What Is Wagyu Beef Tallow and Why Is It So Popular?

Updated: Jan. 05, 2023

If you're the type of person who loves to save bacon fat or lard to cook with later, we have a feeling you're going to obsess over wagyu beef tallow.

Imagine cooking a burger or frying up potatoes in a velvety-rich fat rendered from the most expensive cut of meat in the world. Are your mouths salivating at the thought? Don’t worry—ours are, too.

We all know that cooking food in leftover bacon grease or lard (pork fat) can really elevate the flavor of a dish. Beef tallow has been used for centuries for that same purpose—to give whatever you’re cooking an extra fatty flavor compared to normal go-to butter or cooking oils. But what is wagyu beef tallow, and how is it different?

What Is Beef Tallow?

Beef tallow is a rendered fat that is cooked down from a cut of meat from a cow. This can come from practically any kind of cut—rump roast, steaks, ribs and even ground beef can all create beef tallow.

Because the fat from beef is high in saturated fat, beef tallow is naturally solid at room temperature, with a texture similar to butter or lard. It is commonly used for cooking and frying foods, but it isn’t uncommon to also enjoy it in place of butter when spread on toast. Some even used it for making candles, soaps and moisturizers.

There are two ways to extract beef tallow from a cut of meat. The first is cooking it down and collecting it to be used later. The second is skimming the pure fat off the meat and melting it down before it settles back into a solid form. However, skimming the pure fat may not always be easy for particular cuts of meat, like wagyu beef, which has a high amount of marbling and intramuscular fat.

What Is Wagyu Beef Tallow?

Instead of having a traditional USDA rating of Prime, Choice or Select, wagyu beef’s quality standards actually originate in Japan. “Wa” stands for Japanese, and “gyu” stands for cow. But not just any cow can be considered a wagyu—it must be either a Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled or Japanese Shorthorn. Because it is such a commodity in Japan, the country banned the exportation of cattle in 1997, leaving America with only 221 animals at the time for their own wagyu programs, making the beef rare and expensive—along with the tallow obtained from it.

So how does wagyu beef tallow differ from regular tallow? Although the process of extracting wagyu beef tallow is similar, the product is much richer due to the intramuscular fat and the extra care wagyu programs take when producing a quality cut of beef.

How to Use Wagyu Beef Tallow

Wagyu beef tallow can be used just as you would with normal beef tallow. It can be used to cook foods as a replacement for other frying oils like canola, coconut, olive or avocado oil. But unlike normal beef tallow, wagyu beef tallow brings that rich, buttery, fatty flavor that will melt in your mouth.

Some say cooking the beef tallow with herbs and aromatics can help with giving it some flavor before straining it and letting it set back into a solid to be used for cooking or spreading it on food. Others say that wagyu beef tallow, in particular, is rich on its own and doesn’t need added flavor. So when it comes to adding any type of flavor to it, the preference is up to you.

You can also use it for smoking a brisket! After trimming the fat of the brisket, slathering the wagyu beef tallow on the meat adds some of that rich fatty flavor back in, making the meat juicy and tender.

Where Can I Buy Wagyu Beef Tallow?

Don’t worry—you don’t have to buy a cut of wagyu beef in order to obtain your own stock of wagyu beef tallow. Thankfully, this coveted cooking commodity is easily available to buy online.

South Chicago Packing sells the most highly rated wagyu beef tallow over on Amazon at around $30 for 42 ounces, while Fatworks sells a 14-ounce jar at just under $23. Wagyu beef tallow can also be found at smaller high-end boutique grocery stores and butchers.