Beef tallow is one of my favorite traditional fats, because it has so many benefits. Tallow is the homesteader’s essential fat. It is amazing for cooking, skincare, household applications, and more! Today I’m going to tell you about beef tallow uses, and the many things you can do with it.
Beef tallow uses
If I was going to be stranded on a dessert island, or maybe the middle of the prairie, what’s the one thing I’d have to have? Tallow!
Beef tallow is so versatile. When it comes from grass fed cattle, it has a lot of health benefits, too. Let’s explore beef tallow uses. There are lots of them!
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What is tallow?
Tallow is a term that refers to rendered animal fat, usually from ruminant animals, like cattle and deer. Rendering fat just means that the fat is cooked down and melted.
Sometimes people call rendered fat from other animals tallow as well, such as bear tallow. I’m going to be talking about beef tallow here.
What is the difference between lard and tallow? Lard usually refers to rendered pork fat. It’s also a great traditional fat, but not quite as amazing as beef tallow. If you’re curious about all the differences between tallow and lard, check out my post on tallow vs. lard here.
Beef tallow from 100% grass fed cattle has a lot of health benefits. Grass fed beef tallow is rich in so many beneficial nutrients.
Here are some of the nutrients found in tallow from 100% grass fed beef fat:
- conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties
- Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12 (source)
You can enjoy these nutrients when you use tallow in cooking, or for skincare.
I get so excited whenever I talk about tallow. Usually, I don’t know where to begin! There are so many different uses for beef tallow.
Beef tallow uses in the kitchen
- Cooking – Can you eat tallow? Is tallow healthy to cook with? Absolutely! Since it has so many great nutrients, tallow is the perfect cooking fat. I use it all the time to fry and sauté foods, and to make pastries and piecrust. It adds a wonderful flavor and has a high smoke point, which makes it perfect for this beef tallow fries recipe.
- Pemmican and sausage – Tallow is a great thing to add when you make your own homemade sausage. If you’re planning a camping trip or wilderness outing, pemmican is the perfect survival food to pack along. Tallow is a great ingredient to add to pemmican.
- Seasoning cast iron – In my kitchen, I absolutely love cast iron! I use my cast iron skillets daily. Tallow is wonderful, stable fat for seasoning cast iron cookware.
- Conditioning wooden cutting boards and cooking utensils – Tallow works really well to keep wooden spoons, cutting boards, and other wooden kitchen tools moisturized and conditioned. I use it all the time to keep mine in good working order.
Tallow for skincare, hair care, and soap
- Skincare – This is one of my favorite beef tallow uses! The most popular tallow skincare product is tallow balm. Grass fed tallow has the perfect combinations of skin friendly nutrients, that make it the perfect skin moisturizer. Because it is so compatible with how how skin is made, tallow deeply nourishes skin like nothing else can. It is also amazing for soothing eczema, diaper rash, sunburn, windburn, acne, and itchy skin. Learn how to make tallow balm here. I also have lots more tallow skincare recipe on my blog, such as lip balm, both plain and tinted, herb infused salve, drawing salve, vapor salve, sunscreen, shaving cream, as well as sugar and salt scrubs. Read more about it in this post where I share the complete guide to tallow skin care. If you’re looking for the best ever DIY face moisturizer, check out my tallow face cream recipe here. Get my tallow lotion bar recipe here.
- Hair care – Tallow is also perfect as a deep conditioning treatment for hair. I use it on the ends of my hair to keep it soft and moisturized and to prevent split ends. I also love tallow in my tallow shampoo bar recipe and my DIY heat protectant for hair. Read more about how I use tallow for hair here.
- Soap making – Tallow adds a wonderful hardness to soap bars. This makes soap last longer, since it won’t melt away in the shower or anytime it gets wet. Tallow adds a wonderful, creamy lather to soap bars, as well as wonderful skin benefits. It is also a sustainable soap making fat compared to other oils with similar benefits, like palm oil. Check out my pure tallow soap recipe here.
Beef tallow uses around the house, workshop, and homestead
- Candles – Traditionally, people used tallow to make candles quite often. You can still do that today! Tallow is a nice, hard fat that holds it shape well, and works great for candle making.
- Lubrication – You can use tallow to lubricate things with moving parts, like machinery. It is also beneficial for metal and helps to prevent rust.
- Guns – Tallow can also work as an oil for guns, in the same way it can be used for lubricating machinery.
- Leather – It makes sense that tallow would work wonderfully for conditioning leather. I like to use it for my boots, belts, and anything else made of leather that needs to be conditioned.
- Waterproofing – This is another use for tallow that our homesteading ancestors use. Anytime there is a piece of cloth or other material that needs to be made waterproof, tallow is a great thing to use.
How to make tallow
It’s easy to make your own tallow at home. All it involves is sourcing some good beef fat, and rendering it down.
Rendering tallow is a simple process, but there are a few things to know to make sure it turns out well. I have a complete guide on how to render tallow, and you can check it out here.
My rendering tallow guide also includes instructions how to render tallow gently, to keep it as light colored and odorless as possible, which is nice for when you want to use it to make tallow skincare products.
Where to find tallow
Besides rendering it yourself, you can buy already rendered tallow various places. If you want to buy tallow online, this is a good option.
You can also buy raw beef fat for rendering yourself. Good places to look are the meat counter of your local health food store, local farms and ranches advertising on Craigslist, and your local Weston A. Price chapter’s food sources listing.
Is beef tallow the same as suet?
Yes! Suet is another name for rendered beef fat.
Sometimes people use the term suet loosely, and use it to also refer to raw beef fat that hasn’t been rendered. Usually when they do this, they use suet to refer to the fat surrounding the kidneys and other internal organs, which is also called leaf fat.
Leaf fat has the most beneficial nutrients compared to fat from other areas, or trim fat.
Do you need to refrigerate beef tallow?
As long as tallow is properly rendered, it is very shelf stable. I keep mine out on the counter for short term storage. It lasts several months on the counter.
For long term storage, I recommend keeping tallow in the refrigerator or freezer. It will last for years when kept cold.
What does beef tallow taste like?
Beef tallow has a wonderful, savory flavor. This makes it wonderful for frying or sautéing foods.
Here’s some beef tallow trivia: McDonald’s used to fry their French fries in beef tallow, until animal rights activist pressured them to switch unhealthy, inflammatory vegetable oils with MSG added for flavor.
Does beef tallow smell?
Whether beef tallow will smell or not really depends on how it is rendered. You can render tallow with the dry method, or the wet method.
With the dry rendering method, the fat gets hotter, and it can start to burn a little. This does leave the finished tallow with a meaty aroma, but I find that this isn’t a problem if you’re using it for cooking.
If you render tallow using the wet method, the heat is more gentle and even, which leaves the tallow pretty much odorless. This is my favorite way to render tallow when I am using it for skincare and soap making.
Beef tallow recipes and more
What is your favorite way to use tallow?
Share your favorite beef tallow uses in the comments!
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