as long as it doesn’t smell nasty or burnt. :)

      • I checked it this morning and it seems okay. Now that it has solidified, it is a nice creamy color. It has no burned or off smell. That’s a relief. I thought I had ruined it last night! I used a bit in my gravy tonight and my husband loved it.

  56. Arla Sessions says:

    I use tallow in beauty products. It works great for eczema. I use it with herbs and essential oils. Helps with smell as well as health. I was wondering how long you could keep tallow at room temperature before rendering…before it goes bad.

  57. Just rendered two jars of tallow! Thanks for the wonderful instructions. Wondering though….mine doesn’t look as crystal clear as your pictures. I was afraid to cook it too long since I didn’t want it to burn. Did three lbs. in a crock pot for 3 1/2 hours on low. As the “cracklins” started tuning golden I turned it off and strained it. Should I have cooked longer? Will my tallow still be good for use in cooking?
    Thank you :)
    Johanna

  58. Yay! Perfect timing!!! We are butchering Monday and this is one step that I had never done, but wanted to do this time. So glad to read your experience today. Hopping over to read your butchering experience right now for any extra ideas :) Thank you!

  59. Jill,

    Thanks so much for all the helpful information!
    I just rendered the first batch from my suet.
    I was wondering, are the “impurities” good for anything?
    It looks like small gelatin clumps when it’s hot.
    Do you have any ideas?

    Thanks!

  60. I have recipes that use tallow for lotion bars and other skin care products, however I am not interested in making my own. I have an intestinal reaction to ingesting beef and pork and have no interest in cooking or handling the fat just because the smell or thought of the smell is nauseating. I purchase lard at our local grocery store for making bird suet and melting it doesn’t bother me. Do you have a suggestion for me? Can I substitute lard or can I purchase tallow? Please help. Thanks

  61. Jill… do you have somewhere on your site on how to make candles and soaps from the tallow? My mom used to render lard all the time, but in a roaster in the oven. I of course, am too ‘modern’ do to that! But, have been wanting to get back into that type of lifestyle. As much as I knew candles and soaps were made from tallow, it still didn’t sink in what the tallow was. You know that moment when 2 thoughts don’t quite connect and are left hanging until that… ah ha moment?! LOL

    Anyway, if you have recipes for soaps and candles, I’d really appreciate that!

    Thanks for all your great ideas!

  62. A great big howdy and hello from the banks of Blair’s Creek, MO. My husband and I live in a small cabin with no running water or electricity. We use candles and oil lamps for light so I decided to use the tallow from our cow we just butchered for candles sticks to save on some money from not having to buy candles at the store. Anyhow, as far as I know I rendered it right, however the tallow did not harden. It is as soft, (if not softer) than your average Crisco. I cooked it all down on an easy heat on our wood cook stove, then strained it into buckets. And there is sits, still quite soft. It makes excellent pie crusts however. :-)

    • I’m sorry, I forgot to ask my question. What did I wrong? Why did it not harden?

      • Hmmm… I’ve never had that happen before! I’ll have to think about that… I’m not sure why that would have happened.

      • Did you check the temp before you strained? I use the wet method to all most of the fat to warm without burning. The heat will boil off the water and once the water is gone the oil temp will begin to rise. I find that if I heat until I reach 250F, the water is gone and the tallow is pure. Poured at this temp into Mason jars, the lids will seal snugly, as if they had been processed.

  63. I have a bunch of pork lard, wonder if I could use that instead?

  64. Your post inspired me to make my own bird suet cakes with tallow! I recently tried using Crisco but the result was way too soft. I’m vegetarian and have made peace with using an animal product. From my view, it is more respectful to use the fat that would otherwise be wasted. My local butcher gave it to me for free, I just tipped him a few bucks.

    I literally have it in the crock pot now, and need to get to bed. It’s been going a couple of hours now and looks great. Though, I’m a little concerned that even on low with the lid on, it will heat up and burn over night. Do you think the warm setting with the lid on or the low setting with the lid off would be better? I’m sure you won’t get back to me in time, so I’ll update you on how it goes! Btw I didn’t food process it, just cut it in tiny chunks.

    • Well I decided to keep it on warm overnight and in the morning the cracklins didn’t look quite “fried” enough so I turned it back on low for a while. When I thought it was ready, I strained it through a coffee filter into a wax paper lined Pyrex container. I threw it in the freezer to cool off and checked back an hour later… I have beautiful white creamy tallow!

      BUT it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. It seems to be the hardness of Cisco at room temp. Is this right? Also, it smells like an old grease pan. Is that normal? Thanks in advance for your help!

