Buns Baked With Tallow Make for the Best Burgers

Nick Novello, former chef from Skillet Diner in Seattle, Wash., wanted a better bun to showcase the ultra-juicy burger beloved by fans of the casual mini-chain. "I wanted something that made it more luxurious," he says. A year of experiments and collaboration with Essential Baking Company yielded a bun made with beef tallow.

skillet burger
Skillet Diner features a bun made with beef tallow. Photo by Leslie Kelly.

What's Tallow?

Tallow is rendered beef fat, also known as suet. Tallow is in the same family as pork lard and schmaltz, also known as chicken fat. These old-fashioned fats your thrifty Grandma cooked with are trendy again, as chefs and home cooks rediscover the flavor those animal fats bring to various dishes, even bread. "It's similar to butter, soft when it's room temperature and solid when chilled," Novello says.

When baking burger buns, the process is similar, just swapping out the butter and using room temp tallow instead. The results are spectacular: a soft yet sturdy bun that won't fall apart when loaded up with a juicy patty. Those buns also have a rich quality, almost like a brioche, but without the sweetness.

Novello says taking this approach is also a natural fit for the restaurant's mission to take a nose-to-tail approach to cooking, using as much of the cow as possible. The special tallow buns are the superstar supporting character to the signature burger as well as the restaurant's breakfast sandwich.

The chef talks about the new, old-fashioned tallow buns in this Facebook Live video, shot at Allrecipes' HQ in downtown Seattle:


Finding tallow can be a bit of a challenge, but it's worth asking the meat department if it's available. It's sold on Amazon, and also directly from specialty producers including EPIC out of Austin, Texas. That family operation suggests using tallow to pan sear meat, make beef fat French fries and flaky biscuits.

Discover more great ideas for making better burgers:

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