The other day after I was done making my stir fry dish, I couldn’t believe how messy my stovetop was. I love the convenience of stir fry meals, but the oil splatter is really a deal breaker. I don’t want to give up on my favorite meals, so I went ahead and did some research on how to effectively reduce splattering oil. I hope this article can help you as well.
Splattering oil cannot be eliminated completely unless there is no oil involved. But you can definitely minimize it by proper handling the food, finding the right oil and temperature, using the right cookware and tools such as a splatter screen, last but not least, trying other cooking techniques.
What Causes Oil to Splatter?
In fact, oil by itself doesn’t cause splatter. When heating oil to a high temperature, you may be more likely to see smoke, rather than splatter. However, when you start pouring food into the pan, the splatter may begin. The food, like pre-washed vegetables or meat, introduces water droplets to the oil.
Oil and water are not good friends by nature. Even if you mix them together, they still separate, because water molecules are more attracted to each other than to oil molecules. The water molecules rapidly evaporate into steam, expands, then displace the oil and cause it to go elsewhere. That’s why oil splattering happens.
Maybe the water-and-oil relationship is not that romantic, but we can still try some helpful tips to reduce splattering oil and minimize cleaning time.
TIP 1: Proper Handling
The most effective way is to pat dry food as much as possible before placing into the pan. And of course, dry the skillet thoroughly before adding oil. When cooking meat, try to reduce its thickness. Do not place very cold or partially frozen ingredients in hot oil. Slip the food into the pan from only a few inches above, instead of dropping it. Use tongs, chopsticks, or any other tool to drop the food if needed.
If you use a cast iron, moisture may still ingrain in the pan. You should sprinkle a little salt, swirls it, and then wipes it before cooking anything. Salt will absorb the extra moisture.
Remove the frying pan from the burner while you turn the food. Juices naturally collect on the surface of your food while the other side is cooking, and this temporary reduction in the heat minimizes the popping you’ll experience as you turn the food.
TIP 2: Finding the Right Oil and Temperature
Always start at a low temperature when you are frying anything and gradually warm up your frying pan and oil. Monitor your cooking temperature closely. If the oil is too hot, the food will burn on the outside before cooking on the inside. The ideal oil temperature for most frying is between 350 and 365 F. It’s easy to use a thermometer to tell the temperature. But without one, you can try to stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If you see many bubbles form around the wood and they start to float up, your oil is ready for frying. If it’s bubbling hard, the oil is too hot. Remove from the stovetop and let it cool a bit.
There are so many choices of cooking oil in the market. Which one is best for you? Part of it depends on your cooking needs and lifestyle. For high-temperature cooking, select cooking oils with a high smoke point. For low-temperature cooking, choose oils with higher omega-3 fatty acids since they promote healthy cells and decrease stroke and heart attack risk.
Avocado oil is most suitable for high-temperature cooking because it has a very high smoke point compared to other cooking oils. It will not burn or smoke until it reaches 520 F, which means it’s the ideal oil for searing meats or frying in a wok. For medium frying, you can use canola oil, vegetable oil, corn, and sunflower oils.
TIP 3: Use the Right Cookware
You may want to use a roomy pan or skillet to allow oil splatters to fall back inside rather than onto the stovetop. Choose a high-quality skillet that has even heat distribution. Cheap stainless steel skillets usually have extremely poor conductivity, because it lacks an inner conductive metal. Poor conductivity can lead to hot spots which cause burnt food, smoke, and of course excess splatter. Good quality stainless steel skillets thickly bonded with a layer of a conductive metal such as aluminum will be lightweight, easy to clean, react relatively quickly to temperature changes, and will evenly distribute heat without hot spots to burn and splatter oil.
TIP 4: Choose the Right Tools
Even if you have a good quality pan or wok with high sides, some splatter still may escape. Splatter screen is definitely the way to go. It’s better than a lid because it allows the steam to escape while food is cooked normally. It can save you a lot of cleaning time and protect people around the stovetop from burns. As a bonus, they double as a strainer, steamer and even a cooling rack.
To prevent splatters on the other burners and stovetops, experiment with a small cookie sheet or piece of foil. Put them where the splatters fall. If you prefer to have a reusable version, try stove burner covers. These are easy to install and clean. You should check to see if the covers fit your stovetop type.
TIP 5: Try Other Cooking Techniques
If you love fried chicken, fried fish or french fries but hates the oil splatters and unhealthy fat, you would love this idea. Instead of using the traditional deep-frying techniques with loads of oil and end up with a messy kitchen, try oven frying at high temperatures.
Or invest in an air fryer, a very smart appliance cooking ingredients from all angles using hot-air circulation. So no oil is needed! Imaging you have crispy golden chicken tenders and french fries in hand feeling guilt free! The best part is no more oil splatters! Also, flour or bread foods, when appropriate. The breading helps absorb juices escaping from the food as it cooks, which helps reduce the risk of splatters.
Cooking bacon is another fun task for every cook. Splattering seems impossible to stop. Here is the trick. Use water. Yes, adding water is the new way to create perfectly crisp bacon and minimize any grease splatters. Place the bacon in a cold skillet and turn the heat to high. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan ( or cover the bacon slices if you wish). The goal here is to keep the temperature low. Once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium. At this point, the fat from the bacon has almost completely rendered and the chance to burn is much lower. Once the water is gone, turn the heat to medium-low and wait for the bacon to crisp up. Enjoy!