What Is Buffalo Tallow (Uses, Benefits & More)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: November 1, 2023

Buffalo Tallow is the by-product of the fat from a buffalo and has been used for centuries in cooking and to make candles, soaps, lubricants, and other products.

Today, people still use this natural product because of its various benefits: it can be molded into shapes; burns longer than paraffin wax; doesn't give off an unpleasant odor like some petroleum products; lasts a long time without going rancid; and it is also a great source of fatty acids, including oleic and stearate.

I am going to share my 12-year experience as a chef to talk about what you can do with this impressive substance - both in cooking and other areas.

Quick Summary

  • Buffalo tallow is the fat from a buffalo and is made from fat around the buffalo's internal organs.
  • It's a great source of fatty acids, doesn't go rancid quickly, and has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking.
  • Apart from cooking, Buffalo Tallow can be used in making candles, soaps, lubricants, and cosmetics due to its long-lasting and moisturizing properties.

Buffalo Tallow Basics

Tallow top view glass jar

Buffalo tallow is created from fat - usually, fat around the internal organs of the buffalo.

The accumulated fat is rendered, a process that involves melting fat over a low heat that separates the tallow from non-fat impurities.

Although buffalo contains less fat than beef, one animal still yields about 50lbs of tallow [1]. Native Americans found that there was more than enough to use for their purposes.

This, of course, included creating tallow for lubricants, soaps, cosmetic uses, and, of course, pemican.

"My mother always told me not to handle a buffalo by its tail, but always catch it by its horns."
- Lalu Prasad Yadav, Politician

Pemican is a highly condensed food that was used throughout America up through the 1800s.

Even without spices or refrigeration, pemican could be preserved for nearly unlimited time as long as they kept it away from dampness and mold.

To create pemican, the buffalo's meat was dried and mixed with its tallow, forming a solid mass. They stored the mass in tightly sealed hide bags until needed.

Nutrition Information

A person holding a tallow soap

An ounce of buffalo tallow has 28g of fat, no protein, and no carbohydrates. There are 30g of cholesterol in that ounce.

The high fat value of tallow leads to the ready absorption of vitamins A (for eye health), D (for strong bones and teeth), E (strong antioxidant properties), and K (for heart health).

Buffalo tallow has an abundant source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an omega-6 fatty acid.

There is evidence that CLA may lower the risk of cancer, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. Grass-fed buffalo have 4-6 times more CLA than grain-fed animals like cows.

This tallow undergoes far less processing than most vegetable oils, making it a healthier alternative.

Further, there is far more heat stability than found in other cooking oils - reducing the risk of free radical generation during cooking.

How to Cook with Buffalo Tallow

Buffalo Tallow on pan

In the most natural state, tallow can be used as a spread on the table simply by mixing it with sugar and berries or other fruit.

This mixture acts like mint jelly with lamb or venison and currant jelly.

Buffalo tallow can also be used as a substitute for any time you would use olive or other vegetable oils.

This means it can be part of dishes as varied from stir-fried rice noodles to kabobs to tomato sauce.

"Buffalo meat tastes just as delicious as red meat, but it comes much leaner. Because of its leanness, it also cooks more quickly."
- David Kirsch, Trainer

Finally, buffalo tallow has a smoke point over 350 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for high-heat cooking [2].

For example, I have fried chicken using tallow instead of vegetable oil at my restaurant – the result was crispy skin and juicy insides.

Also Read: How to Make Beef Tallow

Benefits of Buffalo Tallow

A stack of tallow bar

However, buffalo tallow is not useful only for cooking. Indeed, it can be used to make candles and soaps, lubricants, art materials, and even cosmetics.

Candles made with buffalo tallow have a good scent, and they burn longer than wax candles.

Another benefit is that there isn't a large waxy mess to clean up when the candle burns out, like traditional candles.

Soaps made from buffalo tallow offer the added advantage of being hard, which makes them long-lasting.

Additionally, the oils in tallow mimic those in your skin, providing excellent moisturization for sensitive and dry skin.

Since tallow is safe enough to eat, it is certainly safe to be placed on the skin.

Tallow is hypo-allergenic, meaning that it does not cause allergic reactions.

If you apply tallow-based skincare products directly to the skin after bathing, it can help your skin stay moisturized and healthy-looking.

Related Articles:

Buffalo Tallow - The Verdict

As you can see, buffalo tallow offers many benefits that make it a worthwhile addition to your next shopping list.

From cooking with it to creating candles and cosmetics, you can take advantage of this amazing substance in many ways.

The benefits of tallow are innumerable, and the possibilities are practically endless as well.

And although buffalo are not as plentiful as they were in the 1800s, buffalo tallow remains accessible and useful in the modern world.

Don't let the unusual nature of this product scare you off. If you are an adherent of a ketogenic or carnivore diet, buffalo tallow may be for you, as it is an excellent source of healthy fats.


  1. https://allaboutbison.com/what-part-of-the-bison-was-used/
  2. https://www.bisonbasics.com/smokepoints.html
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