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Fish Fried in Tallow – a Real, Traditional Fat

Tallow was used for frying (pan frying or deep frying) in many restaurants for years until “they” convinced people that it was a “bad, saturated fat“. But I know better, and it doesn’t make me sick like the fats restaurants use now. I can’t eat fried food anywhere but home, or I get that nasty film in my mouth and a stomach ache from whatever fake oil they used…(Soybean oil?)

Tonight when I was cooking our Tilapia (find safe, healthy seafood here), I was afraid it was going to taste greasy, but it didn’t at all. It wasn’t heavy or greasy, it didn’t leave the waxy film in my mouth, and I felt great after eating two big tasty pieces. Kent is only just starting to like fish, and he ate three big pieces. Three of our four kids loved it, too. (Can’t seem to hit 100%.) All this with a healthy, traditional cooking fat!

If you can’t find it locally, find a healthy source for beef tallow (rendered beef fat) and healthy meats online.

Tallow is also great for making healthy, homemade french fries, real chicken nuggets” or onion rings, yummmmmm.

I recently tried to render my own beef fat, what a joke! (Yes, I know it can’t really be this difficult, and I will try it again one of these days.) I read all about the process on the internet and thought I was ready. I knew that you had to keep it low so it didn’t burn, which I did. But then when it took a whole DAY to melt the dang stuff, I figured I’d had it too low, duh. I turned it up a little, and ended up burning it. We had the most disgusting smell here that you can imagine, and it took days to air the house out…in the winter…in Michigan. Then the smell was on us and we’d get looks when we’d go anywhere, so of course we felt like we had to explain it to people. You can guess how well that went over, “Yeah, Kel was trying to render some beef fat.” Can you picture the looks?

I’m just going to buy it for a while until I’m brave enough to risk putting my family through that again.

UPDATE: Success! Read about it here: how to render fat for a healthy cooking oil.

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  1. Congratulations on getting such a good response to your fried tilapia! I was sure you were going to share a batter recipe, but instead you asked us for one. :) I hope somebody posts one in the comments!


  2. Hi Kristen,

    I’m enjoying your new carnival!

    I only used my old “stand-by” for chicken (remember I’m new to cooking fish!), which is, I’m embarrassed to say…Drakes Mix – in the box ya know? (Nothing TOO offensive in the ingredients, but I’m sure there’s a good homemade one out there that is very simple.) I mixed it up with beer and it was very good. So as you said, hopefully someone shares a good one with us!

  3. Kelly, you can also render beef fat in the oven. I personally like to do it that way, especially on chilly days.

    I do a whole lot of it at once. It keeps.


  4. It does take all day, Kelly! I do think rendering lard smells better than tallow though. If we could only get decent seafood here! Alas, I’ll have to stick with frying chicken, fries, and potato chips.

  5. Thanks! Im sorry your first batch of tallow didnt go well! Think of it like inventors do, the quicker you fail, the quicker you succeed!

    Having said that, I think I’ll buy me some tallow from this weekend, lol.

  6. Fried tilapia is great in fish tacos. Just make strips of fish, like fish sticks. and serve them is soft taco shells with napa cabbage, tomatoes, and cilantro-lime-honey sauce.

    The sauce is olive oil, fresh cilantro, lime juice and honey all mixed together. I don’t know the measurements as I just pored it in the blender until it was to my liking.

    My hubby likes his fish tacos with out the taco, so your kids might like the fish sticks with dipping sauce. (cause you know he is just a big kid himself.)

  7. hurrah for fish n chips!!! lookin good kelly! We can’t do beef so our fry oil is olive or grapeseed….gotta have fried chicken and egg rolls ya, know! for batter I suggest flour, cormeal,buttamilk(o beer), egg, lemon, garlic,s&P,a touch of brown sugar, and some chesapeake season(old bay)…


  8. Hi Kelly,

    Back in the day we used to fry mac and cheese even LOL but we always used panko. They are very crispy dried bread crumbs you can find in the Asian section of your supermarket or Asian market and they don’t compact together like ordinary bread crumbs, or mush up like crackers so they let the fat drain out which keeps your food from being greasy.

    I have no idea how they make them though, that might not be NT.


  9. Hi Kelly,

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but here goes. By definition, is lard only from pork and then tallow from other animals? I have always thought of tallow as that yucky thick stuff on lamb that starts to form the minute the meat gets a bit cool. I suppose had I thought of it, I would assume beef has it, too, but I guess I never thought about it.

    I love your description of your attempt, especially the part about the smell sticking to you! Better luck next time.


  10. A turkey fryer works well for rendering tallow or lard. Nice big pot, a set-up that’s meant for dealing with grease, & you can keep the mess OUTSIDE!!

  11. Mary, you know what they always say… “no such thing as a dumb question”! Not very long ago I didn’t know that either.

    Heather, great suggestion!

  12. I asked for 20 extra pounds of pork fat when we bought our pig this past October. I rendered the lard on top of my stove which did take all day – I worked out pretty well – but we also smelled like a fry house.
    I would try it out doors if I ever do it again. The lard makes great cookies – I use lard for 1/2 of the butter. I will have to try it with fisth too.

  13. I just rendered some tallow, and it took me all day, by the way. But I’m wondering how you store it? Should it be stored in the fridge? I have it in a glass jar and it is hard as a rock once I take it out of the fridge…any suggestions? Thanks!

  14. Erin, I store it in the frig, then set it into a bowl of hot water when I want to pop it out into a pan to heat up again.

  15. Hi Kelly,

    I recently rendered both lard and beef tallow. I did it in a hamilton beach 7 quart crockpot on low. It took hours and hours but it seemed to turn out great! I say seemed to because I’ve never done it before. I guess I would have known if it was burnt though…

  16. Tina, isn’t that exciting? Wait ’til you cook in it the first time, you won’t believe how yummy food turns out. :)

  17. I just rendered 11 liters of beef fat in my slow cookers. It only took me 3 hours or so. My butcher puts the fat through the minces. Perhaps it goes faster if the pieces are tiny? But, I would not render fat in anything other than the slow cooker. Good luck next time.

  18. Very interesting take on “healthy cooking oils”. I guess just about everyone has an opinion. I’d certainly be concerned if I were to go back to animal fats with all the trash they are feeding or injecting animals with-hormones, antibiotics, etc. Most of this garbage accumulates in the fat. I’m not aware of any method used to remove these potentially toxic or hormone-disrupting chemicals. Besides, many people have cholesterol problems, and eating animal fats could cause them serious cardiovascular issues. People need to keep in mind that hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils must NEVER be consumed.

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