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Lard vs. Tallow: How To Use These Fat Sources?

A rich source of fat with zero carbohydrates is an important part of many low-carb and high-fat diets. Lard and tallow are two of the best sources of fat that you can use in different recipes. Let’s compare lard vs. tallow to find out their similarities and differences and learn how to use these dietary fat sources.

Lard vs. Tallow: How To Use These Fat Sources?
  • Lard is a semi-solid white fat obtained from rendering the fatty tissue of a pig, mainly the back fat under the skin and the fat around the kidneys.
  • Tallow is made by melting and simmering suet to separate solids from liquid fat.
  • Both lard and tallow are used in cooking as fat sources due to similar nutrient profiles.
  • Lard and tallow can replace each other in recipes, but the result may be slightly different because they differ in texture and taste.

What Is Lard?

Lard is a semi-solid white fat obtained from rendering the fatty tissue of a pig. The rendering process involves separating 100% pork fat from the meat, and this fat can be obtained through various rendering methods, such as steaming, boiling, or dry heat [1].

The taste and smell of lard can vary based on the specific part of the pig's body from which it is taken and the rendering method used. When prepared correctly, lard may not have a strong taste or smell [2].

Lard is used in cooking, frying, and baking due to its unique properties like high smoke point, high levels of fat, and low in carbohydrates.

Dr. Cate Shanahan, Family Physician and Nutrition Consultant:

"Both lard and tallow are traditional fats with health benefits. Tallow, which is rendered beef fat, is rich in stable saturated fats and is excellent for high-heat cooking. Lard, rendered pork fat, has a higher monounsaturated fat content, similar to olive oil."

How Is Lard Made?

Lard is made through a process called rendering. In this process, the selected fatty parts, like the belly or shoulder, are chopped into smaller pieces to facilitate the rendering process and slowly cooked. As the fat is heated, it melts and releases the liquid fat from the solid tissues.

Through straining, the fat will be separated from the meat and when it cools, turns into a smooth and solid substance that can have a lingering pork taste [3].

Also, lard is used in a high-fat and low-carb diet like the Keto or the Carnivore diet due to its nutritional profile.

Lard Nutritional Value

Lard contains 35 to 40% saturated fat, about 45% monounsaturated, and 10 to 15% polyunsaturated fat. Please note that lard’s nutritional value can vary depending on the specific animal source. The following table shows the nutrients in 100 grams of lard [4]:

Calories (kcal)902
Protein (g) 0
Fat (g) 100
Carbohydrates (g) 0
Fiber (g) 0
Sugar (g) 0
Cholesterol (mg) 95

Another rich source of fat is tallow, which is very similar to lard but has a different taste and texture.

What Is Tallow?

Tallow comes from suet, and it's made by melting and simmering suet to separate solids. At room temperature, tallow is solid with a melting point ranging from 40 °C to 45 °C [5].

Tallow is used as a source of fat in cooking due to its versatility and stability at high temperatures and can be rendered from suet with special tools and methods.

Learn More: Suet vs. Tallow: How Do These Dietary Fat Resources Differ?

Dr. Mark Hyman, Functional Medicine Physician:

"Lard and tallow are great sources of natural fats. Lard is particularly high in oleic acid, which is the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Tallow contains more saturated fat, making it very stable for cooking at high temperatures."

How Is Tallow Made?

Tallow can be rendered from suet by following the steps below:

  1. Pour Beef Fat into a Pot: Put the beef fat into a big pot and cook it at low heat to keep the fat from turning brown and getting a strong taste. This low and slow cooking ensures the tallow stays white when it cools.
  2. Simmer to Render: While the fat cooks slowly, you'll see it melting and producing small bubbles. If it starts bubbling too much, turn down the heat.
  3. Strain the Fat: You should strain twice to ensure no impurities are left. Use a fine strainer first to get rid of big pieces, and then use cheesecloth for the second strain to remove tiny bits.
  4. Use or Store: Once strained, you can store the tallow in jars in the fridge. It stays good for up to 3 months. When it cools, it becomes solid and white. You can also use it right after straining.

The nutritional value of tallow is very similar to lard, but there are differences between them, especially in fat distribution.

Tallow Nutritional Value

Tallow is saturated animal fat, but it contains unsaturated fats too. It contains about 45 to 50% saturated fat, 42 to 50% monounsaturated fat, and 4% polyunsaturated fat. The following table shows the nutrients in 100 grams of beef tallow [6]:

Calories (kcal)902
Protein (g) 0
Fat (g) 100
Carbohydrates (g) 0
Fiber (g) 0
Sugar (g) 0
Cholesterol (mg) 109

Comparing lard vs. tallow, we can see that tallow has more fat and cholesterol. Also, the rendering process affects its texture, which results in differences between these fat sources.

Learn More: Can You Eat Avocado on a Carnivore Diet? What About Avocado Oil?

What Are The Differences Between Lard and Tallow?

Lard and tallow are similar in nutrients but different in many aspects, including:

  • Source,
  • Taste,
  • Texture, and
  • Nutrition.


