The Complete Guide to Freezing and Storing Beef Fat

Beef fat is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. From enriching sauces to cooking eggs, the uses for beef fat are nearly endless. But with only so many beef roasts and steaks in the freezer, you may be wondering – how long does beef fat last in the freezer? And what’s the best way to store it?

In this complete guide I’ll cover everything you need to know about freezing beef fat so you can keep this flavor powerhouse on hand whenever a recipe calls for it.

An Overview of Beef Fat

Before jumping into freezing times, let’s do a quick rundown on beef fat. This animal-based fat is also called beef tallow or suet. It’s solid at room temperature and usually white with a mild beefy flavor.

Beef fat comes from several places on the cow:

  • Subcutaneous fat – This is the thick layer of fat underneath the cow’s skin. It’s the most common source of beef fat for cooking.

  • Kidney fat – This fat surrounds the kidneys. It has a slightly stronger flavor that’s great for pastries.

  • Hard fat – This fat around the loin and ribs has a firm texture, It’s excellent for high-heat cooking,

  • Cavity fat – Found around the organs, this soft fat is ideal for making tallow.

No matter where it comes from on the cow, beef fat is prized in the kitchen for its high smoke point and rich, meaty flavor. It can be used in place of butter or oil in everything from eggs to roast vegetables.

Now let’s look at just how long this useful ingredient lasts in the freezer.

How Long Does Beef Fat Last in the Freezer?

Properly stored, beef fat has a surprisingly long shelf life in the freezer. Here are some general guidelines on how long it keeps frozen:

  • Raw beef fat – 1 year
  • Rendered beef tallow – 2-3 years

The clock starts ticking from the moment the fresh beef fat is frozen. If stored properly at 0°F or below, it will maintain quality and flavor for a full year.

Rendered beef tallow lasts even longer – between 2-3 years in the freezer. That’s because the rendering process helps remove moisture that could lead to freezer burn over time.

Maximizing Freezer Life

Freezing offers the best way to preserve beef fat’s freshness and flavor. But the freezing and storage methods make a big difference in how long it lasts. Follow these tips to get the maximum freezer life out of your beef fat:

  • Freeze it as soon as possible – For the best quality, freeze beef fat within 2 days of purchasing it. The quicker it’s frozen, the less chance bacteria has to grow.

  • Portion into usable amounts – Divide fat into 1-2 cup portions before freezing. Smaller frozen pieces thaw faster.

  • Remove as much moisture as possible – Pat fat dry with paper towels before freezing. Moisture leads to ice crystals and freezer burn.

  • Use freezer-safe packaging – Wrap fat in freezer paper, plastic wrap, or sealed bags. This prevents air exposure, which dries out the fat.

  • Exclude as much air as possible – Press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the fat before sealing bags.

  • Label with date and contents – Include the date frozen and type of fat to track shelf life.

  • Store at 0°F or below – Use the coldest part of the freezer, like the back. The lower the temperature, the longer fat keeps.

Following these simple guidelines helps remove moisture and avoid air exposure – two factors that will ruin your frozen beef fat.

Thawing Beef Fat Safely

Once ready to use, frozen beef fat must be thawed safely. Don’t thaw it on the counter, which allows bacteria to grow. Use one of these methods instead:

  • Refrigerator thawing – The slow thawing in the fridge helps avoid bacterial growth. Leave fat in its packaging and thaw in the refrigerator 24-48 hours before needed.

  • Cold water thawing – For quicker thawing, submerge the packaged fat in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until thawed. Refrigerate afterward if not using immediately.

  • Microwave thawing – Microwave defrost works well for smaller frozen portions. Thaw fat in short 5-10 second bursts, flipping between bursts.

Properly thawing frozen fat retains the freshness and flavor locked in during freezing.

Recipes and Uses for Frozen Beef Fat

Looking for ways to use all that frozen beef fat when you’re ready to thaw it? Here are some of my favorite ways to cook with it:

  • Cooking eggs – Fried, scrambled, poached – eggs of any style benefit from being cooked in beef fat. The meaty notes take them to the next level.

  • Roasting vegetables – Toss carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and other veggies in melted beef fat before roasting for deeper flavor.

  • Making gravy – Use thawed beef fat drippings to build an incredible gravy base for roast beef.

  • Enriching soups and stews – Stir a few spoonfuls of melted beef fat into the pot when simmering soups and stews.

  • Sautéeing aromatics – Cook onions, garlic, ginger, and herbs in beef fat as the flavor base for sautéed dishes.

  • Baking pastry – Mix a bit of grated frozen fat into your favorite pie dough or biscuits for flakiness.

With such versatility, it’s easy to zip through your frozen beef fat supplies. Luckily it stores for so long in the freezer, you can keep plenty on hand for when inspiration strikes!

Storing Leftover Beef Fat

Not sure you can use up thawed beef fat fast enough? Here are some storage tips:

  • Store in an airtight container – Transfer any leftover fat into a glass jar or storage container. The airtight seal prevents off odors.

  • Refrigerate for 1-2 months – Keep unused, thawed fat refrigerated for 1-2 months. It will eventually oxidize, so use quickly.

  • Re-freeze for 6 months – Any fat that won’t get used within a couple months can be re-frozen for up to 6 more months.

With proper storage in the freezer or refrigerator, beef fat can be kept on hand for whenever you need to add rich, beefy flavor to a dish.

Get Creative with Beef Fat!

Beef fat is too tasty to waste. Keep your freezer stocked so you can grab it whenever a recipe calls for that hit of meaty richness. Trust me, your cooking will never be the same!

INCREDIBLE Homemade Beef Tallow!! || Stop Wasting your Trimmings!


Can you freeze beef fat to render later?

I keep my fat frozen until I’m ready to render so I often take it out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw. It’s not important that it be completely thawed but it render more evenly if it is.

How long is frozen fat good for?

Beef fat will go bad a lot sooner than pork fat, but in general it all depends on how the animal was fed. I’ve had beef fat keep frozen for a year, and I’ve had some go bad in less than 3 months. 3 years is pushing it IMO….for beef fat.

Can frozen fat go rancid?

Oxidation primarily occurs with unsaturated fats. For example, even though meat is held under refrigeration or in a frozen state, the poly-unsaturated fat will continue to oxidize and slowly become rancid.

How long can you keep meat fat?

Suet should be kept in the refrigerator and used within 5 days if fresh or portion it up using freezer bags where Suet will keep for 6 months frozen then use as needed. Storing Tallow is even easier. Tallow will solidify and keep at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a year and won’t go rancid.

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