Top 10 Uses for Beef Tallow
They say that everything old is new again, and that goes for ways to use animal by-products. Let’s explore some of the most common uses for beef tallow.
What Is Tallow?
Tallow is rendered fat from ruminants like cattle, sheep and bison. More specifically, it’s rendered suet — the fat surrounding the animal’s organs. It’s similar to lard, which is rendered fat from pigs, boars and other swine.
The rendering process involves slowly boiling the suet and spinning it in a centrifuge at high speed, which separates any liquids or connective tissues from the fat. The tallow is ready for collection when it’s solidified at room temperature.
What Is Beef Tallow Used For?
A highly versatile product, beef tallow has uses in almost every industry, from restaurants to cosmetics. Here are 10 of the most common ways to use tallow.
1. As a Cooking Fat
Tallow has a high smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s great for fried, sautéed and pan-seared food. Frying with beef tallow lends food a hearty, beefy flavor that beautifully complements everyone’s favorite comfort foods. In fact, beef tallow is a popular ingredient in the fryers of many restaurants.
We’d like to quickly note, though, that you’ll want to make sure you buy the right kind of tallow for cooking applications. For example, while tallow from Baker Commodities is excellent for industrial uses like renewable fuels, it’s not edible — just like how food-grade tallow isn’t suitable for uses outside of the kitchen.
2. Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware
It’s important to season cast iron cookware with oils like tallow because the process adds a protective layer that can help extend the life of your pans. Seasoning your pans also enhances cast iron’s natural nonstick properties, making cooking and cleanup much easier.
3. Conditioning Wood
If you regularly use wooden cutting boards, cooking utensils or countertops in your kitchen, you can use beef tallow to condition them. Just take a little tallow — the amount you’ll need depends on the size of the surface you want to condition — and rub it into the wooden items a few times a year or as needed. It’s a quick, simple way to keep your wooden materials in peak condition for years to come.
4. As a Binder
When you’re grilling or barbecuing, you need something to make your seasonings stick to your food. Just like butter, plant oils, duck fat or lard, beef tallow makes a great binder for:
- Grilled veggies
Basting your food with a generous layer of tallow helps stick the seasoning to your food while creating a mouthwateringly crispy crust or skin.
5. For Baking
You can also use beef tallow instead of other oils in baked goods. It behaves in a very similar way to butter but adds a richer, earthier flavor that works well in savory pastries and pies.
Here are some suggestions for incorporating tallow into your baked goods:
- Brush a little softened tallow on pie crusts before baking to give the top a golden finish.
- Grease baking dishes with tallow for a flavorful dish that doesn’t stick.
- Use tallow in place of hydrogenated oil-based shortening.
6. To Make Fuel
Did you know animal fats like tallow can be converted into sustainable fuel sources for transportation? Known as renewable diesel, this sustainable fuel alternative can be made from either plant materials or animal by-products such as tallow.
Renewable diesel’s carbon intensity rating is 65% lower than conventional petroleum diesel — indicating that renewable diesel produces far fewer carbon emissions. Although alternative fuels are still in development in most of the world, using them in your business can help reduce your carbon footprint and make your organization more sustainable in the long run.
7. In Soups
Food-grade tallow makes a delicious addition to hearty soups and stews. You can substitute it for other cooking oils like olive or vegetable oil for a deeper, more intense flavor — this swap works best in rich soups such as:
- Baked potato soup
- Beef and vegetable stew
- Cheeseburger soup
- Spicy hot pot
- French onion
Ultimately, if you want to get that warm, stick-to-your-ribs feeling in a soup, add a little tallow.
8. Making Candles
Beef tallow is a saturated fat, so it’s solid at room temperature and melts when exposed to heat. Like beeswax and soy, it melts slowly and has a neutral scent — making it a perfect material for candles.
The biggest thing to consider when making tallow candles is that tallow is a softer material than most other types of wax. Typically, candlemakers cut tallow candles with one-third paraffin wax to create a firmer texture.
9. Soap Making
Using animal fat to wash off dirt and oil might sound counterproductive, but people have been making — and using — beef tallow soap for generations. Tallow soap is mild on the skin, produces a gentle lather and maintains its shape when exposed to water, unlike many commercially produced soap bars. And its neutral scent makes it a perfect base for adding fragrances or essential oils.
Did you know people have been using tallow to moisturize their skin for centuries? Since its ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is similar to that of human skin, tallow-based products absorb easily into the skin. And its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it safe for sensitive and acne-prone skin.
One note of caution, though — tallow used for personal hygiene products should always come from high-quality, grass-fed beef raised without harsh steroids or antibiotics.
How to Store Tallow
As long as you store it properly, high-quality beef tallow can last for up to a year. Here are some simple storage tips to follow:
- Use a tightly sealed container to keep pests and contaminants out.
- Store your tallow at room temperature so it stays smooth and spreadable.
- Avoid placing it near heat or in direct sunlight.
If you’re unlikely to use tallow often, though, you can extend its life by a few months by storing it in the fridge.
Nutritional and Health Facts
So what makes tallow such a useful ingredient? And does it actually have health benefits?
Beef tallow is a saturated fat, which is why it’s solid at room temperature. Although saturated fats from animal sources — like tallow, butter or lard — have been called harmful in the past, you can easily include them in a healthy diet by practicing moderation.
Some other beneficial properties include:
- Vitamins: As a good source of vitamins A, D, E and K, grass-fed tallow may help boost immune health, hormonal regulation and bone and muscle growth.
- Antioxidants: Tallow contains a powerful antioxidant called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). In addition to breaking down harmful free radicals, CLA is also a popular fat-burning supplement.
- Antimicrobial: Tallow repels most bacteria and microbes thanks to its high antioxidant and vitamin content.