Sebo y Manteca de Res – Suet and Tallow

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While lard has enjoyed a revival in the last few years in this country (Praise the Lard t-shirt, anyone?), rendered beef fat, or tallow, remains mostly in obscurity. Unless you’re really into grass fed lip and body balms.

I blame poor marketing.

Suet, or sebo in Spanish, the large fat deposits near the kidneys, is no harder to find than leaf lard, and the process of rendering is the same. The one place where tallow may not stack up agains lard is in versatility. It can be decidedly beefy in taste and smell and not always as appropriate for pastry applications. Unless of course, you are very talented and turn it into cheesecake.


If you’ve rendered leaf lard, then the process for turning suet into tallow will be very familiar. My main warning remains:

Do not for any reason think it is a good idea to cut the suet using a food processor, unless you want to end up with an off-putting pink sludge. I have seen this. It is not pleasant.

Tallow can be referred to as sebo in Spanish, or simply manteca de res.

Manteca de Res - Tallow

  • 5 pounds suet
  • Cold water, as needed

Be sure to remove any blood and blood vessels before cutting and rendering. It is unlikely any large pieces of meat will be attached to the fat, as a good butcher would remove these. Any small pieces remaining can be cooked into cracklins at the end of the rendering process.

Working with a very sharp knife, cut the suet into 1/2″ cubes. It will cut more easily if slightly frozen, preventing the fat from becoming too soft.

Place the cut suet in a large thick-bottom pot large enough to accommodate everything in a not too deep of a layer. Add enough cold water to the pot to cover 1″ of the fat.

Cook over low-medium heat. Skim off any impurities. Filter the rendered tallow through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Five pounds of suet should result in approximately half a gallon of tallow.

When the last bit of fat has been rendered, return any bits of fat and cook meat that remain to the pot. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crunchy.

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