By April 2, 2012 Read More →

How To Make Your Own Tallow

Tallow Article 2

Tallow is rendered beef or sheep fat that is made from suet (pictured below), which is the fat only from around the kidneys or liver.  Other beef fat will render down but will not have the same qualities.

Written and Lived By Stephanie Dayle

Rendered tallow is solid at room temperature, and can be stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent it from going rancid. This makes it very attractive to those who live off the grid, homestead, or practice emergency preparedness.  Tallow can also be made from other animals using fat from the same area.

Making your own tallow, while time consuming, is easy and learning how to make it could be invaluable to emergency preparedness.  Making your own tallow means one less thing you need purchase or trade from someone else. Tallow can completely replace your supply of Crisco, it is high in omega 3, vitamin D3, calcium, and contains zero trans-fats. Tallow, being an animal fat is mostly saturated fat.  However,  it is important to know that recent research has shown saturated fat plays far less of a role in developing heart disease than previously suspected.


Photo Credit: Isageum via Flickr


The uses for tallow are almost endless.  Tallow has a dry waxy texture making it undesirable for sausage and other meat processing, but it does have a high smoke point at 400°F which makes it very useful as a frying or pastry oil.  It is commonly used to make:  homemade soap, bio-diesel, leather conditioner, shortening in everyday cooking, tallow candles, and feed for small song birds in the winter time.  Historically it has even been used to grease train and steam engine parts and rifles.

First you will need to gather your supplies:

 –          3lbs (or however much you’d like to do) of Beef Suet – ask your local butcher

–          A slow cooker (this can be done over the stove too – it just requires more supervision)

–          Small wire mesh strainer

–          Lots of Coffee filters

–          Wide mouth quart jar, lid and ring

–          Ladle

–          2 Quart pot

Beef suet from the store or butcher will always come frozen as suet has a low melting temperature and will begin to melt at room temperature.  It is for this reason you should begin to trim and chop it up while STILL FROZEN.  Be sure to remove any and all meat and as much blood as possible from the fat – this will help ensure that your final product will last a long time without going rancid.  Cut your suet up into 1 inch squares, some people then run it through a grater to get even smaller pieces, but I find an inch to work just fine. Feed the tallow trimmings to your dogs, or chickens so nothing is wasted – both animals can process fat better than people and will enjoy the treat.

Photo by Stephanie Dayle (c) 2013

Put all the trimmed fat into your slow cooker and set to high (remember the high smoking point – you aren’t going to burn your tallow in your slow cooker).  The rendering process will take a couple of hours – longer if you have bigger chunks of suet. You may want to take your slow cooker outdoors or out to the garage because it will smell.  The chunks of fat shrink up and turn a golden brown (these are called cracklings) your tallow is ready to strain.

Photo by Stephanie Dayle (c) 2013

Now comes the tricky part. Remember tallow is always easier to work with and clean up when it is hot.  When it is hot, it can burn you.


Photo by Stephanie Dayle (c) 2013

Wear rubber gloves for some protection and please be very careful!

Ladle the liquid fat and cracklings through the wire mesh strainer into a pre-warmed pot on your stove on low heat.  When the slow cooker is empty, take your ladle and press the cracklings in the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. You can then dry your cracklings and put them on your salad, bake them in cornbread, or eat them like pork rinds. Chickens also LOVE cracklings.

Take a coffee filter and put it over the top of your clean quart jar making a little well for the oil, hold it in place with the ring for the jar as pictured.  Next ladle your liquid tallow from the pot to your jar. This will take a long time, be patient and change your coffee filter often as it will clog while removing impurities you don’t want in your tallow.  If you cheat and use a paper towel or poke holes in the coffee filter you will have to repeat the whole process to get the purity you need.

Tallow will strain better hot – so if it is just barely dripping, increase the heat on the stove to med-low or medium, just keep an eye on your oil, you will smell it if it gets too hot.  This is the slowest part of the process and may need to repeat it if your liquid tallow is still cloudy and/or contains sediment. The more pure your tallow, the longer it will last.

Once you have strained all your liquid tallow into the jar (be careful the jar will be just as hot as the oil) clean up the jar and ring so no grease remains on the rim.  While jar is still hot, treat a canning jar lid briefly with boiling water just as you would for canning and set it firmly on your jar of hot tallow.  Next apply the now clean canning jar ring.  Using oven mittens, set your jar in the fridge and leave it alone.  It will seal itself just as if you canned it.  Keep your tallow in a cool dry place this way for six months or longer – I have kept tallow good this way for a year. It will turn a pretty snow white color and solidify.


Photo by Stephanie Dayle (c) 2013

You now have tallow ready for storage, cooking, soap making, or whatever you want to use it for!


For more information on saturated fats and health benefits of tallow check out these links:





About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front and was featured in Marie Claire UK in the October 2012 issue that featured women preppers. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" released in August 2014 and available on "I write articles based on my own experience with emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle I do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts meshed with personal experience. My alter egos are as an full time mom, amateur photographer, and backpacker." Stephanie's past APN articles are featured below on several pages. To connect with her --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

10 Comments on "How To Make Your Own Tallow"

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  1. Ted says:

    Nice write!  I would only add that artery clogging properties probably are not going to be as much of a concern to those who find themselves in need of finding a replacement for their Crisco!!!  Guess it needed to be mentioned in this day and age though. 

  2. Heck Ted, I think its way healthier than Crisco – I was hoping if people would read the links I provided it might elevate some their ‘programmed’ fear of saturated fat. We use it in our cooking all the time now and I must say this stuff makes awesome pie crusts.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Did your tallow start out white after you strained it? Or does it start yellow & turn white after it solidifies?

    I just did this for the first time & mine is super yellow. It was from a grassfed cow & I didn’t use a coffee filter, just a metal strainer. So maybe one or both of those is a factor in the color difference?

    • Rebecca,

      The first thing that came to my mind when I read your comment was that the fat you had was not actually suet, but other beef fat. I have had trouble getting actual butchers to understand what I am asking for and instead giving me other beef fat. Suet is fat specifically from around the kidney’s and loins. Other random beef fat, when rendered down will look yellowish in color. I have updated this article to include a picture of what real suet looks like. It has a unique look, and texture. Once you get a hold of it – you will be able to recognize it in the future. It’s fairly waxy when compared to regular beef fat. Please note how it doesn’t come in a slab type form but is kinda bubbly in shape. 

      Grass fed beef may have less fat – but it will not effect the color of the suet or finished product.

      The other thing that may effect the color is not using coffee filters to filter out the impurities.  I know this seems like an unnecessary task but it really is important to your finished product – how it performs, how healthy it is, and how long it will store.  However I do not think it would cause yellowing to that extent. 

  4. I’ve never even seen Tallow in a recipe, let alone used it. What would you use Tallow for?


    • Hi Bryce-

      I actually listed 5 or 6 things you would use rendered Tallow for in this article. Personally I use it for soap making, candle making, for pie crusts, for frying, and in several other random recipes.