Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: April 25, 2022

Tallow and ghee can both be used in cooking and grilling as an oil or fat substitute.

Regarding cooking and grilling, how do these two fats compare, and which one is the best to use for grilling and smoking applications?

We’ve consulted our cooking and grilling masters to give you the best breakdown of the differences between the two.

Quick Summary

  • Tallow is rendered animal fat, usually from cows or sheep.
  • Ghee is clarified butter, a dairy product, rather than animal fat.
  • Both fats have high smoke points, making them useful for grilling or smoking.
  • Both these fats are considered healthier alternatives.

Cooking with fats, including grilling and smoking, is a way to crisp up the outer layers of the food you are cooking while retaining succulent juices inside the food.

Tallow and ghee can be used in this application, and you may be surprised regarding the health benefits of these fats.

What Are The Differences Between Tallow And Ghee?

Tallow and ghee are not new ingredients. They have been used for centuries before modern vegetable oils and fats.

We will begin by looking at where these two products come from since this may influence some people’s dietary preferences.

Where Does Tallow Come From?

Meat fats in a grinder

Tallow is a fairly broad term that could relate to culinary and industrial products, including bio-diesel, but we will stick to the culinary variety for obvious reasons!

Tallow is a rendered animal fat derived from cow fat or sheep fat.

Beef tallow is the most common variety widely used since beef fat is much easier to render.

Lard is another rendered animal fat, but this is typically rendered pig fat.

Beef tallow is the tallow product we will focus on since this is the product you will most likely use when choosing a tallow product.

Beef tallow is produced by trimming the fat from the fattiest parts of the cow, most commonly from the ribs, steaks, and rump roasts.

Fat is also often trimmed from around internal organs such as the kidneys.

The beef fat is then slowly heated until it liquifies. The melted fat is then strained to remove solids, called cracklings, and the molten tallow is stored in a glass jar and allowed to cool down to room temperature.

The tallow solidifies into a creamy white or slightly yellow butter-like texture at room temperature.

Tallow is considered an animal meat product, one of the main differences between tallow and ghee.

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What Flavor Does Beef Tallow Have?

Top view of a beef tallow on wooden table

Beef tallow has a surprisingly neutral flavor, considering the flavor that beef fat gives to the meat when cooking.

The low flavor of the tallow results in many people infusing herbs into the tallow during the rendering process to add additional flavor to the end product.

Using beef tallow without infused flavor will help crisp up your meat on the grill or in the smoker and seal in the internal juices, but it will not add additional flavors to the meat.

Is Tallow A Healthy Fat?

Tallow is a source of saturated and monosaturated fats that are considered to show no increased risk of cardiovascular disease and have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol levels, which is good cholesterol [1].

Consequently, tallow is a healthier fat to use than many vegetable-based fats and margarine.

Tallow has a high smoke point, preventing the fat from burning and losing much of its nutritional benefits.

How Is Ghee Produced?

A spoon full of Ghee close up image

Ghee is another form of fat, but it is produced from butter instead of animal fat.

Ghee is made by gently heating butter until it melts and the milk solids separate from the fat.

This process is known as clarification and results in ghee often being called clarified butter.

The butter is then taken off the heat, and the milk solids settle to the bottom of the pot.

The butterfat is then strained off the top, leaving the milk solids behind.

The fat can cool down to room temperature and return to a solid form.

It does not get as hard as the original butter and is easy to scrape out of the jar to use.

Ghee may be a preferred product for you to use for dietary preferences since it is considered a dairy product rather than a meat product like tallow.

What Flavor Does Ghee Add To Food?

Ghee is somewhat different from tallow in the flavor department.

Ghee has a flavor of its own, and when used on meats, it adds a rich, almost nutty flavor to the food.

Ghee can also be infused with herbs during the rendering process to add additional flavors, but most people simply use the ghee with its natural nutty flavor.

The intensity of the ghee flavor can be controlled during the clarification process. If the ghee is clarified at a temperature of 212°F, the flavor is mild.

Ghee produced at a temperature of 248°F results in a stronger flavored result.

Is Ghee A Healthy Fat?

A small cup of Ghee

Ghee is considered a healthy fat, providing a good source of vitamins A, C, D, and K and rich in antioxidants. However, all fats should be used in moderation [2].

Ghee is considered a healthier alternative to standard butter when used in cooking, grilling, and smoking.

Ghee, like tallow, has a high smoke point, which allows the fat to be used at a higher temperature without the fat burning and losing nutritional value.

How Can You Use Tallow And Ghee For Grilling And Smoking?

Both ghee and tallow can be used in many different applications in either grilling or smoking.

The product you use can be selected by dietary preference or whichever one you feel adds the most flavor to the meat.

How To Use Tallow For Grilling And Smoking

Holding the jar for beef tallow beside the brisket meat

One of the best ways to use tallow is when smoking a brisket! If you know something about smoking a brisket, the best time to add tallow to the equation is at the wrapping stage.

The preferred wrap for your smoked brisket using tallow is brown butcher paper.

The tallow can be smeared on the paper before the brisket is wrapped, or a dollop of tallow placed under it before it is wrapped to continue the smoking process.

The tallow helps to seal in flavor and add additional flavor if herb-infused tallow is used.

One way to use tallow in grilling meat is to sear your steak. Searing a steak helps seal in the flavors and retain moisture in the piece of meat.

Take a bread knife and smear both sides of your steak with tallow before placing it on the grill.

When placed on the fire, the tallow will heat up and sear the steak, sealing in the flavor and goodness!

How To Use Ghee For Grilling And Smoking

Scoop of Ghee close up image with jar

Ghee can be used on meats and vegetables alike and adds its unique flavor.

If you are roasting vegetables on the grill, wrap them in aluminum foil with a tablespoon of ghee to add flavor and produce a crispy outer layer and a juicy interior.

Ghee also works well on meat in a smoker as a blasting agent, especially ghee infused with herbs and spices to add your signature flavor to the meat.

Ghee can be a healthier fat for any grilling or smoking process that usually calls for butter.

Conclusion

Both ghee and tallow are great fat substitutes to use for your grilling and smoking needs.

Choosing which product to use will depend on the flavor profile you want and your dietary preference.

Both tallow and ghee are healthier alternatives to butter and vegetable oils when cooking meat or vegetables on a grill or in a smoker.

You can also get creative and innovative and make your tallow and ghee to ensure you have a healthy, flavorful fat for all your cooking and baking needs!

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