Rendering Beef Fat for Tallow

Making beef tallow isn’t exactly a difficult or skillful process.  You are basically exposing solid fat to high temperatures to extract all of the fat in liquid form from the rest of the meat and muscle fibers.  Then you pour off the liquid fat and save it for cooking.  Beef tallow is an excellent fat, and has pearly, ivory-like texture at cold temperatures.  Good for cooking vegetables and searing meats in which you want to impart the rich flavor of beef into the food.  Mmm, mmm good.

In the following video, I do not cut the beef into smaller pieces, which would’ve cut down the cooking time and yielded a larger amount of fat.  Probably a bad habit.  But I got 2 cups of good-quality beef tallow nonetheless. 

As an interesting factoid – beef tallow was the most frequently-used household fat in the early 20th century prior to the earliest documented cases of heart disease.  So much for saturated fat clogging your arteries…

As the causation of heart disease science has evolved over the past couple decades, we now know that heart disease is a disease of inflammation, oxidative damage from free radicals, and certainly not a matter of having something we eat jump into our arteries for lack of a better place to go.  What increases oxidative damage and inflammation?  Lots of things, but mostly polyunsaturated fat – omega 6 in particular, the type of fat we embraced while shunning the beef tallow and butter that never did us any harm.  Make friends with tallow.  Its incredibly low concentration of omega 6 makes it a perfect household fat along with coconut oil and dairy products.

Best temperature is probably slightly lower than the temp. I began with.  350 degrees F is probably better.   

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17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We make our own lard, which isn’t quite as low in Omega 6 as beef tallow, of course, but it’s far better than the vegetable oils most people use. It’s pretty much the same process, but our butcher runs the fat through a grinder before we get it, which makes the job much easier than when we used to chop it into pieces with a knife. When we get a steer butchered this spring, we’re going to try the same thing for beef tallow.

    • Lard has 500% more omega 6 than beef tallow, so it’s hard to say the difference is minimal. Percentage-wise, the difference between tallow and lard is equal to the difference between lard and corn oil. When exploring the level required to get the anti-cancer and reduced inflammatory effect of a low-PUFA diet like 180degreehealth is currently doing, it appears that lard is just too high to get that effect. Unflavored coconut oil, beef tallow, macadamia nut oil, and butter/ghee are vastly superior choices to lard as well as duck, goose, and chicken fat and any liquid oil with the exception of mac nut oil and perhaps olive oil.

      • Percentage-wise, yes; but I was thinking total grams, where beef tallow < lard <<<< vegetable oil. That's why we're going to make our own beef tallow as soon as we can, though: I think I created a lot of inflammation with a diet high in nuts and nut flours, so I want to go as low as possible on omega 6 for a while. In the meantime, I've been mixing in more coconut oil and butter.

      • Yep, the total quantity is what matters most. Some really equate all animal fat though, and animal fat is certainly not all the same. That’s the point I wanted to hammer home.

        I too think I created a lot of systemic inflammation by eating a high fat diet without really distinguishing between sources. I never did the nut flour thing, but I certainly ate the hell out of some nuts. Plenty of peanut butter too. Avocado. Chicken fat. A lesson learned the hard way is the best lesson learned.

      • Love this post and comments. I have been using beef fat collected off the top of my broth (I threw beef fat in with the simmering broth, then removed the layer of fat once completely cooled in the fridge) but I always wanted to know how to render beef fat on its own. I will be trying this!

        Also the nuts thing, I went way overboard on nuts, also ate avocado too much, and relied to heavily on chicken. I recently changed my focus (thanks to you and a few others on Twitter talking about Omega 6s) from natural fats in general to more saturated fats. What a difference thank you!

      • Hey Kat, welcome. I definitely think the low omega 6 thing has tremendous potential – including even minimizing allergic reaction to food and inflammation in the digestive tract that led to your need for the SCD. Keep in touch!

  2. Great post Matt. Truly a lost art in the modern kitchen.

    Butter, Tallow, Coconut Oil, the three kings in my kitchen. The last time I rendered tallow from suet I tried the wet render approach. Didn’t like it. I was left with just too much water at the bottom of my fat jar. Could be because I used a very low temp as well, like 240. Now that I think about it, it seems far too low.

    Yes tallow and potato go together like…well actually there really nothing quite like it!!! I made the comment the other day that if Mickey D’s went back to tallow I would be a regular customer. Like maybe daily!!!

    • Amen. Damn veggie oil lobby!

  3. Is the leftover meat after rendering good or did you waste that much tenderloin?

    • That was the fat removed from the whole tenderloin (several actually). I did not save it. No lean meat was wasted though. You can see me trim the meat and exactly what I saved for rendering in my Mignon Man March video/post.

  4. Matt – I’ve always wondered how this is made, now I know! Thanks. You said you use beef fat to render with – are you talking about using the excess fat that you trim off the meat with or mainly just a fatty meat steak?

  5. Hey Matt,

    Easy way to render. I’ve used the stovetop, putting tiny cut up pieces in the skillet and straining continually as the fat melts and comes up the sides. That seems more labor intensive, but does produce more tallow probably.

    Wondering about lard: I’ve done a little research and can’t seem to find an answer- does the type of lard make a difference? I seem to recall reading that leaf lard has a different fat content than non-leaf lard. Know anything about this?

    • From what I understand pork fat can be highly variable. In general though, the more solid it is at room temperature the more saturated – and the less PUFA it contains. But pasture-raised pork is no guarantee. The runniest lard I ever rendered was from pasture-raised pigs in Wisconsin.

      • That’s helpful- thanks. The lard I have is pretty solid at room temperature, comparable to butter or coconut oil. It softens, yeah, butdefinitely is not runny. I wonder if there’s any way to test more specifically.

        Anyway, thanks again!

  6. I dig these videos, straight-forward, but cooking is pretty instinctual, I have friends that want me to teach them how to cook, but it all seems kinda obvious to me (my dad was a chef) I’ll definitely send a few of them here, maybe they’ll stop freaking out about fat/carbs/veganism for health, etc.

    After falling into the whole lowcarb paleo mania for 6 months or so trying to fix my skin it’s so nice to enjoy beef tallow liberally but not feel like I have to choke down a brick of it every day to stay away from rabbit starvation!

    On another note, I’ve found running the suet/trimmings through a meat grinder before rendering is sooo much easier than dicing it all & you get way more bang for your buck. I just rendered about 8 pounds worth last week, barely any lean/gristle was left.

    Thanks for doing what you’re doing, my skin is amazing now that I’ve reduced PUFA’s as much as I can, even though I’m eating hella sweet potatoes & root veg!

    • “Maybe they’ll stop freaking out about fat/carbs/veganism for health, etc.”

      If I had one mission in life, it would be to help people stop doing precisely that. Glad to hear about the skin. I can’t believe how resilient mine has been as well on low-PUFA since the first of the year. Seems I can consume anything and everything other than veggie oil and nuts and have perfect skin.

  7. In my year-plus of zero carbing I learned a few things about making tallow:

    1. The best fat to use is what the butcher will trim from the outside of a slab of top loin or ribeye. You can often get it for free.

    2. If you have a meat grinder (I have the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer), pass the fat through it before you render it. You will get maximum tallow yield per pound of fat.

    3. Render it at 350 for at least a couple of hours. You want to remove all the moisture from it, or it will get moldy eventually. Keeping tallow in the fridge is frustrating because it’s hard to scoop it out for use, so you want to get the water out of it and keep it in the cupboard or on the counter.

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