      • Yay! Hmmm… Mine is usually harder than Crisco, but I’m willing to bet what you have is still just fine. And the smell/flavor will depend on what type of fat you started with and from what part of the beef it came from. Good job!

  65. Erma Belcher says:

    I have a question for you Ms Jill. Until I am able to try rendering myself where could I purchase some tallow. Is there a website that I may order it?

  66. how long after getting your fat from the butcher can you keep it in the fridge before rendering it?

  67. Kathy Morgan says:

    So, I tried this today for the first time! Wanted tallow for soap and lotion bars. I bought some from a guy I know at the farm market – it did have a rib in it – guess that was ok. Really messy work! Next time I am wearing gloves! I thought it was odd that the fat didn’t feel like regular fat – more like meat that looked white – is that normal? At any rate, I am going to pop it in the crock pot in the morning so that I can keep an eye on it. Thanks for this timely tutorial!!

  68. Hah – this post is brilliant. I used to get upset when we bulk ordered organs for our dogs and we would end up with having to cut so much fat off – no more. I just started a crock pot full of fat trimmings and next time we order a beef from our local farm, I’ll be sure to ask for all the extra fat to be included so I can render my own tallow for soap making. Oh, and as a conversation starter. ;-)

  69. In answer to an earlier question about tallow that didn’t harden… double or triple rendering.

    We like to feed the birds, and I didn’t want to add any more chemicals & hormones to their diet (commercial suet cakes are full of these), so I started buying natural/organic leaf lard & rendering it down to make my own suet cakes. I use an old hand-crank meat grinder to chop it up & 2 big stockpots to melt it down. It’s a multiple day process that I do about every other month., & while it’s time-consuming and messy, the results are well worth it :)

    Suet cakes for the birds have to stand up to the weather. To make suet really hard, you have to double or triple render it ~ which means reheating and chilling repeatedly. After all the work you’ve done, this is the easy part. I simply strain the first rendering (thru a cheesecloth-lined colander) into a second big clean stockpot. I let it cool uncovered, on the stovetop for a couple of hours & then refrigerate covered, overnight. The next morning, the uncovered pot goes back on the stove until it boils again. Then cool & refrigerate as before. This is double-rendered suet. Do it once more & you have triple-rendered suet.

    My Dad loves to watch the birds, so he feeds them suet almost year-round. Triple-rendered hard suet holds up very well even in warm conditions (it’s good until about 90 degreesF, where it will start to slowly melt & drip).

    The more times you render, the more moisture comes out & the harder you suet will be :)

    Happy rendering :)

  70. Tiffany R. says:

    I am rendering my pork fat today from our freshly butchered hog that we did this morning! I’m so excited to see how it turns out! Thanks for posting this and for helping us find ask the meatman! Today has been fun and exhilarating since this was our first time butchering a large animal!!

  71. Making this today from grass fed beef fat I bought at our local farm. Thank you! It’s in the crockpot right now smelling oh so good!! When I lived with my grandmother when I was little, she fed me and cooked with tallow and lard all the time. I don’t think it was grass fed, but I’m so glad we’ve got the option of grass fed now—though hard to find (it used to be the norm ages ago).

    Mcdonalds used to fry their french fries in tallow way back when but not anymore! Innovation is cursed.

    Thank you so much for the instructions! Although I think I am doing the cool in shallow pan idea and break up like bark.

    My grandmother however had her lard on the other hand in glass jars, and she kept it in room temp. I don’t know for how long before it goes bad!

    Also, I saw in another article that for lard the crispies that float on the top can be used like bacon bits to sprinkle on food or salads. Can the crispies from the tallow be used the same way?

    Rachel
    http://modernlifesurvivalist.com

  72. hey! we live in s. korea…husbands in the air force. I really want to render tallow, I went to the commissary and they gave me a lot of beef fat. just from regular beef. then I went to the Korean store that has the pasture raised beef I have been buying. they gave me a small amount of fat. is it a waste of time to render the regular beef fat, or will we still gain some nutrition from it? should I mix the 2 or just use the pasture raised beef fat? tia!

  73. When rendering any fat you need to keep your temperatures as low as possible, if you do not you can polymerize the fat across the double bonds that are in the middle of the fatty acids. Polymerized fat can still be used for candles and such but will not be useful in making soaps or have the same nutritional benefits. Just an FYI.

  74. Michelle says:

    Hi there, I’m pretty knew to this tallow making thing. I rendered some about a week-and-a-half ago, and I was wondering how come mine isn’t hard like everyone elses. I cooked in the crockpot and the fat floated to the top, and even got crispy. I let it cool down some before transferring to my glass containers, but am curious as to why this is not hard like everyone is stating. Was I jipped out of my dollars or what ? Please help !!