Tallow vs Lard, Oil, Ghee, and Beyond: Know the Differences

Lauren Platero
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    There are numerous differences between beef tallow vs lard. Not only do they come from different meat products, but they have different purposes when preparing a dish. For instance, an executive chef at a healthy restaurant might inform you that cooking with beef tallow is the best way to prepare savory recipes. Meanwhile, a pastry chef might claim that lard delivers the best results in regard to flavor and texture. 

    In this article, we’re going to discuss the difference between tallow vs lard. However, we’re also going to take it a few steps further and compare tallow to a variety of other cooking oils. Whether you’re trying to consume no seed oils or would like to try new ingredients at your restaurant, you’re in the right place.

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    Tallow vs Lard

    The primary difference between lard and tallow is that lard comes from pork whereas tallow comes from beef. The classification of meat is important when rendering and packaging such products, as both are different. For example, beef tallow has a subtle meaty scent and flavor, while lard displays slight correlations with pork products. But that should be no surprise!

    It’s also important to acknowledge the ways that tallow vs lard can affect recipes. While tallow is an excellent source of fat when frying food, lard is perfect when baking. Tallow adds an irresistible crispiness to fried food like fries and chicken, but lard can provide baked goods like croissants with a flaky and delicate consistency.

    Finding out where to buy beef tallow can be a bit tricky, as alternatives like lard are more accessible. However, various butchers and meat wholesalers have leftovers after they prepare various cuts of meat. If you want to ensure you’re getting the best tallow possible, make sure that the kind you’re buying is grass-fed. It might be a tad pricier, but will certainly boast more health benefits.

    Suet vs Tallow

    Many people confuse suet vs tallow, which is understandable! You can’t create tallow if you don’t have suet. Beef suet is the raw fat that comes from around the kidneys and other internal organs of cattle. It can also come from sheep, but sheep tallow isn’t as popular as beef tallow. The texture of suet is hard, which doesn’t allow it to be as versatile as tallow. 

    There are many dishes that utilize suet. British classics like mince pies and suet pudding are just two of many. It adds a rich flavor and a delectable texture that other types of fat cannot compete with. 

    It’s also worth noting that beef tallow has a much longer shelf life than suet. So, if you’re wondering which beef tallow storage requirements you should follow, just know that they’ll be a bit different from the protocols associated with storing suet.

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    Ghee vs Tallow

    Many types of chefs and food manufacturers that specialize in Indian cuisine are familiar with ghee. It comes from cow’s milk just as butter does, so it serves as an excellent butter alternative. 

    The creation of ghee is a result of simmering butter to remove any milk or water content. The final product is rich with a subtle nutty flavor. That’s quite different from tallow since freshly rendered beef tallow has a mild meaty flavor and aroma. 

    One of the many reasons why ghee and tallow are interchangeable is due to their high smoke points. In other words, it’s a non-toxic fat to cook with. Other options like seed oils and olive oil release toxic compounds that are harmful to the body when exposed to high temperatures. However, ghee is a perfect ingredient for cooking, baking, and frying foods. 

    Beef Tallow vs Butter

    While beef tallow and butter may look similar, they’re pretty different. You get beef tallow from rendering beef suet, which we discussed previously. In simple terms, the process of rendering it involves heating it on a stove top to remove all impurities. Then, you must strain it so that the final result isn’t clumpy or grainy. 

    On the other hand, butter doesn’t come from meat, as it is the result of churning cream. As a result, it contains both water and milk. Therefore, it contains vitamins and nutrients that are associated with dairy products. Beef tallow doesn’t contain any dairy at all. So, it’s a more suitable option for those with a lactose intolerance.

    Beef Tallow vs Olive Oil vs Avocado Oil

    Olive oil is one of the most popular products amongst wholesale cooking oil distributors. It stems from a tedious process where you crush a large amount of olives and turn it into a paste. Then, the oil must be extracted via chemical or mechanical means. As you can imagine, understanding this process is far more complex than learning how to make beef tallow. That’s why you rarely hear about consumers or small businesses making their own olive oil. Meanwhile, rendering beef tallow is becoming a norm in the non-toxic living space. 

    Speaking of beef tallow, the most obvious way it differs from olive oil is that it’s an animal product. Therefore, it’s not suitable for people who consume a vegan or plant-based diet. Instead, olive oil as well as avocado oil are the best alternatives. 

    While we’re on the topic of avocado oil, that’s actually better for frying food than olive oil. While olive oil does offer a substantial amount of healthy fatty acids, it doesn't have as high of a smoke point as avocado oil. So think of it this way–olive oil is great on its own at room temperature, while avocado oil is the better non-toxic oil for cooking.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Tallow vs Lard

    When searching for a beef tallow substitute, you might consider using lard. Or, if that is your usual go-to, tallow may be a possible replacement. Either way, it’s important to know the differences between them. Switching to alternatives to popular cooking oils is a hot topic in the food and beverage industry and amongst health-conscious consumers. If you’d like to learn more about the comparison between beef tallow vs lard (and beyond), take a look at the collection of frequently asked questions and answers below.

    Which Is Healthier Between Tallow vs Lard?

    When comparing tallow vs lard, it’s safe to say that tallow is the healthier option. Both tallow and lard are rich in fat-soluble vitamins. However, tallow has a higher smoke point which makes it a bit healthier to use–especially when frying food. But if you run out of tallow and only have lard available, don’t sweat it–the recipe(s) will still turn out great.

    Is Lard and Tallow the Same?

    No, lard and tallow are not the same. Tallow is made from beef fat while lard comes from pork fat. While they can be used for similar purposes, the scent, flavor profiles, and textures are different.

    Is Beef Tallow a Healthy Fat?

    Yes, not only is beef tallow a healthy fat, but it’s one of the best options. For one, it has the highest smoke point of all the fats and oils you can cook with. Therefore, there’s no risk of harmful chemicals and compounds seeping into the food once it reaches a certain temperature. Plus, it’s a super nutrient-dense fat that contains a substantial amount of vitamins and healthy omegas.

    Is It Better to Cook With Tallow or Lard?

    It’s usually better to cook with beef tallow as opposed to lard. Beef tallow has a higher smoke point, so it’s safer to use. More specifically, tallow has a smoke point of about 400°, while lard has a smoke point of about 370°. So, if you’re baking a recipe that requires you to heat the oven to 350°, which is standard, feel free to use lard. Besides, lard is great for adding flavor to baked goods. Meanwhile, tallow is more suitable for cooking and frying savory recipes.

    Can You Use Beef Tallow In Skincare?

    Yes, using beef tallow for skin health is a great idea! There are numerous benefits of tallow for topical use, from its fatty acid content to the way it’s nearly skin-identical. As a result, it’s suitable for all skin types–even if a person suffers from acne, eczema, or other conditions that disrupt the skin's moisture barrier.

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    Let’s Settle the Debate Between Tallow vs Lard

    You now have all the information you need pertaining to the debate between tallow vs lard. You should also be familiar with how tallow compares to numerous other cooking oils, like ghee and butter. Whether you’re a professional chef or an informed consumer, this post should serve as a valuable guide to comprehending the basics.

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