Lard originates from two parts of the pig: the back fat under the skin and the fat around the kidneys. But tallow comes from the rendered fat of cattle or sheep, specifically suet.

Pig’s back fat is softer, lower in saturated fat, and richer in Vitamin D. Kidney fat is higher in saturated fat and results in a stiffer texture. Both pig fats have more unsaturated fat than tallow, which makes them softer and more pliable [7].


Lard has a neutral flavor, and both pork back fat and kidney fat can be mild. But tallow tends to have a stronger beefy taste, even when carefully rendered. If you're new to using animal fats, starting with lard is recommended because of its milder and versatile taste [8][9].


Tallow is solid and hard, like cold butter, which makes it not a great option for pastries. It becomes solid quickly at room temperature, and you might feel greasy in your mouth if your food cools down. Lard stays liquid after melting and is perfect for sautéing or browning meat [10].


Lard, sourced from pasture-raised pigs, is a natural and excellent source of vitamin D. It’s because pigs raised outdoors absorb sunlight, which allows their fat to store vitamin D [11].

However, commercial pigs raised in confined conditions miss out on these benefits. These pigs are often given Ractopamine in their feed, which affects their fat and muscle balance for profitability, but this practice is considered detrimental to the animals' well-being [12].

Tallow offers various health benefits, such as higher Vitamin E, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), and Omega-3 fatty acids. However, commercially-raised cattle fed on corn and soy may lack these beneficial fatty acids in their fats.

The nutritional benefits of lard and tallow depend on the animals' diet and living conditions [13]. These differences in source, taste, texture, and nutrition lead to different uses for these two sources of fat.

Dr. Eric Berg, Chiropractor and Health Educator:

"Tallow is beef fat and is ideal for cooking due to its high smoke point and stability. Lard, which is pork fat, is softer and has a slightly lower smoke point but is still good for many types of cooking and baking."

How Is Lard and Tallow Usually Used?

Lard and tallow are mainly used as fat sources in cooking, but they have other uses too. Lard can be used in:

  • Baking: Lard is often used in baking, especially in pie crusts and pastries. It provides a flaky texture and enhances the overall flavor [14].
  • Frying: Lard is suitable for frying due to its high smoke point (30–40 °C). It provides a distinct flavor and crispy texture to fried foods [15].
  • Cooking: Lard is used as a cooking fat in a variety of recipes. It provides richness and depth of flavor and can be used in sautéing vegetables, browning meat, and more [16].
  • Traditional Dishes: Lard is an essential ingredient in the preparation of traditional dishes like tamales and tortillas.
  • Alternative to Butter: Some recipes prefer using lard as an alternative to butter for fat source.

Also, tallow can be used as cooking fat and in industry.

  • Cooking: Tallow is a nutritious cooking fat with a high smoke point which makes it perfect for frying, sautéing, and baking [17].
  • Pemmican and Sausage: Tallow is a good addition to homemade sausage and pemmican. Also, it is an excellent choice for camping or survival food due to its stability and nutritional content [18].
  • Skincare: Tallow is used as an excellent ingredient in skincare, particularly in the form of tallow balm. Grass-fed tallow is rich in skin-friendly nutrients like vitamins and fatty acids, which makes it a perfect moisturizer that deeply nourishes and soothes skin conditions like eczema [19].
  • Soap Making: Tallow is used for soap making and provides hardness to soap bars. Additionally, it offers skin benefits like improved hydration and elasticity and is considered a sustainable alternative to other fats like palm oil in soap production [20].

The main use of these two sources of fat is baking and cooking. But why they’re are a good choice for this use?

Baking and Cooking With Beef Tallow vs. Lard

The following table shows a comparison of beef tallow and lard for baking and cooking:

FeatureBeef TallowLard
Smoke Point Higher than butter Higher than butter
Flavor Rich and savory Mild
Baking Benefits Not usually used in baking Good for baking pastries like pie crusts and biscuits
Frying Benefits Adds rich flavor to fried foods Excellent for frying, giving a golden crust to chicken and French fries

So they’re very similar in nutritional profile, and both can be used in baking and cooking recipes, but if we don’t have one of them for a recipe, can we use the other?

Lard and Tallow Can Replace Each Other in Many Recipes

Beef tallow and lard are substitutes for each other in cooking, as both are solid animal fats that share comparable qualities and flavors.

Differences in texture and taste between beef tallow and lard can affect your final dish. Replacing tallow with lard can make baked goods greasier and looser in many recipes

When it comes to frying, tallow’s higher saturated fat content can cause crispier textures, but lard provides a lighter taste and a spreadable butter-like consistency making it a suitable replacement for most frying purposes.


Comparing lard vs. tallow, we can realize that the main point is both lard and tallow are rich sources of fat and with almost exact nutrient profiles. But their main difference is their texture and taste because they’re obtained from different sources.

So, if you’re on a high-fat and low-carb diet like Keto and Carnivore, you can use these fat sources in your diet based on the tastes you prefer.

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